may will be spoilers ahead. Seriously. If you keep reading you have no one to blame but yourselves. Oh, I might also say “bullsh*t” once or twice so there’s that.
I have a confession to make. I am a Wheel of Time fan. When the first book came out in 1990 I’d picked it up out of curiosity and was immediately hooked. But the problem was that the whole thing just never seemed to end. It was originally going to be a series of six books and, ultimately, turned out to be fourteen volumes, each one a massive brick of a book. (How big? Each book in the series averaged 826 pages in paperback format. And there are 14 books. That works out to 11,564 pages total length. Eleven and a half thousand pages. There are almost three thousand named characters. And I, heaven help me, read all of those pages. Several times. What this says about me is open to debate.) And it took so long to finally wrap up the series that I was wondering if I was going to die before it came to a conclusion.
I didn’t die but the author, Jordan, did die before it was finished. Fortunately they found an author who was quite possibly even better at this than Jordan himself was, and the final three volumes were excellent. Brandon Sanderson turned out to be the perfect choice to replace Jordan. Sanderson wrote the last three volumes, wrapped everything up to everyone’s satisfaction (well, to my satisfaction at any rate. There were some who were not pleased with the ending but they can go clutch their pearls elsewhere) and that was that.
Or was it? Hardly had the series wrapped up than rumors started that there was going to be a WoT movie which we fans openly laughed at. You can’t take what is basically an eleven and a half thousand page novel and turn it into a two hour movie. You couldn’t even take one plot line from the books and turn it into a movie without eliminating 99% of the story to make it fit.
If someone were to make a video out of it they’d have to go down the same road as the Chinese costume dramas which run literally 50, even sixty or seventy hours. “The Untamed”, for example, is a historical fantasy drama that is basically a 50 hour long movie broken up into one hour chunks, and “Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms” (also known as Eternal Love) is another fantasy drama that runs almost 60 hours. (Both of those are on YouTube, by the way, if you ever have a week or two with nothing else to do. I’m not sure if I should recommend you give them a try or not. These things are definitely an acquired taste, at least as far as us westerners are concerned. And often they end with everyone you like dying in the end.)
But then along came Amazon and they said hey, guess what? We’re going to do the Wheel of Time! I was neither impressed nor optimistic about what the results would be. But I’ve seen the first three episodes now and so far it is very, very good. Mostly. There are some things going on that don’t make a lot of sense, even rub me the wrong way.
The casting of the main characters seems – oh, how can I put this… Not quite right? Just a bit off? And so does the portrayals of those characters.
The main characters are Rand, Matt, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve. (And to a lesser extent, Moiraine and Lan.) These five people are basically all kids, teenagers, or supposed to be. But except for Rand they seem far too mature both physically and mentally. Perrin especially but also Nynaeve and Egwene. Rand is the only one of the bunch that seems to actually be following the character development as portrayed in the book.
Matt… This is where things start to rub me the wrong way. In the book he is a jovial, fun loving prankster at first. The video version of Matt is more crude, more, well, nasty. He comes off more as a petty thief and mildly nasty little git, to be honest. Well, okay, I suppose I could give them some leeway. I suppose they could take him in that direction. But then…
Then we come to Perrin and dear lord that’s where things start to get strange. In the books Perrin is the same age as Matt and Rand, basically a teenager. But here they have Perrin already married to someone named Laila. And for no apparent reason that I can determine. This is a huge problem because a major part of his story revolves around his relationship later with Faile Bashere. Unless they’re planning on totally rewriting his entire relationship with her later he can’t be married now to Laila.
So they fix that problem by almost immediately killing Laila in the most horrific and emotionally wrenching way possible. And there is absolutely no reason for doing any of it! None.
The showrunners claim they did that to fill out Perrin’s backstory. Bullshit. Perrin has no such backstory involving a romantic relationship. At one point he muses that if he’d stayed in Two Rivers he might have eventually ended up married to someone named Laila, but he has no relationship with her and she never actually exists as more than a name mentioned in passing. There is no point in introducing a character and a marriage that never existed in the first place, only to then brutally and horrifically kill off the character to fill out a backstory that didn’t exist in the first place.
So why do it? To make him a more, oh, haunted and brooding character than he already is? Or basically just an excuse to throw up more blood and horror and shock in the middle of a scene that is already about as crammed full of blood and horror as it can get?
And speaking of blood and horror, now we come to the Whitecloaks, the Children of the Light… Oh, brother. Okay, we know the Whitecloaks are nasty, hypocritical bastards but they are cast as so over the top evil and sadistic that they’re almost a parody of themselves. The writers should be reminded that you can take things too far, and they did exactly that.
Okay, okay, I’m done with the ranting now. Let me get on with this. Except for the almost immediately brutally killed wife who didn’t exist in the first place and some minor quibbles about some of the characterizations, I have to admit I was impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Moiraine and Lan are spot on and beautifully rendered characters. As is Thom Merlin. The red sisters are a bit over the top but not, overall, horribly done.
The characterization of Rand seems almost spot on. He is, basically, little more than a well meaning country bumpkin at the start of the books, a teenaged kid with no experience outside of his little community, being thrust into a world he doesn’t understand and has difficulty comprehending.
And Logain – wow… Alvaro Morte plays Logain and dear lord he is good. Very, very good.
The visuals are outstanding. The scenery is stunning. The special effects are decent.
Overall it looks good so far. But what they’ve done with Perrin so far makes me a bit nervous. If they’re already inventing characters out of thin air for absolutely no reason at all just to immediately kill them off as horrifically as possible, it make me a bit anxious.