The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by JedGelt67, Nov 18, 2021.

  1. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2001
    Location:
    Western Canada
    This is a series I have never got around to reading. Unlike with the Witcher series, I'm thinking of just watching the series and picking up the first novel later. Is anyone else in my position?
     
    LaxScrutiny likes this.
  2. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Location:
    UK
    I've been re-reading the series and have just this week gotten more or less back to where I was in my last attempt about a decade back (beginning of book 4.)

    Honestly, I'd recommend giving the first book a read at the very least because the series is blazing ahead at a rather shocking pace compared to the likes of GoT, and as such it might provide some much needed context for a lot of what's going on.
    To give you a general sense; the whole bit with Shadar Logoth takes place about a third of the way though the book, and it's an 800 page book!
     
    JedGelt67 likes this.
  3. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 20, 2001
    Location:
    West Haven, UT, USA
    I wouldn't bother with the novels, honestly, because they're not very good.

    By contrast, this adaptation is excellent and is a better, less tedious way to experience the story.
     
  4. Tirius

    Tirius Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    I gave a few spoiler free comments on page 1. Having now watched episode one for the second time, here is a longer review, with some spoilers. As stated before, I am viewing this as a fan of the books which I have read several times, and am including some thoughts on the choices made with the adaptation. I do worry that the purist book fans will think there are too many changes. There are a lot of them. But I can see the purpose of many, at least if some of my guesses are right. Wether or not you agree with the need or method for these is a subjective thing, but I've chosen to not judge too harshly until we reach the end of the season. For the people going into it blind, I felt that at least the right things were focused on to give you the information you need at this point, while also crafting an engaging story for the episode.

    Current coverage: Book 1, chapter 1-10. Rating: 4 braid tugs out of 5.

    I do not envy anyone having to write a pilot for this series. What I take from episode 1 is that it had 3 goals: establish the base mythology of the world with the Wheel of Time concept and the Dark One, establish who the Aes Sedai are and finally, introduce our (at this point 7) main characters. All that in an hour and a bit is a very daunting task.

    First off, the characters. One of the things I heard from the showrunners is that they are including some new things to cover the missing 'inner monologue' of characters from the books, and that they thus have to introduce scenes or dialogue to show rather than tell. The second thing I took from the pre-series information, is that they've intentionally aged up the main cast a little to avoid the opening feeling like a teen drama. While I do not think that was necessary, I can roll with it. The characters' personalities I feel are mostly recognisable from the books. Some of the changes have a direct impact on the story: now that Egwene, Mat, Perrin and Rand are a little older, we find them in different situations. Perrin being married probably was my biggest WTF movement, but I think I can see at least some of the 'why' behind this, as Perrin has an important arc in reconciling his gentle nature with the fights he will be forced into. We now already have a reason for that. Likewise, the scene where Egwene comes of age introduces the idea of her surrendering herself to the current of the river, something that will likely pop up again once we learn more about how the One Power works for women. She also clearly establishes her ambitious side when she chooses Nynaeve's offer of apprenticeship over her relationship with Rand, and Rand reluctantly accepting that also shows the care they have for each other, despite their differences of opinion.

    For Mat, the story focuses on him being a good person whose actions do not always line up with what he says. The state of his family situation is another change from the books, but given that Mat's story doesn't really get rolling until later in the series, I think it's OK to establish why he is the most wealth-driven of the main cast. Combining that with his care for his sisters introduces him properly as a rogue hiding a good heart - something we also need before going into Shadar Logoth later. Rand's story I feel is the least touched upon, as we learn little of him beyond his relationship with Egwene and it is quite likely the most book-faithful of the introductions, even if we are left out of a conversation with his wound-delirious father that would explain why Moraine questions Nynaeve on where she was born. This latter scene also establishes the early friction between Nynaeve and Moraine, and thus served a dual purpose despite this meeting happening off-page in the book.

    Of course, the main feature of the episode is Bel Tine, or Winternight as the book fans also know it. The moment where it all goes south. I like the way the light ceremony was used to introduce the idea of the Wheel and rebirth in a very everyday setting. Another clever way of combining two things that needed to be set up, the lore and the festivities that followed. People who have not read the books will likely be surprised to know the subsequent attack by the Trollocs almost entirely happens off-page as well, with only the attack on Rand and his father in their cottage being shown and then the aftermath as they reach the village the next morning. Another example of show rather than tell, as it established both the danger the characters are in ánd gives us a first glimpse of what Aes Sedai and their warders can do. The visuals are fittingly impressive, both with the makeup for the Trollocs and Moraine's use of the One Power. While I felt we could have used one more scene between "we have to go" and the actual departure, the frank admission by Moraine that they have run out of time probably also applies to the runtime of the episode. I did however wholeheartedly approve of ending the episode with Moraine's monologue about the turning of the Wheel, which all of us book readers recognize from the first chapter of every book. Ending the first episode here was something I always expected. It got a surprising amount done.

