Wheel of Time: The Flame of Tar Valon   Books Included 
December 12, 2021 4:41 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

The Amyrlin Seat has much to say to our protagonists, who find themselves under heavy scrutiny. Some people's travels end - others are just beginning. A goal is decided.
posted by corb (24 comments total)
 
WHOO BOY.

We are off the books; in some cases in ways that make sense but could cause issues later if the series continues.

I think Siuan Sanche and Moiraine continuing to be lovers is actually better than Moiraine and Siuan Sanche being teenage experimenters and then "growing out of it", but it could raise issues with Moiraine/Thom and Siuan/Gareth later. I am deeply uncomfortable with a great supportive lesbian relationship ending with "and then they decided they didn't want to do it and married dudes". However, I'm also not sure we really gained anything of import from those two romances, so we could absolutely end up with Moiraine and Siuan sticking it out to the end. In related news - does anyone else think that the oath on the Oath Rod is going to prevent Moiraine coming back to help Siuan during the deposing?

I am absolutely not sure what they're going to do with Mat. Just flat unsure. I suppose it could be a way to link us back up with Thom? But I'm not sure what we gain here, especially right after his curing and the separation from the dagger - which, where is it, btw?
posted by corb at 5:18 PM on December 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


I'm just very confused about the inclusion of the dagger stuff in general. Why bother even showing if it ends up being inconsequential and unexplained? Was the whole thing kept just to serve as a "maybe Mat can channel?" fake-out?

They've been very good with economy of storytelling so far, and they've hit all of the important notes from my vague recollection of the books. The KNIFE MADNESS sticks out as the first thing that's felt completely unnecessary.
posted by schmod at 6:29 PM on December 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


From the showrunner:
Got my first Wheel of Time related death threat today! And it was homophobic to boot. The internet is fun.

You all are very kind. I’ve dealt with them before and there’s truly only one way to respond — turn their favorite characters gay. Cause I can. This gentleman reaps what he sows — Perrin and Lan now gay for each other. Next homophobic death threat? Egwene and Daise Congar ;)

posted by schmod at 6:43 PM on December 12, 2021 [12 favorites]


I was wondering why the Basel Gill bit seemed wrong and it hit me, his Inn is in Caemlyn ;)

It's always weird seeing one of these overstuffed books come to a serie/movie, stuff gets removed that felt important to you, and stuff gets added and you're like "WTF is that for?".

The first books are a long time ago for me, it's hard to reconcile that Mat, with the post Tar'Angreal & Eelfinn Mat that turned out to be the best character in the serie.

They're going to be skipping all the Padan Fain stuff (at least looks like it) so it make sense to just quickly dispose of the dagger, but didn't that take 2-3 books to heal Mat? Although he doesn't look fully healed at the end of this episode. They can still blame memory lost on this, so you have a reason for him to ask the Eelfinn for memories.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 6:49 PM on December 12, 2021


Knife madness was 100% part of the book. (I'd also almost completely forgotten about it and that's why I had that wiki link handy and sitting in my browser history.)

I don't think they're skipping Padan Fain, since he's in the first episode and then gets a small cameo in the crowd in the previous episode. It would make sense to me not have him since I remember reading the books and always being like - who the hell is this guy again? Plus, I'm pretty sure they need him in order for Mat to have all of his adventures with the Horn of Valere.

I think they're doing an admirable job with the adaptation so far, I really hope that they're able to finish the whole story. Might take them 20 years to film everything though.
posted by ssmith at 6:56 PM on December 12, 2021


I don't think they're skipping Padan Fain, since he's in the first episode and then gets a small cameo in the crowd in the previous episode. It would make sense to me not have him since I remember reading the books and always being like - who the hell is this guy again? Plus, I'm pretty sure they need him in order for Mat to have all of his adventures with the Horn of Valere.

I had completely forgotten about that! (him being in the 1st episode) I'd say I'm even more confused now then, but yeah Fain was a trigger for a lot of things with the horn of Valere.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 7:06 PM on December 12, 2021


Oh, I remember the book Knife Madness. It’s just that…. of all the things that could have been skipped?
posted by schmod at 7:16 PM on December 12, 2021


As someone outside of the books but happy with spoilers, the Knife Madness felt very good to me - showing his impulsivity, the lure of magic and the close knit ties between the five of them, that they're really ride or die in how they tried to conceal his madness and were deeply afraid, and his request to be killed rather than succumb shows that he values morality and was truly horrified by the deaths. For someone who seemed more an ass than the rest of them, it cemented that he is deeply good. And they saw Moraine was powerful and risked herself for them.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:52 PM on December 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


Mat not going into The Ways is almost as silly as the horses are too expensive would never survive The Ways. I agree it's probably so he can reconnect with Thom, there's not many other things for him to do?

