wheel of time
American author Robert Jordan’s sweeping 14-book series is full of action, adventure, romance and all the tropes you would expect from an epic fantasy. Image Credit: IMDB

Ever since the end of HBO’s Game of Thrones, I’ve been waiting to watch something like it – a grand, epic fantasy series that draws you in so thoroughly, you’re checking the clock for the release of the next episode, for weeks on end.

So, when I saw The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime Video’s roster of new releases, I did a double-take. Could it finally be happening?

American author Robert Jordan’s sweeping 14-book series is full of action, adventure, romance and all the tropes you would expect from an epic fantasy. When he died in 2007, American author Brandon Sanderson was tasked with completing the series, and wrote books 12 to 14.

You can check out the books on Amazon, too, which provides them in sets of three.

Wheel of Time Premium Boxed Set I: Books 1-3 (the Eye of the World, the Great Hunt, the Dragon Reborn)

Wheel of Time Premium Boxed Set II: Books 4-6 (the Shadow Rising, the Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos)

Wheel of Time Premium Boxed Set III: Books 7-9 (a Crown of Swords, the Path of Daggers, Winter's Heart)

Wheel of Time Premium Boxed Set IV: Books 10-12 (Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm)

Wheel of Time Premium Boxed Set V: Book 13: Towers of Midnight, Book 14: A Memory of Light, Prequel: New Spring

As I watched the Prime Video adaptation of the books, I thought back to what Sanderson told me, when I interviewed him at the 2016 edition of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature: “Here, I’d been reading these books since I was 15 and I knew there were millions of fans, and I thought – If I [mess] this up, if I am the person who ruins The Wheel of Time, then that’s.. that’s my whole life where I would be known as that.”

It’s something Prime Video has set out to do, too – transforming such a beloved book series into a television show, and doing justice to it, cannot be an easy task to accomplish. But if season one is anything to go by, it’s on the right track.

The show follows Moiraine, played by Rosamund Pike, who is a member of the powerful all-women’s organisation, the Aes Sedai, who can channel an elemental force called the One Power. Moiraine is on the hunt for the ‘Dragon’ before he is made to serve the Dark One, because the Dragon is a man prophesised to either save the world or destroy it. She arrives at a village and narrows her search down to four individuals – but has to flee with them before she can further pinpoint the Dragon, because the dark forces have found them, too.

If this premise is reminiscent of the beginning of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) – Gandalf the Grey arriving at a village called the Shire, Frodo the hobbit being chosen for a doomsday task, and both of them leaving the Shire in a hurry – it’s because it likely is! I think some of the best fantasies begin with ordinary people being thrust into extraordinary situations, and learning on the go.

J.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set: The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit, the Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers, the Return of the King

The Wheel of Time does this, and more. It has all that you likely love in fantasy novels and shows: bards who seem to know more than they are willing to share, magical, powerful women with hidden agendas, ugly monsters, cursed objects, and lovable characters.

Since the show is set in the Czech Republic, it also has grand, sweeping landscapes that you’re used to seeing in other fantasy series or films, especially Game of Thrones.

A Game of Thrones: The Story Continues: The Complete Boxset of All 7 Books

The show even has trollocs, which look very much like the orcs in Tolkien’s universe, if perhaps a lot nastier.

Prime Video set an enormous budget for the show – the first season cost a reported $80 million (Dh293 million). So, expect impressive special effects and realistic cities made with computer generated imagery (CGI).

With five episodes out at the time of this article, The Wheel of Time has established its own place in epic fantasy television. The show admirably complements the books (Sanderson is a consulting producer on the show), and it benefits from strong performances from its main characters. With a whole universe to explore and plots to unravel, season one has just scratched the surface of Jordan’s fictional universe. What’s coming next?

Only The Wheel of Time will tell.

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