TV Review: The Wheel of Time (S1) | Streamlined to Near Perfection

The Wheel of Time is a high fantasy series inspired by the bestselling book series by Robert Jordan, with three of the 15 novels written by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan’s death. Writer producer Rafe Judkins (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hemlock Grove) is at the helm of the show and in the cast we have familiar names and faces like Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl, Jack Reacher), Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones, The Rook), Daniel Henney (Big Hero 6, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and relative unknowns like Barney Harris (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), Madeleine Madden (Picnic at Hanging Rock), Marcus Rutherfod (Bulletproof), Josha Stradowski (Just Friends), Zoë Robins (The Shannara Chronicles), Alexandre Willaume (Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy).

Premise: Unlike the books, the focus of the series is on Moiraine, a member of the Aes Sedai, a powerful organization of women who can use magic. She takes a group of five young men and women on a journey around the world, believing one of them might be the reincarnation of the Dragon, a powerful individual prophesied to either save the world or destroy it.

Review: The three episode premiere was impressive, fast paced and engrossing. The rest of the season followed in that vein delivering surprises after surprises and great character moments for all involved. The story telling is expedient and very streamlined, there are little to no dull moments ; it might be frustrating for some book readers and longtime fans, all the melded of places and modified action pieces, but for me who’s read book one – so far – it was an enjoyable journey that kept the heart and spine of “The Eye of the World.

In an adaptation perspective, I’m impressed with how well the show covers hundreds of pages in a few minutes of screen time without the material getting lost in translation. Given the many surprises I got in the series, I suspect that they’ve also pulled relevant elements from later books and put them in season one.

I went into the series waiting to see how Perrin would turn out in live action but quickly become a Nynaeve fan. Perrin’s still my boy but Nynaeve storyline and love interest was sweet and made much more sense here than in the novel where it seemed to come out of nowhere. The same goes for Egwene and Perrin’s run-in with the white cloaks – who seem far more dangerous on the show – and how it was handled, allowing for subtle character development while giving them more agency. That’s kind of the way most characters are threated, with incremental and sometimes subtle character development, except maybe for Mat – who annoyed me to no end in book one – but they’ve done him dirty. Although interesting, the way they changed him, they’ve made him more of deadweight than he’s supposed to be. Isn’t he the one skilled with the bow and arrow? Here he’s almost useless.

They’ve also cleverly depicted the white cloak as the aggressors, the bad guys by depicting their disregard from people’s – women – personal space, their attack on the Tinkers. The way the main characters are handled is more interesting, it’s less obvious here who the Dragon Reborn is, and a better job is done to highlight the importance of the others. I appreciate the show for limiting the amount of cat fighting, because at one point it felt like most of the women had some sort of beef with each other.

The show falters in a few way but the most striking ones for me is how the Dragon Reborn reveal was handled, that was not it, and the Dragon’s battle against the Dark One, was a bit Wonder Woman 1984 – a bit anti-climatic.

The cinematography is great, the set and costume designs are amazing, and the VFX is good – I’m hopping for even better later on. As for the cast, they are excellent, from the main cast to the recurring one, they’ve picked them well. I still have my favorites though.

Season one of The Wheel of Time is captivating, visually arresting, and well worth the watch and re-watch. Season two can’t come fast enough.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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TV Review: The Wheel of Time (Premiere) | Fast Paced and Engrossing

Rafe Judkins (Showrunner), Robert Jordan (Novels)

CAST
Rosamund Pike
Daniel Henney
Zoë Robins
Josha Stradowski
Madeleine Madden
Marcus Rutherford
Barney Harris
Michael McElhatton

Review: I think I became aware of “The Wheel of Time” book series at about the same time that I started to read Brandon Sanderson‘s “Steelheart – I was not even half-way through that book that I was trying to find out what else did Sanderson wrote, and found out that he penned the remaining three out of the 15 books of The Wheel of Time after Jordan’s death. Anyway, since I’ve read “The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time #1)” I was glad to see this world come to life because there are a few things that I was looking forward to and this show delivered, faster than I expected them to.

The first three episodes are good, not only they look great, the cinematography on some of those wide shots are stunning, but we’ve been presented with most of the main players in a digestible and quite comprehensive way.
In the pilot episode alone we’ve seen a few Aes Sedai from different Ajah – I think that’s the right word, though they haven’t said it yet, it’s the name for the different groups of Aes Sedai, each one having their own purpose and rules – The series has already given us an inkling as to what the red Ajah Aes Sedai stand for. We’ve then even seen a Dark friend, Whitecloaks, a special prisoner and of course a particular gleeman. The show is also…sexier than I would have guessed with some characters are already in a relationships – and I can already see the ensuing drama they’ll bring – others take baths together. Let’s hope the drama is used wisely.

