Wheel of Time: Leavetaking   Books Included 
November 19, 2021 12:26 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

In the hills above FanFare, a post arose for the books included discussion of the television adaptation of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time saga.

A strange noblewoman arrives in a remote mountain village, claiming one of five youths is the reincarnation of an ancient power who once destroyed the world – and will do so again, if she’s not able to discover which of them it is. But they all have less time than they think.
posted by nubs (19 comments total)
 
So this is the books included post, for those of us who want to dig into the changes. I'm only one episode in, but those further ahead should feel free to keep making posts.

I was very disappointed by the decision to give Perrin a wife at the outset; I didn't even pay attention to her character as it was immediately apparent to me that she would die before the episode was out. Having Perrin wield the axe that did the deed just advances his whole "axe vs. hammer" character arc, I guess, but since that got tedious in the books, it doesn't help anything. Bottom line, it is the fridging of a female character to advance the development of a male character.

I don't clearly recall Mat's family dynamics, but it seems to me his father was not a drunk womanizer; the whole effect of his family situation takes Mat from being a trickster character into something less interesting so far for me.

The idea of the Dragon Reborn being either male or female is interesting and perhaps the largest change so far (and I'm curious how that would work with the nature of the Source, which is clearly divided along gender)...but it also felt really apparent to me, from the screen time given, that Rand is the Dragon. I would be interested to see what non-readers think.

I did like how the women's circle was portrayed here - it felt more than the arm-crossing, braid pulling, sniffing, constantly disapproving group that the books made them out to be. And having Egwene relax & go floating down the river was a nice visual metaphor to set the audience up for her learning to channel.

Having Lan climb into the bath with Moraine was an interesting choice; either an attempt to indicate a different relationship than the books, or just to show us how close an Aes Sedai and her warder become? I guess when your minds are linked to some degree, the concept of modesty around each other might disappear.

If the Red who appeared in the opening scene hunting down the false Dragon isn't Eladia, I would be disappointed.

The trollocs were a visual disappointment to the point of laughter, and the CGI of Moraine channeling was also not great. Hoping it improves on that front.
posted by nubs at 12:39 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


If the Red who appeared in the opening scene hunting down the false Dragon isn't Eladia, I would be disappointed.

I thought it was supposed to be Elaida at first, but apparently it's Liandrin (you can see it in the Amazon Prime "X-ray" thing, where it shows you the character names and cast members in a given scene.)

And I was also surprised at how underwhelming the channeling CG was. Makes me a little nervous about how it's going to go on the VFX front, considering that I don't remember GoT (and Amazon clearly hopes that this, their LotR series, or both, will be the next GoT) skimping on budget, even at the beginning.
posted by Kosh at 1:19 PM on November 19


Having Perrin wield the axe that did the deed just advances his whole "axe vs. hammer" character arc, I guess, but since that got tedious in the books, it doesn't help anything. Bottom line, it is the fridging of a female character to advance the development of a male character.

That was the point at which I audibly said WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT.

I like the idea of the Dragon being male or female, and think it sets up things for later, but since we already know who the Dragon is, and it's not exactly a thing that's easy to switch, it doesn't work as an immediate "who is the Dragon" question. Though it'd be hilarious to be 'Egwene was the Dragon all along, Rand was a false dragon, it doesn't actually work with nearly any facts, and I don't like the way they're already bending the story to make it more of an open question (such as Tam not revealing anything to Rand in this version).

I like the addition of a cast of color, and I actually very much liked the visuals of the channeling flows of air. I am concerned about the absence of Thom Merillin, who I adored.

I was cautiously optimistic until the Trolloc attack. I will remain optimistic, but am prepared to be disappointed.
posted by corb at 5:57 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


This was...pretty bad. The directing especially. From the very first horse chase where they indicate speed by blurrily cutting to legs and hooves to the river scene that lasted about 20 seconds full of splashing and obvious girl in a swimming pool thrashing and zero drama about whether she would channel herself to the goofy forced frivolity of the dancing in the square to a soundtrack not folk music. I could go on.
The town looked like they tried to recreate a thomas kincaid painting, and the matt paintings of the valley were incredibly obvious. I thought this was supposed be...big.

This is the first episode. The one that's supposed to hook us, wow us with the production value and set our expectations. I have to admit I had low expectations for them even trying this project, but I'm really kinda laughing at how low budget it seems.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:15 PM on November 19


I enjoyed it, overall, because I think the casting was great and it's fun to see the novels brought to life.

My thoughts on the changes: I think the choice to make the dragon reborn's gender ambiguous was odd. The entire reason people fear the dragon (and all false dragons) is because they're men who can channel, and the existential threat that presents. Moriaine casually being like "who knows if the dragon is a boy or a girl!" is weird because if the White Tower were indeed unsure, that would be a question of unparalleled importance.

I feel like that decision was made in order to be more inclusive of Egwene, but I'd have preferred if she had simply decided to leave the Two Rivers because she is ambitious and fascinated with the Aes Sedai. It would better set up her arc and character conflicts versus looping her into the "maybe dragon" crew.

I thought Perrin killing a loved one in a rage was a good way to establish his character dilemma but agree that fridging his wife was unnecessary/cliche. They could have introduced a fellow blacksmith apprentice or friend that he accidentally killed instead.

