New Spring, the prequel of The Wheel of Time series, seems to be the shortest book in the pack but that doesn’t mean it’s quick reading. Shortly after completing The Shadow Rising, I rushed to the bookstore to pick up New Spring. I was too curious about the history in the series to wait until later or until I completed the series to read the prequel. So much had occurred prior to the first four books and I wanted the details on those events. What were Moiraine and Lan up to before finding the boys in Two Rivers? What was going on with the Seanchans and were the Forsaken loose and prowling about then too? What was Padan Fain doing before he became a peddler in Two Rivers? The Aes Sedais mentioned something of Padan Fain’s past in The Eye of the World but I want more details.
I thought the prequel would provide a broad view of key characters, noting their activities prior to book one but such was not the case. Instead, the prequel focused on Moiraine and Lan, mostly Moiraine; however, it is Lan who begins the story. The Aiel Wars are winding down and ends when the Aiel oddly retreat. Lan is relieved of his duties as commander of his unit and has plans to return north but his plans are upset with he learns that his carneira, some old lady he banged back in the day, wants to raise support and crown him as king of Malkier. So he travels to Chochin to face her. Really, Lan’s story didn’t do much except to give us a smidgen of the Aiel War and to remind us who Lan is, the last of the Malkier kings, and how he is, grave, loyal, honorable.
Meanwhile, Moiraine and Siuan are at the White Tower in Tar Valon in their final months as Accepted. We are with them when they hear Gitara foretell the coming of the Dragon and when the Amrylin Seat issues the odd command to record the names of every child born within sight of Dragonmount. I did not expect the prequel to start here since Moiraine and Siuan often refer to this event and their days as Accepted in their reflections in the other books. But this retelling of the prophecy and what ensues gives us some perspective on the magnitude of work Moiraine and Siuan must have put in to track down the boys at Two Rivers. However, I didn’t like that it is by conjecture that Moiraine and Siuan discover the Amyrlin Seat’s plan to locate the Dragon Reborn. As smart and informed as they are, I do not believe that the Amyrlin Seat would have a plan that can be easily deduced by two Accepteds. If so, then it’s no surprise that she was overthrown and killed. Elaida of the Red Ajah also makes an appearance. She bullies and tortures Siuan and Moiraine as they practice for their exams to gain their shawls. I guess she was included only to give Moiraine and Siuan a hard time and to show how much she hates them. She did little else. It was cool to see how the Accepteds are tested for the shawl and how the Ajahs are organized and the politics involved in the White Tower.
Lan and Moiraine meet on the way to Chochin. Lan, as stated above, is going to confront his carneira, and Moiraine is tracking down the Dragon Reborn. Often Moiraine reminded me of Nynaeve. Actually, I think young Moiraine, Nynaeve, Elayne, and Egwene are all the same—stubborn, easily angered, often overlook that they lack experience, believe they are invincible because of the power, childish, and petulant. Indeed their interior dialogues are all similar and I was sad to find that Siuan was the same. I thought her fish metaphors would further set her apart from the other young females in the series but no such luck. Like the others, she seems to constantly compare herself to Moiraine, which I find annoying because of how frequently this is done. In Chochin, Moiraine is no closer to discovering the Dragon Reborn but she has her first battle with a member of the Black Ajah. And it’s there that she makes Lan her Warder, which I wasn’t impressed by. For some reason, I thought that such an event would have more bells and whistles and not be so solemn.
Overall, the story was okay. It did not give me what I was looking for and now that I’ve read it, I think I could have done without it. I had already known about the prophecy and it is expected that Moiraine would encounter obstacles while searching for the Dragon Reborn and that the Black Ajah would want to find him as well. I really didn’t need to know about Moiraine and Siuan’s time as Accepted or what they thought about since it’s similar to Nynaeve, Elayne, and Egwene. The exception is that they have different goals. Lan’s story I could have discovered later if/when Jordan writes from Lan’s perspective. I am pretty sure Lan would have reflected on his carneira and the Aiel War at some point. I was grateful for the test for the shawl and a peek at the Ajahs’ quarters and politics and for meeting Cadsuane. Cadsuane is a bad ass. Oh, and also to learn a bit of Moiraine’s background and her connection to the Cairhien throne.
A word on Jordan’s narrative style: I do not hate it but I do not love it either. He includes so much that it wears on me and since I’m reading the novels almost back-to-back, his style often becomes a nuisance. The books were published within a year or so of each other so I see no reason for the characters’ redundant thoughts. I think we know them quite well already. I’m often told that Brandon Sanderson’s style is a lighter so I look forward to the books he has written for the series though I’m a long way off. I just want Jordan to hold back a bit. So far I know every thought of the characters except when the urge to piss and shit is upon them.
Quotes from the book:
“When a man believes he may die, he wants to leave something of himself behind. When a woman believes her man may die, she wants that part of him desperately. The result is a great many babies born during wars. It’s illogical, given the hardship that comes if the mad does die, or the woman, but the human heart is seldom logical.”
“Verin Sedai said that most mistakes made by rulers came from not knowing history; they acted in ignorance of the mistakes others had made before them.”
“Friends lightened many burdens, even those they did not know of.”
“Her father used to say that once was happenstance, twice might be coincidence, but thrice or more indicated the actions of your enemies.”
- The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Shadow Rising, Part 5 (tor.com)
- New Spring by Robert Jordan : Review (archeddoorway.wordpress.com)
- Review 163: New Spring (Wheel of Time 00) (thelablib.org)
- Beginnings: A Review of The Wheel of Time Series Prequel, New Spring by Robert Jordan (reviewsbysteve.wordpress.com)