On January 18, Tor released a trade paperback graphic novel of the comic adaption of New Spring, the prequel to Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. As a huge fan of Jordan’s series, I just had to get my hands on New Spring: The Graphic Novel.
The story of New Spring was first released in 1998 as a short story in the anthology Legends: Stories By The Masters of Modern Fantasy. Later, it was turned into a short novel, published in 2004, which was supposed to be the first in a never-completed prequel trilogy for The Wheel of Time.
Close to the novel
This version of the story, New Spring: The Graphic Novel, follows the events of the novel closely. With the story fresh in my mind from my re-read only two weeks ago (reviewed here), I recognized much of the dialogue and other text from the book. Like the novel, the graphic novel is set twenty years before the beginning of The Eye of the World, the first volume of The Wheel of Time. It 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.
Sometimes, however, the graphic novel follows the original a bit too closely. As is inevitable with a comic adaption like this, many parts of the narration didn’t make it into the artwork. That, in itself, isn’t a problem. It does become a problem when details are left out but the text talking about these details is kept unchanged. An example of this is one of the other Accepted, a friend of Moiraine and Siuan, who the comic reader will not meet until her very last appearance where it is assumed that they already know who she is.
The artwork in New Spring: The Graphic Novel is astonishing. Not only does it look great, it has captured both characters and atmosphere perfectly. The costume design looks amazing and true to Jordan’s creation. The two things I loved most about the art were the weaves of The One Power, which were depicted just as I imagined it and, strange as it may sound, the nudity during Moiraine’s testing. This isn’t full-frontal nudity, mind you. In fact, you don’t get to see anything at all, and by drawing it so, it is both tasteful and classy, showing the serenity of an Aes Sedai that I believe Robert Jordan tried to convene in this scene.
What does bug me about the art, though, are the different styles that are used. Styles of art vary from chapter to chapter and the final chapter was the most significantly different. In this last chapter, even the characters looked different than they did in the other volumes.
Why should you read this graphic novel?
Despite its flaws, New Spring: The Graphic Novel is a must-read for every fan of The Wheel of Time. With the addition of much extra background information, including an introduction to the world written by Robert Jordan himself, it is also a great start for first time readers that might find an 800 page book a little daunting. The best parts of this graphic novel, however, are the bonus materials. Any fan will geek out over the many emails by Mr. Jordan, where his passion for this world and his eye for detail are again emphasized. And guess what? There is an actual Old Tongue alphabet! I’m sure that, if you are a fan, you’ll be running to the store right now.