Eric Allen's Reviews > New Spring

New Spring by Robert Jordan
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Sep 25, 12

Read in September, 2011

New Spring

By Robert Jordan

A Wheel of Time Retrospective by Eric Allen

It's that time again, the time I've lived for since I was eleven years old. A new Wheel of Time book will be coming out in the next 6-12 months. And guess what that means? Exactly. It means I get to read the entire series over again in preparation and anticipations. And now that I'm writing book reviews, it also means I get to review them, something I've never done before, so here goes.

Once upon a time I was eleven, and I had been taken to the library by my father. Even at that young age I loved reading, and a lovely book called Redwall by Brian Jacques had drawn me to the fantasy genre. I was wandering through the New Release section of the library when a cover caught my eye. The Eye of the World it was called. It was a massive tome the likes of which the young me had never even attempted to read, but that cover just looked so awesome that I refused to leave the library until my dad checked it out for me. Over the next week I did nothing but read day and night. I even faked sick so that I could stay home from school to read one day. It was the best thing I had ever read before in my short little life. As I got closer and closer to the end, I began to realize that there was no way this story was going to end in this one book, and then I noticed on the cover that it was Book 1 of the Wheel of Time. The book did tie up pretty well. It had an ending, it just wasn't THE ending, (see what I did there *snicker*) and I was satisfied with it, but I wanted more. Ever since then I've been cursed to shell out my cash for every single book that I could find with Robert Jordan's name on the cover.

Fast forward seven years. A Crown of Swords, book seven of the wheel of time had come out about a year ago by this time, and a man named Robert Silverberg came up with an epic idea. Get all of the authors writing grand epic fantasy series at the time to write a short story that takes place in the world of their series, perhaps with some of the characters, and publish a book with all of them in it. This book was called Legends. Authors that joined in this endeaver included Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Tad Williams, Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. LeGuin, Terry Pratchet, an more.

Up to this time Robert Jordan had been writing one book of the Wheel of Time per year, but the year mark came and went after A Crown of Swords, and I got only the World of the Wheel of Time companion Guide that while interesting was not a Wheel of Time book. Then Legends and the eigth book of the Wheel of time came out within weeks of each other in 1998. Robert Jordan was asked to write a short story, but in his own words, a short story for him is 100,000 words, and that 100,000 words plus the companion guide took him an extra year to write. I was mad, because I wanted my Wheel of Time, but, of course, I bought the guide and Legends both anyway, because they had Robert Jordan's name on the cover.

The story which Robert Jordan produced for Legends was, true to his comment, nearly 100,000 words in length, and Robert Silverberg cut it to size to fit in his compilation, chopping it down to nearly a third of its length. The story published in Legends was about a young Moiraine's first meeting with a young Lan and how he became her warder. It was not until 2004 that the book would be published in its entirety. Due to the increasing complexity of the Wheel of Time, and, looking back, I believe, Robert Jordan's failing health, he was slowing down in his writing. Fans of the series were anxious for the next volume and to appease us, Tor released New Spring in its entirety to tide us over until Knife of Dreams could be completed, the final volume that Jordan finished before his death.

New Spring begins with the Aiel War raging full force around the city of Tar Valon and up the side of Dragonmount. Lan, drawn from the borderlands to help repel them has taken comand of a force of bordermen and maneuvers them into place for a battle, but before the battle can begin, the Aiel mysteriously retreat, and horns begin to sound all around the land.

A young Moiraine and Siuan, Accepted of the White Tower, wait upon the Amyrlin Seat and her keeper late into the cold winter night. They await news of the battle and soon after hearing the horns blaring the keeper rises to her feet and yells that the Dragon has been reborn upon the slopes of Dragonmount before falling dead of the shock of it. The two accepted are sworn to secrecy, and the next day it is announced that all of the Accepted will accompany them to take the names of any woman who has given birth in the last ten days.

Moiraine is informed that her uncles have died, and believing her indifference for shock, she is allowed to stay in the Tower and record the names of the women and thier newborns rather than head out again to get more in the following days. She and Siuan record all of the likely names for the Dragon Reborn during this time, and hide them away in secrecy, they alone, of the Accepted, knowing the importance of the task.

Moiraine and Siuan are raised to full Aes Sedai, and though Siuan is trapped into a job she does not want, keeping her from joining in the search for the Dragon, Moiraine leaves Tar Valon to hunt down the names in her book. Along the way she meets with other Aes Sedai whose motives are ambiguous and seem to be going to the same places that she is. Wherever they have been, prominent men and overly lucky boys have died under mysterious circumstances. Siuan arrives, having fled to the tower to inform Moiraine that the Black Ajah may be searching for the boy and they both agree to meet in the city where the next boy on the list lives. Moiraine meets with Lan and a few of his friends along the road, and thinking them possible darkfriends asks them for their protection. Bound by honor, they are unable to refuse. Along the way she hopes to weasel the name of a possible Black sister out of them, but they give no outward signs of being darkfriends, and trying to get an apology out of Lan for his initial disrespect to her consumes most of her time and effort.

