After the ending of Game of Thrones you might be hesitant to dive into another epic fantasy series, but The Wheel of Time is here to change your mind.
The TV adaptation of Robert Jordan’s epic saga of novels premieres on November 19 and brings a new expansive fantasy world for fans to fall in love with.
The series takes place in a world where only women are able to access a magic known as the One Power. In order to defeat the evil Dark One, the female order of the Aes Sedai send one of their own to seek the Dragon Reborn, a powerful sorcerer who is prophecised to either save or destroy the world. Moiraine (played by Rosamund Pike) believes the Dragon Reborn is one of five young adults living in a small village near the Two Rivers but she isn’t sure who it is.
With such intriguing and dense lore that spans 14 books, The Wheel of Time has amassed quite a passionate fanbase. This means the stakes are pretty high for the show, but there are plenty of reasons to have confidence in Amazon’s The Wheel of Time.
For starters, it’s already a testament to the production that a virtual world has been created in its name. An entire The Wheel of Time experience has been built within Gather.town, an online meeting space that can be customised with pixel art and avatars.
Launching in tandem with the show, fans are able to wander around the Two Rivers, the White Tower and much more from the world of The Wheel of Time within Gather.
Gizmodo Australia recently sat down for a virtual chat at the inn in Gather with The Wheel of Time cast members Zoë Robins and Madeleine Madden, who play Nynaeve al’Meara and Egwene al’Vere.
It’s safe to say it was one of the more unique interviews, but both actors were excited to see the show rebuilt with such detail in a virtual world for fans to experience.
When asked what it was like to film that world in real life, Madden said the picturesque landscapes of Europe created a real feeling of magic.
“One of my favourite locations was Slovenia. The landscape around there is beautiful, there are crystal blue waters and these mountains that just go on forever. It looks like a painting. I really did feel like we were in this little hidden mountainside village. It was so magical.”
“I want to reiterate – that was real. That wasn’t CGI!” Robins added.
Stunning locations may be a core component of fantasy epics like this one but Robert Jordan’s books did things a little differently from other novels of that era.
“The series was ahead of its time when it was first published and I think that’s what made it a stand out in the fantasy genre. It is very diverse in all aspects but also in the diversity of thought and experience and perspective,” Madden told Gizmodo Australia.
Jordan’s books put women in positions of power and weaved in different notions of religion and spirituality. But 30 years on, some of these concepts feel a bit dated.
“We definitely contemporise it for a 21st-century audience,” Madden said. “[The Wheel of Time] is a reflection of what our world is like in reality so it makes sense that our art reflects that.”
One of the most obvious ways the series does this is by allowing the pool of Dragon Reborn candidates to extend to women.
“It’s exciting,” Robins said. “By doing this it draws out the mystery a bit longer for the audience. That’s something they can join in on and have theories about which is always exciting as an audience member to have.”
The change also means both Egwene and Nynaeve are a lot more integral to the plotline in the TV series and it allowed the actors to bring something new to their characters.
“There’s only so much you can do on the page,” Robins said. “There are certain signifiers and establishing traits that these characters have, but what we’ve been able to do is bring some more exciting stuff to screen and develop them a bit more.”
Madden agreed and said fans will see new sides of Nynaeve and Egwene in the TV series.
“Early on we get an insight into what their motives are at the beginning of the series when they first embark on their journey. We really understand why they’ve decided to behave the way that they have and go down certain roads. It’s been really exciting for everyone to see that side of Nynaeve and Egwene.”
With such expansive mythology and a hardcore fandom, it was inevitable that The Wheel of Time TV adaptation would be held up against other successful fantasy series.
Showrunner Rafe Judkins has previously described The Wheel of Time TV show as the connective tissue between Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings, but will it incite the same level of obsession?
“I think it’s very different to any other fantasy series that we’ve seen. It’s kind of on its own league,” Madden told Gizmodo Australia. “To compare it to anything else just wouldn’t feel right.”
The actors agreed that the dream is for the show to be successful and to resonate with audiences. With season 2 already well into production in Prague, it appears The Wheel of Time TV show is already a huge success, at least in Amazon’s eyes.
“I think season 2 is even more of a level up if you can believe that,” Robins teased. “We’re really excited.”
Take that as permission to get invested in The Wheel of Time, although after you’ve seen it you might not have a choice.
The first three episodes of The Wheel of Time premiere on November 19 on Amazon Prime Video. Episodes will then drop weekly until December 24.