The one fantasy series (that could) rule them all.
If, like me, you were let down by the final series of Game of Thrones and your fantasy fix for detailed world building and imaginative magic systems wasn’t satisfied by The Witcher, then Amazon’s The Wheel of Time might just fill that dragon-sized hole.
I’m guessing most of you are currently thinking… what on Arda is The Wheel of Time? To all of you I want to say – brace yourselves. And thank you for giving this article a go.
The Wheel of Time is a high fantasy series created by Robert Jordan. The first novel Eye of the World was published in 1990, back when the series was planned to be 6 books long… *ahem* …that went well. 15 books later, the series was completed in 2013 by Brandon Sanderson, after Jordan sadly passed away in 2007 with three novels left to go.
After Game of Thrones broke down the wall holding back the idea of high concept fantasy being developed for television, it was only a matter of time before Robert Jordan’s bestselling books found their way into the hands of a producer looking for the next big thing. The hopes of all fantasy fanatics were kindled in 2018 when Amazon Studios teamed up with Sony Pictures Television to produce the show. Now the scripts have been written, the cast announced, and principle photography started in September last year, fanning those initial sparks into a roaring fire of anticipation to keep us warm during the not-so-long night (sorry, still pretty hurt about season 8).
So, now that you know all of that, you’re probably wondering why exactly you should give a shit. Well, let me break it down into five reasons why you should be freaking thrilled for The Wheel Of Time.
No. 1 It’s finished
This may seem a bit obvious, but think back to when Game of Thrones started to drop in quality, when the showrunners ran out of source material. Remember when you thought the High Sparrow might have had some secret sinister goal that you couldn’t wait to be revealed? Oh, well… he blew up.
The good news here is that, unlike Game Of Thrones, The Wheel of Time is all wrapped up. Which means you can’t half arse an ending or leave audiences feeling cheated.
It has a conclusion and, spoiler warning, it’s a good ending. One of the main reasons I started this behemoth of a series was because I’d been assured it had one of the most satisfying resolutions in fictional fantasy and, thankfully, it really does, which is no easy feat considering it’s 14 books long with a prequel.
So, if you’re the type of person who needs a guarantee before you start a new TV show, invest in the characters, research the lore, and write your own fanfiction, then feel free to dive headfirst into The Wheel of Time without fear of landing in disappointing and character contrived crap.
It’s future-proof! (unless of course it gets cancelled, and then you have to actually read the books)
No. 2 The World
The strength of fantasy as a genre is in the world building. All genres need good characters, an engaging plot, and a spicy looking cover if they want me to pick up a copy, at least. But only in fantasy do the cultures, people, and history of the place play such an important role in the world and act as an allure for audiences. If it doesn’t have its own wiki, I’m not interested. Luckily The Wheel of Time does, and it is huge!
Robert Jordan’s books are filled to the brim with detail, to the extent where I feel sorry for the costume department of the new TV series because hardcore fanboys will know if they get the buttons on a character’s coat wrong. All this detail contributes to making the world feel real and lived in, especially when it comes to the different cultures who inhabit it. Jordan borrowed several ingredients from European and Asian mythologies, successfully mixing them together into delicious cultural cakes which taste fresh and original.
Take for example the Aiel, who are basically dessert dwelling super soldiers, and if that’s not enough to convince you to watch the series, then I’m wasting my time here. The books delve deep into their society, customs, and history (and it’s all awesome). Obviously, a TV series can’t go into as much detail as 4.4 million-odd words, but if the show manages to capture even 10% of the cultural detail from the books, then audiences will be hooked.
One of the biggest contributing factors to The Wheel of Time’s world is magic. Whether you like hard or soft magic systems, the series has the perfect combination of both. If Game of Thrones’ strange shadow baby style of sorcery had you underwhelmed and scratching your head, then The Wheel of Time might be the magic system for you. Imagine a live-action version of Avatar: The Last Airbender (and before you remind me, please let me continue to live in my self-created reality where 2010s The Last Airbender never happened).