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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

The Eye of the World turns 30


Jason Denzel
  • January 15, 2020 marks the 30-year anniversary of the release of The Eye of the World


January 15, 2020 marks the 30-year anniversary of the publication of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan.  Although there are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time, this date does mark the official beginning of the book franchise. 

 

After leaving a career as a nuclear engineer, Robert Jordan (a pen name for James Rigney Jr, who went by "Jim" to his friends and family) began a prolific writing career. He wrote in a variety of genres, using a different pen name for each one, eventually making a name for himself in the fantasy publishing industry primarily on the strength of his Conan novels. (Robert Jordan did not create the Conan character or write the original novels. He wrote later ones in the series over 50 years after the original author, Robert E. Howard died). 

 

Originally pitched to Tor Books as a 3-book series, Tor publisher Tom Doherty laughed at the sheer scope of The Wheel of Time and instead offered Jim a 6-book contract.  Tor believed in the first book so much that they did a heavy marketing push, going so far as to commission an alternative book cover and creating 5,000 advance reader copies, which was unheard of now, or then. 

 

To celebrate this 30-year anniversary occasion, we asked Harriet McDougal, Robert Jordan's wife and editor, what her memories were of that time in 1990.  Here's what she sent us:

Quote

 

September 1989 brought Hurricane Hugo, which caused over $200,000 worth of damage to our house. It was awful. That December brought … snow.  A tremendous rarity in Charleston.  Now known as the Christmas Hell froze over.  It even froze  some of the city’s water mains. First, owing to the lack of water pressure, the third floor bathroom had no water. Then the second floor had no water either.  The ground floor powder room slowed to a trickle. A good friend who visited from New York for Christmas (together with two other Christmas visitors) found me in the kitchen very sadly filling my mother’s big pickling kettle with water so we’d have something to flush the downstairs toilet with. He said,

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“I’m saving some water in case the city supply fails.”

 

“What’ll we do if it does?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“Oh. Well we’ll just have to drink our own urine.”

 

This tickled my funny bone. “Yeah. Go get the empty wine bottles out of the recycling. We’ll label the bottles so we’ll each have our own private vintage.”

 

Then I couldn’t help laughing. So I got Christmas back. 

 

And the water mains didn’t totally fail. So we didn’t have to establish our private labels.

 

So where was Robert Jordan? He was working flat out on The Great Hunt. Tom Doherty, the publisher, was insisting on publishing it within a year of Eye’s publication. This was really tight. So dear Jim would have Christmas Day away from the keyboard, but no other.

 

New Year’s Day came. We ate our hoppin’john, collards, and some pork, in order to conjure up prosperity in the new year. It worked!

 

And that, my friends, is about all I remember of that winter of The Eye.

 

- Harriet McDougal

 

We're also asking YOU to share your memories of how you found this special book. You can reply here to this article, or you can reply on our social media:

Be sure to check out our Eye of the World info page, as well as our Book Summary and Chapter Recaps.

 

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Edited by Jason Denzel



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I found EotW in a used bookstore. I had no idea what it was but it looked interesting. 

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I was looking for a new book to read. I had read all of Sidney Sheldon's, Patricia Cornwell's, Iris Johansen's, and Tess Gerritsen's. Somehow I stumbled upon this book. And there were 8 books in the series so thought it would keep me busy for a while as they were so big. I wasn't sure I could read an 800 page book as the longest books I had read were Tolkien's series. I wasn't really sure I liked book #1 but figured I might as well try book #2 since I finished the first one. Loved them. Book #4 was my favorite. Blew through all 8 in 6 months and discovered the story wasn't finished and felt it could go another 8 books. I was only off by 2. Then had to wait every 2 years for the new book. After Jordan died I thought oh no. Sanderson did such a great job, I now have read all of his books too. 

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In 1993, I was 16 years old and  working at Universal Studios in Orlando. I worked in the Nickelodeon Studios, which is long gone unfortunately, and I worked with mainly older people. One of my 23 yr-old coworkers (who I also had a crush on at the time,)  is the one who suggested that I read The Eye of the World. Obviously I would have done anything Possible to impress him, so I immediately went out and bought a copy. I was absolutely hooked from the beginning. And I still believe they are the best fantasy novels I have ever read. Last but not least the person I had a crush on ended up marrying one of my best friends ha ha! But I am so glad that he recommended the series to me!

