What I Missed – Reading New Spring


THIS ARTICLE MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR THE WHOLE SERIES

We all miss some little Easter Eggs, when we read a book for the first time… even on the second time! I know I do! It is also true that everyone might notice different things while reading a book.

In this article I would like to discuss things I missed in my previous read of The Wheel of Time’s prelude, called “New Spring”. My last read of “New Spring” was a looong time ago. Since then I have reread the whole series once or maybe twice, which means that I remember almost nothing from “New Spring” and this time it felt a bit like my first ever read of the book.

So, let us start with Chapter 1 – “The Hook”. We meet Lan, who is walking around a camp, nestled around the slopes of Dragonmount. While he is walking around the camp, he is met by his friend Bukama, and they discuss the war that is currently going on. Lan has thoughts about battles long past:

“A thousand years had passed between the Breaking of the World and the Trolloc Wars, or so most historians said.”

“A thousand years from the Trolloc Wars until Hawkwing built an empire, and that, too, was destroyed, after his death, in the War of the Hundred Years. […]. And now, close enough to a thousand years after Hawkwing’s empire died, the Aiel came, burning and killing. It had to be a pattern.”

I didn’t notice, or maybe I didn’t make an effort to notice, this pattern before. Surely, dear Mr. Jordan put these thoughts into Lan’s mind, because this pattern was intended and not just a coincidence!

In Chapter 2 – “A Wish Fulfilled” we meet Moiraine for the first time. She is in the Amyrlin Seat’s office with her best friend Siuan. They are there just in case the Amyrlin needs anything during the night. We all know Moiraine and Siuan were raised Aes Sedai on the same day (later in this book), but what I hadn’t noticed before was that Moiraine and Siuan also signed their names in the Novice book on the same day, took the same amount of time as Novices and even took the Accepted test on the same day!

“They had been entered in the novice book on the same day, and moved almost in lockstep with the Power, even to passing for Accepted on the same day.”

In Chapter 3 – “A Practice” Tamra, the Amyrlin Seat, gathers all the Accepted in a big hall to make an announcement. There is a Sea Folk Accepted, Zemaille, who Moiraine thinks of as “sober and thoughtful”.

“Zemaille, though, seemed to want to forget her origins. At least, she would never talk about the Sea Folk unless pressed by an Aes Sedai. And she was diligent, intently focused on earning the shawl from her first day, so Moiraine had heard, though she was not quick to learn. Not slower than most, just not quick. She had been Accepted for eight years, now, and ten years a novice before that, and Moiraine had seen her fumble a weave time after time before suddenly setting it so perfectly that you wondered why she had failed before. But then, everyone progressed at her own pace, and the Tower never pushed harder than you could go.”

We know that the Sea Folk keep a secret, that they have many a number and very powerful channelers among them. The fact that Zemaille takes her time to master something only leads me to think that the Sea Folk tell the girls they send to the White Tower to learn slowly and act as if their talent is insufficient. Maybe I am wrong in reading too much here, but it is something I noticed at least.

We jump to Chapter 9 – “It Begins” – Moiraine is summoned to take the test for Aes Sedai. During the ceremony, before Moiraine enters the ter’angreal, while Merean instructs her, Anaiya, a Blue Sister, weaves and touches Moiraine’s neck with the weave, saying the words “Remember what must be remembered”.

“’Therefore I will instruct you,’ Merean went on. ‘You will see this sign upon the ground.’ She channeled, and her finger drew a six-pointed star in the air, two overlapping triangles written for an instant in fire. […] When you see that sign, you will go to it immediately, at a steady pace, neither hurrying nor hanging back, and only then may you embrace the Power.[…]When the weave is complete,’ Merean said, ‘you will see that sign again, marking the way you must go, again at a steady pace, without hesitation.[…] One hundred times you will weave, in the order you have been given and in perfect composure.”

I am not sure if I ever noticed this before, but this time I am sure this is done, so that the tested Accepted knows how many weaves she has completed and to follow the six pointed star. In this chapter we see Moiraine does this during her test; she follows the six pointed star and always knows how many weaves she has completed.

In Chapter 10 – “It Finishes” I noticed that during her test, Moiraine often found herself stripped of her clothing. Obviously, the Aes Sedai charging the ter’angreal, knew of her modesty and exploited that.

Also, for the first time, I realized that Moiraine’s test took the morning until the early afternoon, and Siuan’s until that evening. I always thought both of them were done during the night for some reason.