I wish they had given more time for the Two Rivers kids to be young and goofy and dealing with small-town problems. It'd make their character growth more striking. Instead all of them are immediately burdened/broody.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:59 PM on November 20 [3 favorites]


I've been reading that there is some speculation that Perrin's fridge-wife was a dark friend. She apparently had her hammer up in a potential strike when he accidentally got her with the axe.
posted by Carillon at 4:06 PM on November 20


I did notice her hammer raised as if to strike, but hadn't thought of that explanation. I'd assumed she was about to help him destroy the trolloc, but it was already very dead...

I'm not against a darkfriend twist in the abstract, but the show implied she may've had a miscarriage or other pregnancy woes recenty. So making the dead wife who miscarried also evil has some loaded vibes I don't like, if that's indeed what they're doing.
posted by Emily's Fist at 4:38 PM on November 20


Making the wife explicitly evil would have done a bit to make it less of a straightforward fridging. Make him intentionally kill her, or accidently kill her defending himself from her, anything other than making her a seemingly innocent person killed purely to move Perrin along the character arc. I suppose it's still possible that more info about her could come up later, but I'm not holding my breath.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:29 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


I haven’t read the books but don’t generally care about spoilers for this show, but I kinda wish I hadn’t known the wife was gonna die because I was actually very into the idea of her character—the one person in this idyllic little Hobbiton who is just deeply unhappy/depressed is a great hook.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:15 PM on November 20 [3 favorites]


Yeah, not great. The show runner has, to me, a very Ron Howard understanding of fantasy as a genre. Willow was a total square’s idea of fantasy, and this is too. Actually, I’m being unfair to Willow. It had some quality acting and kick ass costuming.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:50 AM on November 21


Book reader here, and recently re-listened to them all again.

Overall, I'd give this episode a B-, episode two a B, and episode 3 a B+.

Unlike a lot of book readers, I give almost no shits about them changing stuff to suit this show. The showrunner Rafe is a huge WoT fan, Brandon Sanderson and Harriet Jordan are intimately involved in the production, and to be quite frank the books, especially book 1, are not that great. Uneven at best, with honestly the best bits coming in the later Sanderson installments.

The CGI looks fine to me, the acting on the kids is a bit uneven with Nynaeve being a standout to me, but it's good enough. I'm just happy to be able to see some of the locations realized on the big screen and enjoy this story again. They've said it's more of a re-telling than an adaptation, and I think that's just great.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:36 AM on November 21 [4 favorites]


Eh, Sanderson has distanced himself from the show.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 12:31 PM on November 21


Well, “distanced” is not right. My bad. But Sanderson is not, I’d say, intimately involved. Here’s what he himself said on Reddit the other day: https://www.reddit.com/r/WoT/comments/qxt9h5/some_thoughts_from_brandon_episode_one/. It’s a nice thumbs-up for the show, but Sanderson does mention his disagreements with the show runner, and is at pains, maybe?, to stress his limited involvement with the show.

Anyway, sorry for the derail.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 12:57 PM on November 21


He’s a consultant and a producer offering feedback on the scripts and plot directly to Rafe. Sometimes that feedback is not implemented (the post you linked has a couple examples) and sometimes it is (see the next episode post). I guess we can disagree on intimate but he’s definitely involved.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:28 AM on November 22


My thoughts on the changes: I think the choice to make the dragon reborn's gender ambiguous was odd. The entire reason people fear the dragon (and all false dragons) is because they're men who can channel, and the existential threat that presents.

Yes, as intrigued as I was by the potential of changing the gender, the use of the One Power in WoT is so explicitly divided on gender lines that it didn't make sense. The show has not done a good job of explaining why male channelers are dangerous; IIRC, the one scene where a male channeler is killed only hints at madness while having Liandrin explicitly state that the Power is for women only...which sets it up as a potential question of controlling access rather than the fact that the male half is contaminated.
posted by nubs at 8:03 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it really wouldn't make sense to try and gender swap the Dragon unless they were willing to go full-tilt and totally re-work all of the various romances that happen as well. Which hey, I'd be all for that I think, but the complexity of what they would take in terms of re-writes is pretty daunting, imo.

As for the male channelers, I thought it was pretty explicit that he was losing it because of the hallucination of the other man, but even if it wasn't -- I have to imagine that introducing Logain so early is going to do a lot of the heavy lifting there. I'm really curious to see when exactly we'll get introduced to Min and Aviendha as well.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:49 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


One thing I find interesting is how Liandrin says something along the lines of "You pollute the power when you touch it" to the man she chases down and Gentles, which is 100% the opposite of what is in the books. Saidin is tainted by the Dark One, and touching it pollutes the channeler, not the other way around. So, does this hint that the True Source isn't split into Saidin and Saidar in this show, or is this just a weirdly worded statement? The fact that the Dragon can be either man or woman also seems to hint that this difference isn't going to be as big a factor, and "Men go mad when they touch the One Power" will be explained differently than "The male half is (semi)permanently tainted by Evil."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:42 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


I don't think so. I think that line was instead intended to demonstrate how far gone Liandrin is. It's a touch unfortunate how the Reds are portrayed often in the books as man-hating killjoys, but here we are. I think it's just Liandrin going beyond the facts to hate the men themselves for an imagined tainting of the Source.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:34 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


It's a touch unfortunate how the Reds are portrayed often in the books as man-hating killjoys, but here we are

I think my headcanon is that the Black Ajah has been in among the Reds for a while, and that's why they've gotten that twisted.
posted by corb at 1:25 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]


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