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It was 1994, I was 14 and a freshman and had always been an avid reader and spent tons of time haunting the stacks at the library looking for my next perfect book to read. I had recently moved in with my Dad, also a big reader, and he took me to a book store at our local mall and it was such a treat... the concept of being able to Keep one. I was overwhelmed with the concept and all three choices, but gravitated to the fantasy section and remember that there was a card sticking out from this deep blue book, a recommendation from one of the employees. I can't remember the key words, but it hooked me, and then the book did. It was an expensive choice on my dad's part, taking me in there that day, because there was no borrowing these books from the library... I had to own them all, as soon as they came out, until the last. 

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In college, a buddy of mine gave me a copy of EOTW hardcover in 2K.  I didnt read it for 1 or 2 yrs, then finally cracked it open.  I couldnt get past the first 3 chapters because of how DENSE it was.  Prologue was Awesome, but the initial slog of the first few chapters were excruciating. So I didnt open it up again for like 6mos or so. Then I finally started it up again, and then BOOM!  What a Ride for 7 Books, until the "Slog" which we all know about...LOL!

 

After my 2nd re-read, I didnt realize how much foreshadowing was just in the 1st book!

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1994, Fresh off Dragons of War by Christopher Rowley, I wondered in a local book shop to talk to a good friend and book guru for my next conquest.  He handed me a copy of Eye of the World and told me I had no choice in the matter. I was 14 and this was life altering. Read every book now 3-4 times and listen to them more than that. (Listing to Lord of Chaos as I type...) I have been listening to New Spring with my ten year old son and he is hooked!

 

(Ringing the hat in my hands I say) Thank you Mr. Jordan. Thank you.

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In 1994 I was 14 years old and I found a free paperback copy of the first several chapters of TEotW at a B. Dalton books in the mall. I took it home and read it and then found the rest of the book at the library. For Christmas either that year or the next, I received every book that was out by then. I've read them multiple times since and have convinced several others to read them as well, including my dad. It's been fun to have this story to share with him. At this point, Rand, Mat, Perrin, Min, Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne, Thom, Loial, Lan, and all the rest feel like old friends. It took me several months to begin A Memory of Light when it finally came out, because I couldn't handle having a series that has been with me for more than half my life being over. But then I remembered there are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the wheel...

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redgiant

Posted (edited)

I moved to Redmond WA in 1997 to work at Microsoft. I went into a little used book store called Half-Priced Books in little downtown Redmond, and spied a hardcover of Eye of the World laying on a table full of various books. I had never heard of it nor Robert Jordan but Darryl Sweet's odd cover intrigued me to pick it up, and I remember reading the inner jacket teaser, which got me to thumb briefly through the first couple of pages and Table of Contents. I saw the Prologue: Dragonmount and quickly scanned it. The sense I got was of an immensely old history of something huge happening which would fast-forward to the main story's simple beginnings. To this day I remember  the end of the Prologue: "... waiting".

 

Years later when Fellowship of the Ring was released by Peter Jackson, I also remember thinking that the prologue flashback to the War of the Last Alliance was so effective in establishing the vast history we were about to see unfold, and realized "Hey, they have good taste, they did the same thing the Wheel of Time did in the first book. They even ended the prologue with a pull-back on the Misty Mountains while Galadriel narrates "For the time will soon come when Hobbits will shape the fortunes of all." And I pictured what Dragonmount would look like in that same scene.

Edited by redgiant

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I bought one of the original EOTW trade paperbacks, the year they came out, from a small local bookstore that had an even smaller science fiction and fantasy book section. I absolutely loved the book! By the time the 5th book came out, Robert was in town doing a book signing. I purchased the 5th book but brought my EOTW trade paperback for him to sign. Back then he told us that it would be done in 8 books. I didn't realize he meant 8 more, plus one! I regret that it is not in very good condition anymore since I lost track of how many times I reread  it. But I still go back and occasionally reread some of them again. I am looking forward the TV series coming up.

