Book Review: NEW SPRING by Robert Jordan

I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in black on white with three grey circles interlocked
Genre: fantasy (classic)
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: yes - prequel

Synopsis:

Book cover for NEW SPRING: title in white on green grassy landscape with "wheel of time" logo above

The city of Canluum lies close to the scarred and desolate wastes of the Blight, a walled haven from the dangers away to the north, and a refuge from the ill works of those who serve the Dark One. Or so it is said. The city that greets Al’Lan Mandragoran, exiled king of Malkier and the finest swordsman of his generation, is instead one that is rife with rumour and the whisperings of Shadowspawn. Proof, should he have required it, that the Dark One grows powerful once more and that his minions are at work throughout the lands.

And yet it is within Canluum’s walls that Lan will meet a woman who will shape his destiny. Moiraine is a young and powerful Aes Sedai who has journeyed to the city in search of a bondsman. She requires aid in a desperate quest to prove the truth of a vague and largely discredited prophecy – one that speaks of a means to turn back the shadow, and of a child who may be the dragon reborn.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I have no idea if it’s a good idea to read the prequel first or not, given the prequel was released later. However, I have been sent the prequel and the first three books, so starting here gives me the longest continuous time in this world, and the most chance to get into the series – as I do sometimes need a few books to slip into a world. Plus I prefer to read chronologically if everything’s released. I know there’s a risk of spoilers, but it means I’m not trying to wrangle my head around working out how much earlier than other books something is!

I highly suspect this is not the book you are supposed to read first! It does have that feel of long descriptions and lots of character names that are supposed to mean more than they did to me. And it did make for a very slow start, as there was just so much description and every day life of the tower. It took me a while to get into it, but I suspect that’s because I wasn’t seeing the inside of something that’s been an institution on the edge of the story for years about a character who isn’t the lead. (We shall see how accurate that perception is.)

However, once I got into the book, I did really enjoy it – once I’d sunk into the world and got past the first half-dozen chapters (which were the slowest, crammed with the most “daily life” stuff.) It’s a very rich world, with a lot of lore behind it. And I do love a good quest fantasy, and this is one of the biggest! Also, to read a classic fantasy book by a man that isn’t reeking of sexism is a nice change. Hoping that stays true as I jump back ~15 years in our history to start the main series.

The story structure is a little odd. Most of the book is not about what the blurb says it is. Lan is not the main character – Moirane is. Lan has the first chapter then disappears for about 10 chapters. Moirane doesn’t leave the tower until halfway, with that first half being a very slow look at her education and why she’s so invested in this prophecy. And then the blurb happens in the final third of the book.

(From what I can see of the coming books, the blurbs for this series are all rather “it doesn’t really tell you what the book is about, just a vague idea of the series being a good vs evil story. The three book in the series I have all have the same absolute-no-information blurbs! It’s an interesting thing, and I’m quite glad this old blurb style is out of favour. I had to search for semi-decent blurbs for Eddings’ books! I like to have at least an idea of what I’m getting myself into!)

Starting with the “behind the scenes” with the people getting the prophecy and the shadowy war over protecting/destroying that prophecy feels very different, and I think of the whole I’m rather pleased I started here.

The Wheel of Time series was completed by Brandon Sanderson, after the author’s death in 2007. This book was published in 2004, but the copyright says “Bandersnatch Group” rather than Robert Jordan. Now, some authors have their copyright under a company (that is basically them) but is somehow easier for certain taxes (Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, and Brandon Sanderson all do this.) As far as I can tell, this is a Robert Jordan book, but he’d moved to a company copyright situation since the first book due to the scale of the sales? Publishing is a weird business!

Right, time to start the series proper! And THE EYE OF THE WORLD has to be the most intimidatingly big series-starter I’ve seen. Excluding the glossary etc, it’s 771 pages!


Read my reviews of other books by Robert Jordan:

The Wheel of Time (this series):

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