Chapter 14 – “Changes” – Moiraine and Siuan are full Sisters and are getting educated in Tower politics between the Ajahs and also new weaves, some known only to the Blues.

“ They [the sisters] had been aware the spark was already ignited in her, but she told them only about lighting candles and making a ball of light to find her way in the dark.”

Wait, wait, do you mean to tell me Moiraine had already chanelled before coming to the Tower ? I didn’t know that. Surely that makes her a wilder? But then, the fact that she is from a noble Caihrienin family surely holds weight against being from the Two Rivers.

In this chapter in particular, I noticed that when Moiraine thinks of Siuan, it’s as if Siuan is great at everything immediately. I do not understand why Jordan chose to make Siuan this person who is perfect at everything. I guess it could be a foreshadowing to her becoming Amyrlin after as soon as, what, 10 years of wearing the shawl?

Later, Moiraine reminisces how empty the Tower is and it has been for years, and that there is nothing she could do. But something that made me chuckle was the following thought:

“But then, if women who had worn the shawl two hundred years or more could find no solution, why should she be able to?”

I mean, it’s exactly the women who have worn the Shawl for one hundred years or more, who are against changing Tower tradition. So then, someone who is newly raised with a different view is exactly the type of person who can do something about it! Which is what Egwene started later in the main series.

At the same time, Moiraine is receiving invitations from Cairhienin nobles visiting Tar Valon.

“She tossed the stiff white cards into the fireplace unanswered. A dangerous move in Daes Dae’mar, with no way to tell how it might be interpreted”.

Isn’t this exactly what Rand does in The Great Hunt, while he is visiting Cairhien? If I remember correctly, Thom told him that he is unsure how this “answer” will be interpreted. Funny, now we know how right Thom was!

We also learn about some Malkieri customs:

In the following chapters, Moiraine meets Lan and company. In Chapter 20 – Breakfast in Manala in particular, but even some chapters before that, Lan gives a glimpse of Malkieri culture, and it seems close to the Aiel’s culture… except for the part where they pierce you with their spears of course. But from what I read, Malkieri are very proud people, who keep their word, do not look you in the eyes (since this seems to be disrespectful) are close mouthed about their past, and they seem to be resigned, or maybe, they understand that everyone dies eventually. I guess this is also a Borderlands thing too.

In Chapter 22 – “Keeping Custom”, we also find out a bit more about their courting culture. It seems really alien to me – a woman chooses her first lover, but a man is chosen by a woman, who will be his first lover? Very interesting, I am sad that this wasn’t introduced and explained in more detail in the actual series.

In the last chapter, Chapter 26 – “When to Surrender”, Moiraine fights Merean with the Power. I imagine a lot of Power was used for this battle, but Siuan only finds out about this after everything is over and Moiraine told her. I feel like Siuan would sense what is happening and come running, even if she was on the other side of the palace. This scene also seemed a bit rushed.

The whole ending of the book seemed a bit rushed to me, after taking so long for exposition, but… I guess we did not need much of an ending. We needed to know how Moiraine became who she is and how she met Lan.

In the audio book, there is a little quote from Jordan himself, saying that he intended for “New Spring” to be read even by someone who hasn’t read any of the Wheel of Time books. That was surprising to me, since I would always suggest people first read several Wheel of Time books before picking up “New Spring”. I myself read it after book 10, if I remember correctly, and it made more sense to read it like this. I would love to know if people have started reading the series with “New Spring” and if they were confused by it being their first book.

In the end, I still really like the book and it’s certainly one of my top favorites!

No Comments

Ranking The Wheel of Time Books – Part 3

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

 

Here we are, almost at the end! Are you excited to find out the top 5 favorite Wheel of Time books? Here we go!

 

NUMBER 5 – The Dragon Reborn

 

Yes, The Dragon Reborn is indeed a favorite of many people. I can only assume it’s because it is a fast paced book, a lot of things are happening, and there is even a bit of foreshadowing to some future events. Plus we finally find out the prophecy is completed and the Dragon has been reborn.

 

In this book, we get to see the real Mat also. He is not mad with the dagger’s taint, nor is he just a shadow of himself without it, like in the Great Hunt. He gets Healed in the White Tower and also kicks both Gawyn and Galad’s behinds in a fair duel only with a quarterstaff! I think this is one of the most memorable scenes in the whole series. We also get to see how powerful Moiraine is when she kills one of the Forsaken.

