The Wheel of Time: Season 1

The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of time. But it was a beginning.

I first read the Wheel of Time in roughly 2000-2001, after Winter’s Heart and before Crossroads of Twilight. I then reread the entire series with each new release (2003, 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2013), plus another read and a trip through the audio books more recently. So roughly 8 times through this monster of a series. I can quite honestly say it’s among (if not flat out) my favorite book series. I’ve been absolutely looking forward to seeing how the Wheel of Time could ever possibly make it to the screen and…

You know, I think they did a good job. It’s certainly not entirely the same story. There are changes that I find … questionable at best. But I’m happy to see where they’ll go from here. After all, it’s a universe built around the idea of everything old being new again… just think of it as another turning. And the pacing/editing has occasionally been a little rough (COVID and having one of the main cast leave did them no favors). But still, it’s the Wheel of Time. And I’ve absolutely loved it. Even if you haven’t read the books, I think you should give it a try. They did good.

Mini-reviews of individual episodes (spoilers):

  1. Leavetaking

    The Dragon could be a girl or a boy. Perrin is married and … possibly expecting a child? An implied sex scene between Rand and Egwene and another between Moraine and Lan. This … might taken some getting used to.

    Overall, it’s dark, it’s gritty, and it’s THE WHEEL OF TIME. I’m so excited. All of the changes but one (see below), I’ve liked so far and am well looking forward to where we’ll go from here!

    The one change that bugged me was Perrin accidentally killing his wife during the trolloc attack. I get why he was by married and/or why someone close to him had to die. It's motivation that he never really had early in the books. Of all of them, Perrin leaving made the least sense. But ... why did they have to introduce a wife just to die? There's [a whole term for that: friding). You just don't do it. At the very least, I think they could have done the same with a trolloc having killed her. Motivation that's at least not _quite_ as hard to overcome. Or, better yet (suggested by Sanderson in a Reddit thread I read), it should have been Master Luhhan. It would have served the same purpose and there's no reason he _has_ to survive the series. Anyways. We'll see where it goes, but this so far is the one change I really did not care fore. .

    One blink it and you might have missed it moment I really did love: The fly in to the Two Rivers. What looks like columar mountains is totally overgrown skyscrapers. They could have been the towers of fallen Manetheran or even remnants from the Age of Legends. What they really did though is set the tone as a world that’s been badly broken before. And that’s something that the Wheel of Time really does well. Glad to see it.

  2. Shadow’s Waiting

    Oy. Our first introduction to the Whitecloaks–burning an Aes Sedai at the stake. It fits, but man it’s still dark. And then later when Moiraine comes face to face with them–we get a great in show introduction to the Three Oaths and just how much the Aes Sedai can twist words. Take for example, ‘I am a lady from a fallen house’. She’s not saying to ‘say’ she is, but that she actually is. House Damodred? It fits. Or it could be that the last house she stayed in was the Inn in the Two Rivers–which fell.

    We will always tell the truth, it just may not be the truth you think you’ll hear, so listen carefully.

    Another amazing part of this episode was ‘Weep for Manetheran’. The folks from the Two Rivers know the song (haunting, I hope there’s a soundtrack), and Moiraine feels in the story. Excellent.

    Also also Mat. I love the sense of humor. A nice contrast for how dark the show is tending. It’s a bit of a bummer that the actor is apparently being replaced. Such is live.

  3. A Place of Safety

    Man oh man, Nynaeve is a badass. I absolutely love her in this episode. A trolloc, tracking Lan, healing, witty banter. Wonderful.

    Lan: Are you ready to help now?

    Nynaeve: If I help her, she best give me the answers I want.

    Lan: Are you really in a position to be making demands?

    Nynaeve: It’s not a demand, it’s a threat.

    Egwene and Perrin meet the Tinkers, who rather than Gypsies seem to be doing the burning man thing. You know… it works.

    And Rand and Mat meet Thom and their first Darkfriend. Oh there’s so much to unpack here. Mat is at once comic relief and already going doing. It’s a great contrast. And Thom… I think I like the more subtle cloak and guitar well enough. He can certainly sing.

    Mat: And what do you want us to do? Just walk to the White Tower? How we gonna get there?

    Rand: They say all roads lead there.

    Mat: That’s not how roads work.

    I’m really enjoying this show so far!

  4. The Dragon Reborn

    Logain was done spectacularly. Both before his capture and after. He’s intense.

    I also enjoyed the additional interplay between Moraine, Lan, and the other Aes Sedai. Seeing relationships between Aes Sedai and Warders is pretty cool. Not much of that on screen in the books.

    Especially:

    Lan: I shouldn’t have had a drink. You always get emotional when I drink.