    Now, one paragraph for the dislikes. It's hard to judge these as they might be setup for later, but there we are. The opening scene is one. It showed us Liandrin and a few Red sisters capturing a male chaneller instead of the death of the previous age's Dragon as the books did. Given that we do not see the Reds again until much later, I'd just have let that out, and just introduce Moraine and Lan with the scene where they arrive at the inn. I'm going to guess the actual book opening was cut for cost and time's sake, possibly to be done later once we learn more about the Dragon. I'm also concerned that Perrin's axe-ident was pushing it too far and perhaps it would have been better served by a different character in that scene, one with less emotional attachment than a wife; it's horrific enough without the added baggage. And finally there is Moraine stating outright that one of the 4 is the Dragon Reborn. This was probably done for time's sake again, but it does change the dynamic of the group rather a lot from what it was in the books. I don't mind it being 4 rather than 3 this time, but it is much, much more specific than the general 'they are after you, trust me on this' that was the original option.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2021
  5. LaxScrutiny

    LaxScrutiny Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2003
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Nice review, thanks!
    I started the series in the 90s and finished around 15 years later. The experiences of reading books as they come out, and "binging" them are really different of course. I'd stick with what you intend. Enjoy the TV series and then take your time, relax, and enjoy the books.

    The books change a lot in focus, pacing, and somewhat in style over the course of the story, not to mention the change in authors at the end (I did think Brandon Sanderson did an admirable job). I presume the series will have a more even flow.

    Hmm... If I recall correctly, Eye of the World was originally intended as a one-off. It certainly feels like everything is resolved. It may be better to either read it now, saving the rest, or read it in the future with that in mind.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2021
  6. Thestral

    Thestral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    Well I watched the first episode and... oh my god the dumb. There's nothing about the events leading up to leave-taking Emond's Field that needed to be changed if you're going to make it an entire episode - just shoot what's in the book. None of the changes were beneficial, and pretty much all of them were actively worse.

    The change to Perrin's backstory is especially insulting though.

    Because apparently the only reason somebody could want to reject violence and be uncomfortable in their own skin is because they're inherently a gentle soul, oh no. It must come from TRAUMA and so we'll entirely invent an unnecessary wife just to kill her off horribly so we can give one of our men some motivation. Just nasty. She gets... 1 line? And are we supposed to assume she's pregnant? Plus there already was Perrin killing somebody in Book 1 to deepen his dislike of violence, when he fought Whitecloaks and when the joy of spilling blood because of his connection to the wolves started to overtake him. But oh no, can't have somebody feeling guilty over something when the person they killed was wicked, that would be too complicated. Dead Wife Motivation is a lot easier. :techman:

    Then there's the change to the Cauthons which... wat? A, Mat was never a thief, and B, there's never anything to suggest his family was so messed up. Just feels like making the whole town more grim because uh... it needs to be more Game of Thrones-esque?

    And um... also... what the hell on making the Dragon Reborn potentially a woman? If the Dragon Reborn is a woman... that completely changes the dynamic. Since it's only men that can't be trusted with the One Power.

    And man, actually showing the attack instead of alluding to it after spending time with Rand and Tam in the forest...I knew we were going to see the attack but I didn't expect them to cut out the amazingly tense scene in the woods and Tam's hallucinations. "Oh character stuff and quiet horror, that's boring shit - ACTION!" Also healing Tam was such a joke.

    And what's up with that stupid "push our newest initiate to the women's circle off a cliff" idea. Great idea for a small village to randomly risk women dying!

    The casting seems decent, Nynaeve aside, and admittedly Moiraine and Lan in particular are good, writing aside. But yikes...
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2021
  7. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 20, 2001
    Location:
    West Haven, UT, USA
    The more I think about the first 3 episodes, I can't help but compare the series to The Shannara Chronicles, which followed a similar trajectory in being less of an absolute adaptation and more of a retelling of the story, where the broad-strokes and important elements are all there, but some of the specific details are different.
     
  8. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    I really can't see them going that far with the changes, yeah they've changed stuff, but most of the core of the story is still intact, changing who the Dragon Reborn is, is a huge to the entire core of the story, and I can't see them doing that.
     
  9. LaxScrutiny

    LaxScrutiny Commodore Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2003
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    I think it's more of a red herring for viewers who haven't read the books, and a hint that the Aes Sedai don't know as much as they think they do.
     
    JedGelt67 likes this.
  10. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 20, 2001
    Location:
    West Haven, UT, USA
    Rafe and his team have already altered the metaphysics of the WoT world as it exists on the literary page by emphasizing that the Dragon Reborn could be male or female; following through on that change with an alteration to the actual identity of the Dragon Reborn wouldn't be out of the question.
     
  11. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2001
    Location:
    Western Canada
    Thanks for that. To put it in perspective, I watched the first season of Game of Thrones and then went and read the first book of the Ice and Fire series. I never thought the HBO series would be a big deal. I then read Clash of Kings before watching watching the second season and did the same for the Sword of Storms before watching the third season. I finished Dance with Dragons in 2015, but by that point it was disappointing watching the series try to interpret Martin's story.