Upon reaching the city, Moiraine and Lan split up to their various tasks, and Moiraine discovers that likely Black Ajah sisters have arrived as well. She asks Lan for his help in watching them as she and Siuan try to reach the boy to find if he is the Dragon Reborn or not. This leads to a confrontation where Lan must fight an old and once trusted friend and Moiraine must fight her one time mentor with the fate of a boy who may or may not be the savior of the world hanging in the balance.

The Good? It was nice to have a book just about Moiraine. She has become one of my favorite characters in this series because of how brave and determined she is. Unlike many female characters in fantasy books she does not use her femininty as an excuse for weakness. She is a very strong woman that will stop at nothing to see her goals accomplished. I loved seeing her and Siuan as Accepted playing pranks, fantasizing about becoming full Aes Sedai, practicing for the test. It adds a new depth to their characters that was not there before. I also very much enjoyed seeing what the test to become an Aes Sedai entailed. There had been much speculation upon the matter up until that time amongst fans on the internet. The meeting of Moiraine and Lan is also another thing that I enjoyed. We are given a brief descrition in one of the books, but having the whole story was awesome. Despite its much shorter length to other Wheel of Time novels, and its obvious intent to continue on into books that will never be written due to Jordan's death and Brandon Sanderson's reluctance to dabble too far into what Jordan may or may not have gotten around to writing had he lived, it is still quite enjoyable with a clear and satisfying ending that sheds some light upon the backstory of two previously mysterious characters.

It was also great to see HOW Moiraine found Rand, and why it took her twenty years to do so. In The Eye of the World she just shows up and gives no explanation as to how or why she has arrived to find Rand. She and Siuan give the barebones of it in a later book, but we never really got the whole story of how she managed to track him down. And, I suppose that with Jordan's death, we never will, but we at least got the beginning of it, and for me, that is enough.

The Bad? Though I did greatly enjoy the detail of this story, and the holes that it filled in within the Wheel of Time, it was a rather unnecessary story to be told. It does not further the plot of the Wheel of Time, it simply fills in back story. It was fun to read, but it wasn't needed. The events that it covers were all mentioned, if briefly, in the Wheel of Time proper and there was really no need for a short story devoted to them, much less an entire novel. It was basically telling us information that we already knew. As a bridge on the wait between Wheel of Time books it was rather unsatisfying as we had already read a shorter version of this story, and it wasn't the Wheel of Time book we were waiting for at the time of its publication.

Cadsuane is introduced in this book SOLELY and BLATANTLY as a red herring for the singular purpose of making Wheel of Time fans wonder whether or not she is Black Ajah. She serves no other purpose in the book, and she really should have been left out of it. We already had enough suspicion of her as it was, and didn't really need this red herring to lead us off further into it when that suspicion turned out to be false.

I will always look back on this novel and see the loose ends that it left for two subsequent novels to tie up and sigh about what might have been. Jordan posted on his blog about the two other books that would have completed this prequel trilogy. One would be about Tam Al'Thor finding the infant Rand on the Slopes of Dragonmount, and the other would have been about Moiraine and Lan finding the Eye of the World the first time, and learning of the threat heading toward the Two Riviers, and rushing to cover the distance and make it there before the Dark One's minions. Those would have been a great and welcome addition to the Wheel of Time, and it would have been nice to have those loose ends from New Spring tied up, but they will never be. I can't blame Jordan for not finishing them before dying, but I sure can sigh at a lost opportunity for some great stories that will never see the light of day.

This book came out after ten books of the Wheel of Time, and though it takes place before the others, was not meant to be read first. It takes for granted that you already know everything about how the world works, and if you were to mistakenly pick it up as the beginning of the Wheel of time, as I've known one or two people to do, you will be completely lost and likely never finish or go on to read the much better books that follow it.

The Ugly? There really was nothing that stood out to me in this book as ugly. In fact, I was stretching to find anything bad about it. It was well written and shed some light on one of my favorite characters. One could say that it ruined the mysteriousness of Moiraine, but I find that it just makes her even more awesome.

In conclusion, yes, this book was rather unnecessary, and yes, it was only published to appease Wheel of Time fans over the wait between books. Yes, you already know the barebones details about the events that transpire in this book if you've paid attention while reading the Wheel of Time proper. But it was still a highly entertaining read, and something that any fan of the Wheel of Time will likely enjoy. People who have never read any of the Wheel of Time before will likely want to start with The Eye of the World rather than using this book as a doorway to the series. Despite it's short length in comparison to the other books in the series, it takes for granted that you already know how the world of the Wheel of Time works and who the characters in it are.

I give New Spring 4 stars. If not for the fact that it covers events already related to us in conversation during the Wheel of Time proper, and the blatant red herring of Cadsuane, it would have been a much better book, but as a prequel to the Wheel of Time it gets the job done, despite loose ends meant to be tied up in books that will never be written.

Check out my other reviews.
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