Book Reader Wheel of Time Recap and Reaction: Season 1, Episode 7

Changes in adaptation are inevitable.  Making a TV show is a messy, collaborative process that demands endless tradeoffs.  It’s an iceberg, because it happens almost entirely out of the public eye and, frankly, I know little about making talkies.  But there is no reason to judge an adaptation any less critically than anything else.  A careful viewer ought usually to be able to see why a change was made, whether or not they agree it was prudent.  Far too many changes for the Wheel of Time show still baffle me.  There are a couple of changes that seem minor, that are minor, but that nonetheless seem gratuitous, like an intentional shot taken at the source material.  And choices have consequences.  The biggest problems with episode 7 come from three dubious choices made in episode 6.

All that being said, episode 7 is probably the best episode of the season.  It is a much better episode than episode 6.  There are a couple of great scenes I have been waiting for all season. 

SPOILERS abound below.  Mostly for the first seven episodes of the show, but there will be book spoilers sprinkled in as well.

Photo Credit: Jan Thijs
Copyright: © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.
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Book Reader Wheel of Time Recap and Reaction: Season 1, Episode 6

I’ve been pretty lenient with the book changes up to this point.  A certain amount of leeway is necessary—the change in format requires changes in storytelling, and any creator worth their salt is going to put their own spin on things.  But I have also watched the changes with deep concern—Robert Jordan wrote a series that has sold tens of millions of books; Rafe Judkins made Chuck.  There is no reason to play blind trust in the latter, and if he approaches the project with vanity we should expect bad results.  Game of Thrones is the model here: Benioff and Weiss did a great job adapting existing content but failed badly when forced to create their own.

My concerns remained muted through episodes four and five.  Shifted forward exposition and worldbuilding can be justified, and the quality of the original and changed material was very high.  After episode six, though, it is clear that Rafe is devoting far too little attention and time to the actual material from book one, and his original/changed material is markedly weaker than in the previous two episodes.

SPOILERS abound below.  Mostly for the first six episodes of the show, but there will be book spoilers sprinkled in as well.

Photo Credit: Jan Thijs
Copyright: © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.
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Audiobook Review: The Voyage of the Iron Dragon by Robert Kroese, narrated by J.D. Ledford

I couldn’t resist the premise of the Iron Dragon trilogy—using advanced knowledge to build a space program from scratch in Viking Europe.  I very much enjoyed book one and book two.  But those books tended to be heavier on human-human and human-alien conflict relative to the technical challenges of the Dark Ages spaceship program than I would have liked.  The human and alien threats remain, but The Voyage of the Iron Dragon really focuses on the technical challenges.  Finally!

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Book Reader Wheel of Time Recap and Reaction: Season 1, Episode 5

The strident pleas of book hipsters and show apologists notwithstanding, after five episodes we have a sense of what we are getting from Amazon’s adaptation of a landmark work of epic fantasy.  A high production value work that mostly looks gorgeous but retains occasional discordant notes.  An adaptation that feels like the Wheel of Time and invests heavily in foreshadowing things that sometimes will not happen until far down the road, but that sometimes makes curious and unnecessary decisions to cut book material and maybe doesn’t really understand core themes of Jordan’s work.  A show growing more confident in its storytelling but is more confident in original material than adapted material.  I am pleasantly surprised by how much I have been enjoying the show, but I walked in with low expectations (and I do still have my gripes and concerns).

SPOILERS abound below.  Mostly for the first five episodes of the show, but there will be book spoilers sprinkled in as well.

My posts will start with a recap then give a reaction.  The fellowship is still (almost entirely) split, but I will keep my recap in show order this time.

Photo Credit: Jan Thijs
Copyright: © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.
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Book Reader Wheel of Time Recap and Reaction: Season 1, Episode 4

I am thankful this Thanksgiving season to have a high quality, high production value TV adaptation of my favorite fantasy series of all time.

SPOILERS abound below.  Mostly for the first four episodes of the show, but there will be a few book spoilers sprinkled in as well.