 

We meet several Aiel, which to this point we have only heard mentioned as some sort of legendary creatures who must be feared. Instead we see them vulnerable (the scene where Nynaeve heals the Aiel girl) and I think this is the beginning of the the fandom’s love of the Aiel.

 

This book is both an ending (we have confirmation that Rand is indeed the Dragon Reborn) and a beginning (to the rest of the story). All in all a strong book!

NUMBER 4 – Knife of Dreams

 

I hope you know why this book is so high up here. Yes, after several hard to read books, we finally get one that is fast paced and has a lot of stories finally untangling. Most of all, we are glad that Faile gets freed from the Shaido so we can stop that storyline. Finally.

 

Also, Elayne gets the throne of Andor. I personally was not really interested in the whole succession story, since it’s politics, but maybe some people like it because .. politics.

 

I think the biggest surprise in this book is Egwene’s resistance. I don’t know what you thought would happen with Egwene once she was captured, but I did not expect such resistance from her. And I was pleasantly surprised! This was what she was studying with Siuan for the last couple of books.  

 

And the last thing is…. Mat is finally married! I was really surprised and maybe a bit relieved when it happened. He does know how to charm a woman, even if she is as stone-hearted as Tuon seems.

 

NUMBER 3 – The Eye of the World

 

This is where it all started. This is where we all got hooked! I believe The Eye of the World earned this third place spot very convincingly. 

 

The book starts slow but it gets so much better with each page. We get just a taste of how big this world is and how many things are yet to come.

 

I think the book is paced really well for a first book in a series, and the ending is the biggest, most interesting part. I am sure this book will stay in our hearts as one of the best in the series because it started our love affair with The Wheel of Time.

 

NUMBER 2 – Lord of Chaos

 

This is no surprise to anyone I’m sure. Lord of Chaos is one of the most liked books of the series. There is so much to love here, and one of the most memorable scenes in the entire series: the battle at Dumai’s Wells.

 

For me the best thing, the part I really enjoy reading, is Egwene’s raising to the Amyrlin Seat. This was so surprising for me, I did not see it coming the first time around.

 

I think this book shapes how the Aes Sedai part of the story plays out for two main reasons. First, the Salidar Aes Sedai choose Egwene as their leader. Second the Tower Aes Sedai capture and try to abduct Rand, firmly moving Elaida and her Aes Sedai to the enemy camp in Rand’s mind.

 

This book also shows us that this Age is bringing lots of changes to the world, like Nynaeve Healing Stilling, a condition previously thought to be impossible to Heal.

 

NUMBER 1 – The Shadow Rising

 

We’re finally here, the number one spot in the ranking! Most readers call The Shadow Rising the best book in the series. I think this has a lot to do with how much we learn about the Aiel (a major fan favorite) in this book.

 

As with the previous book in the series, here again we experience the fulfillment of a prophecy. In this case, Rand destroys the Aiel by revealing the truth of their history. Also, Mat receives interesting information from the Aelfinn and Eelfinn; even if we don’t understand it at this point, we know that Mat is destined for big things.

 

The battle in the Two Rivers is very important. Perrin’s path to becoming Lord of the Two Rivers starts here; we finally get a feel for what his future holds. But the battle is personal for readers as well. We fondly remember the start of the whole adventure in the Two Rivers, and we know the epic story of Manetheren from Moraine’s telling. The Two Rivers is our symbolic home, and reading about this battle is almost like reading about a battle in our own home town.

 

This book has a lot of all the good things we love about The Wheel of Time, and it is very enjoyable to read. I think it’s the the high point of the series.

 

 

___

Now that you’ve read through my rankings, what do you think? Which book is your favorite? Which would you put at the bottom of the list? Feel free to share your own rankings in the comments!

No Comments

Ranking The Wheel of Time Books – Part 2

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

 

Previously I made a case for why five WotT books should be ranked the lowest. Now we’re at the middle five, and these spots are the weirdest for me. The books in this group aren’t favorites but neither are they the bottom of the barrel. There are enough interesting scenes to keep the reader hooked but at the same time those scenes mostly aren’t memorable. This makes the books forgettable and we sometimes stop to wonder, what exactly did happen in that book? You know that feeling? Yes, me too. 

 


NUMBER 10 – Towers of Midnight

Many people rank The Towers of Midnight somewhere in the middle or toward the bottom of their list. This book is sort of a sequel to The Gathering Storm (which we waited a LONG time for) but some of the scenes overlap with scenes from the previous book.

