Saturday, November 20, 2021

New Spring

 New Spring (The Wheel of Time, #0)

New Spring by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first and only Wheel of Time prequel novel by the late Robert Jordan opens with one of the primary protagonists, al’Lan Mandragoran, son of el’Leanna and al’Akir, on a cold battlefield against the Aiel, wielding a blade once used by Malkieri monarchs. When the nation of Malkier died, twenty men bore the responsibility of bearing the infant Lan to safety, with only five surviving the journey, among them being Bukama Maranellin, champion of Salmarna. As a babe, Lan received four gifts: a ring he still dons, a locket he wears over his neck with portraits of his parents, his sword, and an oath sworn in his name.

The main reason for the battle against the Aiel is their supposed allegiance to an ancient evil known as the Dark One, which alongside his servants, the Forsaken, bound in Shayol Ghul. Before the novel’s events, the Aiel had further wrought havoc in the nation of Cairhien, going as far as the island city of Tar Valon, which bears the tallest structure in the known world, the White Tower, home to an order of magicians known as the Aes Sedai. In the building itself, an Accepted, an Aes Sedai candidate, named Moiraine Damodred, is aware of the conflict, with her uncle allegedly starting it yet receiving no further apparent mention throughout the story.

Tamra and Gitara Moroso are the only two actual Aes Sedai in the Tower at the moment, with most busy on the battle field granting their powers of Healing to injured soldiers. The latter ultimately proclaims the Dragon, a legendary hero of shorts, to be reborn on Dragonmount, with many infants throughout the narrative regarded as candidates for the fated position. Moiraine soon departs the White Tower in search of the true Dragon Reborn, with the Aiel in the meanwhile retreating from battle.

Moiraine eventually returns to the Tower to take the tests necessary to become a true Aes Sedai, and passes, choosing the Blue Ajah among the many different symbolically-colored Ajahs, orders of the Aes Sedai with special qualities, some having protectors known as Warders. Meanwhile, Lan wishes to have nothing to do with the Aes Sedai, although his and Moiraine’s paths ultimately intersect, with the sorceress going by the alias of Lady Alys. Furthermore, a member of the forbidden Black Ajah is suspected in many events throughout the story, such as various character deaths.

The action of the prequel story concludes in the city of Chachin, with a battle against the suspected Black Ajah, Merean. The epilogue indicates a period of mourning and potential genocide against male channelers of the One True Power (with its male half, the saidin, tainted by the Dark One), although there is light amidst the darkness, as Moiraine wishes Lan to be her Warder, setting the stage for the main series. Overall, this is a surprisingly enjoyable prelude to the main Wheel of Time stories, although there is obvious inspiration drawn from the Star Wars franchise. Even so, it proves a good diving board into the more verbose entries of the fabled literary franchise.

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