Katy is a news contributor for Dragonmount. You can follow her as she shares her thoughts on The Wheel of Time TV Show on Instagram and Twitter @KatySedai Welcome to the 2022 Dragonmount Holiday Gift Guide! We’ve rounded up all the best Wheel of Time themed gifts from artists and small businesses. We've also opened up the brand new Dragonmount Merchandise Shop with lots of cool new gear. Books & Official Merchandise First up is licensed merch and books. Origins of the Wheel of Time ($ 14.99) delves deep into the lore that inspired Robert Jordan. A must-have for anyone who loves to re-read the series. For those book collectors located in the UK , Orbit is publishing this gorgeous version of The Eye of the World (£85). There are two versions of the Aes Sedai Great Serpent rings. The first Aes Sedai ring by Badali Jewelry is the original ring approved by Robert Jordan ($85). (Available from the new Dragonmount Merchandise Store!) The second is the gold Aes Sedai ring by Jalic blades inspired from the TV series on Prime Video ($60). Plated gold with semi-precious stones for each ajah. For sword collectors, there’s Rand al’Thor’s Heron Mark sword from The Wheel of Time on Prime Video (Jalic Blades - $360, preorder, expected to ship in Jan 2023). The last piece of official merchandise is this incredible, limited-series serpent watch from Tockr ($449). Engraved with The Wheel of Time logo on the back. (Currently out of stock, but perhaps returning soon?) Dragonmount Merchandise & JordanCon Next up are a few items from the all-new Dragonmount Merchandise Shop! You can start with a gift card, but there's a great selection of headwear like this dad hat ($19). There's clothing like this cute muscle tank ($24). Also, lots of drink vessels to choose from. Our favorite is this epic beer stein ($29). Another fantastic gift is a three-day membership to JordanCon ($55). JordanCon is a small fantasy literature convention started in honor of The Wheel of Time author, Robert Jordan. JordanCon 2023 is taking place April 21-23 in Atlanta, Georgia. Finally, for those who've finished reading The Wheel of Time we recommend checking Dragonmount founder Jason Denzel's Mystic Trilogy book series (ebook format: $9.99, $11.99, and $14.99). Also available in print and audiobook. Check Jason's personal website for more details. Unofficial Merch Inspired by The Wheel of Time For anyone who has the full hardcover The Wheel of Time collection, these book jackets from Juniper books make an incredible statement on your bookshelf ($225). If you've always wanted your own twisted ring ter'angreal, you'll want this Möbius strip ($35). From the description: Mobius Strip is a surface with only one side (when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space) and only one boundary curve. This fox head pendant looks a lot like one we imagine a trickster gambler wears ($161). We think Mat Cauthon approves. If wolves are more your spirit animal, this wolf brother candle is inspired by our favorite Blacksmith ($23). Artistic types will enjoy this new Unofficial Wheel of Time Coloring Book ($14.99). The Wheel of Time has inspired many wonderful artists. Serena's print entitled "Cleansing" shows an iconic scene from the middle of the books ($11.95) The Oath rod shirt is great for fans of the Moiraine and Suian relationship ($28). Fans of the new The Wheel of Time TV show will appreciate this cute Green Ajah mug ($14.50), and this greeting card with Daniel Henny's Lan ($6). Lan fans can also request personalized book pendants with their favorite characters or text from the books. These handmade bone dice are just the Pips for your favorite gambler ($20). Wheel of Time fans love to cosplay, and you can't play Moiraine without the kesiera, the pendant with a blue stone that Moiraine wears in her hair ($19.99). Anyone looking for a simple Warder cosplay can pop on this I'm her Warder t-shirt and be in character ($23.20) If you need to fill your home with Wheel of Time art, you can drink your tea (or ale) out of this Aes Sedai Tankard ($43). The last recommendation we have is Corey Lansdell gorgeous art inspired by the TV show. We especially love Rosamund Pike as Moiraine ($46.94) What Wheel of Time gifts are on your wishlist? Let us know in the comments below!
