New Spring (Wheel of Time) (Paperback, 2004, Orbit) 4 stars

Exciting... but the writing is... questionable.

3 stars

The Wheel of Time was kind of a big deal for me: the first big fantasy series I really got into as a teenager. I never read this prequel, and I guess with the release of the TV it was time. It's strange to go back to the world.

On the one hand, this is an exciting adventure story that hooked me in and I enjoyed reading. It's great to spend time in the world, and to learn some important background.

On the other, Robert Jordan's writing is... I expected the overwrought excessive adjective, mail gaze-y descriptions. I knew the gender essentialism would be ever present.

I'd forgotten / hadn't noticed the constant ethnic stereotyping: "stubborn even for an Andorian" and the like.

Likewise the extent of the authoritarianism in the book. I mean, I knew he has a slightly obsession with characters being punished, but the extent to which everyone lives in a world of strict hierarchy caught me by surprise. Abusive behaviour by characters in positions of authority is constantly justified in terms of being necessary to make people strong.

So much awful people being awful to each other, but this is normal and these are the good guys.

The attitude to consent is utterly bizarre/dreadful too, with a number of situations where a woman publicly declares her interest in a man, and the world at large (including the man) just accept that he has no choice in the matter.

If you're a fan of the WoT and fancy another visit to the world then it's worth a read - if you're interested in a new fantasy series then I think there are much better choices now.