It’s happening! With all the pandemic-related delays, the arrival of Amazon’s adaptation of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series seems sudden. We have a release date—and it is in a little over two months! The first three episodes drop on November 19, with the remaining episodes dropping one at a time and the season coming to a close on Christmas Eve (with a weekly drop, expect weekly recap and reaction posts here). Word is that season one will adapt book one, but with material from both New Spring and book two pulled in. And surely much will be left on the cutting room floor, with a fat novel adapted into just eight episodes.
Here is the trailer, and it is a thing of beauty. For all that it is labeled as a teaser trailer, it clocks in at over two minutes.
My analysis of the trailer with screenshots (and book spoilers) is below the jump.
The trailer opens with Nynaeve pushing Egwene into a river. I’ve seen repeated suggestions this depicts part of Egwene’s Wisdom training, but I think it more likely this is right after they escape Shadar Logoth (notwithstanding it being a daytime scene).
Our first look at the Winespring Inn and Emond’s Field. I would like to register my formal complaint that there are non-thatched buildings other than the inn itself.
There are two possibilities with this shot of Egwene coming out of the water with multiple colors on her face. One is testing (even pre-Novice testing?). I won’t be surprised at all if they make substantial changes to the testings. But I think it more likely this is a dream (Dream) sequence. The first trailer is heavy on foreshadowing Egwene’s important role in the story, and Dream sequences can be in service of that. Egwene may wind up presented as a faux protagonist in the first season, or they may try to give her equal billing with Rand throughout (she is, after all, one of the six main characters).
Word is that season one will whittle down the cities portrayed, a defensible decision to make sure the cities they do show look really good. Tar Valon looks gorgeous here, with a massive White Tower in the foreground and a smoking, hulking Dragonmount in the background (which is as close as this trailer comes to actually referencing the Dragon Reborn). So if Tar Valon is in, where is out? I think we can pretty safely say at this point that they will elide the Caemlyn scenes from book one. No casting news on Elayne has already hinted at this. It is a pain for a TV production to cast an actor for a very small role one season then have to hope they show back up when their role is expanded (Min, and the entire Baerlon sequence, may be skipped as well). This incentivizes pushing introductions down the road. My best guess is that Tar Valon plays the role Caemlyn did. It is there that the fellowship will reunite, as well as meet with Loial. I still think they flee north. And we will, of course, see Caemlyn later. Perhaps they go there instead of Carhien next season?
The Hall of the Tower. I always pictured it as bigger, and something more in line with where various legislatures around the world, past and present, sit. As a political body, the Hall is quite small, but there should be room for observers. The small, round room will be used to good effect later in the trailer, though. All seven Ajahs are represented, going Red, Gray, Yellow, Blue, White, Gray, and Green from left to right, I think (a few are hard to ID). Leane is on the far right with her staff. Moiraine is centered, with Liandrin and Alanna standing to either side of her. This is another sign the main group will travel to Tar Valon. This could be a scene from book two, transported from Fal Dara to Tar Valon, but I don’t know if we will get there. Nor do I think it takes place before the main events of book one. The placement of Liandrin and Alanna suggests a trial-like situation for Moiraine. Probably being called to account for events from the first half of the book, or just for being away from the Tower for years. And shortly before she darts off again, this time to the Blight.
This shot takes place during the attack on Emond’s Field on Winternight (confirming it will be shown on screen), but, more importantly, it reveals how the show will depict Channeling. My most basic reaction is that it looks good. The visual representation does a good job signaling that the One Power is present everywhere, as the power that drives the universe and the Wheel itself. What we don’t see are any way to distinguish among the Five Powers or any that resembles a Weave.
I almost skipped past this shot of Alanna using the Power to protect a small group from arrows. The depiction of the Power is similar to that in the last screenshot. But there is a detail here that is extremely interesting. Lan standing in front of Nynaeve. They never meet Alanna in season one of the books. This almost certainly means they also meet Liandrin, who isn’t shown here but appears elsewhere with that group. I am guessing both Alanna and Liandrin get enhanced roles in the show as stand-ins for several “good” and “bad” Aes Sedai.
They have very much led with the women, and especially the Aes Sedai themselves, in early marketing of the show. This is an intentional feint, I think, to help put the viewer in the mindset of the people of Randland, where the outsized role played by the three male ta’veren is unexpected. But we do get quick, establishing shots of each of the three. Rand with his (too small) bow and Mat, here, with the dagger from Shadar Logoth.
…And Perrin with a wolf. Rand getting the weakest of the three further suggests to me that the show will underplay his role to maximize the impact of the reveal at the end of the season. (We do see a bit more (ahem) of Rand elsewhere in the trailer, but these can all be interpreted as Egwene shots.)
Rewinding a bit in the trailer, it looks like Mashadar has been reimagined from a pale fog to a creeping darkness. It looks great, to be honest. Shadar Logoth is surely one of the tentpole settings for season one, and I am so in for it.
We get a great little monologue on the Wheel from Tam. The monologue has me completely sold on Michael McElhatton as Tam. The imagery here is great, with overhead shots of wheels formed by Two Rivers dancers, corpses, and the Hall of the Tower, in quick succession. And I am glad they are leaning into the Wheel thematically (note, again, that the concept of the Dragon Reborn is absent from the trailer).
We don’t get a clear look at Trollocs in this trailer, but, man, this shot of a mob of Trollocs surrounding a Fade is awesome (and that horse skull!).
One of the more curious tidbits, to me, has been indications that Logain will play a significant role in season one, especially given inevitable cuts. This shot confirms it. It also confirms that we will see the flows when men channel. I am guessing that certain initial, hinted uses of the male half of the Power from early in book one will be cut in favor of a big reveal at the end of the season in the Blight.
This and the earlier screenshot strongly suggest to me that Lan and Nynaeve get pulled into that Logain storyline. With Caemlyn cut, they instead run into the Aes Sedai escorting Logain somewhere in the wilderness between Shadar Logoth and Tar Valon. I say that less because of the geography of Randland (let’s be honest—the show writers will ignore it) than because the fellowship will be splintered after Shadar Logoth. Not everyone will encounter those Aes Sedai. And if this change is made and Baerlon is cut, then we may not see White Cloaks until Toman Head in season two.
This shot featuring the Waygate reinforces my view that Caemlyn will be cut from season one. Of course, the Tar Valon Waygate is in an Ogier grove, not a field, but I still think this Waygate is near there (the surroundings look a lot the surroundings of the Waygate in Shienar, but why would they be riding toward it?).
Close up of a Fade. Not very human-like or book-faithful, but so creepy. I love it.
Final Thoughts. First off, the production values look great. Setting aside my love of the books, I am just happy to see high-end epic fantasy on TV. With the Abercrombie casting, I was worried this would look more like The Shannara Chronicles than Game of Thrones. Thankfully that is not the case, if we can judge the show by a single, two-minute trailer. And it looks like they resisted the urge to emulate the grimdarkness of Game of Thrones too. Whether I agree or not, I can better grasp the logic of how I think they will tackle adapting the first book now.
There will be another trailer. I expect that this one will introduce the concept of the Dragon Reborn. I suspect they will continue to play coy with his identity. Logain, then, will be very useful to those ends. The second trailer may also answer whether the book prologue will be included (I guess yes).
Another post will make some guesses as to how the story will map out over season one’s eight episodes. In the meantime, check out my Wheel of Time reread posts.
Do you think I am right about how the second trailer will handle the concept of the Dragon Reborn? If only three cities will feature in season one, which three cities will they be (keep in mind the elastic definition of “city”)?