Possible crackpot explanation: him staying behind was a last minute change after everything was filmed because he gets recast for season 2. He gets edited out of the rest of this season and when he comes back to chase after the Horn nobody will remember what he looked like before.

One tiny scene establishing where the knife is now would have been nice. Is it in the White Tower? Does Moiraine have it? Also would have been nice: even one additional scene where Fain is established as a going concern and not just a blink and you'll miss it cameo.

Looks like this season is going to carry forward how the first book nobody really knew what the Dark One was. Rand straight up claims to have killed the Dark One at the end of The Eye of the World, perhaps the most wrong anyone has ever been in the entire series. "The Dark One is imprisoned at the Eye of the World and is weak" my ass. Totally makes sense to run into that situation half-cocked with five potential Dragons and no idea what you'll find. Couldn't possibly be a trap or anything.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:07 PM on December 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


it could raise issues with Moiraine/Thom and Siuan/Gareth later.

It could, but as you also note, we are way off the books, and in more ways than just the relationships - I'm pretty sure Moiraine wove a gateway to get to Siuan, in addition to being the one to open the Ways. In the books, gateways are a lost art until much later, and the Ways just required having the right knowledge of what to do at the entrance stones; Mat staying behind instead of coming to the Eye is another significant departure. The books are only a rough guide for what's ahead, I think.

Rand straight up claims to have killed the Dark One at the end of The Eye of the World, perhaps the most wrong anyone has ever been in the entire series.

I wouldn't be surprised to see something similar here - I think the Eye of the World ends that way because the book needed to have an ending that satisfied in some way, if the sequels weren't picked up; they may have done something similar here, to hedge against there not being a S2 (though with the early renewal, maybe they've avoided that). That being said, I think they need to make it clear that Rand is the Dragon by season's end; you can only milk this uncertainty for so long before it becomes tedious.
posted by nubs at 12:00 PM on December 13, 2021 [3 favorites]


It's a small thing but I interpreted it as a ter'angreal, not a gateway, because of the emphasis on the cupboard thing.

in fact, was something similar mentioned in the later books? maybe during the battle for the tower?
posted by lazaruslong at 12:12 PM on December 13, 2021 [1 favorite]


It's a small thing but I interpreted it as a ter'angreal, not a gateway, because of the emphasis on the cupboard thing.

in fact, was something similar mentioned in the later books? maybe during the battle for the tower?


This resonates with my super-vague recollections of book events - definitely feels familiar.
posted by coriolisdave at 1:53 PM on December 13, 2021 [1 favorite]


As someone outside of the books but happy with spoilers, the Knife Madness felt very good to me - showing his impulsivity, the lure of magic and the close knit ties between the five of them, that they're really ride or die in how they tried to conceal his madness and were deeply afraid, and his request to be killed rather than succumb shows that he values morality and was truly horrified by the deaths. For someone who seemed more an ass than the rest of them, it cemented that he is deeply good. And they saw Moraine was powerful and risked herself for them.

100% agree with this as another non-reader.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:06 PM on December 13, 2021 [2 favorites]


It's a small thing but I interpreted it as a ter'angreal, not a gateway, because of the emphasis on the cupboard thing.

I haven't looked at it myself, but from what I've read, the Amazon supplementary material for the episode apparently confirms the cupboard thing is a ter'angreal.
posted by Kosh at 4:21 AM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]


Really enjoying the series, the casting, ALL of it... but do have a small question for book-readers (I've started the audiobook for The Eye of the World narrated by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading, so hopefully that means I'm included in the spoiler discussions here).

I'm not loving the audio story narration, tbh. But, I read/edit for a living and would prefer to spare my eyes the additional strain whenever possible for "fun reading" (I've managed to get through multiple long-form book series with my husband via audiobooks for this very reason, but we did break down and purchase the Expanse book series with each new release on Kindle). With, uh, I believe it's 14 books total to slog through, is it worth investing in the actual print box sets if I'm not loving the narration?

On another note, the Dagger tainting its bearer gives me major "the One Ring" vibes a la Hobbit/Lord of the Rings. Trollocs reminded me greatly of Orcs at the beginning of the series... I guess what I'm saying is, I was prepared to judge this series as just another hodge-podge of standard fantasy tropes and now I'm bloody well hooked on the story itself and think it's fantastic.

If I hadn't watched the Amazon series and THEN started the first audiobook, I don't know that I would've become so quickly invested. Looking forward to the next 2 eps as well as season 2, which cannot come quickly enough.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:14 AM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]


Loved this episode. Aes Sedai politicking, the tender moment between Moiraine and Siuan, the friendships between the Two Rivers folk. Really captured what I love about the series. So excited to see the Ways.