My posts will start with a recap then give a reaction.  The episode cuts multiple times back and forth among the three groups, but I will (mostly) keep them together for the purposes of my recap.

Photo Credit: Jan Thijs
Copyright: © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.
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Book Reader Wheel of Time Recap and Reaction: Season 1, Episodes 1-3

It’s happening!  And five hours early![1]  I watched the first three episodes Thursday night (and started this post) and then watched them again tonight (and finished this post).  If I can convince a member of my wife’s family, I will binge the first four episodes next week.  I have quibbles a-plenty, but we get a high-production value, largely faithful, and genuinely good adaptation of my favorite fantasy series.

SPOILERS abound below.  Mostly for the first three episodes of the show, but there will be a few book spoilers sprinkled in as well.

My posts will start with a recap then give a reaction.  I have this post structured to include all three recaps in a row, then three episode reactions, then an overall reaction to the first three episodes.

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Rereading The Great Hunt, chapters 47-50

In which the ta’veren three (and Hurin!) escape Falme but don’t get away, thousands of Seanchan and hundreds of Whitecloaks trap the four, Mat makes an impulsive decision to blow the Horn, Geofram Bornhald leads a doomed charge, Rand meets some old friends, Perrin becomes the Dragon’s Bannerman (which isn’t as important as it sounds), Rand fights Ba’alzamon in the skies above Falme, the fight below is curiously linked to the fight above, Rand rips off The Karate Kid, Lanfear leaves a final threat, Moiraine shows back up to drop some last minute exposition

It was a long time before Jordan gave us a Wheel of Time book that didn’t end with a BAM!  The last couple chapters are great, but things really get ramped up here.  Jordan likes to make us wait for things, sometimes for half a dozen books after laying down some heavy foreshadowing.  But the Horn is revealed at the very end of book 1 and blown by the end of book 2.

(If this post looks like crap, it is because the Block Editor is even more unusable than usual today.)

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Rereading The Great Hunt, chapters 45-46

In which Nynaeve, Elayne, and Min capture a sul’dam and discover she can be leashed, five ride forth into Falme, Mat gets distracted by a naked lady, the Horn and Dagger are recovered, Rand spots Egwene, Rand faces off with a blademaster and kills a man, Mat tests the durability of the Horn, Egwene is rescued and exposes the secret of the sul’dam, Nynaeve pronounces justice, Seanchan and Whitecloak armies muster, and Ingtar reveals a terrible secret and attempts redemption.

The climax of book 2 of The Wheel of Time has arrived!  Though maybe it is a fake climax, with the real climax to follow.  Or a small climax before the big climax.  Any time you can pull off multiple climaxes it is well received, in my experience.

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Rereading The Great Hunt, chapters 43-44

In which Nynaeve, Elayne, and Min hatch a plan, Bayle Domon reappears just in time to ostensibly be useful, five ride forth, Perrin sees Whitecloaks again, the Whitecloaks sneak half a legion onto Toman Head

These would be an easy two chapters to skip past to rush to the climax.  I certainly have done so on each reread.  Writing twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have found much to savor here.  But I won’t to dwell on my newfound favorite (or almost favorite) character: Nynaeve.

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Wheel of Time Official Trailer Speculation

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.  In one Age, called the Peak TV by sone, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, the official trailer for a TV show rose above the great mountain- and sea-ringed valley of Hollywood.  The show was not the beginning.  There are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

After labeling the first trailer a “teaser,” we get another full trailer labeled the “official trailer.”  This one didn’t jack my excitement up like the first one did, but that is because it remains high from the first one.  I won’t (or at least will try not to) dwell on this one as long as I did the first one, but that is because of the nature of this one.  This trailer is much more about setting up the conventional story book readers know and love.  It doesn’t have as many surprising points (although we do get some impressive and exciting visuals).  For the most part, my wild speculation about how the season will play out remains intact after this trailer.  Not that that will stop me from adding some new speculation.

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