Watching Amazon’s version of The Wheel of Time

Here be spoilers…

Wed, 1 Dec 2021

I never expected to see Robert Jordan’s saga adapted for television. I’m not particularly excited about having been proven wrong, but my wife wants to watch it so watch it we shall — even if it starts with a farm boy marching off to Adventure™ with his dad’s sword bouncing off his hip and has lots of braid-pulling and skirt-smoothing. And I will try to refrain from making more than one joke per episode about male channelers having to touch the Dark One’s taint if they want to weave any patterns.

Because I made the mistake of having admitted to reading some of the novels way back when, I get to play “WoT expert” every time Cat pauses the show and asks what’s going on. I suppose I’d better re-read these to refresh my memory even though I’d rather do a re-read of C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner novels and think that the best WoT adaptation you will ever find is the song by Blind Guardian. It hits all the high points in less than fifteen minutes.

But I will keep my opinions to myself and let Catherine enjoy the show. It might be one of those rare adaptations that prove better than the source material. I need not enjoy it as long as she does, but perhaps I can amuse myself with a bit of commentary here. Expect spoilers galore, but they will be hidden unless you’re using an old browser…

Season 1

Released in November 2021. New episodes drop every Friday. I understand a second season is in production…

Episode 1 spoilers
  • We already have Rand kissing Egwene and feeding her berries. Maybe a little off-screen sexy-time, too. I don’t remember that haliliening in The Eye of the World.
  • Looks like we get Moiraine and Lan sharing a tub together. I don’t recall that from the TEotW either.
  • And Nynaeve has a beef with the Aes Sedai courtesy of her adoptive mother.
  • The “Eyeless” (the myrddraal or “Fade”) looks like a cheap masked knock-off of a Nazgûl, but The Eye of the World was written as a pastiche on Tolkien before Jordan started doing things his way.
  • The water lantern ceremony seems cribbed from real-world ceremonies, but “Bel Tine” was probably inspired by Beltane so whatever.
  • I don’t recall heron-marked swords being katana in the novels, but I guess the producers are going with the “katanas are just better” trope.
  • We see why Aes Sedai like Moiraine often have Warders like Lan: to keep them from getting shanked while they charge up a spell.
  • I do not recall Nynaeve getting kidnapped by Trollocs from the novel.
  • This might be another deviation from the books: Perrin killing Laila after hacking a Trolloc to death in a berserker rage.
  • Moiraine ripping bricks out of the inn to chuck them at Trollocs using telekinesis is a rather literal case of wrecking the village to save it.
Episode 2 spoilers
  • I dunno why, but when I see a bunch of militant-looking dudes in white I immediately expect an organization resembling the Spanish Inquisition. The dude they have playing Eamon Valda seems to enjoy playing the heavy, and naturally he’s characterized as such by his eating habits and his tendency to murder Aes Sedai and collect trophies (their rings).
  • And Rand just yanked a dead bat out of his throat. Oh, wait. Just a nightmare — until he spots the dead bat after waking. Oh, lots of dead bats — and everybody had a similar dream.
  • Moiraine should be wearing gray, not blue. She has Gandalf’s disinclination toward open dealing with those she manipulates.
  • I guess Rand won’t be getting any for a while. You’d think he’d know better than to talk to Egwene like that.
  • There’s a Whitecloak saying it’s a dangerous time to be on the road, but neglects to mention that he and his are part of the reason.
  • These “Children of the Light” certainly think highly of themselves, but at least Lan’s got a spine.
  • The Whitecloak hasn’t figured out that he’s essentially said to Moiraine, “Magician, heal thyself.”
  • Except Aes Sedai can’t heal themselves.
  • They can’t tell lies either, but it looks like lies are in the mouth of the teller; their oath only seems to stop them from telling lies they themselves recognize as such.
  • Storytime! The kids are singing about Manetheren, the “Mountain Home” they did not know was the old name of their home the Two Rivers. Long story short, it’s Thermopylae with orcs, the defenders died with their boots on, and when the Queen felt her husband die she dealt with the invaders by casting from HP.
  • And Rand’s all pissy because it turns out Egwene could be an Aes Sedai, and Aes Sedai don’t take husbands (doesn’t mean they’re all lesbians, though)
  • Looks like wolves gravitate toward Perrin the way stray cats sometimes approach me. I told Cat he’d eventually learn to wolf out, but my memory might be faulty.
