Wheel of Time Reread #6: Lord of Chaos

In anticipation of the Jan 8, 2013 release of A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, I’m rereading the entire series. Each book gets its own spoiler-filled post.

WoT06_LordOfChaosAnd, it’s book six! Rand has continued to try and unite the nations in preparation for Tarmon Gai’don, now that he holds Caemlyn in addition to most of Cairhien, Tear and the Aiel Waste. Mat has somehow found himself commander of an army, against every instinct he has to get away from trouble. Perrin is relaxing in the Two Rivers while Faile helps him be lordly. Egwene is also relaxing in Cairhien, and Elayne and Nynaeve are back to being Accepted at Salidar.

This is the first book in which there is no clean self-contained “plot” – books 1 to 3 were Rand’s journey to accepting his fate as the Dragon Reborn as he repeatedly confronted Ishmael, book 4 was Rand’s quest to learn how to channel properly while learning how to be the Dragon, book 5 was Rand consolidating power and defeating Rahvin. There are plans made throughout the book to attack Sammael, but no Rand vs. Sammael confrontation occurs. There is a climactic battle, but no Forsaken are involved.

Some notable events: Egwene becomes the Amyrlin Seat of the Rebel Aes Sedai (wow, that was sudden!), Nynaeve figures out how to Heal stilling/gentling and fixes Logain, Siuan and Leane (I really thought Siuan and Leane stayed stilled for longer), Mazrim Taim is introduced along with the asha’man and the asha’man go on their first away mission. Oh, and some more servants of the Shadow crop up – the creepiest Shadowspawn so far, Shaidar Haran, is introduced, and Aginor and Balthamel are reincarnated.

I didn’t make much of it when Lews Therin muttered crazily whenever he was around Mazrim Taim, but now that I know more about Taim’s allegiances and power… I wonder what he was seeing.

I was excited when Graendal started talking about Shara… Shara has always been the most mysterious part of Randland, and I hope to see it or people from it featured in A Memory of Light. I mean, if Graendal was able to “procure” their rulers, there should be some way in, right?

Mat continues to be awesome (except for a tiny bit in Salidar, but he couldn’t have been expected to believe that Egwene was actually Amyrlin) – Olver is introduced in this book, and it’s so adorable how Mat adopts him. I love how Mat’s always trying to pretend that he’s apathetic about everything, but he’s just a big softie. Although, I’m disappointed that Mat and Birgitte haven’t really hung out yet, despite travelling together for a while.

There was some other fun stuff in this book – Perrin meeting the in-laws was hilarious, as was Loial’s impending marriage. I’m kind of sad that the Ogier that came after Loial ended up in the Two Rivers after Loial had left, but I guess it’s worth it.

Some things were definitely not funny though – Morgase and Lan, especially. The Whitecloaks are pretty awful, and it’s terrible that Morgase ended up in their control for no fault of her own. What’s worse is that she hasn’t even been treated that badly yet, compared to what’s coming up. Lan only shows up once in the book, but it’s really, really sad. Why didn’t Moiraine just pass the bond to Nynaeve?

Also, Gawyn continues to be insufferable – why does Egwene suddenly LOVE him? The last time she was around Gawyn, she was ignoring him for Galad… but then she dreams a lot about Gawyn and decides that that means love? The romance in Wheel of Time is not very credible at the best of times, but this is horrible! But Egwene and Gawyn are both sanctimonious to a fault, so I guess that makes sense?

I wish there had been some sort of conclusion to Elayne and Nynaeve’s adventure in Ebou Dar – so far, they’re just looking for the Bowl of Winds (although they don’t know that’s what it’s called), and have no luck.

Last question – what seeds of chaos did Demandred sow? What was carried out under his orders, for him to be so pleased at the end of the book?

And now onto The Crown of Swords, where Sammael gets his comeuppance. And I don’t remember this, but hopefully that’s the book where Cadsuane shows up.

Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time, #6)
Tor Books, 1994 | Buy the book

Wheel of Time Reread #5: The Fires of Heaven

In anticipation of the Jan 8, 2013 release of A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, I’m rereading the entire series. Each book gets its own spoiler-filled post.

firesofheavenThe Wheel of Time series settles into a good pace with The Fires of Heaven, although this is the first book not to feature one of the ta’veren (See you soon, Perrin!) The story chugs along at a good pace – Rand takes the Aiel to restore peace in Cairhien, which has been made much harder by the Aiel dissenters led by the Shaido. Mat and Egwene tag along. Meanwhile, Nynaeve and Elayne escape from war-torn Tanchico and head for a safe place, but then find out that the White Tower is broken. Siuan, Leane and Min find their way to the rebel Aes Sedai camp (pursued by Gareth Bryne, who’s bored by living in the country) where they struggle to make themselves respected.

