Hey, FlixChatter readers, Laura here! I got home about a week ago from a long weekend in Atlanta, where I attended JordanCon, a fantasy convention centered around author Robert Jordan‘s Wheel of Time series. I’d never gone before this one, but I really wanted to attend this year, since it would be the last one before the TV adaptation drops on Amazon Prime.
While we don’t have a trailer or exact release date yet, show-runner Rafe Judkins said on the virtual SDCC panel that the first season will drop in November. So here are a few important things to know before the show arrives:
1. There is no brief way for me to describe the plot.
The Wheel of Time is made up of 14 books and a prequel published between 1990-2013, and they are long; the paperbacks average 826 pages each, and there are 2,782 named characters in the series. All this to say there is no concise way for me to summarize the story, but I’ll try my best to explain how it starts, since the first season is supposed to be a combination of the first two books: when a mysterious woman named Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) and man named Lan (Daniel Henney) arrive in the small farm town of Emond’s Field, 5 young men and women’s lives are changed forever as they are swept up in an epic journey. I know that’s vague, but it is literally the best I can do without going into too much detail.
For @TheWheelOfTime fans who are waiting so patiently (and for future fans as well) – here’s a first look at al’Lan Mandragoran – the uncrowned King of Malkier.
I’ve loved every minute playing him thus far & we’re working tirelessly to bring you a fantastic show – stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/jdo6aYBw5l
— Daniel Henney (@danielhenney) April 28, 2021
2. It’s not “the next Game of Thrones.“
Several media outlets have already compared The Wheel of Time to the HBO hit based on George R.R. Martin’s famous book series, and while I kind of understand their reasoning, I’m worried it will give folks who haven’t read the books the wrong impression. Those comparing the two properties might be trying to say it will be the next hugely successful TV fantasy series, and obviously we all hope that’s the case, but plot- and theme-wise, I don’t think it’s accurate to compare them. Firstly, Wheel of Time is a lot more straightforward fantasy than Game of Thrones was. Yes, Game of Thrones has dragons and ice zombies, but most of the focus was on the politics. Wheel of Time leans a lot more heavily into the magical aspect of the world. Secondly, the tone is a lot different. Obviously I can’t say what the show’s tone will be like, but the books at least aren’t nearly as dark and gritty as Game of Thrones, and I doubt the show will be either.
3. This isn’t the first TV adaptation of The Wheel of Time.
Back in 2015, Red Eagle Entertainment released a “pilot” (it’s referred to as a mini movie on IMDB) based on the prologue from the first book in the series in order to prevent the rights from reverting back to Robert Jordan’s estate. It aired on FXX late at night (we’re talking cheesy infomercial air times). It was a greedy, lazy move that was made without consulting Harriet McDougal, Jordan’s widow and editor, and to this day it is derided and mocked. You can actually watch the whole thing on YouTube, but it’s pretty awful, and it doesn’t give you any idea what the source material is actually like, so I’d recommend just watching Recappa Sedai‘s reaction video to it on YouTube instead, because it’s hilarious and much more entertaining.
4. The cast is very diverse.
Back in 2019, Amazon started sharing casting announcements for the show, and several of the main characters- specifically Madeline Madden as Egwene, Zoë Robins as Nynaeve, and Marcus Rutherford as Perrin- are people of color. While many were thrilled with the casting, there was, of course, an unfortunate racist backlash on social media, especially on Facebook, from whiny fans complaining that the characters were written as white (they weren’t, at least not explicitly) and that this was all just an attempt at “political correctness,” among other, much nastier comments.
Honestly, I could write a very heated essay on this whole section, but to keep things concise, I’m just going to mention a few excellent points brought up in a JordanCon panel on race in the series:
- There are 78 characters in the books whose skin color is described as something other than pale.
- Robert Jordan was a historian and had a military background, so it’s easy to assume he built a world where people would look different.
- He mixed and matched cultures and skin colors throughout the book, so trying to attribute skin colors to characters is kind of silly.
- Writers often only describe skin colors other than white, making white the “default,” which shouldn’t be the case.
5. The fandom is amazing.
On our first night in JordanCon, one of the attendees told us on that the people there were some of the best he’d ever met. At the time, it sounded like a bold statement, but less than 24 hours into the convention, I could tell he wasn’t exaggerating. Wheel of Time fans are some of the warmest, friendliest, most welcoming people I have ever met. Are you someone who has read the series multiple times? Great! They’ll want to chat with you about it for hours. Are you just starting the first book? Awesome! They’re excited for you to begin that journey and want to hear your thoughts along the way. While some book purists are worried the show will bring in fans who don’t care enough about the source material, most are just happy to have new blood in the community, people who get to experience the story through a different medium and hopefully gain an interest and appreciation for the books over time. So if you end up liking the show, get involved in the fan communities, especially #TwitterOfTime, where I’ve met so many lovely people (several of whom I actually got to meet in person at JordanCon). I promise will be welcomed with open arms.
Check out some of the photos Laura took at JordanCon:
Are there any book fans who want potential watchers of the show to know going into it? Let me know in the comments!