The Wheel of Time began this week on Amazon Prime. I wasn’t sure whether to watch it or not but I am familiar with the story. I read the first five books in the 1990s and had friends who completed them all. Let me just say, it’s a complicated story with a wide array of characters and often, you lose track of who these people are. I have friends who still have their character encyclopedia they composed so they could keep the characters straight. So, buckle up. If you think “Lord of the Rings” was complicated, you haven’t seen anything yet.
Let’s get this straight for the readers. The Wheel of Time isn’t the name of the first book. The title of book one is “The Eye of the World.” It introduces us to Moiraine and Lan who have a quest ahead of them. They must find the Dragon and keep him/her in the light (or destroy if he/she is evil). That’s right. No one has a clue of who this person is. Moiraine only knows that he/she has been born.
Amazon’s first episode is called “Leave Taking” and in actuality is based on the first book of the series. In many ways, you don’t understand this until the last 20 minutes of the episode. The story tells of Moiraine and Lan, her bodyguard, leaving the Aesi Sedai on the search for the Dragon. The Dragon’s return has been seen by one of the Aesi Sedai that was born with white eyes and blind. They finally arrive at the town of Two Rivers which is located in the mountains and steeped in the Old Ways. They have a town is led by the women with a Wisdom lady (who can never marry) serving as the head of the town. As the viewer arrives in Two Rivers, they find that a new recruit is being inducted into the Women’s Circle, Egwene. She gets her braid and must survive a fall from the cliff into the river.
That night, a party is held. When Egwene arrives, the party kicks up a notch and the celebration really begins. During the party, we are introduced to four key people who will play the main roles during the story (in addition to Moiraine and Lan). After the party, Egwene and Rand, her lover, clean up. Unfortunately, they as a married couple are not to be as Egwene has been asked to apprentice under the present Wisdom, Nynaeve. This means a life of loneliness. We do not learn until later that Nynaeve does not like the Aesi Sedai to which Moiraine belongs. Nynaeve was adopted by the former Wisdom who had hoped to become an Aesi Sedai but was refused membership because she was poor and of small build. Let’s just say that this will probably color Egwene’s opinion of Moiraine as the story moves forward.
Moiraine and Lan continue their search the next day: Moiraine for the Dragon and Lan for problems (Trollocs). All seems peaceful but a stranger arrived unknown to all during a storm the night before. Nynaeve and Egwene sense a change in the tone of the wind but no time to figure it out then as the town has a memorial service to attend that night.
At the memorial service, people light lanterns and put them in the river and they float downstream (think Chinese Lantern celebration). As the party moves back to the town (after the sad service), people start to dance and sing. Suddenly, the Trollocs attack. The Trollocs work for the Dark One as his army. Their one goal is to destroy goodness and stop the Aesi Sedai. The Dark One knows that the Dragon is somewhere. As the fight starts (on a set only used for this episode) the town is destroyed. So are the Trollocs with Moiraine’s white magic and calling the stone from the buildings to destroy the Trollocs. Moiraine has figured out that the Dragon is one of four people from Two Rivers. She may have stoped the Trollocs but for how long and at what cost?
As the town regroups, Rand, Egwene, Perrin and Mat are told they must leave with Moraine and Lan to draw the Dark One’s army away. Rand blames Moraine (for his father’s injury and the attack) but his father (who was saved by Moiraine) signals he must go. Already the army can be seen on a mountain nearby. Horses are brought and six ride out. All do not want to leave as Rand blames Moiraine for the attack. Knowing that their staying, they must leave even though Mat wants to stay with his sisters and Perrin has lost his wife, Laila. The Trollocs and Dark One will only go where they think the Dragon is. Egwene doesn’t know what to make of all that has happened.
As the ride begins, Moiraine reminds us of the quest as they travel to the White Tower:
The Wheel of Time and come and pass leaving memories that become legends. Legends become myth and even myth is long forgotten when the age that gave it birth comes again.”
The next episode will be dropped November 19th.
I’ve watched fantasy before. I was a huge fan of Once Upon a Time and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I will say that the cast, especially the relative unknowns, seem to be able to handle what is thrown at them. Rosamund Pike is going to be a strong lead as Moiraine and will do wonders in the role. I wasn’t a fan of Game of Thrones as I found the books and the series too bloody (remember the Red Marriage). I will definite watch the second episode.
And remember, this wasn’t my usual type of recap. I just wanted you to have background on a new series that has promise. Oh, and by the way. Bezos tells us that it won’t last 15 years (one book per year) and the second year has already been filmed.