The eye of the world, p.1
The Eye of the World, p.1Part #1 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
“The Eye of the World is the best of its genre.”
—The Ottawa Citizen
“A splendid tale of heroic fantasy, vast in scope, colorful in detail, and convincing in its presentation of human character and personality.”
—L. Sprague De Camp
“This richly detailed fantasy presents fully realized, complex adventure. Recommended.”
“This one is as solid as a steel blade and glowing with the true magic. Robert Jordan deserves congratulations.”
“One hell of a story. [It] kept me up past my bedtime for three nights running—and it’s been a long time since a novel’s done that.”
Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine
“A future collector’s item. Jordan has brought out a completely new allegory in a fantasy concept that goes even beyond this massive story, working with an artist’s eye and the sense of responsibility of a serious historian.”
—Gordon R. Dickson
“Classic oppositions are brought into play: initiates versus innocents, good versus evil, the spiritual power of women versus that of men. The travelers themselves are full of subtleties and shadows—ordinary villagers who, thrust into cosmic conflict, are unable to abandon their simple human desires and fears.
“This intricate allegorical fantasy recalls the works of Tolkien because of its intensity and warmth.”
“Robert Jordan has come to dominate the world Tolkien began to reveal.”
—The New York Times
“This has magic and pacing and detail and human involvement, with a certain subtlety of presentation and a grand central vision. Robert Jordan . . . is a lot of writer!”
“An exciting story; the reader is drawn in early and kept there until the last page. There is adventure and mystery and dark things that move in the night—a combination of Robin Hood and Stephen King that is hard to resist. . . . Jordan makes the reader care about these characters as though they were old friends; so much so that the reader will put down the book regretting the wait for the next title in the series.”
“A classic fantasy tale of the struggle between light and darkness, good and evil, death and life. Goodness, life, and light are always in retreat, always about to be defeated, but never quite! Don’t miss it!”
—Andrew M. Greeley
“Certainly a title I want to add to my permanent collection and I shall be eagerly awaiting the sequel which is promised at the end.”
A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOKNEW YORK
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
THE EYE OF THE WORLD
Copyright © 1990 by The Bandersnatch Group, Inc.
The phrases "The Wheel of Time®” and “The Dragon Reborn™,” and the snake-wheel symbol, are trademarks of Robert Jordan.
All rights reserved.
Frontispiece by David Grove
Maps by Ellisa Mitchell and Thomas Canty
Interior illustrations by Matthew C. Nielsen
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
First Edition: February 1990
First E-book Edition: October 2009
Manufactured in the United States of America
Heart of my heart,
Light of my life,
1 An Empty Road
3 The Peddler
4 The Gleeman
6 The Westwood
7 Out of the Woods
8 A Place of Safety
9 Tellings of the Wheel
11 The Road to Taren Ferry
12 Across the Taren
14 The Stag and Lion
15 Strangers and Friends
16 The Wisdom
17 Watchers and Hunters
18 The Caemlyn Road
19 Shadow’s Waiting
20 Dust on the Wind
21 Listen to the Wind
22 A Path Chosen
24 Flight Down the Arinelle
25 The Traveling People
27 Shelter From the Storm
28 Footprints in Air
29 Eyes Without Pity
30 Children of Shadow
31 Play for Your Supper
32 Four Kings in Shadow
33 The Dark Waits
34 The Last Village
36 Web of the Pattern
37 The Long Chase
39 Weaving of the Web
40 The Web Tightens
41 Old Friends and New Threats
42 Remembrance of Dreams
43 Decisions and Apparitions
44 The Dark Along the Ways
45 What Follows in Shadow
46 Fal Dara
47 More Tales of the Wheel
48 The Blight
49 The Dark One Stirs
50 Meetings at the Eye
51 Against the Shadow
52 There Is Neither Beginning Nor End
53 The Wheel Turns
The palace still shook occasionally as the earth rumbled in memory, groaned as if it would deny what had happened. Bars of sunlight cast through rents in the walls made motes of dust glitter where they yet hung in the air. Scorch-marks marred the walls, the floors, the ceilings. Broad black smears crossed the blistered paints and gilt of once-bright murals, soot overlaying crumbling friezes of men and animals which seemed to have attempted to walk before the madness grew quiet. The dead lay everywhere, men and women and children, struck down in attempted flight by the lightnings that had flashed down every corridor, or seized by the fires that had stalked them, or sunken into stone of the palace, the stones that had flowed and sought, almost alive, before stillness came again. In odd counterpoint, colorful tapestries and paintings, masterworks all, hung undisturbed except where bulging walls had pushed them awry. Finely carved furnishings, inlaid with ivory and gold, stood untouched except where rippling floors had toppled them. The mind-twisting had struck at the core, ignoring peripheral things.
