|Submitted by William Hunt |
(Aug 31, 2005)
Robert Jordan's "New Spring" takes the reader backward in the Pattern about twenty years or so before the beginning of the "Eye of the World," the first book in the Wheel of Time series. In "New Spring" we meet two of the most influential characters in the series, Lady Moiraine Damodred and al'Lan Mandragoran. And, more importantly, we learn much more about how they came to be the Aes Sedai/Warder pair to which all others are compared.
To begin, I do not recommend reading "New Spring" if you have not already read at least "The Eye of the World." Events and knowledge are presented in "New Spring" that might take some of the fun out of learning them as they were originally introduced in the main story line. Ideally, I would wait even longer -- probably until after the fourth or fifth book before reading "New Spring."
Having read "The Eye of the World," many people have become quite interested in the characters of Moiraine Aes Sedai and her warder, Lan. Many hints are given as to their background, but very little to sate our appetite. How did Moiraine come to be on her quest? Why would a man of Lan's station agree to become a warder? Why does Lan remind so many people of an rock? ("Lan smiled, if a stone could be said to smile.")
"New Spring" begins to answer many of these questions. In "New Spring" we meet Moiraine and Lan before they are bonded; before Moiraine is even an Aes Sedai, in fact. And, through the story that is "New Spring," we see Moiraine become an Aes Sedai, learn more about Lan's background; and eventually come to know how they became bonded.
The plot-line of "New Spring," while in line with the story and events of the series, is not hugely compelling. There are several gaps in the plot that made me cringe. Taken on its own merits, "New Spring" would be an enjoyable, though less-than-stellar read.
Many people, like me, will not be reading "New Spring" as a book in and of itself, however. We read "New Spring" in hopes of learning more about these fascinating characters and how they came to be. And in this light, "New Spring" excels. We learn much about these characters that was not, or could not, be introduced in the main series. Additionally, we get to see the testing process Accepted undergo to become Aes Sedai.
If you're a Wheel of Time fan, and are looking for a quick read that will give you a lot more background on the events preceding "The Eye of the World," then "New Spring" is a great read -- it's even a much shorter book than the rest of the series. If, however, you're not yet a Wheel of Time fan, then this is not the right book to begin with. In that case, go grab "The Eye of the World," and find a really comfortable couch.
P.S. The New Spring is available in two forms. The short story form included in the "Legends" collection, and as a book by itself. The short story version is essentially the second half of the book version. Most of the action happens in this latter half, but much of the background is lost.