While we wait for the eleventh book in Robert Jordan s Wheel of Time series to be written and published, we are given the chance to take a look back at some of the events that led up to Moiraine s search for the Dragon Reborn and how she came to have a warder. New Spring was originally a short story in the 1998 fantasy collection Legends and the story told about the meeting of Lan and Moiraine (two names that should be very familiar to anyone who has read any of the Wheel of Time novels. New Spring: The Novel takes this story and expands it so that the original story is only the last chapters of the book.
New Spring begins with Moiraine and Siuan in Tar Valon as Accepted (the rank below being a full Aes Sedai). We witness an event that Moiraine will later allude to in the main series 20 years later: Gitara s foretelling that the Dragon has been reborn. It is the event that the Aes Sedai have been waiting for and dreading. This will become Moiraine s mission in life, to find the boy who will grow up to be the Dragon and to keep him safe until the Last Battle. This novel is filled with details about the White Tower that we never got a chance to see before. The time Moiraine and Siuan spend as Accepted is much different that what we later see with Egwene and Elayne. We are given glimpses of what the White Tower was really like before the Dragon is reborn and before Rand s existence changes everything. We even get to see a little bit of the inner workings of the Blue Ajah. This novel begins Moiraine s quest to find Rand (though she will not know it is Rand for another 15-20 years) before the Dark One can.
I know that I did not describe the basic plot of the book very well, but this is the sort of novel that even though it is a prequel and is set years before the events of Book 1, it is really directed at those who have already read the main series. Starting the Wheel of Time with New Spring destroys the sense of mystery and questioning that we get in The Eye of the World because New Spring already opens up the scope of the world while The Eye of the World slowly unfolds what we know about Rand, and what we know of Aes Sedai. New Spring seems to assume that we already are familiar with the characters and the concepts presented here.
I understand there are complaints because Robert Jordan took the time to write a prequel novel rather than continuing on with his main series that we hope he will finish before he dies. That is a valid complaint, but it doesn t address something very important: was New Spring a good book and did it entertain? The answer for me is yes. New Spring reminds me of part of the reason why I first started to enjoy the Wheel of Time series and also reassures me that the man is capable of writing a novel that is relatively shorter and tightly paced. He can, and he did, and I hope that he does it again. While I am still waiting for book eleven, this was an excellent diversion from the main series and was Jordan s best book in some time.