The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters of all time, and I have read and loved the fantasy novels for decades. I was beyond thrilled to see that an adaptation was coming to Prime TV, and now that it’s here, it’s time to offer weekly reviews! Be sure to also check out my theology and apologetics site for my look at the show from a Christian perspective.
“Leavetaking,” “Shadow’s Waiting,” and, “A Place of Safety”
I’m lumping these episodes together because I just sat and watched them all together, and separating them in my head would be tough now. I suspect many others did the same! Obviously, SPOILERS follow.
Let’s get this out of the way first, yes, they changed things! I need to make this clear: I have been a fan of the series, as I said, for decades. I also have a fairly high tolerance for liberations being taken even with things that are beloved for me. I just like having adaptations, and while I’ll complain if I think something totally throws off the tone, feel, or intent, I largely just absorb the changes and move on. Two Rivers, for example, seemed a bit too big to me, and possibly had too many features that took away from its fairly idyllic setting in the books. Some characters I have quibbles about–like what happened with Perrin and his wife (!!!???). Overall, though, I do love the show so far. Here’s why:
There are several scenes that do fully capture the “feel” of The Wheel of Time. The strongest example, in my opinion, was when Moiraine was interrogated by a Questioner of the Children of the Light. She spoke words that were all true, but deflected his questions with answers that diverted his suspicion. She’s going to meet a “sister,” but all Aes Sedai are sisters; she came from a ferry town, which she did… after she left Two Rivers; and so on. It absolutely, in one single scene, showed how Aes Sedai can be masters of manipulation even within unbreakable vows. I just… loved it so much.
Another great scene was our group singing about Manetheren. It had that haunting feeling that I just loved, and Moiraine monologuing a history of Manetheren was just icing on the cake. Great worldbuilding, and it made it seem much deeper than it otherwise may have. Thom was wonderful, though maybe a bit more roguelike and less flamboyant than I expected. I think they cast him well, though, and his actor stole every scene he was in. I am definitely looking forward to more Thom, and it may just be that I don’t fully remember how Thom was earlier in the series.
I am also hugely anticipating more scenes with the Tinkers, Perrin, Egwene, and the wolves. I thought these scenes could be kind of a drag in the books, so I’m hoping they continue to spur the action and on and skip some of the lengthy exposition that happens in the books. Yes, I love the books, but let’s be honest–they can drag. I even thought the third episode here dragged a little bit in the middle with the long scenes of just running around a grassy field for… everyone.
The Children of the Light also seem more dynamic already, which I love. A friend of mine pointed out how they made at least one Child more empathetic than most of them were in the books, and that could be an interesting direction to take them. I enjoyed Mat’s casting and a deeper background. Instead of him being a kind of happy-go-lucky guy, he has more strength of character than he does in the books at first. I’m surprised to read that they re-cast him for the upcoming second season, because I thought he’s doing a great job in these first 3 episodes. Basically the whole cast is great. The Trollocs are suitably varied and terrifying, but perhaps not quite varied enough.
Yes, there are things I didn’t enjoy. Like the implied sex between Egwene and Rand–it just felt super out-of-place for what’s supposed to be a very pastoral, quaint setting in Two Rivers. Going along with that, the characters from Two Rivers just seem overall more worldly wise than they ought to be. I don’t know if this is on purpose, or if it will be forestalled later, but for now it just does seem to take some of the way the early books developed from us. That may be intentional–skipping all the “country bumpkins ogling at small villages because to them they are huge cities” scenes makes obvious sense for a TV show. On the flip side, Rand and Mat walking into a mining town with nary a blink of an eye was just a bit off to me.
Overall, though, I thought this was a great 3 episode introduction to the series. I am over the moon that they have adapted this series of books, and now I honestly feel some trepidation: with what is a pretty solid start, are they going to finish this all? It’s a monumental task, obviously, so I truly hope they get it done. This is one that it’ll hurt if they don’t finish it. Big ouch. So go watch it, share it on social media, and talk it up! Let’s make sure the show keeps going!
The Wheel of Time – check out my posts on my theology blog in which I evaluate the books and show from a Christian perspective.
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