Like many of us who read fantasy as adults, I got my start
on Narnia. My first-grade teacher read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe to
the class. It was wonderful. Wardrobes with new worlds hidden in them, talking
animals, magic, and a classic confrontation between good and evil where evil
wins—what more could you ask for?
I devoured the rest of the books, and while I thought it was
weird that they skipped through different characters and different periods, the
fact that they were Christian allegory went entirely over my head.
Then I re-read them in junior high and picked up on the fact
that they weren’t just an allegory for Christianity, they were an allegory for
a particularly loathsome form of Christianity that prioritized obedience to
authority and punishment for wrongdoing over being a decent person. I was
All the Greatest Adventures Begin with Paperwork, Right?
When I first decided to do this re-read project, I asked
Twitter whether I should start with New Spring or The Eye of The World and Twitter
overwhelmingly recommended TEOTW so obviously I did the opposite.
It wasn’t just my congenital inability to do as I’m told. I
generally start re-reads with New Spring, and I thought I would take a look at
them both to see what might make for a good beginning.
I didn’t get past the Table of Contents.
I’m a bit of a story nerd, and I’ve read more books on story
structure than is healthy. There’s a part of every story where the hero is in
their ordinary world before they get called to action and everything goes to
That part of the story is often called The Hook and there,
sitting in the Table of Contents was a first chapter titled “The Hook.”
The wheel weaves as it will and all that.
The first parts of most stories have the same structure. The
hero is in their normal world. Something happens that changes everything. The
hero is called to action. They leave their normal world for a world of
adventure where they face new dangers.
That’s the first four chapters of New Spring. (more…)
Breaking the Rules to Do the Right Thing
The third chapter of New Spring deals with Siuan and
Moiraine in the immediate aftermath of hearing the foretelling about the Dragon
Reborn. As such, it deals a lot with their reaction to the news—Siuan is excited
and Moiraine is terrified—as well as their relationship. It sets up a scene
coming up with Elaida and introduces several ancillary characters we see later
in the series.
I’m not talking about any of that. (more…)
In the second chapter of New Spring, we see the rebirth of
the Dragon as Foretold by Gitara Moroso, and while I was initially planning
this post, I was thinking of it as the Inciting Incident for the four-million-plus
words that follow.
But that’s not right.
It’s not the foretelling that’s the inciting incident; it’s
the rebirth of the Dragon itself. That realization made me question why Robert
Jordan would present us the information this way. To be sure, at publication,
we already knew the bare facts, and this chapter was all about introducing
Moiraine Damodred, Siuan Sanche, and the Aes Sedai.
But there’s more. (more…)
New Spring is not the beginning of the Wheel of Time. There
are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time. But it was a
And it begins with Lan Mandragoran going around waking up
sentries which might be the most borderlander thing ever. In the borderlands,
they’re overwhelmingly aware of their duty to stand between the Blight and the
rest of humanity. Lan Mandragoran is often presented as a distillation, the
platonic ideal of what it means to be a borderlander. (more…)
If you haven’t read the Halcyone Space series by LJ Cohen,
you’ve made a horrible mistake and you should probably fix that ASAP. It’s YA
Space Opera set in a dystopic future that’s much better than the stormy
The universe of Halcyone Space can be pretty miserable. Earth
has suffered a climate catastrophe that has driven millions into permanent
refugee camps where they exist as a permanent underclass. The government of the
galaxy is incompetent, corrupt, and utterly uninterested in serving the people.
It’s got problems, but it’s a tremendously immersive world
that feels like it still exists when it’s offscreen. Oh, and it’s the setting
for a hell of a story. (more…)