Okay, let’s begin with the most awesome parts. Mat! Birgitte! I love those two, and I’m pretty excited that Birigitte made it into real life from Tel’aran’rhiod. I think Mat and Birgitte meet up and get drunk together in some later book, I can’t wait. Mat is not given nearly enough POV time in the book (but he never is!) but he does get the chance to realise that his battle skills are really useful, even if he doesn’t like it. The Band of the Red Hand gets formed (TALMANES! I love Talmanes, especially after reading A Memory of Light‘s prologue), and Rand browbeats Mat into accepting responsibility and leadership, even if Mat does want to run far away. Hopefully now that Mat isn’t hiding from himself anymore, he’ll get more screen time.

Rahvin gets to be the Forsaken of the Book this time (although Asmodean, Lanfear and Moghedien also feature prominently) and a lot of attention is paid to Caemlyn. Morgase finally escapes after she hears word of Manatheren’s banner being raised from Tallanvor (yay Perrin, affecting people even when you’re not in the book or even mentioned by name), and Rahvin declares her dead but claims she proclaimed him King. That ends up really pissing Rand off and ruining the Forsaken’s plan to drive Rand towards Sammael in Illian and trap him there (I guess they didn’t count on Elayne being in love with Rand).

Nynaeve and Egwene continue to be really annoying in this book – I remember liking Egwene a lot more, but maybe that’s just towards the later books? Egwene comes off as really power-hungry (she’s always yelling at Nynaeve) and obnoxious, but she hasn’t really been focused on that much. I guess her maturity will come with her raising to Amyrlin. Nynaeve is annoying through most of the book (angry and hypocritical), but she definitely learns a lot and becomes a much better person by the end, especially because of Birgitte’s removal from Tel’aran’rhiod. Elayne is also growing, but she isn’t as much of a protagonist.

Aludra has to be the character that is met by the most number of main characters… Rand meets her first, then Mat saves her separately, and now Nynaeve and Elayne meet her in Valan Luca’s circus. Anyway, the circus was fun – there was lots of comedy with Valan Luca / Nynaeve and the Seanchan woman with the elephants was also interesting.

There are more Elayne/Min/Aviendha hijinks, but not much is resolved. I especially loved the part where Elayne finds out from Min that there’s an “unknown” woman that she has to share Rand with, and she hopes Aviendha is keeping a close watch on him (It turns out that Aviendha is keeping a very close watch on him). Rand is getting pretty scary – you don’t realise it from being inside his head (except for Lews Therin, who’s definitely getting stronger), but when he’s viewed from other perspectives, you see it right away.

Lanfear continues to be totally psycho, especially once she finds out that Rand’s been sleeping with someone else, and of course, Rand fails to kill her because he can’t deal with hurting women. There’s a lot of issues with Rand and women in this book, coming to a head when he can’t bear to ask the Maidens of the Spear to fight, and they give him a piece of their mind. As I recall, he still has this phobia in later books, though. Bad Rand. Maybe if you weren’t “chivalrous” like that, Moiraine wouldn’t have “died”.

Moiraine “dying” was one of the saddest parts of the books so far – I think I might have sniffled. Her letter to Rand was very touching, especially given that she found a way to counsel him without bullying him. You can see her knowledge of her impending doom colouring her actions throughout the book, and her acceptance of her decision. She’s definitely given up on trying to control Rand, and I can’t believe she knew who Asmodean was! (I guess she was eavesdropping on him). Moiraine is very cool.

Other random things – I forgot that Mat/Aviendha/Asmodean died before Rand balefired Rahvin (of course, Asmodean can’t catch a break) – balefire seemed a bit excessive to me, but since Mat lives and at least Rahvin doesn’t get resurrected – yay balefire! Also, I didn’t realise Egwene being raised Amyrlin was a plot hatched by Siuan – the seeds are set in motion in this book when Siuan and Leane “suggest” to the rebel Aes Sedai that someone strong in the power, easily biddable and not in the Tower when the rebellion happened.

