Spoilers for books 1-10 and New Spring| More info and previous posts |Please no spoilers for future books/events
In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and post about my experience, I’m now on the prequel book, New Spring. This post covers chapter 1-26.
This being a prequel, it seems both the Karaethon excerpt and the traditional windy opening has been omitted. Though the first line is still “A cold wind gusted…” So maybe RJ just needs to have his books with a breezy start.
Anyway, the first POV is Lans. He’s in a military camp with a bunch of soldiers, and turns out he’s in Tar Valon for the Aiel war. This is the pre-bonding Lan, and although he’s still hard, he does laugh and show a sense of humor, unlike the current grim Lan. He receives a messenger saying that another guy is following a bunch of Aiel with his force, and if he can catch the Aiel from the front, they can crush them together. Lan’s not one to back out from a fight.
So he wakes up his people and they get into position. Turns out there’s way more Aiel than expected, and Lan is just getting ready for a desperate last stand (even then he’s almost eager for death) when a bunch of trumpets sound, the Aiel shout “Aan’allein!” and run off. I presume this is because they managed to do what they came to do – kill Laman (although in that case what are they doing here near Tar Valon?) and are now going to return to the Waste.
A Wish Fulfilled
While this is going on, Moiraine and Siuan, who are currently only Accepted, are serving as Tamra the Amyrlin’s maids. Her Keeper is Gitara, who I recall was the one who sent Rand’s mom off to the Waste. Turns out this woman has the Foretelling, and she has one just then.
“He is born again!” Gitara cried. “I feel him! The Dragon takes his first breath on the slope of Dragonmount! He is coming! He is coming! Light help us! Light help the world! He lies in the snow and cries like the thunder! He burns like the sun!”
And then she dies. Of what? I dunno. Tamra tells them to keep the Foretelling to themselves and sends them off.
After this rather bizarre and shocking episode, the two return to a somewhat more regular life. This whole Accepted-Moiraine arc feels a lot to me like Harry Potter. It’s fun. Poor Moiraine never did get much screen time in the books. I like seeing her now, before she’s a “proper” Aes Sedai. There’s still hints of what sort of a person and Sedai she’s going to be though. And it’s kinda cute to see her try to emulate the Aes Sedai way of talking – hiding stuff while technically speaking the truth.
After a bit of chat about the birth of a prophesied Messiah/Destroyer, they decide to practice for their test for the Shawl. I was a bit miffed when all the supergirls became Aes Sedai without us getting to see the proper ceremony, but it seems that’ll be rectified now. The test seems to be centered around making a bunch of weaves under high-pressure conditions. Pretty practical and suitable, I’d say. The trouble is, Moiraine doesn’t seem to be doing too well. Siuan and Myrelle, who joins them later, manage to easily break her concentration. Presumably the real test will be harder. But then, we know that Moiraine does pass hers, so not much real tension there.
Next, they’re all summoned to a speech by the
headmistress Amyrlin. She announces Gitara’s death, and then announces a bounty for all children born in or near Tar Valon during the war. Obviously, an attempt to find Rand. And again, we know they won’t get to him for some years yet, so waste of gold. For now though, all Accepted are sent off to do a census of newborns around the place so the gold can be distributed.
Leaving The Tower
Moiraine rushes off to her room to prepare for the trip, starting with a comb and hairbrush. Cue rolling eyes. She meets Siuan and the two ride off with a bunch of guards to escort them. Siuan continues to struggle with riding a horse. Ok, so maybe continues is not the right word since this is technically her first horse-riding struggle we get to see, but whatever.
Once they get to the actual work though, they realise it’s not nearly as exciting as they were hoping, even though technically they’re looking for the Dragon Reborn. The day is spent taking down names and details of all the babies in the camp. Elaida and a couple other Aes Sedai stroll up to them. Yep, Elaida was a pain in the ass even then. Finally the work is done and then they return to the Tower.
They find Katerine (I wonder if she’s a Darkfriend even now) waiting, and she tells them that Merean, the Mistress of the Novices, has summoned Moiraine. She’s a bit apprehensive, assuming that it’s a disciplinary issue, but Merean just wants to break the news of Laman’s death to Moiraine – he was her uncle after all. But Moiraine isn’t fazed – the guy was a bit of a jerk it seems.
After an uneasy night filled with nightmares about Rand and the destruction he represents, Moiraine and Siuan are preparing for another day of name-taking, when Merean instead sets them to copying the prepared lists, because they have good handwriting. But there’s obviously more to it. Maybe Tamra just wants them a bit isolated, or they genuinely think it’s better for a grief-stricken Moiraine. I dunno.