The Two Rivers five also got a decent chunk of screen time enough to give us a sense of who they are, but the focus is on Moraine – and her Worder, Lan, who’s got a nice tush BTW. There are changes from the books but that’s no big deal. However I was surprised about Perrin’s situation, I figured something would change that but I did not expect it to go like that. Rand seemed brattier at some point and I did not miss that he’s got the bow and arrows as well as his sword while Mat was stripped of a lot. Egwene is fine but Nynaeve is really striking, mostly due to Robins who easily pulls focus. She also needs to drop that hair care routine because I’d be bald if it was my hair.
I get expediency but the way the group do easily followed Moraine and Lan didn’t make much sense particularly when they didn’t know they were in danger before the attack. It’s not like they felt watched or something. They were rounded up and convinced to go on that journey quickly. I wouldn’t have been convinced that the Trollocs were specifically after me given how the events unfolded.

There are clever little moments throughout the show, for one they’ve showcased the Whitecloaks’ hypocrisy, they hunt and kill Aes Sedai and yet they advise you to seek one if you’re wounded by Trolloc poison?

I like how Moraine is portrayed here – Pike is amazing in the role – whether through action or words she is more in the gray area, which makes for an interesting character. She’s as much of a badass as the others, in fact I also loved that the villagers weren’t helpless and too afraid to defend themselves. Moraine’s action scene in the pilot was just awesome, great VFX and an impressive display of her powers.

The Wheel of Time‘s pacing goes from 0 to a 100, which works extremely well in most areas, they’re nailing almost everything in this adaptation. The show’s captivating and what’s to come seems promising.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

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The Wheel of Time | Trailer

  • Writer: Robert Jordan (Novels), Rafe Judkins (Showrunner),
  • Directors: Uta Briesewitz, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Wayne Yip
  • Stars: Rosamund Pike, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Zoë Robins, Barney Harris, Madeleine Madden, Daniel Henney

The Wheel Of Time premieres on the 19 November 2021.

If you’re interested in the source material, help us by getting them from the links below:

July readings | Baseball, Roommates, FWBs, and Magic

Title: Bat Boy
Series: Easton U Pirates #1
Author: Christina Lee
Genre(s): Contemporary, MM, Sports, Romance
Page count: 218 pages
Published: 20 November 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: First Impressions
Series: Auckland Med. #1
Author: Jay Hogan
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Mystery, Crime, MM
Page count: 351 pages
Published: 15 December 2019

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Carry On
Series: Simon Snow #1
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBT, Romance
Page count: 522 Pages
Published: 9 May 2017

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: True Mate
Series: Prosper Woods Chronicles #1
Author: Patricia Logan
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBT, Romance
Page count: 202 pages
Published: 30 April 2021

My review (soon) | Book | Audiobook

Title: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Genre(s): Poetry, Fantasy, Fiction, Mythology, Historical
Page count: 208 pages

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Enthralled
Series: The Knight and the Necromancer
Author: A.H. Lee
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, MM, Fiction, Short stories
Page count: 78 pages
Published: 12 January 2021

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Roommate
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre(s): Contemporary, Queer, Romance, Fiction
Page count: 304 pages
Published: 12 January 2021

My review (soon) | Book

Title: THE taking of Jake Livingston
Author: Ryan Douglass
Genre(s): Young Adult, Paranormal, Queer, Fiction
Page count: 308 pages
Published: 13 July 2021

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Lux
Series: The Reckoners
Author: Brandon Sanderson, Steven Michael Bohls
Genre(s): Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy,
Runtime: 13h55min
Published: 22 July 2021

My review | Audiobook

Title: Home Plate
Series: Eastern U Pirates #2
Author: Christina Lee
Genre(s): Contemporary, MM, Sports, Romance
Page count: 257 pages
Published: 29 January 2021

My review (soon) | Book | Audiobook

If you’re interested in any of these, help us by getting them from the links above at no extra cost to you

These books are also available on The Book Depository, or you can get them from the links above at no extra cost to you

Lux: A Texas Reckoned novel | Brandon Sanderson, Steven Michael Bohls

Lux (The Reckoners) by Brandon Sanderson & Steven Michael Bohls published 22 July 2021

A new team of Reckoners must infiltrate the flying city of Lux to take down the Epic Lifeforce in this audio-exclusive novel from Brandon Sanderson.

When the great red star Calamity appeared in the sky, some believed the end had come. They were right.

