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Not As Good As The Mind's Eye -- But What Is?
on September 21, 2011
I must preface this by admitting that I am a Wheel of Time collector: Hardcovers, paperbacks, British editions, young adult editions, you name it. I even thought that The World of the Wheel of Time was great, despite the horrific character artwork. So for me to give this five stars might not be as weighty as a New York Times Book Review, but I will at least explain in my attempt to help guide people in whether or not they should spend their $ for this.
If you're not a Wheel of Time fan, you should pick up the "regular" book first (that would be The Eye of the World). It's not that you'd be lost if you read this -- the story is pretty easy to pick up (the graphic novel covers the first 147 pages of the paperback, plus the prologue and also the "Ravens" prologue seen in the YA edition). It's just that I don't think it would mean as much.
To fans of WOT -- which is probably most of you -- I would say grab it, with one caveat. The characters and places will often not look as they do in your head, possibly to your lessened enjoyment. But how can they? People even disagreed with Robert Jordan on how to pronounce some character names, so how can we agree on how Rand al'Thor is supposed to look? But that's where I got some of my enjoyment. Even though I've still never seen a satisfactory Trolloc, it's worth it to see other people's interpretations of RJ's work, even if it might disagree with mine.
Having said that, what about specifics? Following the basic character descriptions in the books, they get them right. They have their basic traits; of course, if they were going to do this project at all, they had *better*. Rand is tall and has red hair, Nynaeve has her braid, and Moiraine wears blue (although sometimes I have trouble telling Mat and Perrin apart). But even more: Cenn Buie looks just as old and cranky as he should, Lews Therin looks sad and demented at the same time, and I happen to think that Thom's coat looks perfect.
I don't always agree with the artists' choices. Sometimes the late-teen Egwene looks younger than her 9-year-old self, and I wish they would've drawn a Draghkar up close. But like I said, the mind's eye. My housemate, a WOTfreak too, didn't like how some of the background faces were half-drawn, but that didn't bother me.
There are bonus materials that might help you decide: a cover gallery that includes a full-page portrait of the 13 Forsaken (they're not labeled, which is kind of annoying as Mesaana and Moghedien look almost identical), and bonus character sketches, including some for people not even in this book (Min, Loial), giving hope that there will be more to come.
If nothing else, you'll get your money's worth if you read it, share it with another WOTmaniac, and spend awhile arguing about it.
My rating: 5 out of 5 (and yes, I'll buy a British edition if they slap a different cover on it)