Expanded from a story that first appeared in Robert Silverberg's anthology Legends
(1998), Jordan's eagerly awaited prequel to The Wheel of Time
, the first of a projected three, more than lives up to its high expectations. For three days, battle has raged around the city of Tar Valon. In the White Tower two young Accepted attend the Amyrlin Seat and her Keeper as they await word of the outcome. Purely by chance, Moiraine Damodred and Siuan Sanche are on duty when the Keeper foretells the rebirth of the Dragon, the world's only hope of winning the fight against the Dark One. Written with all the skill that has made Jordan one of the grand masters of fantasy, it's accessible enough for new readers, while the inside information is sure to captivate longtime fans. Far from the coldly self-possessed Aes Sedai who arrives in Emond's Field in The Eye of the World
, the first Wheel
book, Moiraine is a fun-loving, prank-playing and naïve Accepted, one who slowly grows into a determined and resourceful character. Even better, the narrative is flush with answers to mysteries only hinted at in Wheel
(what was the test for Aes Sedai, what was "the Vileness") and with little details aimed at those in the know. Jordan buffs will be especially pleased to find the novel moves quickly, not at the glacial pace of recent books in the saga. (Jan. 6)
A $750,000 marketing campaign, including TV ads and movie slide advertising in conjunction with the release of the third Lord of the Rings movie, should ensure another #1 debut on many lists.