I, like so many other Robert Jordan fans, eagerly awaited Amazon’s Wheel of Time series to be released. The few images and production tidbits offered some great promise for the television adaptation of the popular books. November 19th couldn’t come soon enough. The casting of the characters was in keeping of the story for the most part as I didn’t hear of too many complaints. Some people didn’t like that the actor playing Perin stood almost as tall as Rand al’Thor but hey, if tiny Tom Cruise can pull off Jack Reacher on the screen, then there is room for a Marcus Rutherford to be a Perin Aybara in WoT.
As the day of release drew nearer, Amazon finally dropped a few short trailers, and the production value was there. Costumes looked great and the set for the Green of Emond’s Field was nicely detailed, selling that “lived in” feel. We finally got to see the Trollocs and even a Myrddraal (Fade). If all of that wasn’t enough to qualify the production for some of my time in the coming weeks then the way they visually displayed the use of the One Power, certainly tipped the scales towards paying attention to this show.
The day finally arrived and I, like so many others, could geek out and get our WoT on, and didn’t it feel good! Damn right it did up until the first episode. Almost from the first scene problems for the fans of the novels popped up. The characters are years older than they were in the books. OK, OK. I guess we can live with that, I mean is that so horrible. Some people really had a problem with it though, and it became a bit of a controversy online but, people had to be reminded that the TV series wasn’t made expressly for the fans of the books. Rather, the TV series was adapted for a larger audience that likely doesn’t even know of the book’s existence.
Personally, the character ages are a nothing burger compared to some of the other issues that started popping up as the first episode, Leavetaking, continued to unfold. Some of the choices that production had made seemed so unnecessary. The depth of the content from the books is so rich that production really didn’t need to be making up completely unrelated events and material. Perin wasn’t married, his whole storyline early in the TV series was needlessly outside the source material. Mat might have been a bit of a scoundrel with a carefree attitude towards life and its excesses, but a sneak thief who steals things greater than a pie cooling on a windowsill? I don’t think so. To make matters worse for the Cauthon clan; mom is either a drunk or suffers from a debilitating bipolar disorder, or both, and dear old deadbeat dad is an indifferent womanizing drunkard. Again, odd choices made here.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough for us fans of the novels, they also had to commit the ultimate sin by injecting wokeness into a series that is resplendent with a great many strong female characters. They had to include the possibility that a female could also be the Dragon Reborn. Not that there is a problem with a female being a potential savior to existence but in this case, it just doesn’t make any sense. The Karaethon Cycle: The Prophecies of the Dragon, which is what Moiraine was basing her search upon, repeatedly refers to the Dragon Reborn as a male. Further to that the cycle refers to the dragon as perpetually male. Not only does this make sense since males are naturally more powerful with the One Power and that strength is required by the Dark One (Shai’tan) to aid in his escape of his prison. Also, the Wheel of Time is pattern driven and patterns don’t do random and remain patterns. But I guess none of that is as important as not appearing to cater to any form of a patriarchy, real or imagined. To me this pandering takes away from the strong female characters that make up most of this franchise. Nothing screams uncool louder than the person telling everyone that they’re cool.
Once again, I get that the production is trying to adapt the story for audiences that know nothing of the series of books but come on, they could be a little more faithful to the source material. After watching the first 5 episodes it is becoming clear that the people behind this production are going to continue being fast and loose with the source material. A perfect example that is concerning is their portrayal of the power in relation to other characters. In the books the Dragon Reborn is slightly stronger than Logain (the false Dragon) and 6 full sisters are required to shield the actual Dragon but only 2 were needed to shield Logain. Further to the point, Nynaeve, someone who has no real knowledge on the use of the One Power, spontaneously overpowers several full sisters and Logain (traditionally stronger than just about any female channeler) while simultaneously healing every wound in the area that can be healed. In the books Nynaeve certainly becomes very powerful but it feels here like they are trying to foreshadow her as the Dragon Reborn. Foreshadowing or misleading for dramatic effect, it doesn’t matter as this event never happened in the books and if they are portraying events like this so early in the story, it makes me wonder just how far they will bastardize this well-crafted fantasy.
For the viewers who never read the books I am sure this series is keeping them entertained and that they are enjoying it. However, they are missing out on a great story that didn’t feel the need to include “real world” gender politics to appease the so called woke crowd. The strong female characters didn’t need to be propped up to achieve their greatness, they accomplished that status all on their own.