Amazon Studios Officially Orders “The Wheel of Time” To Series, With An Unexpected Angle
Amazon Studios officially puts The Wheel of Time to series, but the angle of the story is radically different from the novels.
The good news is that decades after Game of Thrones beat them to the punch, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series has finally pulled out of an ugly limbo deal, gotten itself on track with Sony, and whatever they produced was good enough that Amazon Studios greenlit the series with a full season order.
The rest of the news is fascinating.
Let us backtrack. Robert Jordan’s epic 14 novel series began back in 1990 with The Eye of The World. It is, much like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, a story that hops from first person POV to first person POV, with all the main characters represented in the early books. Unlike ASOIaF, these chapters have their titles (instead of Jon I, Bran II, Arya V, Sansa IX.) Instead, each POV is a symbol at the top of the chapter. The ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai is Rand; the dice are Mat, the blacksmith’s puzzle is Perrin. Note that all of these are male characters. There are a few female characters who get POV chapters, but not until nearly halfway through the novel, and then there are two women POVs (Nynaeve, Egwene) to a host of men.
In 1990, this was a huge step towards equality. The Wheel of Time was like Lord of the Rings but with actual women characters with personalities and thoughts. It wasn’t until a full decade had passed, and other novels came along with far less sexist depictions of their leading female characters (like Martin) where Jordan’s characterizations, and frankly slightly bizarre stereotyping began to stand out. Nowadays, we would politely call his depictions of Elayne, Aviendra, and Min, Rand’s three women who share him (yes, that’s a real plot point) “problematic” at best.
With it why this synopsis of the series at Deadline is jaw-dropping, to say the least.
The Wheel of Time, which has sold over 90M books around the world, is set in a sprawling, epic world where magic exists, but only women can use it. The story follows Moiraine, a member of the shadowy and influential all-female organization called the ‘Aes Sedai’ as she embarks on a dangerous, world-spanning journey with five young men and women. Moiraine believes one of them might be the reincarnation of an incredibly powerful individual, whom prophecies say will either save humanity or destroy it. The series draws on numerous elements of European and Asian culture and philosophy, most notably the cyclical nature of time found in Buddhism and Hinduism.
The story follows Moiraine. Moiraine is a character from the beginning of the series, but she’s a shadowy figure. When she first turns up, it takes Rand a bit to even realize she’s an Aes Sedai, and then her plans and schemes are a cipher to the main characters for several books.
That’s right. Several Books. She does eventually get POV chapters and a backstory. But it’s not for a long time.
I can not help but remember how GRRM spoke of those who would take A Song of Ice and Fire and turn it into a story of the Mother of Dragons, or Jon Snow, Real Westerosi Hero, losing the nuance and vibrancy that it’s a story about all these things, and Cersei and Tyrion too. That’s why he didn’t sell the rights to a movie, and why Benioff and Weiss won him over with their pitch: they understood it was about all of it.
But at the same time, this is a fascinating spin of the series, and it’s one way to solve the glaring problem that time has all but passed on by The Wheel of Time. Taking the story and reangling completely to make it a female-driven magical series as a pair with a Lord of the Rings show could be the most ingenious thing I have ever heard. Now if Amazon could solve their interface problem so people could find and watch it, we might have something here.