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.
The first thing that jumped out at me in this installment of the Wheel of Times series is that Rand is no longer the leading voice. He is still the protagonist of the story, however, the story is told from the perspective of other characters—mainly Perrin, Egwene, and Mat. Though this book begins with the original group split up and at different parts of the land, they are all pulled to the same place; similar to book two, The Great Hunt.
In one spot—a valley in the Mountains of Mist—is Moiraine, Lan, Perrin, Loial, Min, and Rand. Feeling a bit trapped and thinking that he is a threat to his friends, Rand runs off. When she learns of this, Moiraine sends Min to Tar Valon to inform the Amyrlin Seat. The Shienaran army she sends to Jehannah to await her instructions (I think Jordan did this to get them out the way, for now). Meanwhile she, Lan, Perrin, and Loial pursue Rand, who is heading for Tear. Rand is such a strong ta’veren, a person who is strongly connected to the Wheel of Time, that he leaves evidence of his presence in his wake. There are villages where nearly everyone gets married and others that are destroyed. Along the way, Perrin learns that he can enter Tel’aran’rhiod, the dream world, and he meets a pretty but annoying girl called Faile (which means falcon), who attaches herself to the group.