Calamity created the Epics: humans with incredible powers they didn’t deserve.

They could have saved mankind. They could have lifted us into harmony and prosperity. Instead they burned. They slaughtered. They conquered. And then they ruled.

Jax has learned all of this the hard way. Orphaned at an early age, he’s spent most of his childhood training to be a Reckoner – determined to find the Epics’ weaknesses, unlock their secrets, and protect those of us who are still left.

But now, the mysterious High Epic Lifeforce has arrived with his flying city, Lux, to plunder what’s left of Texas. So Jax and his ragtag team – the few who remain of the once-mighty Texas Reckoners – must take their battle to this floating fortress of riches – and defeat the invincible.

To avenge what has been lost. And rise anew.

Buy links:

How was it?

I read The Reckoners novels some time ago; although I was wasn’t very impressed by Calamity I jumped at the opportunity to read this one, not even trying to figure out what it was about. So going in blind, I spent too much time trying to figure out when this story was taking place in the series. I was connecting more events and characters than was necessary instead of just enjoying what turned out to be a somewhat stand alone story, connected to the previous books.

From the start this book feels like a return to form, it’s more in line with Steelheart, Mitosis and Firefight, without the weird shift from Calamity. It’s the reckoners against the Epics, amazing motivator tech and face paced action. Jax, the main character, did get on my nerves because I could see him make mistakes as they were happening and it was driving me nuts. So as much as his reckless behavior annoyed me, it makes him humain and fallible and I liked that in the end. The Texas team feels like the original team in some ways but they’re kind of unique. There’s a romantic connection in this story that I didn’t think was necessary at all but it doesn’t impede the story.

This Texas reckoners novel is well structured and it shows, there are a few things that are set up throughout that come to fruition later on, my only problem with that is that I could see them coming and anticipated quite a few things. It sucked some of the excitement out of a chunk of the novel because there were little to no surprises for me. However I’m still proud of myself for figuring out the Epics’ weaknesses well in advance because of that heavy ended foreshadowing. Even the Steelheart cameo wasn’t a total surprise, because I expected one from a high epic we already knew and the big deal that was made about the thing the character that’s connected to Steelheart has clued me in. The cameo was a bit of a retcon for me but I liked it. In fact, I first suspected the Californian to be Obliteration but that might be because MacLeod Andrews used the a similar voice for both.

Lux is fun to listen to, it stitches itself to the whole reckoners series well with this story ending at the same time as Calamity while suggesting there might be more to come. If there’s a sequel I suspect Obliteration will feature as well since I think he’s still alive.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Are you planning on listening to this book? if you’re a fan of the series and/or the author how do you like this book?

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Calamity | Brandon Sanderson

Calamity (The Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson published 16th February 2016

When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.
David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when the Reckoners’ leader struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back. . . .
But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.

Buy links:

How was it?

Firefight was a turning point in The Reckoners’ series, it felt more and more like a transition but it didn’t really explored what that transition, that transformation would be, Calamity does.

The series took a serious turn in this book, it’s familiar but feels and sounds different, and that wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it didn’t seem so abstract. The fact that the main characters are just as clueless as where are for a good chunk of the story gives the impression that Sanderson didn’t fully think through the trilogy. Calamity seemed so haphazardly stitch together at times that Megan became a convenient solution for every corner the author painted himself in. She became some sort of MacGuffin, the solution for every or any problems.

David is another “problem” unlike his weird expressions and metaphors David being reckless is not cute and yet it keeps being rewarded for it. In this book more than the others, his reckless behavior has no consequences. In the previous stories it at least seemed like he got lucky, there’s a sense of danger, impeding doom but with “don’t worry I got everything you need” Megan that just vanished.

As bad as it may sound, Calamity has its moments. Parts of the story, scenes that are engaging and really entertaining to read with a fair share of plot twists. However the book still left me with a weird aftertaste. Something or some things are missing. It’s unclear. Sanderson didn’t just leave a door open to eventually come back to the series, he delivered a “I need to get this done” book instead of a “I did it 😀.” but it’s impressive to see that even when it doesn’t look like he tried hard enough, it’s still good.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Calamity is available on The Book Depository, Amazon, Audible and other book retailers near you.

About the series:
I appreciated that the Epics, in all the levels strength and powers they possess, are still subject to time, decay, and sickness. In the series we see the ordinary humans fear and/or revere them as deities. But they are riddled with issues that you wouldn’t expect in such powerful beings to have.

More in the series:

The Reckoners 1
Review | Book | Audiobook
The Reckoners 1.5
Review | Book | Audiobook
The Reckoners 2
Review | Book | Audiobook