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When I was 14, I was lent a hardcover copy by my sister's boyfriend of the time after he'd found out I'd loved Dragonlance Chronicles. I was in love. I had to hide it from my parents, because they were religious and nothing fantasy- or magic-containing was to be condoned. I made it through book two or three before I was either found out or my sister broke up with that guy. A few years later I found battered mass market copies of the next few books amidst piles of chaos at a hole-in-the-wall local used bookstore. It was several more years before I got current. The only volumes I had to wait for with everyone else were the posthumous ones. Now I have to reread/listen about every other year at least. 💜

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There was a page in the newspaper that introduced new books, and I had a habit of checking it out. One day it had the translation of "The Eye of the World" featured there (I am not from an English-speaking country). As I had just recently discovered The Lord of the Rings and fantasy for myself, it looked and sounded interesting. I cannot remember how exactly it went, but I know that a few months later, the book was in one of the Christmas presents I got. Truth be told, I found the prologue confusing that time (not anymore!), but I was hooked from the very first chapter on and loved it tremendously. I kept waiting for the translation of the second book to come, but it did not. So, after a futile wait for a year or so, I hunted down paperback copies of all the following books (ending with Knife of Dreams) and started to read them in English (which, in turn, opened my eyes to a whole wider world of books). Wheel of Time remains one of my very favourite book series and I don't expect it to ever change.

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Wow.  I was a college student in Duluth, Minnesota, it was the fall of 1990 and I was really starting to get into the Grateful Dead.  In fact I had just purchased their latest album, "Without a Net" which has one of the most glorious versions of their song "Eyes of the World"  So when I was browsing the Fantasy / Science Fiction section of the Duluth Public Library and saw a spine that said "The Eye of the World"  I stopped "Dead" in my tracks and checked it out.  I remembered Robert's name from the Conan novels, but I was unprepared to be so completely pulled into the narrative.  It is one of a handful of series where I was consuming the books as soon as they were available and eagerly awaiting more.  It still hits me in the feels when I think about how he had to pass the torch to get the whole story told.  I think Brandon did an admirable job, and I was glad to get introduced to another excellent storyteller.  Of course, this calls for a re-read, amirite?  It's like the song says:

 

The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,
You can't let go and you can't hold on,
You can't go back and you can't stand still,
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will.

 

Peace

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My boyfriend was reading Eye of the World.  He would not, could not, stop going on about it.  As soon as he finished it, I picked it up.  I fell in love with all of them.  Even Nynaeve, who I wanted to throttle more often than not.  From then on it was a race for him to finish the next book so that I could start on it, and he was always rushing me to finish so we could talk about all the things that happened.  It was thirty years ago, and the characters are all still my favorite characters ever.  The series is my favorite ever.  I've read it more times than I can count; usually in anticipation of the next book to come out, and more recently just because I missed them all so much I just had to go back and spend more time with them.

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I and my family were visiting my sister and her family in Indianapolis sometime in the early 1990s.

We ended up downtown one evening and stopped into the historic Union Station which was being refurbished with a market and an eating gallery. After having a bite, we ducked into a little book shop adjacent to the concourse. The next thing I know, I'm holding a small thin paperback book. On the rich blue cover was a knight on a big black steed and a lady on a smaller white horse silhouetted by a giant full moon. I started reading and almost immediately picked up on the foreshadowing. Someone called me to leave the store. I closed the book to set it back down and noticed something like"Complimentary Copy" printed on the top of the cover. I'd never seen anything like that(Kudos to Tom Doherty and TOR). I walked to the register to ask about it. The employee said that, yes, the book was free as an introductory promotion and I was welcome to take it with me. While it contained only the first few chapters of the book, it was enough to get me hooked. Well, you know what happened next; I jumped on Bella's back with the rest of our heroes for a harrowing twenty year ride towards Tarmon Gai'don!  And oh what a ride it was.

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scelli2020

Posted

I don't even remember how I got started but I've always been an avid fantasy reader. Anne McCaffrey has been my favorite author for years but WoT is my favorite series. I remember re-reading, waiting for the next book, grieving the death of Robert Jordan, then being totally surprised & pleased with Brandon Sanderson's concluding books.  I've re-read the series and now I have it on audio and listened to it more than once. The characters feel like family and I'm sure it will be a necessity to listen to them at least every other year or so.

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