Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 0
Pages: 400 (Mass Market Paperback)
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Date: January, 2004
New Spring was originally published as part of an anthology in 1999: Legends: Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy, edited by Robert Silverberg. I came across this volume in a library years ago, but never got around to reading it. A few years after the original version, Robert Jordan decided to flesh out the novella into a full novel as the first of an intended prequel trilogy, and it was republished on its own. This is the version that I’ll be reviewing here. I had the book for several years before starting it; however, recently, I’ve decided to give the entire Wheel of Time series a reread, now that Brandon Sanderson has completed his “collaboration” with the original author, Robert Jordan, who passed away seven years ago leaving the series unfinished. Sanderson has, by all accounts, done a yeoman’s job, in the process writing three new volumes to finish the series. Over the next year or so, I’ll be revisiting the series (and reading four of the volumes for the first time), beginning with this, the only prequel Jordan completed before his untimely death. Click through after the break for my review.
My other reviews in The Wheel of Time series:
It’s not often that the word “slight” comes to mind when describing a four-hundred page novel, but compared to the other WoT books, the shortest of which weighs in at 672 pages, New Spring feels more like an extended short story than a member proper of the epic series it comes before. It’s origin as a novella might have something to do with this, but that isn’t all – it is also the scope of the story being told. It does show events over half a world, travelling from Tar Valon (home of the magic-wielding women, the Aes Sedai) north to the Borderlands, but there is never quite the sense of urgency the other books carry.
This is for a couple of reasons. For one, the story is almost entirely told from two points of view, Moiraine Damodred’s and Lan Mandragoran’s, whereas the other books in the main series tend to show multiple viewpoints, jumping back and forth between several storylines. Moiraine and Lan will be familiar to readers of the main series, and here we see them twenty-years prior to the events of the first book, Eye of the World. The book begins with Moiraine and her friend Siuan Sanche working their way as Accepted in the White Tower. They, along with the head of the Aes Sedai, the Amyrlin Seat, witness a Foretelling which announces that the Dragon has been reborn. Sworn to secrecy, the two begin working to find him, as he is key to the eventual (hoped for) victory of good over evil.
This story, then, anticipates the events of the fourteen book main cycle, and as such is an interesting foray into a time when two of the more popular characters in the series, Moiraine and Lan, are younger and a little more innocent than when we meet them in Eye of the World. They’re never too innocent, however, and the events of this book do serve to temper them, as they deal with plots and enemies both without and within the Aes Sedai ranks, and we find out how Lan becomes Moiraine’s Warder.
This book does not stand particularly well on its own, but as a precursor to attempting the massive Wheel of Time series (which clocks in at over 4.4 million words!), or as a way of revisiting a world already familiar and loved, it can be an enjoyable read.
Steve’s Grade: C+
While a part of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time universe, New Spring, coming as it does twenty years before the main events, feels a little like that skilled but unfamiliar band that opens for the headliner – you may or may not get into it, but it plays a good tune. Only for fans of the series, or those reading it for the first time.
Dragonmount, Robert Jordan’s official website (now run by fans and family)
Buy this book at: