Since I was going to be taking a long trip in a month, I was looking for some books to read on the plane and in airports and whatnot while waiting. I settled on a re-read of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, a pretty good time for it since by next year we may have a TV series from Amazon (hopefully better than Game of Thrones). Side note: Wheel of Time is also why I’m not optimistic that GRRM can finish ASoIaF in just two more books - Jordan took forever and died before he could finish WoT and even Sanderson who took over needed an additional three books to finish the saga.
It’s been a while since I read any of the books - I bought and read the final book A Memory of Light when it came out, so that was around 2013. That means I followed the series for around two decades - I remember borrowing Eye of the World from a friend maybe around late high school/early college (circa mid 90s) and quickly going through the books until I was caught up. Wheel of Time was my first real epic fantasy series - I only read Tolkien later on and before that most of my fantasy exposure was limited to TV and movies. I enjoyed the first half of the 14-book series, then got annoyed by the pacing in the second half, and was relieved when Sanderson managed to satisfactorily land the plane with Memory of Light. My annoyance with the later books may have been due to the fact that I had to wait for each one in turn to be released - it will be interesting to see how the series holds up for me now that I can read all the books in succession. I also like to think I’ve matured as a reader since then and will be able to appreciate the books differently.
I’m also well behind my book reading target for this year, so doing a re-read of a long series gives me a good bump. Also, since the books have been out forever, I’m not going to bother to mark spoilers when I’m discussing them.
I am however starting with a book I haven’t read yet - New Spring is a prequel novel that I never bothered to read before. The story takes place 20 years before Eye of the World, so it’s a good starting point.
The story follows the PoV of two characters introduced in Eye of the World - Moiraine Damodred, starting out as an Accepted with future Amyrlin Siuan Sanche at the White Tower in Tar Valon, and Lan Mandragoran, fresh off the tail end of the Aiel War and how their paths eventually intersect. Given the two main characters future, we can anticipate that the novel will end with them forming the Warder bond. The book is short - about half as long as Eye of the World - but as is typical of Robert Jordan, it takes a long time to get there, as most of the first half of the book centers around Moiraine and Siuan navigating the intrigues of the White Tower as the search for The Dragon Reborn begins.
The pace picks up a bit once Moiraine manages to leave the tower and crosses path with Lan and they realize the existence of the Black Ajah searching for the Dragon Reborn. Yes, reading this book before the rest means you are already aware the Black Ajah exists.
Given how at the start of this book Lan is openly disdainful of getting caught in Aes Sedai problems and how tight Moiraine and Lan are by the time of Eye of the World, I assumed there would be some big life-changing event near the end of the book that would cause him to change his mind and allow the Warder bond, but I was a bit whelmed by how it happened. One would think losing his oldest bondsman to the Black Ajah would Lan more wary of Aes Sedai, but all it took was a quick reminder from Moiraine about the stakes and he easily acquiesed to the bond. Oh well.
I finished the book in 3 days (as I said, quite short), but the other books in the series are at least twice as long, and there are 14 more books to go, so I think there should be plently leftover by the time the trip rolls around.