Lews Therin Telamon wandered the palace, deftly keeping his balance when the earth heaved. “Ilyena! My love, where are you?” The edge of his pale gray cloak trailed through blood as he stepped across the body of a woman, her golden-haired beauty marred by the horror of her last moments, her still-open eyes frozen in disbelief. “Where are you, my wife? Where is everyone hiding?”
His eyes caught his own reflection in a mirror hanging askew from bubbled marble. His clothes had been regal once, in gray and scarlet and gold; now the finely-woven cloth, brought by merchants from across the World Sea, was torn and dirty, thick with the same dust that covered his hair and skin. For a moment he fingered the symbol on his cloak, a circle half white and half black, the colors separated by a sinuous line. It meant something, that symbol. But the embroidered circle could not hold his attention long. He gazed at his own image with as much wonder. A tall man just into his middle years, handsome once, but now with hair already more white than brown and a face lined by strain and worry, dark eyes that had seen too much. Lews Therin began to chuckle, then threw back his head; his laughter echoed down the lifeless halls.
“Ilyena, my love! Come to me, my wife. You must see this.”
Behind him the air rippled, shimmered, solidified into a man who looked around, his mouth twisting briefly with distaste. Not so tall as Lews Therin, he was clothed all in black, save for the snow-white lace at his throat and the silverwork on the turned-down tops of his thigh-high boots. He stepped carefully, handling his cloak fastidiously to avoid brushing the dead. The floor trembled with aftershocks, but his attention was fixed on the man staring into the mirror and laughing.
“Lord of the Morning,” he said, “I have come for you.”
The laughter cut off as if it had never been, and Lews Therin turned, seeming unsurprised. “Ah, a guest. Have you the Voice, stranger? It will soon be time for the Singing, and here all are welcome to take part. Ilyena, my love, we have a guest. Ilyena, where are you?”
The black-clad man’s eyes widened, darted to the body of the golden-haired woman, then back to Lews Therin. “Shai’tan take you, does the taint already have you so far in its grip?”
“That name. Shai—” Lews Therin shuddered and raised a hand as though to ward off something. “You mustn’t say that name. It is dangerous.”
“So you remember that much, at least. Dangerous for you, fool, not for me. What else do you remember? Remember, you Light-blinded idiot! I will not let it end with you swaddled in unawareness! Remember!”
For a moment Lews Therin stared at his raised hand, fascinated by the patterns of grime. Then he wiped his hand on his even dirtier coat and turned his attention back to the other man. “Who are you? What do you want?”
The black-clad man drew himself up arrogantly. “Once I was called Elan Morin Tedronai, but now—”
“Betrayer of Hope.” It was a whisper from Lews Therin. Memory stirred, but he turned his head, shying away from it.
“So you do remember some things. Yes, Betrayer of Hope. So have men named me, just as they named you Dragon, but unlike you I embrace the name. They gave me the name to revile me, but I will yet make them kneel and worship it. What will you do with your name? After this day, men will call you Kinslayer. What will you do with that?”
Lews Therin frowned down the ruined hall. “Ilyena should be here to offer a guest welcome,” he murmured absently, then raised his voice. “Ilyena, where are you?” The floor shook; the golden-haired woman’s body shifted as if in answer to his call. His eyes did not see her.
Elan Morin grimaced. “Look at you,” he said scornfully. “Once you stood first among the Servants. Once you wore the Ring of Tamyrlin, and sat in the High Seat. Once you summoned the Nine Rods of Dominion. Now look at you! A pitiful, shattered wretch. But it is not enough. You humbled me in the Hall of Servants. You defeated me at the Gates of Paaran Disen. But I am the greater, now. I will not let you die without knowing that. When you die, your last thought will be the full knowledge of your defeat, of how complete and utter it is. If I let you die at all.”
“I cannot imagine what is keeping Ilyena. She will give me the rough side of her tongue if she thinks I have been hiding a guest from her. I hope you enjoy conversation, for she surely does. Be forewarned. Ilyena will ask you so many questions you may end up telling her everything you know.”
Tossing back his black cloak, Elan Morin flexed his hands. “A pity for you,” he mused, “that one of your Sisters is not here. I was never very skilled at Healing, and I follow a different power now. But even one of them could only give you a few lucid minutes, if you did not destroy her first. What I can do will serve as well, for my purposes.” His sudden smile was cruel. “But I fear Shai’tan’s healing is different from the sort you know. Be healed, Lews Therin!” He extended his hands, and the light dimmed as if a shadow had been laid across the sun.