So they exchange a day of boring name-taking for a day of boring list copying. And another. They also start making a list of names that might be the one they’re seeking. Also, a bunch of sitters come to talk to Moiraine. It seems the Tower sees an opportunity in Laman’s death – that of putting Moiraine on the Sun Throne. Again, we know that won’t work out. Still, I like it that Moiraine is so focused on finding Rand, she doesn’t even consider becoming a Queen. I mean, most people would leap at that kind of power. Tamra also seems to be handpicking sisters to search for Rand, but Moiraine attempts at spying on the Amyrlin to find out more lead nowhere.
While this is going on in the days, they still practice for the test at night. Elaida drops in on them one night. And proceeds to torture Moiraine and Siuan in the name of helping them prepare. Moiraine eventually breaks down crying, and Siuan only waits for Elaida to depart before doing the same. Elaida does this the next two nights as well, but fortunately Merean puts a stop to it after that.
But all this does nothing good to Moiraine’s confidence. She continues to prepare, but success is rare. And finally, one morning, it is time. She is called for the test.
From Accepted To Aes Sedai
After the obligatory stripping down, the test begins. And like with the Accepted test, this one involves entering a ter’angreal. Moiraine is faced by a bunch of unpleasant situations, ranging from rough men leering at her to thorny bushes to deadly spider to Trollocs, and each time she manages to make the required weave while also using the Power to defend herself. Just as I’m thinking that maybe the rest of the book will be her facing this stuff one hundred times, we skip to the end. Ninety-nine down, one to go. The final test turns out to be quite similar to what Novices face when testing for Accepted – a battered Moiraine is approached by her dad, her mother is dying and he needs her help. But as expected, she gets through this as well, and the test is over. She has passed. I wonder whether it was down to Elaida giving her so hardcore practice, that she was hardened enough to handle this.
After getting healed for her assorted wounds, Moiraine returns to the Accepted quarters to find Siuan gone for the test as well. She returns and yep, they’re both going to become Aes Sedai. For celebration, they decide to put mice in Elaida’s bed.
The next day they do the official ceremony, taking the Three Oaths and joining the Blue Ajah as expected. The day is spent getting to know her new Ajah-mates, and getting to know more inside stuff. Like the fact that you’re supposed to defer to an Aes Sedai who’s stronger than you. They now plan to begin looking for Rand in earnest, armed with the list of potential dragons they made while copying the names, but it’s not to be. Siuan is bullied into becoming the assistant of a Blue who manages their eyes and ears. Meanwhile, Moiraine is put in charge of distributing the bounty. So much for their quest.
A small POV from Lan – I would complain about the scarcity of these if I wasn’t enjoying Moiraine so much. His friend/mentor Bukama convinces him to take a few months off from his personal war against the Blight.
The next day, after breakfast in the way fancier Aes Sedai dining hall, Moiraine and Siuan head out to the city. First destination is the bank, where Moiraine deposits her fat cheque. Turns out Aes Sedai get a bunch of money from the Tower so they can keep up appearances and stuff. Her banker also tells Moiraine of a fellow who tried to get her financial details with a fake order from the Amyrlin. They caught him, which is good, but he escaped later by bribing the bank’s guards, which is bad. But nothing Moiraine can do about it right now.
Next they visit a seamstress and order a bunch of dresses.
The days after that settle into a pattern. There’s plenty new to learn as Aes Sedai – such as secret weaves, and ancient laws and customs. Not to mention the trick of ignoring the weather. They both also work at the jobs that have been forced onto them.
The calm is shattered by news of Tamra dying “in her sleep”. I don’t remember the details, but I definitely remember reading about this in some earlier book – the Black Ajah was involved. A new Amyrlin is selected. This one is a total hardass. Moiraine asks her to be freed from her job of overseeing the bounty distribution, and the Amyrlin agrees. She also orders Moiraine to not leave Tar Valon.
In another display of Harry Potter-ness, Moiraine immediately does the opposite. Leaving the Toweronpretense of taking a ride, she gets on a boat bound for the Borderlands. The fellow who was snooping in her bankspotsher, but is too late to do anything to stop the boat, even if he wanted. Two birds with one stone – Moiraine makes sure the Tower can’t make her the Queen by going far off, and it’s as good a place as any to start the search.
Lan and Bukama arrive at the city of Canluum in Kandor. Lan can get rooms at the Lord’s Palace, but decides to seek humbler lodgings. After a rather long search – all the inns seem packed – they find rooms in The Blue Rose, mostly because it seems the innkeeper knows Bukama. They also hear of a woman rallying support to revive Malkier in Lan’s name. Not entirely a honest woman, it seems, since she did it when rumors of Lan’s death started.