 

A lot of things happen, and to me the most precious moment is the saving of Moiraine. I waited so long for this! Another important event is Aviendha’s travel to Rhuidean and using the glass columns to see the future of the Aiel. I was shocked when I read those scenes. But the uncertainly of the futures portrayed here is a bit of a disappointment to me.

 

The first Power-wrought weapon of this Age is created! That gives new and exciting possibilities for the future! Too bad they didn’t really use this later, but I guess there wasn’t really much time to create more Power-wrought weapons.

 

I believe the best thing we got to finally experience in this book is Rand’s changed character. He finally accepts who he is and what he has to do to save the world and he becomes a character worth reading about.

 

NUMBER 9 – New Spring

 

You may argue that New Spring shouldn’t be included in the ranking as it is a prequel novel. But I think it’s a really well written backstory for Moiraine, Lan,and Siuan, and it gives us some more insight into life in the White Tower, so I think it deserves a place in the list.

 

This book is solidly in the middle because although the events don’t drive the overall plot forward, readers love getting to know Moiraine and Lan in a new way.

 

NUMBER 8 – A Crown of Swords

 

I can understand why some people think this book is slow and boring. It has mostly to do with Aes Sedai business, the Game of Houses, and the Kin in Altara. But all of these things drive the story forward and were necessary to the plot development.

 

The mere existence of the Kin is a huge revelation for readers. Then they aid in finding the Bowl of the Winds, so they’re actually useful in addition to being interesting. Plus this book shows us Nynaeve overcoming her block, which I believe we have all been waiting for!

 

Also important: Rand kills Sammael, reducing the number of Forsaken, and takes the Crown of Swords, becoming king of Illian and continuing on his journey to unite the world.

 

NUMBER 7 – The Gathering Storm

 

I am so excited for this one. I really like The Gathering Storm and it seems to fall in the middle of the ranking for most readers. We waited for this one for several years and I believe we were not disappointed.

 

There are a lot of things happening in this book. I will jump straight to the point and say that the most interesting thing happened with Egwene. Her character grew to unbelievable heights in everyone’s eyes. She did not attack Elaida like an unruly child but instead united the Tower behind herself in a very interesting way – by showing everyone that she is the rightful Amyrlin, that she cares more about the Tower being whole. It cannot go unmentioned how she took it upon herself to resist the attack on the Tower by the Seanchan. Now that was what we’ve been waiting for, am I right?

 

On the opposite side, this book was the lowest point for Rand. He continues to think that he must become stronger to save the world. Finally, at the end of the book it dawns on him that he mustn’t. That gives hope to the reader that we may finally experience how Rand should have been from the beginning.

 

NUMBER 6 – A Memory of Light

 

Some people will agree and others will not, but I have seen a Memory of Light in the middle 5 in the rankings more often than not. While we wanted an ending, I think many people were disappointed by the ending we got. It didn’t give us the satisfaction of having everything wrapped up nicely. Which is understandable. For one thing, the author is different. For another, we can really expect to know all the answers, right? Maybe Robert Jordan wanted to leave some endings open so that we can theorize on them. I think that’s a nice touch.

 

This book was a total mix of emotions. Happy, sad, angry, glad … I don’t know which emotion was missing! I believe it was a good ending to an amazing story overall.

 

____

And here we stop with the middle 5 of the ranking. I believe you know which 5 are on the top, but how are they placed? Come back for Part 3 to find out!

No Comments

Ranking The Wheel of Time Books – Part 1

This article contains spoilers for the entire series.

 

So, you have finished the great story that is Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. Of course, there are neither beginnings, nor endings, to the turning (reading) of the Wheel of Time. But it was an ending.

 

It is now the next turning of the Wheel and the time has come for a reread. While you re-read you can clearly remember some of parts in the books, which… were really difficult to get through the previous time around. I can’t be the only one, right? I think we all have those parts, just as we all have parts we can reread time and time again.

 

While the books as a whole are great, (almost) everyone agrees that while the earlier books are filled with world-building and character development, there is slump somewhere in the middle of the series. It makes sense that we will prefer reading some books over others. 

 

I have my own ranking of the WoT books, based both on my personal opinions and what I found online. Mostly my ratings are based on how much I enjoyed the book as a whole, but I also took into account that some books contain important story development that I think make them worthy of a higher ranking.  While all books have some important events, a few trump the other for sheer EPICNESS! 

 

All right, all right, let’s get to the ranking shall we?

