Saturday, December 5, 2015

New Spring Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Robert Jordan
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: The Wheel of Time Prequel
Pages: 340

Buy on Amazon!

(No spoilers for the other Wheel of Time books are below, references to other characters that will appear later in the Wheel of Time books are mentioned).

Set twenty years before the events that dominate The Wheel of Time,  New Spring looks to introduce readers to two important auxiliary characters, Moiraine and Lan, that play significant roles in the fourteen Wheel of Time books that chronologically follow.

It is certainly possible to skip the Wheel of Time prequel all together and still read the other fourteen books without missing anything crucial.  However, if you are looking for an added appreciation for the events that led up to the central conflict in the Wheel of Time, then New Spring will largely provide just that.

At 300 pages, New Spring is the shortest book set in the Wheel of Time’s world by a long shot, but it still chronicles the actions of two of Jordan’s greatest characters.

New Spring is primarily narrated by Moiraine who is training to be an Aes Sedai.  An Aes Sedai is a person who is part of the all female magical institution that exists in the world of the Wheel of Time, they are a powerful and feared group of people.  While continuing her studies Moiraine and her best friend Siuan hear a prophecy that states that the Dragon has been reborn.

The Dragon Reborn prophecy is the most widely known prophecy inside the Wheel of Time world, it states that the man who becomes the Dragon Reborn will battle the Dark One in the final battle, but he will also simultaneously destroy most of the known world.  Moiraine and Siuan take it to task to find the newly born child.

At what point should New Spring be read when a person decides to read the Wheel of Time series?  There are three logical choices, they are:
  • Reading the book first before reading any of the other books in the Wheel of Time
  • Reading the book last after finishing all of the books in the Wheel of Time
  • Reading the book when it was chronologically written, which would be in between the 10th and 11th books in the series – The Crossroads of Twilight and The Knife of Dreams
Personally, I would recommend reading the book in the order it was written chronologically, so I believe it’s best to read New Spring after Crossroads of Twilight.  If this doesn’t suit you then I would recommend reading it after finishing the series.  I would not recommend reading it before starting the entire series though, as I see New Spring potentially reducing the impact of a lot of the more intriguing moments in the early Wheel of Time books, especially the moments with Moiraine.

New Spring also doesn’t take the time get into depth about the various institutions that exist in this world, and it could potentially leave first time readers of the series with a lot questions, and too little explanation.

New Spring gives readers a lot of the starting points for the character traits that will come to dominate both Lan and Moiraine’s characters during the Wheel of Time.  In short we get to see how Lan and Moiraine became who they are.
Jordan who has created good characters for The Wheel of Time, but has moments of weak character development, actually creates a really great back story for Moiraine.  Everything Moiraine does in this book, and everything she does and how it relates to what she will do in the future is very well written.

The largest issue with this prequel is that it suffers from a fairly rushed ending.  Although the way the ending plays out is great, the flow of the story especially towards the end begins to rush along, and before you know it the book’s over.  Some of the other minor conflicts in the book also feel like plot points being added just to appease the casual readers demand for action oriented sequences.

Regardless, Jordan wisely narrates most of this story from the viewpoint of Moiraine and it’s the insight to the thoughts of Moiraine at a young age that really makes the prequel work.  Reading a New Spring isn’t necessarily important to understanding the entire series, but it certainly makes you appreciate one of its strongest characters a whole lot more.

Score: 8.5

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