Rajiv Moté is Dragonmount’s book blogger with a lens on the craft of fiction writing. When he’s not directing software engineers, he writes fiction of his own, which can be found catalogued at his website. Around the time The Shadow Rising was published, a friend turned me on to Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time by raving about the Easter eggs. It was epic fantasy like The Lord of the Rings, he said, but throughout, there were veiled references to mythology, legends, and history from all around the world. This was during a time when the internet was still text terminals and UNIX command lines, and he wanted his friends to read along and help catch all the references. Soon enough, I was on dial-up Compuserve and Usenet with all the other amateur scholars, not only trying to decode the real-world tales in Jordan’s Pattern, but trying to predict the shapes the Pattern would take with the next book. And the next. Now, The Wheel of Time is complete, an accessible internet has crowd-sourced an enormous volume of amateur scholarship, and professional scholar Michael Livingston has written an official version of our Easter egg hunt in Origins of the Wheel of Time. For the nerdiest segment of fandom (myself included), it’s a delight. Livingston parses out the multitude of references with evidence from Robert Jordan’s own notes and known influences. But even for fans and admirers of Jordan’s world building craft, Livingston sheds light on the themes and writing process that garnered so much love and acclaim. He also shows why the Easter egg hunt is central to understanding what Jordan was trying to achieve, and perhaps even why Rand could light his pipe in the end. Origins contains a concise biography of Robert Jordan, a contextualization with J.R.R. Tolkien’s methods behind The Lord of the Rings, and a look at Jordan’s practices as a writer. It concludes with a large section, similar to the glossaries at the end of The Wheel’s books, that go through names and terms from the story. Here, Livingston provides insights into what those names reference, and even reveals some lingering mysteries. Origins is probably not for the casual reader. But if you’ve ever engaged with The Wheel of Time on a deeper level, hunted for literary Easter eggs, studied how writers build an imaginary world, or pondered how epic fantasy--like the Wheel--spins a myriad variations on eternal themes, Origins may spark beautiful revelations. It’s also an illustration of how meeting your heroes can be a wonderful thing. Mortality and Change Through Jordan’s own writings and stories from “Team Jordan,” Livingston reveals a Robert Jordan who was vigorously physical, endlessly curious, and a lover of stories real and imagined. He was also a man profoundly affected by his military service in the Vietnam War, a subsequent accident in civilian life that didn’t kill him only by luck, and finally a disease that ultimately ended his life. Awareness of mortality weighed on Jordan’s entire adult life. As he wrote: And more succinctly, “Life changes. Deal.” Though Jordan was inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, his attitude was far less nostalgic. The inevitability of global change was a theme in his first fantasy novel, Warrior of the Altaii, and ran strong in The Wheel of Time, where the world fundamentally changed in the process of being saved. Returning from home, you have changed, and so has the place you left. You can’t go home again. And maybe that’s for the best. As a veteran and a scholar of military history, Robert Jordan based many of his fictional battles on historical ones. In the glossary-style final section, Michael Livingston also gives references to the military references Jordan uses to inform the tactics and movements he describes so well. Books, Lists, and Ramblings As an amateur fiction writer myself, I was especially interested in Robert Jordan’s writing process. Through Jordan’s notes and interviews, Michael Livingston gives us a look at the writing process that created The Wheel of Time. Jordan was a voracious reader, and Livingston makes several references to Jordan’s collection of more than a thousand books. Jordan was inspired to write by an irony that many writers will recognize: he wanted more from what he read. This is a sentiment echoed by the great Alan Moore, who actively encourages aspiring writers to consume the dreck along with the greats. Robert Jordan set out to build his world by compiling lists from what he read and elsewhere. Of character and place names, certainly, but also “of vegetation, of jobs, of songs, of idioms and sayings.” He would annotate these lists with the aspects of their meaning that captured him, and connect them--physically, with lines--to combine them into new ideas or acknowledge possible connections. A list of names became a cast of characters with interesting attributes, and the interactions in various combinations suggested plots. And once he had an idea for a character or scene, he would just start writing, interrogating the ideas on paper as he went. As an occasional fiction writer, I recognize this sort of brainstorming as a wonderfully creative, generative technique, where a strict plan-then-execute approach usually fails to produce results as deep and rich. But it is his starting point, the lists of proper nouns culled from stories and the world around him, that