Re: Mat staying back. From what I've read, production shut down due to COVID between episodes 6 and 7, and Barney Harris (who plays Mat) did not return following the shutdown. No one has said why he didn't return but I can imagine a pandemic might change someone's priorities or decisions. This is just speculation but I get the impression they edited existing footage from Episode 6 to have Mat "remain behind" for that reason. It remains to be seen whether we'll get more Barney!Mat scenes for the last two episodes - they could take some scenes they'd filmed earlier and move them later in the series. Perhaps a decision made by necessity but one that aligns well with some of Mat's character arc as someone who grows into responsibility, and I'm super interested to see where it goes.

Re: the dagger. It's still in play, we might not have seen the last of it.

is it worth investing in the actual print box sets if I'm not loving the narration?

I've heard the audio narration improves, for what it's worth. I wouldn't buy a box set. Perhaps buy one book and test out if you like reading it more than listening?
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:23 PM on December 14, 2021 [2 favorites]


With, uh, I believe it's 14 books total to slog through, is it worth investing in the actual print box sets if I'm not loving the narration?

I can't speak to the audiobooks - I've only listened to one - but I did do the 14 book read through. I found it tough sledding at times - there's an incredible amount of detail, and it becomes repetitive (some of it tedious) after a time; the audio felt less so to me when I listened to one book. But I have heard the narration is somewhat uneven across the audiobooks.

On another note, the Dagger tainting its bearer gives me major "the One Ring" vibes a la Hobbit/Lord of the Rings. Trollocs reminded me greatly of Orcs at the beginning of the series... I guess what I'm saying is, I was prepared to judge this series as just another hodge-podge of standard fantasy tropes

The first book was certainly a Tolkien pastiche, and kudos to the show runners for figuring out how to move it past that faster than the book. That being said, the dagger from Shadar Logroth becomes an interesting item in its own right over the course of the story - it has a corrupting influence, like the One Ring, but that corruption stems from something other than the big bad.
posted by nubs at 12:48 PM on December 14, 2021 [2 favorites]


I'm not loving the audio story narration, tbh. But, I read/edit for a living and would prefer to spare my eyes the additional strain whenever possible for "fun reading" (I've managed to get through multiple long-form book series with my husband via audiobooks for this very reason, but we did break down and purchase the Expanse book series with each new release on Kindle). With, uh, I believe it's 14 books total to slog through, is it worth investing in the actual print box sets if I'm not loving the narration?

I've read them all twice and listened through twice. In my humble opinion, the audiobooks are vastly superior. Maybe it's just my brain and the way that I listen to stuff, but with the audiobooks I was able to drift in and out of the endless descriptive flavor text (her dress was blue silk slashed with red, his jacket was dark and leather with lace at the neck, ad infinitum) depending on my mood and it made the whole thing much more pleasant.

The narration and overall audio quality of the audiobooks improves significantly over the run.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:32 PM on December 14, 2021 [2 favorites]


Thank you all so much! I will continue with the audiobook plan, then. Very helpful feedback, much appreciated.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]


Also I think Rosamund Pike narrates at least the first audio book and people have really liked that one? Doing some research to see how many books she has narrated (so far just 1 I think) people say the quality of the audio books improves over time so that might be good news.
posted by Carillon at 6:31 PM on December 14, 2021


I am absolutely not sure what they're going to do with Mat. Just flat unsure. I suppose it could be a way to link us back up with Thom?

In the second book, the dagger gets stolen before the link to Mat is broken, and this endangers his life. He spends a whole lot of the book delirious-to-unconscious as Rand etc chase Padan Fain to get the dagger back. This would be a poor use of an actor! But if Mat himself is the thing they're chasing, they have a lot of room to get bits of his plotline in much faster and keep things moving. (I have a complete and elaborate theory of what the second season will look like, and I cannot wait to find out if I'm right. If I am, it's gonna be great.)
posted by restless_nomad at 4:36 PM on December 21, 2021 [2 favorites]


Ooooo if you’re up for sharing in the next episode thread, I’d love to know your theory!!
posted by lazaruslong at 11:43 PM on December 22, 2021


if Mat himself is the thing they're chasing, they have a lot of room to get bits of his plotline in much faster and keep things moving

Hmmm, yeah, I could see it - or specifically, if Padan Fain is who Mat is chasing, and they are chasing Mat.
posted by corb at 1:53 PM on December 23, 2021 [1 favorite]


It's been a long, long time since I've read these books....I'd be chuffed if they made them all the Dragon, together - like VOTRON!!!
posted by bq at 5:41 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


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