And finally… yay Davram Bashere!

The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time, #5)
Tor Books, 1993 | Buy the book

Wheel of Time Reread #4: The Shadow Rising

In anticipation of the Jan 8, 2013 release of A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, I’m rereading the entire series. Each book gets its own spoiler-filled post.

200px-WoT04_TheShadowRisingThese books just keep on getting better!

Finally, everyone isn’t just trying to make their way to the same place so that Rand can battle Ishmael (and think he’s killed the Dark One himself) – each character gets to have an adventure of their own! Except for Mat, anyway, who spends the majority of the book trying to get away and go where he wants to.

There’s a pretty extended setup in Tear, where each character’s story arc gets set up. Egwene, Mat and Rand are headed to Rhuidean, but for very different reasons – Egwene to learn Dreaming from the Aiel, Rand to proclaim himself He Who Comes With The Dawn, and Mat because the Eelfinn told him to. Perrin and Faile head to the Two Rivers to protect it from Whitecloaks, accompanied by Loial and some Aiel. Nynaeve and Elayne head to Tanchico to continue on their Black Ajah hunt, accompanied by a bullied Thom. Meanwhile, Min reaches the White Tower and accidentally precipitates a split.

This is kind of the Trolloc attack book – both Rand and Perrin’s parties get attacked by Shadowspawn at least four separate times. It got a tiny bit repetitive, but Perrin’s Two Rivers heroics were some of the best parts of the book.

More romances get set up – Rand/Elayne (with some nifty handling by Egwene), and Rand/Aviendha (along with Rand realising that he likes Min “as much as he likes Elayne”). I’m not sure if it was clear to me at this point during my initial read that Rand ends up with all three, or if I thought it was just annoying “who do I pick” angst. It’s certainly not clear to Rand. The Moiraine/Thom romance also gets set up – I’ve always wondered what brought those two together, but now I understand. Moiraine is Cairhienin and Thom is really skilled at daes dae’mar, so she’s super impressed with his manipulative abilities. I only dimly remembered Thom’s manipulations, but it’s definitely good to see someone that’s not Aes Sedai pulling strings. And Nynaeve and Lan finally make out!

Perrin and Faile’s relationship continued to be annoying in the beginning, but Faile mellows out over the course of the book and by the end, they’re married and feel like they really belong together. The whole Berelain thing was also annoying… I don’t remember how Berelain ends up traveling with Perrin and Faile, but I don’t think it would’ve been as much of a problem if Faile hadn’t overreacted and tried to knife her…

Also – Birgitte! Asmodean! Moghedien! Yay! And Sevanna and Luc/Isam – ugh! And more plot thread foreshadowing – Galad drinking with Whitecloaks, Rand “remembering” that Lanfear loved power, Rand trying to revive someone from the dead after using Callandor, Alanna eyeing Perrin after losing a Warder, the Black Ajah being after the male a’dam

Nynaeve and Elayne being separated from Egwene was a good thing – the viewpoint usually defaulted to Egwene when they were all together, so we got to know them better. I loved that Nynaeve got her own climactic battle with a Forsaken, especially when she realises that she is at least as strong as Moghedien in the midst of it. Finally, she understands her potential. Elayne is still a bit bland, but Jordan does a great job of differentiating how her upbringing and background shaped her – she’s definitely spoiled/naive, but has her heart in the right place and is never obnoxious. I was glad that Egeanin showed up too, I love Egeanin and she does a great job of humanising the Seanchan.

Speaking of Forsaken, I didn’t realise how much of a obsessed stalker creep Lanfear was – when I read the books the first time, she seemed magnificently evil… now she just seems pathetic. I totally didn’t pick up on the peddlers being Lanfear and Asmodean either, or Asmodean’s intent to go to Rhuidean. I also didn’t pick up from my first reading that Rand cuts Asmodean off from the True Power – now I understand why Asmodean helps Rand. I liked that the theme of “someone needs to teach Rand!” was carried all the way from Tear, where Egwene and Elayne try to help to Rand finally finding a “trustworthy” teacher in Asmodean.

The Aes Sedai are further revealed to be less and less powerful – Moiraine is increasingly stressed by her inability to influence Rand (but is naturally secretive and mysterious, so Rand doesn’t even trust her when she’s right), Siuan is still so obsessed with trying to make plans for Rand that she doesn’t see dissension in her own ranks. Even Elayne notices this when she realises that both Aiel Wise Ones and Sea Folk Windfinders can channel and hold honoured places in their society, but Aes Sedai swear unbreakable oaths but are still mistrusted everywhere.