The two also share a history, as revealed in Lan’s flashbacks as he meditates. Apparently she was the first woman he slept with, and that gives her some special status in Malkieri custom. He and Bukama discuss what to do about the woman, and apparently Lan has “obligations” toward the woman.
They’re making their way back to the inn when they’re ambushed by six armed men, and Lan proceeds to kill every one of them. Impressive. But then we all know Lan is one of the best. It seems they were Edeyn’s followers. I’m guessing she meant to use Lan’s name to gather support for herself when she heard he’d died. But now that he’s back, that plan won’t work – unless he conveniently dies for real. Lan decides to go face her, in Chachin. Funky name, that. Chachin.
Meanwhile, Moiraine’s quest has brought her to Canluum as well. No luck so far, but she’s determined to keep going. I wonder if this quest will continue for like twenty years and end in a little village in Andor.
Anyway, she returns to her inn, and runs into Merean and Larelle, not to mention Cadsuane. To no surprise, Cadsuane takes charge. She orders Larelle and Merean to keep Moiraine with them, and the three are to go to Chachin together.
I’m wondering where all this is heading – we’re two thirds of the way into the book, and I don’t see how Moiraine and Lan are going to end up together (I’m assuming that we’ll get to see it) or what the climax is going to be. Just then though, Siuan arrives with some much-needed plot. All of Tamra’s searchers are dead, killed seemingly by accident. But there’s more. Siun knows for a fact that news of one of them dying in her sleep are lies, since she saw her bed, and it was not slept in. All this points to one thing. The Black Ajah. The two are scared, but decide to press on with their quest. Moiraine sends Siuan off to Chachin. She herself will follow the next day.
Returning to the inn, she spots a sister talking to a man, but she doesn’t see which one it was. After a restless night, Moiraine gets her horse and leaves with first light. She spots the man who was meeting with the unknown Aes Sedai leaving too. He’s with Lan and Bukama. Which makes him Ryne, Lan’s old friend. Hmm.
The Journey To Chachin
Moiraine decides to follow the three of them. I expect them to notice immediately – they’re experienced soldiers after all, but they don’t. Hours pass uneventfully, until one of the men turns off the road into the forest, while the other two rush off. Moiraine decides to follow the solitary fellow, who turns out to be Lan.
I kind of feel that I know what’s coming next, and it’s confirmed the moment Moiraine mentions a pond. Moiraine decides to surprise him – thinking that would give her the best chance to get some info out of him – and channels his sword to her. Unfortunately for her, Lan is faster than she expected, and before she has time to react, he grabs her and throws her into the aforementioned pond. Poor Moiraine. But she kinda had it coming, trying to surprise him like that. She tries to pull him in when he extends a hand to help her, only to find herself lifted bodily out of the pond, dangling from his hand. Ha!
But after this rough start, lights a fire for her to get dry (not needed, but he doesn’t know that). When his companions return, Moiraine invokes some Malkieri custom about her being a woman alone and so they agree to protect her on the journey to Chachin. Complete with a super serious oath from Bukama. She even pays them for good measure, but clearly that’s an insult to their honor.
In the night, Moiraine tries once again to have her revenge for the pond incident, by channeling a bunch of water out of the pond and onto Lan’s head. She even reveals herself as Aes Sedai. Neither evokes the sort of reactions she was hoping for though. The men are hardly surprised, let alone shocked.
The journey continues the next day. They stop at a village called Manala for food, and Moiraine slips away to find one of the women on her list, but she’s not there. So they move on, with Moiraine checking in every village they encounter. A pack of bandits tries to ambush them once, but Moiraine scares them off. In the nights, Moiraine wages war on Lan, sort of. Flicks with the power, sand in his clothes, ants in his underwear (ouch!). Poor Lan.
The POV switches to Moiraine. She’s doing all this to make him apologise to her. A bit childish, IMO, especially for an Aes Sedai. Just tell him to his face that you want an apology maybe. Anyway, it does make for fun reading.
The day Moiraine finds the woman/child she’s been looking for, they’re ambushed by a man. He gets an arrow into Lan, but dies soon after to two arrows from Ryne and Bukama. It seems whoever sent him knew about Moiraine – he was told to go for her first, but he didn’t know she was Aes Sedai and sought to neutralise the bigger danger (as he saw it) first – Lan. But Lan got lucky – the wound is not fatal, and Moiraine soon heals him.
