The Wheel of Time is not a grimdark series by even loose standards but it is one of the seminal works of fantasy from the Nineties. It takes many classic tropes of fantasy: the farm boy, the Chosen One, a magical teacher, prophecy, and a war between Good vs. Evil at its most primal then puts its own spin on it. Robert Jordan was a powerful influence on me during my high school and college years to the point that even when my tastes evolved, I always held The Wheel of Time in high esteem.
The Amazon series is something that a lot of us were interested in but I admittedly had some skepticism, even with Game of Thrones showing that you could theoretically adapt 70% of a series faithfully on screen. I was even more impressed with the Netflix adaptation of the first two Witcher books. Unfortunately, we have The Shanarra Chronicles to show how things can also go terribly wrong. Still, I was a first day viewer of the trailer for the series and am happy to share my thoughts.
The Wheel of Time trailer has a strong focus on the witches (Aes Sedai) of the series with Moiraine (played by Rosamund Pike), Nynaeve (played by Zoe Robins), and Egwene (Madeleine Madden). The special effects for the use of magic seem serviceable if not necessarily hugely impressive. We see arrows being stopped midair, wind magic, and some other displays that put me in mind of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It seems mostly consistent with the female power as described in Jordan’s books. I’m a huge Rosamund Pike fan and what little we see of the other two seems to do some classic scenes from the book.
We get glimpses of Emond’s Field and since this is where the first third of The Eye of the World takes place, getting this right is important. Unsurprisingly, it does have a little bit of a Shire feel to it despite everyone being tall burly folk. We don’t see much of Rand, Perrin, or Mat but the few scenes we do are ones that make it seem like they have the characters down. Mat is a laughing rogue, Perrin is reserved, and Rand sort of falls in the middle.
The Wheel of Time trailer provides a glimpse of the Aes Sedai and their political machinations that provide an important undercurrent to the series, everyone looking mostly appropriate. Above the Warcraft movie below Lord of the Rings level, IMHO. I was genuinely impressed with the city of Tar Valon and the Shadowspawn. Both seem like they come from much bigger budget movies and will be fun to see onscreen.
The trailer leaves me cautiously optimistic. The special effects do come off as a bit low-rent Lord of the Rings but it does feel like it has a strong grasp of the material. I can’t wait to see an episode of The Wheel of Time on screen.