I didn’t realise that Gawyn ends up being such a jerk – rallying the trainee Warders to go kill real Warders in support of Elaida? Wow. Especially when he spends the first half of the book teasing Min. I can’t believe he ends up Egwene’s Warder. (Also, Egwene is still pretty annoying in this book. I know she gets awesome eventually, but in this book she’s just Hermione – eager to learn, but with no graces).

Other things that were awesome – the two chapters where Rand goes through the columns at Rhuidean and learns about Aiel history and the fall of the Age of Legends (and we learn that the previous age had airplanes and cars) and the origins of Tinkers, Maidens, a lot of Aiel customs. Loial is also awesome – I am not sure how he manages to be so adorable without bursting.

There’s still a bunch of stuff that probably could make it into this post, but I’ll stop. One last thought – if the Ogier and the original Aiel (that turned into Tinkers) sang the same songs to make things grow and Loial is a treesinger – why haven’t the Tinkers found the song from the Ogier?

The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time, #4)
Tor Books, 1992 | Buy the book

Wheel of Time Reread #3: The Dragon Reborn

In anticipation of the Jan 8, 2013 release of A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, I’m rereading the entire series. Each book gets its own spoiler-filled post.

the_dragon_reborn__frontcover_large_kVhYQJryhkOh43UThis is where the Wheel of Time finally starts getting awesome for its own sake, and not just “wow, check out all the references to later books!” Until the travesty that is Crossroads of Twilight, anyway.

Okay, first things first: Aviendha! Faile! Tel’aran’rhiod! The pieces are sliding into place.

Finally, Mat starts being totally awesome. Maybe he was awesome all along inside his head, but this is the first time we’re in his head and we see that he’s actually a pretty compassionate guy, he’s just fighting it all the time. And he’s started to realise it too. Also, his trouncing of Galad and Gawyn was awesome (and totally conceivable – I don’t think Galad and Gawyn usually fight people with quarterstaffs, and Mat’s been trained by his dad, the best in the village).

Now that I’ve brought up changes of perspective when you’re not in someone’s head all the time… Rand is totally nuts. I’m not sure if this is because he openly declared himself Dragon at the end of The Great Hunt, and so the Forsaken and Shadowspawn are harassing him a lot more, or if his channeling is driving him a bit insane. The bit where someone tries to join his camp and he kills them all (including a woman), and makes their corpses kneel to him because he’s the Dragon… uhhh… (yes, they did end up being Darkfriends and assassins, but still!) Now I understand why I dislike Rand so much – he was pretty nice, if boring, in the previous books. Do we ever get an explanation of this? Are his duties just depressing him so much, and is this a downward spiral until he ends up laughing on Dragonmount in one of the later books?

The Aes Sedai get a lot less intimidating in this book – they all have admirable composure, but it’s made clear in this book that Moiraine actually has no idea what she’s doing (although she’s still pretty awesome, balefiring Be’lal). It’s also interesting to see how people react to Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene when they’re pretending to be Aes Sedai – their intimidation causes them to take them a lot more seriously and see meanings into innocuous comments. Confidence is everything! Moiraine was somewhat  annoying, though – her continued refusal to tell Perrin anything, and her occasional needling of Lan about passing his bond on were not cool. I guess she was just stressed about what she should do and was succumbing to the pressure.

It’s hilarious how Moiraine and Siuan still think they’re in control – they see Perrin and Mat as boys that they can use in their schemes (yes, they’re well-intentioned schemes), rather than powerful people in their own right.  Their scheming does work sometimes, the way Siuan handled Elayne’s inclusion into her band of Black Ajah hunters was pretty smooth.

The whole way women treat men is irritating – I do sympathise with Jordan’s intent (I think?) of flipping gender roles/power, but he does it so blatantly. Some subtlety would’ve been nice. The way Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene treat Mat is horrible, especially after he travels all the way from Caemlyn to Tear in the fastest way possible to try and save them. I like that Jordan doesn’t take his characters too seriously, but when the women in his story don’t even take them seriously… it’s irritating. Faile does this too, but she hasn’t done it in this book very much.