 

DISCLAIMER: While some books will necessarily be at the bottom of my ranking, I want to say that I love all the books and do not skip any scenes or *gasp* whole books while I reread.

 


 

NUMBER 15 – Crossroads of Twilight

 

This is one of everyone’s least favorite books; almost all of the rankings I have seen online have this book on last or second to last place. So why is that?

 

As you may remember, the previous book, Winter’s Heart, ended with a VERY important event: the cleansing of saidin. After reading that ending everyone was looking forward to finding out what happens next. Instead what we get in Crossroads of Twilight is the story of what everyone else was doing while Rand and Nyneave were busy cleansing saidin. This book does not provide us with the satisfaction we were craving.

 

Another thing that put many readers off was the focus on Perrin chasing after Shaido to save Faile. I realize this book moves Perrin’s storyline a little bit with this, but I think none of the happenings while he is hunting the Shaido are important to the main arc.  

 

Even so, it is safe to say that the book ended with a unexpected twist: Egwene is betrayed and captured by the White Tower Aes Sedai. This a step forward in Egwene’s story for sure, but it isn’t epics enough to save this book from the bottom ranking.

 

NUMBER 14 – Path of Daggers

 

Another popular opinion is that Path of Daggers should be somewhere at the bottom of the ranking, either last or second to last. I understand this. While we finally get to experience the Bowl of the Winds’ power, which was hinted at in previous books, there isn’t much more happening here.

 

Perrin gets a lot of attention in this book. He adds Morgase (even though he doesn’t know it) and Alliandre added to his party. Shortly thereafter Faile is captured by the Shaido and the whole LONG storyline of saving her starts.

 

Rand goes to fight against Seanchan and we get to can experience his madness up close. Am I alone in saying it made me uncomfortable reading that whole battle? Not alone? Great.

 

What drives the story forward in this book is Egwene and her declaration of war on Elaida. I think the way Egwene managed to convinces the Hall to do this is brilliant, and it clearly demonstrates how much she’s grown.

NUMBER 13 – The Great Hunt

 

You might be surprised (or maybe not, given some of the online rankings) to see Great Hunt on my list at number 13.

 

My reason for putting it here is … well … the plain truth is that I don’t enjoy reading it. There is something about Rand traveling with Loial and Hurin through the Portal Stone world that makes me uncomfortable. Those three plus Selene are such a weird combination of characters to me. Their “adventures” make for such an uninteresting series of events that I just don’t want to read it. (Some people may like this part – I am not judging. Hopefully you don’t judge back.)

 

To top it off, Rand beats a sword master in his first serious sword fight. I mean … what? By this time we know he is the Dragon Reborn and that he will play a very significant role in the series, but to me this scene seems a bit overdone.

 

What IS interesting in this book is that we learn about the Seanchan and we get to hear the Horn of Valere being sounded. Very cool. And, we find out how important our Two Rivers boys actually are.

NUMBER 12 – The Fires of Heaven

 

Quite a few people put The Fires of Heaven book at the very bottom of their lists but I rank it a bit higher. I think the reason people don’t like The Fires of Heaven is because it isn’t as good as the previous book, The Shadow Rising (which is ranked higher – we’ll get to that later).

 

For those of you who like battles, this book is probably way higher in your ranking because of the battle of Cairhien. For me it is just a slow paced explanation of Rahvin’s manipulation of Morgase.

 

Another reason I put this low on my list is because of Moiraine’s (perceived) death. I loved all the books up to this point in part because she was in them, and after this book I missed her so much!

 

One epic moment in this book is when Nynaeve captures Moghedien with an a’dam. Finally some justice, am I right?!

 

NUMBER 11 – Winter’s Heart 

 

I think Winter’s Heart has won some fans’ hearts (hehe) because of the cleansing of saidin at the end. No one can deny that this is one of the major plot points in the Wheel of Time; it is what drives the series forward from this point. I don’t know about any of you, but the cleansing came as a complete surprise to me when I read it for the first time. I didn’t think that Rand was planning something so big and I don’t believe it is ever mentioned or hinted in the previous books.

 

We find meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons and so does Mat. And the Tower Aes Sedai are making some interesting findings about the Black Ajah within the Tower. But all in all that’s about it for Winter’s Heart, isn’t it? Not much happening except for at the end. Many stop reading the series at this point because it has been so slow for the past two books that their desire to find out what happens next disappears.

 

 

Part 2, the middle ranked books, coming soon!

 

 

 

No Comments