reveals that Jordan was stitching together ideas from disparate sources into something ambitiously coherent. He was weaving a sort of conspiracy theory, implying that all the stories we know are rooted in this story, the one Robert Jordan was telling, with echoes that go backward and forward in cyclic time. Syncretism, the Grand Conspiracy Theory While I’d gleefully engaged in the great Easter egg hunt for veiled allusions to other stories across many fan properties, I only found a name for the practice in the last few years, reading Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum: syncretism. Both Tolkien and Jordan were syncretics in the same way as the three conspiracy theorists in Foucault’s Pendulum: they connected real details to imagine a common source underlying them. Tolkien explored this through linguistic vectors. Jordan’s vectors were stories. “The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.” All the stories were true, and shall be again. Michael Livingston names three primary influences on Robert Jordan: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings; Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, his canon for the legends of King Arthur; and Robert Graves’ The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. This last book, recommended to him by his wife and editor Harriet, was itself syncretic, claiming that the legends and myths we know were patriarchal stories pasted over the real stories of a primordial matriarchy that featured a tripartite goddess: the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. This goddess could be glimpsed in the background of every story that tried to draw focus to a newer, male god or hero. But the palimpsest was never fully cleared. Hints of the real story still showed through. Jordan not only culled many names for his lists from The White Goddess, he was inspired by the premise that there was a single myth that underpinned all others. Fan excitement in hunting for Easter eggs is the tracing of a diaspora of tales, of recognizing the secret origin of something familiar. Of course, Michael Livingston warns us not to take it too far. Jordan allowed himself to be inspired by these tales, but did not feel himself bound to them. Sometimes similarity is coincidence. Or as the narrator of Foucault’s Pendulum puts it (echoing my thoughts when I try to speculate on the Marvel Cinematic Universe): Mysteries Revealed While Origins of the Wheel of Time is a book that mainly tackles issues that inform Robert Jordan’s story rather than the issues in the story, Michael Livingston gives us a few interesting revelations from the notes. If you speculate about the Prime Video adaptation of The Wheel of Time, this detail may interest you when you consider how showrunner Rafe Judson reimagined the Eye of the World. We know of the Ring of Tamyrlin from the prologue of The Eye of the World, but that artifact, and the term “Tamyrlin” remained things we could only speculate about. Jordan’s notes reveal that it was not only a sign of office, but Tamyrlin was a person. One of the big mysteries is the character Nakomi. Most of us who’ve speculated on her hit close to the truth, but Brandon Sanderson provides some interesting details about her background. I think there’s an opportunity for Rafe Judkins to weave her into the Prime Video adaptation as a recurring cameo. Finally, there is the mystery of Rand’s pipe. The notes contain no answers, and Brandon Sanderson cites this as one of the things he will never reveal. Perhaps it’s for the best. Some things ought to remain in the realm of mystery. For my part, I think the answer reaches back to Hindu mythology, one of the mythologies Jordan incorporates into his syncretism. Consider this, from Livingston’s entry for the Amayar. “Maya” is the divine illusion that is the world we perceive. It veils the ultimate truth of what is, and enlightenment is the process of piercing that veil. In Hinduism, we are not separate from the divine, but continuous with it. It is Maya that prevents us from realizing this. In Jordan’s epic, the Amayar people awaited the end of illusions, just as the Aiel expected to “wake from the dream.” When Rand fought the Dark One, he stopped weaving the One Power and True Power, and started weaving the threads of the Pattern itself, his visions of reality competing with the Dark One’s. He and the Dark One vied to remake the universe. When Rand returned, perhaps it wasn’t that he could no longer touch saidin, but he now saw through its illusion. For all that everyone reminded Rand that he wasn’t the Creator, in the end, he re-wove the universe, human free will intact, and excluded the Dark One outside the Pattern. As it was once, at the moment of Creation, so it was again. Rand, who was once a character in the story, transcended to become the Creator, the storyteller. This is the ultimate enlightenment in a world created from a gleeman’s patchwork cloak of stories: awareness of being in a story. In his new body, Rand’s first desire is to follow his curiosity and see the rest of the world. Unshackled from being ta’veren, he can enjoy the free will he won for the rest of the world. The creation, the story, had a life of its own, and the free will of its characters must be respected. But much like Nakomi, Rand could give the story a nudge. He is now the author of his own story. It fits, doesn’t it?