Speaking of Faile, I don’t really get the Perrin/Faile relationship. How the hell do they fall in love? At least Mat/Tuon’s relationship, even if it isn’t normal, is done with full awareness.

I was glad to see the Forsaken out in full force again – Be’lal in Tear, Sammael in Illian and Rahvin in Andor, plus Lanfear and Ishmael in everyone’s dreams. I assume Mesaana is in the White Tower too. Political intrigue is always fun, and it finally begins. I’m also relieved that everyone realised that Ba’alzamon wasn’t the Shadow himself – I didn’t realise that took so long. I also finally understood why Lanfear is the “Daughter of the Night” – she is the best Dreamer.

As usual, there were a lot more clues to the future, as well – Gawyn having a thing for Egwene, Sheriam being found on the scene after a Grey Man is killed, Alanna being given some attention – even High Lord Darlin makes an appearance.

I’m glad this this is the last book where everyone ends up in the same place – that way there doesn’t have to be all these contrivances to get them there, and people have the freedom to pursue their own story. I’m not sure why Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve even had to be in Tear.

One last thing – I’ve always assumed that the Age of Legends was a really futuristic place, and there’s a lot of clues that Jordan leaves to support that – the portal stones (wormholes to alternate realities), the tower made out of metal, etc. I was wondering how the Forsaken were dealing with a more primitive society, they seemed so used to it. But then Be’lal says something to the effect of “remember when we decided to learn to sword fight, as men of old used to?” to “Lews Therin”, and that answered that question for me.

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time, #3)
Tor Books, 1991 | Buy the book

Wheel of Time Reread #2: The Great Hunt

In anticipation of the Jan 8, 2013 release of A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, I’m rereading the entire series. Each book gets its own spoiler-filled post.

great-hunt-book-two-wheel-time-robert-jordan-paperback-cover-artThe Great Hunt is pretty good, but still a bit frustrating – the main characters are coming into their own, but still so far from where they end up being, for most of the book, anyway. The characters definitely grow though – Rand, especially.

It was great to meet a few more important characters – Verin, Lanfear, etc. I was definitely reading Verin very differently, given that now I know she’s a Black Ajah mole, and similarly, I noticed Ingtar’s odd behaviour a lot more. Lanfear/Selene was much less awesome than I remembered, given that Rand doesn’t realise who she is and is half in love with her. I was pretty surprised when she revealed herself to Min at the end – I don’t remember that.

Mat continues to be super annoying by being bitter all the time and scared of Rand (yes, I know his reactions are realistic and sane, but he’s still abandoning his best friend!) – when does he get awesome? I remember having the same reaction when I first read the books; I hated Mat for a long time.

I don’t really get the whole Ba’alzamon plotline. Ba’alzamon is Ishmael/Moridin, right? Why does everyone think he’s the Dark One? How does he get in all these random places? Why did the Rand/Ba’alzamon fight take place in the sky? It seems like Jordan’s magic system gets a lot more consistent later, right now it’s a bit of a mess. Another question: what did Moiraine realise in her studies at Adeleas and Vandene’s house?

I didn’t realise Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne were only in the White Tower for a couple of months before they went off on an adventure. I remember a lot more White Tower scenes, but I guess those must be from future books. The whole Egwene-being-collared plotline was really painful to read – the damane are such an uncomfortable idea. I suppose there must some sort of rebel faction of channelers on Seanchan, but I guess they wouldn’t have made it across the ocean. It would be pretty interesting to explore Seanchan in more detail… but I digress.

Oh, the prologue was awesome. I forget which Whitecloak “Bors” actually ended up being, so I’m excited to rediscover that.

On to The Dragon Reborn!

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time, #2)
Tor Books, 1990 | Buy the book

Wheel of Time Reread #1: The Eye of the World

In anticipation of the Jan 8, 2013 release of A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, I’m rereading the entire series. Each book gets its own spoiler-filled post.

WoT01_TheEyeOfTheWorldI’ve been putting off my Wheel of Time reread because I didn’t really want to read The Eye of the World again. The first time I read it, I had no interest in continuing with the series. I’m glad I did, though – this is one of my favourite series’, and led me to my favourite fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson.

Anyway, I finally pushed myself to read it, and it took me three days (which is really long for me) – part of that was because I was going slowly and trying to catch all the references to future books, part of that is that large swatches of it are kind of boring, especially compared to the later events of the books. The characters are still growing into themselves and are all somewhat immature and helpless – it’s amazing how far they’ve come. Another reason this book is annoying is that most of it is from Rand’s perspective, and Rand isn’t that interesting.

