The Wheel of Time has a Flat Tire
The Wheel of Time is an epic story told in fourteen massive volumes, loved by millions of fans across the world. Yay! We have a film version of one of the (arguably) best fantasy stories ever told.
I have problems with the series as written—bloated, overindulgent, jam-packed with unnecessary point-of-view characters. To me, this series represents everything I dislike about “epic” fantasy, though if I could slice away the fat, I would say the journey of Mat, Perrin, Egwene and (primarily) Rand is compelling and satisfying. Everything I like about fantasy!
But this post is not about my critique of the WoT books. No, this one is all about the dreadful show produced and provided by Amazon.
Amazon reportedly paid a bajillion dollars for the rights to convey the books to film, a huge investment, meant to rival the Game of Thrones and the Lord of the Rings in scope and spectacle. Then they handed the keys over to someone who scrapped the original story to create their own version of the Wheel of Time. To hell with the fans. To hell with Jordan’s vision. The Amazon-version of WoT is a joke. It’s fanfiction at it worst. I understand the need to condense material for film, but this was change for the sake of change, not for streamlining to fit the medium.
Here are a list of problematic issues culled from the first four episodes.
· Amazon: The Dragon Reborn can be male or female.
· Source Material: No. No, he can’t. The male half of the One Power was tainted by the Breaking of the World, and men channeling it go mad from the taint. The Dragon Reborn is a man who will (according to legend) go mad from using the One Power and destroy the world again. The female half of the One Power is free of taint, and the Aes Sedai have evolved (in part) to monitor and control the men who go insane from using the male half.
· Amazon: Emonds Field, a village, high in the mountains, insulated and rarely visited, has a more diverse population than a Broadway musical.
· Source: No. The world in Jordan's work is diverse, with many different cultures, races, and religions. (Too many for a work of fiction, IMO.) But the Two Rivers region is racially homogenous, except for Rand, who was found on a mountain, abandoned and alone. I don’t care what race the show creators picked, but all of Emonds Field should have all been the same.
· Amazon: Synopsis says, “Set in an epic fantasy world, The Wheel of Time follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the incredibly powerful all-female organization called the Aes Sedai, as she arrives in the small town of Two Rivers. There, she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young villagers, one of whom is prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn... the one who will either save or destroy humanity.”
· Source: No. The WoT follows Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve, Moiraine, Lan, and a cast of dozens more as they struggle to reach their potential and somehow unite the world to confront pure evil at the Final Battle.
· Amazon: Rand and Egwene are lovers.
· Source: No. Rand and Egwene were smitten with each other, but not shagging. I don’t think Rand gets laid until Book Ten or so, and it wasn’t with Egwene.
· Amazon: Perrin had a wife, whom he killed by accident.
· Source: No. Never happened.
I don’t understand the purpose of some of these changes. A number of critics had opined that Rafe Judkins (the bus driver in this wreck of a series) changed the material to appease the social justice crowd, who demand a reimaged version of anything that does not scream diversity with every line. Maybe so. Or maybe Rafe Judkins is so arrogant, he feels he can tell a better story than the one Jordan wrote. Whatever the answer, the end result guts Jordan’s work, cherry picks the names of the characters, and has created an unwatchable mess, destined to annoy fans of the series and confuse first timers.
Money poorly spent, Amazon. You blew it.