New Spring was first written in 1998 as a short story in the anthology Legends: Stories By The Masters of Modern Fantasy, and later expanded into a short novel. Published in 2004, New Spring was intended to be the first novel of a prequel trilogy for The Wheel of Time. However, the trilogy was never completed, leaving us New Spring as the only prequel to one of fantasy’s most loved series. The novel is set twenty years before the beginning of The Eye of the World and tells the story of Moiraine and Siuan, two Accepted—students to the Aes Sedai, female users of magic in Jordan’s world. When they overhear a prophesy not intended for their ears, their lives are thrown into turmoil, especially when they discover that everyone else who knew about the prophesy died under suspicious circumstances.
Difficult writing style
Reading this novel again, I was amazed at how different Brandon Sanderson’s style is from Jordan’s. The first time around, I read New Spring right after my four-month read of all eleven of Jordan’s books. Sanderson is finishing the Wheel of Time series, and while I think he captures the series in an outstanding way, I needed some time to get used to Jordan’s style again after reading the latest books by Sanderson, even though I didn’t have that problem adjusting to the novels Sanderson wrote, nor did I have a problem the first time I read New Spring. Jordan’s style is definitely difficult to get into. Once you have gotten used to it, though, it’s very much worth the effort, providing an epic read with characters to love and empathize with.
That doesn’t mean that Jordan isn’t a brilliant author. In fact, New Spring all but proves his brilliance. Many of the characters in this prequel have a big role in The Wheel of Time. Jordan manages to create characters that feel true to their future selves, yet feel younger as well. This shows, for example, in numerous character flaws that have long been mastered twenty years later.
Above all, Jordan’s brilliance is shown in the skillful way the story of New Spring connects to The Wheel of Time and lays a foundation for all the books of the series. It builds upon the information already known when this novel was released, between books ten and eleven, and contains a great deal of foreshadowing for events in the books that followed.
A new beginning?
To me, noticing this raised one big question: Can New Spring be read as a start of the series, by readers who have yet to read The Wheel of Time? I believe the answer is yes and no. Yes, this book fits well as a new beginning, not giving away too much, but laying a great foundation for reading following volumes. But no, because the one thing I enjoyed while reading The Wheel of Time for the first time was gradually discovering all the layers of information the world and story had to offer. While it does not give major spoilers, New Spring answers too many questions a first time reader would enjoy asking himself. My advice would be to read the books in the order they were published.
Then why should you read this book?
If you are already a fan of The Wheel of Time and have not yet read this book, there is really no excuse not to read it. New Spring is most definitely a part of series, and the story is just as epic as that of any other volume. If you haven’t read The Wheel of Time and are looking for an easy way in, you could consider starting with this prequel. But then again, you might as well read the graphic novel first.