It was really nice to see some hints of later events that I totally missed seeing the first time around – for example, Lan and Nynaeve’s romance, which threw me for a loop the first time it was explicitly talked about. I didn’t understand how their characters managed to fall in love, since they were both so proud and stoic, but I took notice of all the small hints as they travel together in this book, and now it makes sense. I also didn’t realise how much of a crush Rand and Egwene had on each other. It was also nice to pay more attention to “minor” characters like Bayle Domon – I never really paid that much attention to what he was doing in my first read.

The Forsaken aren’t as complex and interesting in this book – they’re very one-dimensionally evil. I’m really looking forward to meeting Lanfear, I think that’s when things start looking better on that front. I was kind of surprised how much stuff seemed Tolkien-derived – the unlikely hero from farmland growing tobacco, the Trolloc/Orc and Myrddraal/Nazgul similarities, the flight across woodland, then a bridge, then to an inn in a “bigger” town, the flight down a river flanked by cliffs with giant carvings of past rulers. It felt a bit too much like deja vu sometimes, particularly because I haven’t noticed this in later books.

I’m looking forward to The Great Hunt immensely – that’s when things start to get exciting. I can’t wait for Mat and Egwene to come into their own; they’re two of my favourite characters and they’re both pretty terrible in this book.

Other notes:
– I totally didn’t realise the Tower of Ghenjei and Choeden Kal were referenced in this book, so I was really excited to encounter them. Same for the Coramoor.
– What is the Eye of the World? As far as I know, it’s never talked about again. It seems like it’s this huge central thing, but it isn’t?
– It’s interesting that possessed-Mat taunts Egwene about her dreams – very foreshadow-y.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time, #1)
Tor Books, 1990 | Buy the book

“By Grace and Banners Fallen” by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

By Grace and Banners Fallen coverI’m apparently a total sucker for corporate gimmicks, but I figured $2.99 was an okay price to read By Grace and Banners Fallen (the prologue of A Memory of Light) three months in advance, so I bought it.

This isn’t really a review – after all, I’m writing about the prologue of the fourteenth book in an epic fantasy saga. You’re not likely to read it without reading the entirety of The Wheel of Time (and neither should you!) This is more just an excuse to squee a lot. Of course the prologue was amazing – it even answered a few plot questions! We meet the protagonists gathering for the Last Battle, secondary characters neatly stepping into their roles, the Chosen plotting, a rare sympathetic perspective from an evil character, and heroic battles and noble warriors. And Talmanes being a total badass!

Waiting for January 8 was hard, but it just got a lot harder.

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (The Wheel of Time, #14)
Tor Books, 2013 | Buy the book
I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher or author.

“New Spring” by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time is a series that I really love, so I knew I would love New Spring even before I started it. New Spring is a prequel to the main Wheel of Time series, featuring the Aes Sedai Moiraine Damodred and Siuan Sanche as young women who have not yet been raised to the rank of full Aes Sedai. It also follows the story of al’Lan Mandragoran, the last King of Malkier, who we know in The Wheel of Time as Moiraine’s Warder, and how he ended up bonded to Moiraine.

The book assumes that you’re familiar with The Wheel of Time, the various organisations, countries, etc. aren’t really given that much of an explanation.We meet some familiar faces, primarily in the Aes Sedai – Verin, Elaida, Cadsuane, Sheriam and Leane, among others. It’s kind of hard for me to figure out what information was new to us in the book because I read the Wheel of Time wiki so much.

It’s definitely interesting to see Moiraine and Siuan, both so inscrutable and awe-inspiring in the main series, as young and immature women still finding their way in the world. Their friendship is really affectionate and well-portrayed. Lan is pretty much unchanged, he’s still honourable, sensible, dutiful and proud. We get to find out a lot of backstory, for instance why Moiraine was searching for the Dragon Reborn, how Lan and Moiraine ended up trusting each other so much, what the Black Ajah had been up to, the decline of the White Tower starting to show.

Basically, read it if you love The Wheel of Time. If you haven’t read The Wheel of Time, read at least the first few books in the series before reading this. Skip it if you don’t love The Wheel of Time.

This is book 12 of 25 of my Dec 11, 2011 book challenge.

New Spring by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time, #0)
Tor Books, 2004 | Buy the book