I am not a huge fan of fantasy-centric stories. I have watched mainstream stuff like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but anything deeper than that is just lost on me. I guess it comes from not being much of a reader. I haven’t picked up a book in ages, even though friends buy them for me almost every year (and now by saying this, I am sure that will change). I’m not ungrateful for them, I just don’t have the patience to read a novel these days.
I remember years ago when I owned a comic book store, one of my customers asked me to order him a book set called The Wheel of Time from author Robert Jordan. Beyond being asked to make the order, this was the extent of my knowledge of the fantasy book series. But for some strange reason, I remember him asking for these books. It’s weird how things get stuck in your mind, isn’t it?
The memory surfaced because I was recently informed that Amazon Studios has put out a new TV series for The Wheel of Time. Again, I had no prior knowledge of the story. Regardless, I decided that this show was something I wanted to check out. With only three episodes out so far, I wasn’t expecting anything great. With expectations low and a tummy full of Thanksgiving turkey, I started Episode 1.
The Wheel of Time tells the tale of Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of an all-female group of channelers called the Aes Sedai (pronounced like Icy Day). The sisters of Aes Sedai wield an elemental power known as the One Power. Years ago, there was a counterpart of the One Power, wielded by male channelers. But something went wrong and the male channelers became corrupted. A member of the male sect, named Lews Therin Telamon became known as The Dragon and used his powers to almost destroy the world until he was stopped.
From that day forward, members of the Aes Sedai hunted down any male channeler out of fear. However, Moiraine and her partner, Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney), believe that the reincarnation of The Dragon exists, and can be used as a force of good against an evil known as the Dark One.
Their search leads to Emond’s Field, where they identify four possible candidates: Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski), Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris), Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) and Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford). Initially questioning if they should leave, the choice is made when the village is attacked by Trollocs — foot soldiers of the Dark One.
Moiraine is initially able to fend off the wave of Trollocs, but is gravely injured. Lews and the candidates join together to take her to the White Tower, the seat of power for the Aes Sedai.
I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was for me to get into the story for The Wheel of Time. As mentioned, I have only really gotten into the LotR films, so my experience with fantasy worlds like this one is limited. But the writers for Amazon Studios have done a great job in making this show interesting, even for someone who is a complete noob like me.
There are some times where the show bogged down. The best way to explain it would be abrupt slowness. The story is progressing nicely along, but suddenly we hit a speed bump and, well, it takes quite a long time to get on topic. I understand that this is done for character development, and the payoff will come in later episodes (or I hope they come in later episodes), but the way these moments just come out of nowhere breaks the flow.
For example, there’s a moment when the first fight with the Trollocs appears to be won. But then suddenly we are back into another fight. Then this fight quickly hits yet another climax. It was like riding a rollercoaster, getting to the top of the biggest hill, but then having to roll back and do it again. It breaks the rhythm and felt very out of place.
The Wheel of Time is very fun to watch and easy to absorb. With only three episodes available at the time of this review, I can’t really give it a fair grade. But I will definitely be watching. If there is any love of magic, mysticism and monsters in your body, The Wheel of Time is a must-watch Amazon Prime show.