Today is the release date for Origins of The Wheel of Time: The Legends and Mythologies that Inspired Robert Jordan by Michael Livingston. The book explores Robert Jordan's inspiration for the epic The Wheel of Time series. Here's the book description: Fans are also anticipating the reveal of Nakomi's backstory, one of the remaining mysteries from The Wheel of Time. The book also includes a new world map with changes to the Seanchan continent from Robert Jordan's edits that were never before incorporated. Origins of The Wheel of Time is available for order in ebook format from the Dragonmount store. You can also order print and ebook copies from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your local independent bookseller. The audiobook is available from Macmillan Audio. There's also special UK editions from Broken Binding and Inkstone Books. If you missed our interview with Michael Livingston check it out: Who's looking forward to reading this book? Please let us know what you think in the comments below (but please avoid spoilers for now).
Katy is a news contributor for Dragonmount. You can follow her as she shares her thoughts on The Wheel of Time TV Show on Instagram and Twitter @KatySedai Orbit Books, the UK publisher for The Wheel of Time will be publishing a limited number of leather-bound editions for The Eye of the World. Only 1,000 copies will be sold worldwide. The hardback book comes with gold foiled illustrations by Stephen Player on the slip-case and book cover. It also features green and yellow head and tail bands, dark green sprayed edges, and a gold ribbon. The 1,000 copies are hand numbered. It's definitely a special book to add to your collection! The book also features gorgeous new front endpaper illustration from Martyn Pick depicting the iconic flight from the Two Rivers scene. According to Orbit's announcement, the UK retail price will be £100, or £85 if you preorder. The publication date is December 8th, 2022. These limited editions will not be available in the United States or Canada. The edition is an Orbit website exclusive and is ONLY available via the Orbit store.
Everyone here at Dragonmount is excited for tomorrow's release of Michael Livingston's Origins of The Wheel of Time. Thom interviewed Michael Livingston back in April 2022 while at JordanCon and we are finally able to share it! The Origins of The Wheel of Time comes out November 8th, 2022 and explores Robert Jordan's inspirations while writing The Wheel of Time. Livingston wrote an article for Dragonmount about holding the first copies of his book. The Origins of The Wheel of Time features a new map drawn specifically for Livingston's books, using Robert Jordan's notes and Livingston's updates. Along with the physical versions of the book, there will be an audiobook version published by Macmillan Audio. The audiobook versions will include some very special pieces that were recently revealed. There will be a foreword written and read by Harriet McDougal, Robert Jordan’s widow and editor, a letter read by Michael Livingston, and an interview with Rosamund Pike about her inspiration for Moiraine on the Prime Video TV series. In addition, Kate Reading and Michael Kramer will be reading parts of the audiobook as well. Origins of The Wheel of Time is available for pre-order in ebook format from the Dragonmount store. You can also pre-order print and ebook copies from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your local independent bookseller. Make sure to share your thoughts over on the YouTube video or in the comments below.
Aleksandra (Ola) Hill is a Polish-Canadian SFFH writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of khōréō, an Ignyte and Shirley Jackson award-winning magazine of speculative fiction by immigrant and diaspora writers. She won the grand prize in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards and is currently pursuing an MFA in writing at The New School. You can find her on Twitter at @_aleksandrahill. # TL;DR: The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu is the first book of the War Arts Saga trilogy. Set in a secondary world inspired by wuxia, it's an exhilarating, action-packed start to a very promising series. It’s perfect for fans of subverted tropes and wuxia/martial arts, and readers who enjoyed The Stormlight Archive, She Who Became the Sun, and The Unbroken. # The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu follows the story of a Chosen One: Jian, who has been foretold to defeat The Eternal Khan, a warlord from the adjoining Katuia nation, and lead the Zhuun nation to victory by a five-hundred-year-old prophecy. But when Taishi, an old, ornery, one-armed war arts master, goes to check on Jian's training, what she finds is a spoiled, petulant boy taught so many different styles that he has learned nothing at all. Worse, news of the Eternal Khan of Katuia's death arrives soon after she does. The prophecy is broken, and Taishi must help Jian flee for his life from the political machinations of the dukes of Zhuun. The premise of the series is an excellent subversion of the Chosen One trope as well as an absolute love letter to wuxia, a martial arts genre typically set in ancient China. The magic that features