They reach Chachin without further incident. Lan and Moiraine part ways for now. He and the other two guys go to the palace. The Queen is out of the city, but Lan does get to meet the Prince, Brys. And of course, Edeyn, his carneira. It seems she wants him to marry her daughter. Ew.
It’s one thing for your first lover to be special, but the amount of power Edeyn has over Lan is just nuts.
Meanwhile, Moiraine goes looking for Siuan. It was a bit of an oversight on their part not to fix a proper meeting place beforehand, and now Moiraine has to tramp through the city, checking every seedy inn she comes across, almost getting robbed and poisoned multiple times. Fortunately, she manages to find Siuan before sunset. The next woman on their list is in the Palace. Siuan also mentions, of all things, a blacksmith who died mysteriously.
Another day of banking and shopping follows, and the next day Moiraine shows up at the palace dressed up as a Cairhienin noble. Which she technically is, but still. And Siuan is her maid. She goes to meet Prince Brys, and amidst some boring talk, finds out more about Lan, and rushes off from the meeting pretending faintness. On the way to her rooms, Moiraine runs into Merean. Hmm, what is the woman doing here?
Moiraine is wondering the same thing. She goes to meet Lan and asks for his help, and he agrees after a bit of convincing. It’s pretty telling of the mindset of the Tower that they decided to pretend that they didn’t help Malkier when it fell instead of revealing the truth – that they tried, but couldn’t do anything. Moiraine asks Lan to order Bukama to keep an eye on Merean.
Returning to her rooms, Moiraine finds Iselle, Edeyn’s daughter, waiting for her. She doesn’t want to marry Lan. Instead, she wants to go to the Tower, and wants her help, but Moiraine brushes her off. Siuan has been inquiring about the Lady Ines. Her child was born the next day after Gitara’s death, and she’s going to try and find out more. She gets a report from Bukama on Merean’s activities – she just hung out with the Prince. Nothing too informative.
When To Surrender
In the night, Lan is trying to slip away from the palace. This it seems is his only way to escape Edeyn. Dude, if you knew you’d be her bitch and have to obey her, why’d you come her in the first place?
Suddenly he finds himself falling down a flight of stairs. The fall gives him a lot of bruises but fortunately no broken bones. The fact that he didn’t feel or sense anyone near him to push means the One Power was used. And there’s more bad news – Bukama has been killed. Clearly Merean is up to something.
Pissed at the death of his old friend, Lan rushes to Moiraine’s quarters. This somehow gives Moiraine enough information to see what’s going on, and they rush off to Brys’s balcony to find Merean has him, his son and Iselle captive. Ryne’s there too. The man is clearly a Darkfriend, and I kinda knew at this point that Merean is Black Ajah. But how’d Moiraine know they’d be here?
While Ryne attacks Lan, Moiraine and Merean struggle to shield each other. But Moiraine is no match for the more experienced and stronger woman. Merean manages to throw poor young Diryk down the balcony, and shield Moiraine. She throws Brys too, and is about to kill Iselle the same way when Moiraine stabs her from behind, and saves Iselle at least. Meanwhile, Lan has managed to kill Ryne.
All in all, a pretty sad business.
In more Harry Potter style, the next day brings some resolution. It seems that the Shadow knows that the Last Battle is coming, and are trying to kill any man who can channel. This is why they’re targeting men who seem unnaturally lucky. Diryk. Lan. The blacksmith. That’s what Moiraine pieced together. Sucks for all who died and will die, but, fortunately, this means Rand is safe for now, since they don’t know about Gitara’s Foretelling.
Moiraine sends Siuan back to the Tower, since by staying together they can’t search faster or anything, and working for the Blue spymistress is a pretty good way of keeping up with stuff.
Moiraine then goes to catch Lan on his way to the Blight. She tells him everything that’s been going on, and asks him to help in the way against the Shadow by becoming her warder. He agrees. And so begins a partnership that’s going to be super important in saving Rand’s skin multiple times and making sure he lives to face the Dark One.
And that’s New Spring. Pretty short book, and uneventful to boot, so I decided to wrap it up in one post. That does mean it’s a bit rushed, but not much happens so I think it’s fine. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the book. It was fun, and despite the rather brutal ending, pretty lighthearted. I enjoyed meeting Moiraine again, and the view of life inside the Tower. Plus the beginning of her and Lan’s relationship was just great to read about.
I still haven’t gotten over her death though. RIP Moiraine.
Although, Lanfear came back, right, so there’s still a chance…
And now the end is nigh. The Last Battle is coming. The climax of this huge saga is coming. My body is ready.