The Eye of the World (abbreviated as tEotW by fans) is the first book of The Wheel of Time (WoT) fantasy series written by American author Robert Jordan. It was published by Tor Books and released on January 15, 1990. The unabridged audio book is read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.
On January 2, 2002, The Eye of the World was re-released as two separate books aimed at a young adult literature market, with larger text and a handful of illustrations. These were From the Two Rivers and To the Blight. The former included an additional prologue entitled "Ravens", focusing on Egwene al'Vere.
On the eve of Bel Tine, an annual festival celebrating the arrival of spring, an unexpected attack by bestial Trollocs and fearsome Myrddraal seems to target Rand al'Thor and his two friends, Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara specifically. Hoping to spare their loved ones from any further attacks, the three young men decide to flee the village by night, accompanied by Moiraine Damodred, an Aes Sedai, and her Warder, al'Lan Mandragoran. As they attempt to leave, their surreptitious escape is discovered by the innkeeper's daughter, Egwene al'Vere, and a wandering gleeman, Thom Merrilin, who join them. It is during their escape that Rand unknowingly channels saidin for the first time, and later falls ill due to it.
Chased by Trollocs, Myrddraal, and Draghkar, the seven companions make their way to the nearby city of Baerlon, where they encounter Min Farshaw, a young woman gifted with prophetic visions, and Dain Bornhald, an officer in the Children of the Light. They also find Padan Fain, a peddler who was presumed killed during the Trolloc attack on Emond's Field. Also in Baerlon, Rand and his two friends begin experiencing dreams in which they are taunted by an arrogant man who calls himself Ba'alzamon. Shortly before they depart, Nynaeve al'Meara, the village Wisdom of Emond's Field, arrives to retrieve the four villagers. When Rand and his friends refuse to return with her, Nynaeve joins them to ensure their continued safety.
Pursued by ever-increasing numbers of Trollocs and Myrddraal, the travellers are forced to take refuge in the ancient, abandoned, and deadly city of Shadar Logoth, a place even Myrddraal are reluctant to enter. While there, Rand and his two friends foolishly try to explore the ruined city and meet a man named Mordeth, who first offers them riches in exchange for a small favor, then attempts to kill them when he learns that their companions include an Aes Sedai and that their eventual destination is Tar Valon, the home city of the Aes Sedai order. The three barely escape, and only reach their companions just before nightfall.
Fleeing Shadar Logoth with Trollocs close behind, Rand, Mat, and Thom stumble across a moored ship on the nearby River Arinelle. The captain, Bayle Domon, reluctantly grants them passage to Whitebridge. During the journey upriver, Ba'alzamon continues to haunt Rand's and Mat's dreams, and Mat becomes strangely reclusive and suspicious of strangers. Rand discovers that Mat took a ruby-hilted dagger from the piles of tainted treasure in Shadar Logoth despite Moiraine's warning about anything Mordeth gave them. Mat insists that because he took the dagger instead of Mordeth giving it to him, that it was safe. Rand agrees.
In Whitebridge, the trio are confronted by a Myrddraal in a crowded square. Thom apparently sacrifices himself to buy Rand and Mat time to escape, and the two continue alone on the road toward Caemlyn, earning meals and lodging along the way by playing Thom's flute and juggling. As they near Caemlyn, however, they begin to encounter Darkfriends in nearly every town who seem to be able to recognize them by sight, and Mat's paranoid behavior becomes more debilitating.
Once in Caemlyn, Mat confines himself to his bed and seeks to avoid all contact with outsiders while Rand makes the acquaintance of an Ogier named Loial and embarks on an unlikely adventure. Logain Ablar, a recently-captured False Dragon, is being paraded through the streets of Caemlyn. While seeking to catch a glimpse of him, Rand climbs a wall and accidentally falls over the top into the palace garden, where he meets Elayne Trakand, heir-apparent to the throne of Andor, her brother Gawyn, and her half-brother Galad Damodred.
When the palace guards are alerted to Rand's presence by Galad, he is taken into custody despite Elayne's protests and brought before Queen Morgase and her Aes Sedai advisor, Elaida. Elaida prophetically identifies Rand as a dangerous individual, but Queen Morgase decides that she does not have sufficient evidence to imprison him.
Meanwhile, Egwene and Perrin plan a route that should take them from Shadar Logoth almost directly toward Caemlyn. Along the way, they meet Elyas Machera, a man who can communicate with wolves. He tells Perrin that he, too, can develop this gift though Perrin shows little interest in this possibility. Elyas and the wolves decide to accompany the two youngsters at least part of the way to Caemlyn. They travel for a few days with the Tuatha'an, a nomadic, pacifistic people, before striking out on their own when the wolves witness one of Perrin's dreams featuring Ba'alzamon.
After fleeing from massive swarms of ravens and crows sent to mark their movements and kill them, they run afoul of a legion of Children of the Light commanded by Geofram Bornhald, father of the officer encountered in Baerlon. After witnessing the death of a wolf at the hands of a Whitecloak, Perrin, whose talent has developed despite his efforts, goes temporarily insane and kills two of them. Elyas escapes, but the Children of the Light hold Perrin and Egwene prisoner, planning to execute at least Perrin as soon as they reach Amador.
Moiraine, Lan, and Nynaeve rescue Egwene and Perrin from the Whitecloaks just as one overzealous individual is contemplating their premature release. Together they travel to Caemlyn, where they are reunited with Mat and Rand, who has only just returned from his adventure at the castle. Moiraine immediately diagnoses Mat's "sickness" as the corrupting influence of the ruby-hilted dagger, and she uses her powers to diminish its effects, although she cannot heal him completely or break his attachment to it.
Padan Fain is found climbing the walls of Fal Dara. He is taken into custody and interrogated by Moiraine and Lan, who discover that Fain is a Darkfriend whose mind has been specifically moulded to find the Dark One's quarry; it was he who aimed the attack on Emond's Field. Following that attack, he was forced into the Myrddraals' pursuit of the companions, only escaping them in Shadar Logoth.
Even separated from the Myrddraal, however, he was still the Dark One's bloodhound, and he followed the companions to Caemlyn, through the Ways, and to Fal Dara.
The group enters the Blight in search of the Eye of the World, guarded by Someshta (the fabled Green Man). The Eye is revealed as a pool of pure Saidin, and when the companions exit they are confronted by the Forsaken Aginor and Balthamel. Balthamel dies at the hand of the Green Man, and Aginor is consumed by the One Power as he battles Rand for control of the saidin at the Eye of the World. Guided by blind luck and instinctive knowledge, Rand uses the supply of saidin to decimate the Trolloc army and defeat Ba'alzamon.
Afterwards, Rand realizes to his own horror that he channeled the One Power, and that he is condemned to a fate of insanity and rotting death. The book ends with Moiraine's ominous statement to herself that, "The Dragon is Reborn."
The Eye of the World may be regarded as a coming of age story, in which young people mature, experience new things, and accept greater responsibilities. Another theme prominent in the book is the nature of trust; the people of the Two Rivers have to rely on Moiraine, but they fear she is only manipulating them and using them for her own ends.