First Wheel of Time Readthrough, Part Prequel

I know everyone was super excited about me getting to Knife of Dreams. But as I was going through the Big Box of Books (TM) my friend gave me, I saw this unnumbered book “New Spring.”  Apparently it was published between books 10 and 11, so as part of my continuing quest to understand what it must have been like to read these books as they came out this is when I chose to read it.  It certainly had nothing to do with the fact that the book looked super short. Certainly.

I really thought I was going to knock this little book out in a couple of days, write my few thoughts, and move on to the long awaited KoD.  But then the season finale of the drama called my country’s political system occurred, along with its shocking twist ending/cliffhanger, and it became incredibly hard to focus on reading anything.  I can’t even escape the political discussions at my D&D table right now.  Anyway, last thing I want to talk about here is politics (except, I guess, fantasy politics).  So on the book.

So New Spring focused on Moiraine and Lan’s backstory.  How they came together, how Moiraine came to be on the hunt for the Dragon Reborn, and why Lan is so damn somber (besides, you know, the death of his nation, apparently there is more to it than that).  We get to see many of the major Aes Sedai characters were like as youngin’s (and the answer is: not much different from all the novice characters in the main series).  We also see for the first time what the test for the Aes Sedai is like (as all our novices were raised without testing in the main series).  As I would have guessed, it is every bit as fucked up as the Accepted test.  I suppose the point is to ensure that all Aes Sedai are capable of withstanding both emotional and physical torture; still kind of fucked up.  And of course it’s done naked, cause all tests women take are apparently done naked.  It must be awkward when your algebra teacher announces a pop quiz.

The story starts (after a brief chapter featuring Lan and the conclusion of the Aiel War) with Moiraine and Siuan as Accepted hearing the Foretelling of Rand’s birth, which subsequently kills the Keeper who foretells it.  They then use the power of friendship and cleverness to try and get involved with it, more out of sense of adventure than duty.  Speaking of which, their friendship … was a lot deeper than I had assumed reading their interactions in the first books.  They made quite a few references when they were together about being close friends, but it always felt more like Jordan ‘telled instead of showed.’  I never got a feeling of closeness from their dialogue, and Siuan has barely reacted to Moiraine being dead (has she reacted at all, actually?  I can not recall a scene).  Course, near two decades changes a lot, especially with Moiraine always out of the Tower on their secret quest and Siuan the Amyrlin.  Still, I would never have suspected that Moiraine and Siuan where once…’pillow friends’ as Jordan likes to call it.

Stuff happens, the Black Ajah has the Amyrlin killed, and Moiraine goes off on her quest both cause of those suspicions and becuase the Tower is trying to put her on the throne of Cairhien, something she really doesn’t want.  Her and Lan’s party team up by ‘chance,’ she confirms the Black Ajah’s existence, a bunch of people die (the casualty count in this book is shockingly high considering how short it is), and finally Lan is drawn into the quest and made her Warder.

I’m actually amazed the amount of ground covered in this book considering how short it is, but that might be becuase the last few books in the main series were considerably drawn out.  It’s also easier to be efficient telling the stories of 2 characters as opposed to 100.  The story itself was … alright.  I went into the book thinking that if it answered at least one outstanding question it was worth it.  And it did, that question being the central plot of the book: Why Moiraine was on the hunt for the Dragon Reborn in the first place.  The other questions it answers were questions I never thought to ask in the first place (How good at sex is Lan? Apparently, very).

Some Thoughts:

The book tells us why Moiraine was hunting the Dragon Reborn, but we still have no idea what sent her to the Two Rivers.  Somehow, I find it doubtful that Tam al’Thor decided he needed the Tower’s gold and signed himself up on one of those lists.  She most have arrived there long after the list was expended and somehow picked up the trail from somewhere else, but what trail leads to a small village literally in the middle of nowhere?  Beats me.

Is Lan a ta’varen?  The words used to describe him in this book (extremely lucky, odd things happen when he is around, and so on) are the kinds of things commonly said about ta’varen.  If so, it is weird no one has thought to mention it until now … in the past…

It was weird watching Lan being so outclassed by someone with the sword.  I suppose he had a few more years before he became the ultra badass unkillable Lan that we are familiar with.

I was really hoping this book would make me like Moiraine more but…it really didn’t shift my opinion of her one way or another.  We learn a bit about her fondness for pranks, but other than that she behaves incredibly similar to the way Egwene and Elayne behaved as novices.

Sierin was a black sister made Amyrlin during this book.  I recall in Book 9 one of the Darkfriends (or maybe another black sister) referencing having her killed, which makes sense now when you realize just how much open and suspicious murder her plans entailed.  I wish I could recall the exact scene in Book 9 but I can not, and it is impossible to google things without risking spoilers.

Cadsuane makes a brief appearance and I have absolutely no idea what she was doing there.  She tries to tie Moiraine to a couple of older Aes Sedai (one of which turns out to be a black sister) and Moiraine manages to slip away from her while suspecting she might be Black Ajah herself.  Perhaps she was one of the seekers?  Her purpose was really unclear.

Considering how hopeless present day Siuan is with her feelings for Gareth Bryne, young Siuan was apparently a very good flirt.  How did she lose that?

As for KoD: Don’t worry, I have already begun it.  You’re just going to have to wait a little bit longer.  Like…two weeks longer, probably.  See you then!

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