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!