An Underappreciated (Albeit Minor) Challenge to Adapting The Wheel of Time for Television

If you are a fan of The Wheel of Time and haven’t been reading Sylas K. Barrett’s first read of the series over at, you need to be.  Blogging a first read is a daunting task, as I learned from my moribund first read of the Dark Tower series.  Sylas does a really great job of it.  But I’m not here to brag on Sylas.  I want to flag a challenge for the TV show that Sylas’ post today reminded me of.  Here is his description of the “if” world that Rand, Loial, and Hurin travel to via Portal Stone in The Great Hunt:

In the other world, the world of “if,” Hurin is continuing to sniff the trail of the Darkfriends, as he, Rand, and Loial all do their best to ignore the strange way distant objects shift in their periphery as they travel. The find the land burned in strange long swaths that taper to a point, reminding Rand of strokes of a painter’s brush, and despite the fact that the damage seems old, Rand sees that the land has not made any progress in reclaiming the damaged area with new growth. Rand also notices that there appear to be no animals anywhere, not even insects, and everything has that same pale, bleached-out look “like clothes too often washed and too long left in the sun,” and even the water they drink from the rivers tastes flat. Twice, Rand sees strange wispy streaks in the sky, too straight to be natural cloud formations, but he doesn’t mention it to the others.

Let’s talk about the strange wispy streaks in the sky.

These sound a lot like contrails created by aircraft.  They are a totally normal sight for us today (conspiracy theories notwithstanding).  Sticking something that matches the description in the book into the show doesn’t look eerie or strange–it looks like a mistake.

It’s not a big deal, to be sure.  But Jordan does a fair amount of this.  He describes things in terms that parallel things in the modern world.  It works because of the medium.  (It is also likely intentional on his part, given his penchant for meta storytelling.)  Another example is the description for the ageless Aes Sedai face: it sounds a lot like what someone who has had a facelift looks like.  You will never train viewers to associate the facelift look with Aes Sedai (and good luck finding actresses with the right look for the part!).

Anywhere Jordan does this the show’s creators will need to address it some other way.

Any other examples immediately spring to mind?

(No Top Ten Tuesday at Every Day Should Be Saturday, but you can check out my entry over at Hillbilly Highways.)

About H.P.

Blogs on books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday (speculative fiction) and Hillbilly Highways (country noir and nonfiction).
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5 Responses to An Underappreciated (Albeit Minor) Challenge to Adapting The Wheel of Time for Television

  1. Alex says:

    Not a great example, but from the top of my head, in either Book 4 or 5, Elayne (or maybe Nynaeve?) goes into a museum in one of the big coastal cities and sees what is clearly a Mercedes-Benz hood ornament that exudes (and I’m paraphrasing here) “an air of arrogance and power.”

    Classic . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • H.P. says:

      There I’m pretty sure Jordan intended it to actually be a Mercedes hood emblem. That sort of thing is fine, although the Shannara series was ham-handed about it. More awkward is something that ISN’T supposed to call to mind something modern but that invariably would when portrayed as described on the screen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Alex says:

    Ah I see what you mean.

    Like I said in my first comment . . . can’t think of any right now!

    Liked by 1 person

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