THE WHEEL OF TIME EPISODES 1-3 REVIEW (FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF SOMEONE WHO READ THE BOOKS)
It was A Beginning.
Some people may compare the series to The Lord of the Rings, and other less knowledgable people may compare it to Game of Thrones (only because it’s a fantasy show). In reality, The Wheel of Time is a unique entity that deserves to stand on its own without those obvious comparisons.
The truth is, even without all the comparisons and expectations the Wheel of Time would inevitably have because of the successes and failures of Game of Thrones, the show had a monumental task of living up to its source material and all the book fans hopes.
When it was announced that the head writer had planned to adapt the entire 14 book series (and novella) in 8 seasons, fans were immediately worried that the show would be a rushed adaptation that could not possibly live up to the slower atmosphere the books create.
Well, the time has finally come with the Wheel of Time Episodes 1-3 being released simultaneously on Amazon.
Luckily, fans can put the fear that the show will be wholly unwatchable and a poor adaptation to rest.
The show is good. That isn’t to say that it’s not without its problems and that some of the show diversions from the book (both major and minor) are hit and miss. But overall, as a massive fan of the series, I’m happy with what I have watched so far.
RELATED: Are you a massive fan of the Wheel of Time? Take the Wheel of Time Trivia Quiz to test out how well you know the series! Think you can get a perfect score?
The Acting in The Wheel of Time Episodes 1-3
If there is one thing you should know about the Wheel of Time is that it is very character-focused. The series is all about the character’s challenges and struggles and their reactions and growth that come with their experiences. Therefore, one of the most critical parts that the Wheel of Time show had to get right immediately is the actor’s portrayals of the characters.
So far, so good.
I have been pleasantly surprised with the acting I’ve seen from the main cast in the few episodes I have seen. This is quite the relief considering the only prominent name actor to appear so far is Rosamund Pike, where the other actors are either relatively new or haven’t yet been given a leading cast role until now.
Of course, Rosamund Pike as Moiraine has been terrific, and Daniel Henney as Lan Mandragoran has been superb as her stoic warder. The main focus, though, should be on the Emond’s Field Five.
Rand, Mat, Egwene, Perrin, and Nynaeve (also known as the Emond’s Field Five) have been great.
Josha Stradowski as Rand so far has proven that he has a great range when it comes to emotions, something that is particularly important to the character of Rand Al’Thor. He can go from happy to sad, angry then charming quite naturally.
Barney Harris is incredible as Mat, and I can already tell I’m going to miss him when season 2 premieres. He did a great job portraying Mat’s subtle change from the Mat of Emond’s Field to the Mat of post-Shadar Logoth.
Madeleine Madden has been good as Egwene, a character with way more depth than many people give her credit for. I’ve seen so far that she has what it takes to portray a strong-willed, loving, yet sometimes harsh attitude while also showing slight hints of ambition.
Marcus Rutherford, as Perrin has done an excellent job showing Perrin’s pain, internal struggle, and protective nature.
The most impressive so far, in my opinion, is Zoe Robins’s portrayal as Nynaeve. She has one of the most challenging characters to portray in the series and has truly made the character her own. Of all the actors so far, it feels as if she has connected the most to her character. A few more braid tugs would be good, though.
The Pacing Issues in the Wheel of Time Episodes 1-3
My biggest issue so far with the Wheel of Time Episodes 1-3 is the pacing. Wow, do things move way too fast. In three episodes, we have already passed the halfway mark of book 1, and if it’s true that they plan on adapting Book 2 this season, the pacing will only get faster, much faster.
This was my biggest worry before I watched the show, and my fears have only been amplified. Luckily, as a book reader, I understand all the references and am already attached to the characters. However, if I had no prior knowledge of the series, I doubt I would have felt any connection to any of the characters or understood any of the details of the world, simply because so much has been thrown at us so fast.
I worry that viewers will not have time to truly understand what’s happening because of the speed at which the show is going. Maybe it’s intentional, though. At this point, the main cast in the book was confused about everything happening to them. Perhaps the directors want the viewers to feel just as confused as well.
The Cinematography and the World of The Wheel of Time
One thing I loved was the camera work and the locations. Just like the books themselves, the world of the Wheel of Time is vast and epic. Luckily, the show nailed bringing the Wheel of Time to life.
The wide shots of the mountain ranges and many overhead shots of the characters riding their horses in vast, open fields perfectly capture how huge this series is.
The three central locations, including Emond’s Field, Shadar Logoth, and the unnamed mining village, were well done. The Emond’s Field location, in particular, was incredible, with the Bel Tine festivities in focus.
If you are a particularly attentive viewer, you may have noticed what looked like overgrown buildings in the opening shot. Keep them in mind while you watch if you are trying to determine when exactly the show takes place.
One thing I will mention, though, is the CGI has been just okay. At some points, the CGI is stellar, as shown through the environments. However, the CGI has also left a lot to be desired, like some of the Trollocs and channeling. I’m sure it will get better in later episodes and seasons, but as of now, it’s not the best, especially after coming from a show like Apple’s Foundation.
Book Changes in the Wheel of Time Episodes 1-3
There were many changes from the books that I feel should be addressed because not all of them are of benefit to the story. The first significant change is towards the potential of who the Dragon Reborn could be. I won’t say what exactly the change was, as that borders into spoiler territory. Still, the difference changes one of the fundamental aspects of the story that is vital to both establishing the world and some of the characters’ entire motives.
One change that I’m also lukewarm towards is Mat’s background being introduced. In the book, he’s not a thief, and he doesn’t have a deadbeat dad or a drunk mom. He’s just a normal prankster and friend who gets swept up in the storm. Giving him a tragic background works for Mat because it helps establish who he is and changes him. In the books, Mat never wants to go back home, and in the show, that’s his primary motivation; to get back to his sisters.
Perrin’s arc has also been vastly changed. First of all, in the books, he was never married in the beginning. In the show, killing his wife in Episode 1 is his biggest hurdle and will probably shape how he responds to certain things later in the series. However, I fear that giving him a wife from the beginning will hurt his relationship with another incoming character later on, but we shall see.
Final Thoughts on the Wheel of Time Episodes 1-3
Overall, I thought the show was good, but not great. It’s a promising start to the series, but I fear with the speed at which things are going, viewers will have a hard time connecting to the characters and enjoying the story in the same way book readers have.
The acting of the main cast has been great, and I can’t wait to see how they portray the characters in future episodes and seasons (except for Mat). And one thing that Amazon has perfectly done is bring the world of Wheel of Time to life through the expert use of cinematography and incredible locations.
RELATED: Want to find out which Ajah you belong to? Are you blue like Moiraine or Red like Liandrin? Find out in the Wheel of Time Ajah Personality Quiz!
The Wheel of Time Episodes 1-3 REVIEW