With the incredible success of Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings, producers have been scouring the fantasy genre for the next big “thing.” With this in mind, Prime Video has launched The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (completed by Brandon Sanderson). The Wheel of Time book series is one of the most popular and enduring fantasy series of all time, with over 90 million books sold worldwide.
The series was developed for television by Rafe Judkins (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hemlock Grove), who serves as both showrunner and executive producer, as well as the writer of the first episode. Judkins correctly chose to make the 14 novels that are set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists (but only women are permitted to use magic) as a television series, instead of a movie.
The story follows Moiraine, a member of the incredibly powerful Aes Sedai, an all-female organization of magic-users, as she arrives in Two Rivers. Moiraine is there because of a prophecy of the Dragon Reborn: a mythical figure who will either save or destroy humanity. Unfortunately for Moiraine, there are four young people (Rand Al’Thor, Perrin Aybara, Mat Cauthon, Egwene al’Vere) born on the prophesied date.
In order to discover the true Dragon Reborn, Moiraine and her Warder, Lan Mandragoran, embark with Rand, Mat, Perrin, and Egwene on a dangerous, world-spanning journey to discover who the Dragon Reborn is. The unidentified Dragon Reborn differs from the typical trope of the chosen one, as in a more generic tale, it would be obvious to the Aes Sedai who is the chosen one (poor farm boy). But to its credit, the Wheel of Time series expands upon this trope to enhance the story possibilities by having four possible candidates for the Dragon Reborn.
The international cast is made of talented veterans and newcomers who breathe life into the characters while making them fully relatable as people.
- Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike)-member of the Aes Sedai
- al’Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney)-Moraine’s warder
- Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski)- a sheepherder
- Egwene al’Vere (Madeliene Madden)-friend of Rand
- Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford)-blacksmith and friend of Mat and Rand
- Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins)- the local Wisdom
- Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris)-a mischievous friend of Rand
The production values (visual effects, photography, sets, costumes, locations) are top-notch and enhanced by a superb international cast. The writing and direction are tight with no filler material. But most importantly, unlike Game of Thrones, The Wheel of Time saga has been completely written. If Prime Video chooses to go beyond two seasons, it has a finished 14 book saga upon which to base as many seasons as they choose to make. Also, Brandon Sanderson, who wrote the final 3 books in the saga with guidance from Robert Jordan, serves as consulting producer for the series. In a show of faith, Prime Video has already committed to a second season, which demonstrates their confidence in the series and is hopefully a good sign for the future.
Since I have not read the books, I cannot say how closely the series follows the novels other than changing the age of the characters. However, as a standalone series, it hits all of the marks of great television with compelling characters, incredible world-building, and an absolutely captivating story. I highly recommend the series. Each episode outdoes the previous one.