    For the Witcher series I'm reading ahead in the novels, but that is pretty easy.

    For the Wheel of Time, it has been recommended to me many times over the years, but I've never gotten around to reading it. Based on your post, I'm going to watch this first season and then decide to read the Wheel of Time.

    I am selective in my reading of fantasy and sci-fi fiction because there is so much crap that draws a huge fan base. I use the Hugo and Nebula short lists to help me determine what I am going to read in those genres. I will also read Star Trek novels because I like the characters--but the writer needs to get the characters right (I've read Greg's and Christopher's stories and liked them).

    I try to read the big literary awards winners every year, but sometimes I just think they are crap. For the last ten years a lot of those awards have been given for the subject matter and/or the story of the author, rather than the book itself. IMO, of course.
     
    Greg Cox and LaxScrutiny like this.
  12. Tirius

    Tirius Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    There is one example in the books of someone who started out male and turned up later as a female in Balthamel/Aran'gar. While this may not apply to the Dragon, saying the Dragon could be anyone is a relatively small change, until one considers that a fully female Dragon wouldn't be affected by the taint on the male half of the Power. Still, as Aran'gar continued to channel saidin, we'd still have a saidin-using Dragon. Thus meaning it can't be Egwene as Moiraine already sensed her ability to weild saidar, even if those terms weren't used. Also, given that we're seeing an early introduction to the Red Ajah, I think it's safe to bet that we are sticking with a male Dragon.

    The outcry among the fans if the identity of the Dragon were changed would not be pleasant. It would be like Lord of the Rings with Pippin as the ring bearer instead of Frodo. I expect them to keep throwing us red herrings, with Logain also in the mix, for a few more episodes at least.
     
  13. FreezeC77

    FreezeC77 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    To add to your spoiler
    I believe it was the Dark One who specifically placed Balthamel into a female body so it was not like the 'natural order' of the wheel that did it. One would assume since only men can channel saidin that if the Wheel reincarnated souls from male to female that once reincarnated the female didn't have access to saidin. If you had a 50/50 chance of reincarnating and changing sexes then there would have been a lot of cases of women able to access saidin. Balthamel into Arangar was a special case because the Dark One bypassed the normal reincarnation of souls.

    Besides if the show did go that route the character who is supposed to be the Dragon would just have their storyline obliterated and might as well just be killed off because Egwene's book storyline can not be swapped with one of the male characters in the show. They can't go on to the White Tower and assume her role and storyline there.
     
    Tirius likes this.
  14. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 20, 2001
    Location:
    West Haven, UT, USA
    My comment about the metaphysics of the WoT world being changed by the decision to emphasize that the Dragon Reborn could be either male or female was in reference to a comment Rafe made at, I believe, the London Premiere of the series, so we'll see what his plans ultimately are.
     
  15. Tirius

    Tirius Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    This is a very good point. I rest my case. :bolian:
     
  16. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Location:
    Rhode Island, USA
    Counterpoint: they ruined that series and made it some tween nonsense and essentially blew off most of the source material in favor of high school dances. Love that book series, but the show was bad and barely recognizable.

    hopeful for WoT, as I struggled with the books, and end up quitting whenever I try again. Too long, without enough to keep me engaged. Too many long descriptions and travelogues, names that look too similar to stand out in my mind, etc. hoping the show is more accessible, and visual medium should help keep characters straight and reduce descriptions by just showing it to me :). Liking it so far.
     
  17. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Location:
    Back to the lower decks
    The Dragon Reborn's identity won't change.
     
    LaxScrutiny and Thestral like this.
  18. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 20, 2001
    Location:
    West Haven, UT, USA
    @Scout101 Terry Brooks was directly involved with both seasons of The Shannara Chronicles, albeit uncredited, and approved of the series' approach both in adapting Elfstones and creating its own narrative in continuing the Elfstones story, and my opinion of the series is reflective of his own.

    @Skywalker We'll see.
     
  19. Thestral

    Thestral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    However dismissive I am of the first episode I would put money on them keeping the same identity of the Dragon Reborn. Changing it is just not gonna happen, and teases otherwise are just for those who haven't read the books.
     
    LaxScrutiny, FreezeC77 and Skywalker like this.
  20. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 20, 2001
    Location:
    West Haven, UT, USA
    ^ Like I said, we'll see.

    Switching the subject, there's a theory floating around the hardcore fandom circles suggesting that Laila Dern Aybara, Perrin's wife, was a Darkfriend. Rafe kind of debunked the theory in an interview with The Ringer's Mallory Rubin and Joanna Robinson, but we'll see if it persists regardless because there is evidence supporting it.

    As an aside, Laila is a character briefly referenced by Perrin in the novels, and was added by Rafe and the writers as a consequence of aging up the characters and to give a visual reference explanation for his future characterization.