You might have seen people talking online about the new Wheel of Time show on Amazon Prime. From what I’ve seen, it’s received mixed reviews.
Diehard fans of the books are prone to nitpicking inconsistencies, while the more open-minded fans are just glad to see the series come to the big screen.
So, is The Wheel of Time worth watching?
What Is The Wheel of Time?
The Wheel of Time is a 14 book series (15 if you count the prequel novel) by Robert Jordan. Unfortunately, Jordan passed away near the tail end of the series, so Brandon Sanderson, another fantasy author, was commissioned to finish the last few books using Jordan’s extensive notes.
Compared to other works of epic fantasy, like The Song of Ice and Fire or The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time is massive.
By the end of the series, Jordan and Sanderson wrote over 4.5 million words, making it the longest fantasy series of all time. (ASOIAF and Discworld are runners up.)
There’s been a lot of push for WoT to be made into a TV series, and there was even a pilot episode in 2015 from Red Eagle Entertainment as a last-ditch effort to keep the rights to the show.
However, the episode was a flop, and in 2018, Amazon got the rights and ordered a show.
The first three episodes aired on Amazon Prime on November 19th, 2021, and the Internet has been abuzz with reviews, comparisons, and criticism.
Should You Watch The Wheel of Time?
As a long-time fan of the books, I was skeptical about how Amazon would take a series of such epic proportions and adapt it for television. I knew that a lot of the elements I loved about the books—the prolonged journey sequences of The Eye of the World, the numerous poems and songs, and the rich lore—would probably be glossed over for the same of brevity.
And after watching the first three episodes, I still have my doubts. The show has already changed some things about the story that were completely unnecessary (for example, Perrin never had a wife in the books).
But the acting is fantastic, and the set design is of a grand scale. Visually, the show is excellent. The show captures the small-town vibe of the Two Rivers, and the majesty of the White Tower. And the trollocs (WoT’s equivalent of orcs) are terrifying.
If you’re unfamiliar with The Wheel of Time, the show does a lot to get viewers up to speed with the lore. Plus, Amazon produced an animated side-series that helps explain what’s going on in each episode from a lore perspective. This feature is kind of hidden, though, so I guarantee not everyone will find it.
To access the side series, you have to pause the episode and click on bonus content. From there, you can watch the animated series.
And for fans of the books, people who have been reading them since the 90s, there’s a lot to complain about, sure, but at the end of the day, I think so far the show has stayed fairly true to the story.
The Opening Scene
I’ve already decided that I can find no fault with the production design. The characters were expertly cast, the costumes echo the paintings of Darrell Sweet (the cover artist for the book series), and the music is both pulse-pounding and calming.
However, I can nit-pick a little bit with the creative liberties the team took with the opening scenes and the timeline.
The prologue of The Eye of the World focuses on Lews Therin Telamon, the previous Dragon. He’s overcome with madness from channeling the One Power, and he comes face to face with Ishamael, a servant of the Dark One. Lews Therin realizes that in his madness, he’s killed his whole family, and he weeps for his misdeeds.
Ishamael assures Lews Therin that they’ll meet again, and Lews Therin consumes so much of the One Power that he is atomized, leaving a massive volcano in his wake.
This scene is so full of emotion and foreshadowing, not only for the Dragon Reborn, but for the servants of the Dark One. I really feel like Amazon made a bad choice when they cut this scene, because it’s an iconic introduction to the series. The book series, at least.
And I’m interested to see how the show handles the timeline. We’ve already seen male channelers be gentled by the hands of the Red Ajah, and Logain’s already in chains, which happens fairly late in the book. As more episodes come out, it’ll give us a better glimpse as to what the timeline will be like.
We know that the last episode of the 8-part first season is title “The Eye of the World”, which happens at the very end of the first novel. So, I doubt the show will delve into the second book’s material at all in the first season.
Yes, Watch The Wheel of Time
If you’re a fan of epic fantasy series full of diverse characters, world-building, and magic, you should watch The Wheel of Time.
The tone of the show is a bit more serious than the books, but so far, we haven’t seen anything that’s been entirely unfaithful (with the exception of Perrin’s wife).
This is definitely a show I’ll be paying close attention to, and I’ll probably have to brush up on my WoT lore, which is always a treat!
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