Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World. I've read this particular book at least a dozen times since I stumbled across the series in the mid-1990's. A fan of all things fantasy; I recall being particularly ecstatic about a series where each individual book could be used as a doorstop. It was the sixth in the series, Lord of Chaos, that first drew my young teenage attention on the neatly packed shelves of a now shuttered bookstore in Williamsburg. I frantically hunted across the shelf, pulling and discarding the companion tomes, desperate in my haste to find the trail-head to the series (fans of brick and mortar bookshops may recall the frustration dealing with shop inventory requirements - firsts in a series always seemed to be rare).
This re-read (at least for volumes one through ten; then a first read to the finish) is an attempt to focus a leadership lens on the characters and their struggles. Fantasy provides a tremendously powerful media for showcasing the extraordinary within the boundaries of the relate-able ordinary - it's why we love the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the flaws and imperfections are magnified to epic proportions when pitted in titanic struggles, yet at some foundational level, we can relate to them as mere humans.
Obligatory Spoiler Alert: This read through will contain spoilers as they appear naturally in the sequence of the series. I will make efforts to stick to only what is known up to that point in time - and make every effort to avoid forecasting or pre-releasing information. Additionally, I'll try to avoid full chapter summaries - instead focusing efforts on the characters, their development and the challenges they face. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details, so to speak, and Mr. Jordan was brilliant at placing them "just so."
Some final words of caution: these initial entries are part of @Listed's 100 Day Writing Challenge. As such, they may lack a considerable amount of polish. Expect them to be very free-form and stream-of-consciousness.
The cost of victory, the price for failure.
Our story begins, well, at the end.
Some cataclysmic event sets the stage: a heaving earth, an unidentified number of dead bodies and two men.
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!
Elan Morin Tedronai to Lews Therin Telamon (The Eye of the World, p. xii)
A choice was made; the full measure of the consequences not understood or, perhaps, ignored for some greater benefit. It brought an end - to loved ones, to a conflict, even to, we can surmise, the world. There's a desperation to Lews Therin, a raw fraying counterpoint wobbling on the edges of madd to Elan Morin's polished appearance. Of that rawness emerges the last, desperate act of a desperate man - yearning only for forgiveness.