  • And they’re off to Shadar Logoth. That’s baaaaaaaaaaad shit. Pretty sure that’s where Padan Fain finds that evil dagger.
  • Hey, what happened to Thom Merrellin? I don’t think we’ve seen him yet.
  • Of course Mat grabs a dagger from Shadar Logoth. Dumb fuck.
  • And Nynaeve’s back, holding a knife to Lan’s throat and demanding answers.
Episode 3 Spoilers
  • Flashback to Nynaeve’s immediate past. She escaped the Trolloc that had captured her, only to have it give chase. She led it to a sacred pool, hid in the water, and shanked it. The pool’s polluted now, but now we know she’s a badass.
  • Lan expects Nynaeve to heal Moiraine. Never mind that she has no formal training as Aes Sedai.
  • Nynave’s having none of it, and tries to fight free of Lan. Start of a beautiful relationship…
  • Now Rand and Mat are off on their own, calling for Moiraine. Dumb shits have no idea where they are, where she is, or what they’re doing.
  • They know they’re supposed to go to the White Tower? Mat objects to walking. He should be glad they aren’t walking to fuckin’ Mordor.
  • Now it’s Perrin and Egwene, running from wolves even though wolves had been friendly toward Perrin in the last episode. And despite being a rural kid and a blacksmith’s apprentice apparently Perrin can’t start a fire from flint and steel worth a damn.
  • Lan seems to think tying Nynaeve to a tree is the best way to get her to help Moiraine. I hope they discussed a safeword first.
  • I guess Nynaeve is the Queen who will restore the lost Queensreich; she found some athelas for Moiraine.
  • Looks like Rand and Mat found a settlement. They’re welcomed by a dead guy in a gibbet, riddled with arrows. Seems a friendly place; it’s even got a pub. Wait. Just saw a sign. “Welcome to Mos Eisley,” it says.
  • Looks like they’re about to meet Thom Merrilin. 🎵 Toss a coin to yer gleeman. 🎵
  • Back to Perrin and Egwene. How did all these schmucks get so widely separated, anyway?
  • Looks like Rand and Mat have some logs to split if they want a warm place to sleep.
  • And Mat has a thing for MILFs — even the witchy types like Moiraine.
  • Less exposition, more log splitting, lads. Put yer backs into it!
  • Time to get Mat into a dress so he can play barmaid. He’s too delicate to chop wood, evidently, and the innkeep doesn’t think he’s as good a muff diver as he implies he is.
  • And Moiraine is still sick. Guess Nynaeve isn’t the healer she thinks she is.
  • Back to Perrin and Egwene, following old wagon wheel tracks. And Perrin thinks he’s gonna go scout ahead and leave Egwene on her own. Dumb shit’s still guilt-tripping over Laila.
  • Now they’ve happened upon a bunch of wanderers who ask them if they “know the Song”. Which song? “Ace of Spades?” “The Intergalactic Laxative?” “Don’t Fear the Reaper?” Doesn’t matter. Perrin and Egwene don’t know, but they’re welcome anyway.
  • Apparently Rand has chopped enough wood for a year — and earned a nice private room for him and Mat so nobody can hear them sort out their relationship issues with a bit of frotting or maybe some unlubed buttsex. Innkeep’s got no idea they aren’t like that.
  • Of course Mat intends to rob the dead guy in the gibbet. The same dead guy Thom Merrilin means to bury.
  • The dead guy’s an Aiel, murdered by the locals because of their ignorance.
  • And Thom’s conned Mat into burying the dead Aiel himself. Seems only fair that those who rob the dead should then buy ’em.
  • Rand’s talking with the innkeep, and admits he doesn’t know shit.
  • The innkeep seems to want his sausage, but Rand isn’t interested. Only the innkeep isn’t really an innkeep. Could one of the Forsaken have shown up already?
  • Now that the dead Aiel’s buried, Mat and Thom introduce themselves.
  • Apparently Rand can break down doors three men his size couldn’t break down when a woman grabs his dad’s sword off him and threatens him. She’s hunting the Dragon. She wants to bring him to the Dark One, so that “everybody can be saved”. Yeah, saved the way a JRPG end boss would save everybody, by ending all of existence.
  • Well, she isn’t Lanfear or one of Shaitan’s other heavies. Just a Darkfriend, dead by Thom Merrilin’s hand as he does the Strider bit.
  • Back to Lan, Nynaeve, and Moiraine. They’ve run into Liandrin and her Red sisters, who have captured some nutjob calling himself the “Dragon Reborn”. I guess this timeline’s compressed since false Dragons are already showing up.

I should be grateful Catherine isn’t interested in watching Legend of the Seeker because then I would have to re-read Terry Goodkind. Nonetheless, I’d rather see adaptations of C. J. Cherryh’s Morgaine or Foreigner sagas — or C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy — but I can’t always have what I want.

Looks like Catherine isn’t interested in watching the rest. I swear it wasn’t my fault.