    I still love the interplay between Rand and Mat as well:

    Rand: Did he? Dana said there were Darkfriends everywhere, that a Fade was coming for us.

    Mat: What if he killed her to make us trust him?

    Rand: Well, that would be… smart.

    Mat: Maybe there’s some hope for you after all.

    Thom:

    Rand: You know a lot for a simple gleeman.

    Thom: We call ourselves gleemen because a silly name makes us less frightening. Nothing is more dangerous than a man who knows the past.

    I love it.

    we call ourselves gleeman

    Uncertainty:

    terrifying or comforting

    Tinkers:

    If I can change two people’s minds, just two, well, then I’ve left the world a better place than I found.

    And if those two each change two more minds, well, then, eventually…

    There’s something to be said for the Way of the Leaf.

  5. Blood Calls Blood

    One Month Later

    Annoyed at first, but with only 8 episodes (halfway there!) it seems necessary.

    Blood and ashes.

    Finally. And on seeing Tar Valon. That really works.

    I imagined Loial bigger, but I like him.

    So Valda does seem to believe that the Aes Sedai cannot lie. So… why doesn’t he just ask them if they’re Aes Sedai.

    Overall, a weaker episode than The Dragon Reborn, but still a few nice moments. It’s interesting seeing them go straight to Tar Valon. I wonder if the titular Eye of the World is still the end of the first season?

  6. The Flame of Tar Valon

    Okay, things I really liked:

    • Siuan is a badass.

    • The color coded Aes Sedai work for me (I thought it would look silly, but I love the different styles still color coded).

    • Rand:

      Rand: You could just say you’re welcome.

    • Suian and Moraine’s relationship. It’s a bit more current day than in the books, but it works. Also, how else could you get ‘my pufferfish’ as a legit term of endearment.

    Things that were… jarring:

    • How quickly Mat’s dagger problem was dealt with. Especially given that the actor ended up leaving the show, I feel like this could have been done better.

    • They can … Travel? Or is that a World of Dreams thing?

    • The ‘power ranger dragon’ theory. Yeah… they can’t do that.

    • How Moraine blatantly changed the oath and made it into what sounded like a marriage vow? Swearing to Siuan was a great change… the rest in front of all those sisters was really weird.

    Things I’m not sure about:

    • The Ways requiring the power. It… makes sense, if they were built with the power, but it’s a bit jarring.

    Also… they’re actually going to have naked meetings after all. It’s such a big part of the books… I’m not sure how I feel about that. :D

  7. The Dark Along the Ways

    Okay, the Ways are pretty awesome looking and Nynaeve got another badass moment. Woot. And they actually managed to justify Mat having been left (in universe: they thought as Dragon he would turn to the dark, out of universe, the actor left the show).

    Also, Nynaeve and Lan have some pretty nice chemistry together. I’m glad they’re expanding that early relationship and bringing it earlier in the timeline. It felt so sudden in the books and we never really got to see them fall in love… The two of them are easily my favorite part of the show thus far.

    Nynaeve: You know… I never quite understood why you bonded yourself to Moiraine.

    Lan: And now you do?

    Nynaeve: You are a king without a kingdom. A boy without a family. And now you finally belong. To her.

    Lan: She doesn’t own me.

    Nynaeve: Doesn’t she?

    Lan: Only in the way those kids own you. Hmm? “A Wisdom never weds.”

    Also also… a love triangle between Perrin, Rand, and Egwene is… a choice.

    Also also also… I can’t believe there’s only one more episode! Eep.

  8. The Eye of the World

    And so it ends. I loved the intro, finally seeing Lews Therin Telamon–also whatever ‘ancient’ language they were speaking was pretty cool.

    I continue to love the relationship between Nynaeve and Lan. Best part by far.

    I think a lot of the changes to the ending worked out well enough. The Eye of the World is… a really strange book. There are hints of what’s to come in the later Wheel of Time works, but by itself, things are just weird. Take the Green Man. That doesn’t need to happen, it never really comes up again. So they dropped it. Or the pool of Saidin / the Horn in the Eye. That never really fit with anything else, so having the Horn protected is fine. Heck, even combining the Dark One’s Prison and the Eye of the World (if they actually were), works.

    On the negative side… for a finale they could have done so much more. The battle at the Gap didn’t feel ‘real’ enough. Having a handful of either low powered or completely untrained channelers take on an entire army is going to cause some issues of scale going forward. That particularly way of burning out was cool and terrifying… but in the end, I think Nynaeve and Egwene should have been swapped (to play up the former’s healing again).

    The part that worked was Padan Fain–I love that actor–in the castle. He’s so creepy. Loial! And now we have a year or more to wait to see what’s next. Oy.