Just in case you’ve been living under the proverbial rock this year and haven’t heard about Patrick Rothfuss, you should know that his fantastic first novel—THE NAME OF THE WIND—is now out in paperback. (As of Monday, I believe.) Book two is due out next week. The first book is great, and I suspect the second one will be too. And he didn’t even pay me to write that or anything!
I’ll actually be picking up one of the paperbacks here soon myself, since my hardcover got lost on book tour last year. (I’d brought it on the tour for David Farland to read, and somehow one of us ended up leaving the book behind. So, if you work at a Best Western on the west coast and somebody left their hardcover of NAME OF THE WIND in a hotel room, you know who to send it to!)
Now, a response to NEW SPRING.
As I mentioned, I’ve finished reading through the entire WoT series again and have moved on to actually working on Book Twelve. (Two chapters writing are done as of right now, by the way. Neither were chapters that Mr. Jordan left any actual prose for, as I’m practicing with writing particular characters, and want to get a feel for writing them. I’m writing them and sending them to the experts in Charleston for feedback as I adapt my style to writing in the Wheel of Time world.) Anyway, I’m behind on these blog posts, and so while I read NEW SPRING a few weeks back now, I’m only now doing a response for it.
I’ve said before that I think Mr. Jordan’s greatest strength as a writer was his ability to do viewpoint with such power. His second-greatest strength was probably his ability to plot on the large scale, planning for things that weren’t going to happen for several books, leaving foreshadowing for novels that wouldn’t be written for years. As part of that, he knew what happened in the past with his characters to a far greater extent than I think most writers do.
NEW SPRING seems to me an experiment in showing off these strengths. Here we have two characters from the main series shown many years before. I am impressed at how well Mr. Jordan was able to make these characters feel twenty years younger, yet at the same time show them being the same people. Both Moiraine and Siuan exemplified this, and it was interesting to read from a writer’s viewpoint, as I was aware of how tough this must have been to pull off.
What happens itself is less interesting only in that we already know most of it. (The classic problem with prequels, after all, is that you generally already know how it will end.) While I enjoy a good prequel, the feeling is different than it is for a main-line story. Reading a book like NEW SPRING is more of a fan experience for me, as I get to see how Lan and Moiraine met, and we get a record of the infamous river dunking. Despite what the cover says, I wouldn’t say this is the “New starting point” for the Wheel of Time. That’s why I read it here, when it was written, rather than when it occurred in the series chronologically. Half of the fun of this book comes from having read the other books in the series first.
It was strange to read a book from Robert Jordan that was only 120k long, though. I remember when I first saw it, years ago. I thought “Man, that’s barely a short story!” 120k. Barely a short story. That would be a LONG book in many genres. Here, it’s tiny. (Like many of you probably did, I can remember being annoyed at getting a prequel instead of the next novel in the series. Now I’m happy to have it, though, as it’s one of our only glimpses into the world pre-Rand.)
Anyway, it was great seeing Siuan being a punk. I think her character in this added the most to my understanding of the series as a whole. Lan was pretty much Lan, and while Moiraine was interesting, I found myself liking Siuan more. Perhaps because I really enjoy her storyline in the main series.