Pain blazed in Lews Therin, and he screamed, a scream that came from his depths, a scream he could not stop. Fire seared his marrow; acid rushed along his veins. He toppled backwards, crashing to the marble floor; his head struck the stone and rebounded. His heart pounded, trying to beat its way out of his chest, and every pulse gushed new flame through him. Helplessly he convulsed, thrashing, his skull a sphere of purest agony on the point of bursting. His hoarse screams reverberated through the palace.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the pain receded. The outflowing seemed to take a thousand years and left him twitching weakly, sucking breath through a raw throat. Another thousand years seemed to pass before he could manage to heave himself over, muscles like jellyfish, and shakily push himself up on hands and knees. His eyes fell on the golden-haired woman, and the scream that was ripped out of him dwarfed every sound he had made before. Tottering, almost falling, he scrabbled brokenly across the floor to her. It took every bit of his strength to pull her up into his arms. His hands shook as he smoothed her hair back from her staring face.
“Ilyena! Light help me, Ilyena!” His body curved around hers protectively, his sobs the full-throated cries of a man who had nothing left to live for. “Ilyena, no! No!”
“You can have her back, Kinslayer. The Great Lord of the Dark can make her live again, if you will serve him. If you will serve me.”
Lews Therin raised his head, and the black-clad man took an involuntary step back from that gaze. “Ten years, Betrayer,” Lews Therin said softly, the soft sound of steel being bared. “Ten years your foul master has wracked the world. And now this. I will. . . .”
“Ten years! You pitiful fool! This war has not lasted ten years, but since the beginning of time. You and I have fought a thousand battles with the turning of the Wheel, a thousand times a thousand, and we will fight until time dies and the Shadow is triumphant!” He finished in a shout, with a raised fist, and it was Lews Therin’s turn to pull back, breath catching at the glow in the Betrayer’s eyes.
Carefully Lews Therin laid Ilyena down, fingers gently brushing her hair. Tears blurred his vision as he stood, but his voice was iced iron. “For what else you have done, there can be no forgiveness, Betrayer, but for Ilyena’s death I will destroy you beyond anything your master can repair. Prepare to—”
“Remember, you fool! Remember your futile attack on the Great Lord of the Dark! Remember his counterstroke! Remember! Even now the Hundred Companions are tearing the world apart, and every day a hundred men more join them. What hand slew Ilyena Sunhair, Kinslayer? Not mine. Not mine. What hand struck down every life that bore a drop of your blood, everyone who loved you, everyone you loved? Not mine, Kinslayer. Not mine. Remember, and know the price of opposing Shai’tan!”
Sudden sweat made tracks down Lews Therin’s face through the dust and dirt. He remembered, a cloudy memory like a dream of a dream, but he knew it true.
His howl beat at the walls, the howl of a man who had discovered his soul damned by his own hand, and he clawed at his face as if to tear away the sight of what he had done. Everywhere he looked his eyes found the dead. Torn they were, or broken or burned, or half-consumed by stone. Everywhere lay lifeless faces he knew, faces he loved. Old servants and friends of his childhood, faithful companions through the long years of battle. And his children. His own sons and daughters, sprawled like broken dolls, play stilled forever. All slain by his hand. His children’s faces accused him, blank eyes asking why, and his tears were no answer. The Betrayer’s laughter flogged him, drowned out his howls. He could not bear the faces, the pain. He could not bear to remain any longer. Desperately he reached out to the True Source, to tainted saidin, and he Traveled.
The land around him was flat and empty. A river flowed nearby, straight and broad, but he could sense there were no people within a hundred leagues. He was alone, as alone as a man could be while still alive, yet he could not escape memory. The eyes pursued him through the endless caverns of his mind. He could not hide from them. His children’s eyes. Ilyena’s eyes. Tears glistened on his cheeks as he turned his face to the sky.
“Light, forgive me!” He did not believe it could come, forgiveness. Not for what he had done. But he shouted to the sky anyway, begged for what he could not believe he could receive. “Light, forgive me!”
He was still touching saidin, the male half of the power that drove the universe, that turned the Wheel of Time, and he could feel the oily taint fouling its surface, the taint of the Shadow’s counterstroke, the taint that doomed the world. Because of him. Because in his pride he had believed that men could match the Creator, could mend what the Creator had made and they had broken. In his pride he had believed.
He drew on the True Source deeply, and still more deeply, like a man dying of thirst. Quickly he had drawn more of the One Power than he could channel unaided; his skin felt as if it were aflame. Straining, he forced himself to draw more, tried to draw it all.
“Light, forgive me! Ilyena!”
The air turned to fire, the fire to light liquefied. The bolt that struck from the heavens would have seared and blinded any eye that glimpsed it, even for an instant. From the heavens it came, blazed through Lews Therin Telamon, bored into the bowels of the earth. Stone turned to vapor at its touch. The earth thrashed and quivered like a living thing in agony. Only a heartbeat did the shining bar exist, connecting ground and sky, but even after it vanished the earth yet heaved like the sea in a storm. Molten rock fountained five hundred feet into the air, and the groaning ground rose, thrusting the burning spray ever upward, ever higher. From north and south, from east and west, the wind howled in, snapping trees like twigs, shrieking and blowing as if to aid the growing mountain ever skyward. Ever skyward.
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