Not clearly the most original fantasy story. It starts in a sleepy village out in the middle of nowhere, there is an attack, everyone begins a trek, there are some close calls, they get split up, reunited, and all culminates in suspenseful ending where good clashes with evil. I think part of the difficulty in the beginning is that it is obvious Jordan is setting up for something much larger in scope. However, he doesn't give you much of a bone as to what is to come, even by the end. I can see how that can frustrate others.
The middle of the book bored me. The constant meandering of Rand and Mat was repetitive. Perrin is my favorite character, Egwene and Nynaeve are tolerable. It seems like there are a lot of demanding female characters running around. Lan, Moiraine, and Thom are interesting by default, since they have an obscured backstory and have lived outside of Emon's Field. I wished I could have found out more about Lan! He was the most interesting by far, makes me wonder what his true priorities are and why he is loyal to Moiraine. And why does Moiraine seem so different from the Red Ajah of the capital? Or are her motives really not that different? I have so many questions that weren't answered in this book. Not a bad thing at all, as I assume they will be answered later on.
I can certainly see that Jordan is building a world here, but the story lacked the richness of description that would really make the book shine. I don't mean in terms of how the world works, but just descriptions of towns and passing scenery. They're often brushed over, almost seem a bit dumbed down, I'm not sure how to describe it.
The emotions of the characters seems to be the main focus rather than the world around them. In that regard, the personalities of the characters is well established.
The concept of the Wheel of Time and the lost, ancient history of the world intrigues me. Everything has already happened before, and at this time, what is beginning is not new. Or is there something different here? A bold foretelling for the fate of Rand.
Because the story is told through the eyes of young, rather clueless individuals, not much knowledge can be garnered. However, Jordan stayed true to his characters, and made all their knowledge, thoughts and actions believable to the plot.
However, even though I may have lost some interest in the middle, by the end I was captivated. There appears to be a lot more than Jordan is letting on, and I am encouraged to read the next book.