in this story is martial-arts-based; specifically, individuals have an inner energy (jing) that they can learn to master with training (as an aside, I think that the jing here is the same as the one of traditional Chinese medicine, making up the Three Treasures along with qi and shen. Based on my limited knowledge, I think qi is used more frequently; I’d love to hear why the author went with jing here instead). Many schools of martial arts exist, each with different jing-based abilities. For example, Taishi's school is Windwhisper, which lets her manipulate air currents to attack, defend, and—most excellently—fly using her jing. There are some other fantasy elements in the story, such as reincarnation, but it's all generally more subtle than, for example, channeling in The Wheel of Time; I would say it's much more similar to books like She Who Became the Sun, which has limited magic but still feels very much like a fantasy novel. I absolutely loved reading this book, especially with Taishi as the point of view character. She's no-nonsense; she's highly skilled and knows it and yet, people continue to underestimate her both because of her age and because of her physical disability—one of her arms does not work. She's the kind of character I would be thrilled to see more of in fantasy. In fact, I loved her so much that I was deeply disappointed to learn that there would be other POV characters in the book! I didn't much care to enter Jian's head at first, since Chu manages to make him so deeply irritating from the start; the book also follows the stories of Salimande, an elite Katuia warrior and one of the Wills of the Khan, and Qisami, a ruthless, sardonic, and deeply chaotic bounty hunter I kept picturing as Awkwafina for some reason. While I was initially disappointed to be breaking away from Taishi, the multiple perspectives in the book let us get a much deeper, fuller picture of the world, especially the conflict between Zhuun and Katuia and all of the political forces at work. Katuia itself is a fascinating culture; they are a nomadic people within the Grass Sea, a dangerous land of monstrously large grass and ever-shifting landscape. The culture appears to be steampunk-esque, with moving cities that rely heavily on machinery and, I think, steam. Without giving anything away, I really can't wait to see how the world and all the people within it grow and change over the next two books; one of the final scenes of the novel has me more excited for a sequel than I’ve been since I can remember. Furthermore, the reader sees a promising start to Jian’s evolution as a character, from annoying child-warrior who needs to learn something of the real world to… well, not a hero, not yet, but someone with the potential to be. I appreciate Chu’s restraint in not making Jian the golden boy right away and—to my great surprise, given my initial distaste for him—I’m excited to see how the character I genuinely found deeply annoying grows. The one thing I'll note: while the book was full of both tension and action, I did feel it sagged a bit in the middle. This might partially be my fault—I got absolutely knocked out by COVID when I was about two-thirds the way through and didn't pick this book back up for two weeks—but there is also some amount of setup and moving about in the middle of the book that slows the pace down. If you feel yourself getting a bit bogged in the details, I highly urge you to keep going—the parts that felt a bit unnecessary for me when I was reading them are, I think, going to be major parts in the next books, and I'm really excited to see where they go. I've been really hesitant about committing to series for the last little while, especially when it comes to long books (The Art of Prophecy clocks in at 528 pages in the hardcover edition, which is on the shorter side of "tome length", but still a big time investment!), but I find myself so excited to keep going with this trilogy. And, I was thrilled to learn while preparing this review, the series has been optioned for television, with The Wheel of Time's very own Uta Briesewitz set to direct. No word yet on the series premiere, but the next two books in the series are coming out in 2023 and 2024 so you don't have to worry about unpredictable years of waiting between the books after you start the series. In all, I give my highest recommendation for this book, especially for anyone who is looking for an awesome, action-packed martial arts fantasy with multiple strong female leads. It's perfect for fans of She Who Became the Sun and The Unbroken, as well as those who enjoyed The Stormlight Archive with its sprawling world and battle scenes. And if you don’t know if any of those things are up your alley, trust me and give this book a chance. I’d love to hear what you think.
Join Dragonmount for our episode by episode "ReWOTch" of season one of The Wheel of Time on Prime Video. Every Monday at 9pm eastern we will be streaming to YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and Twitter. Join Rebecca, Thom, and Ebony as we experience the first season again. If you missed last weeks episode, you can find it here. Just press play on your prime video episode at the same time you hit play on our stream. There's a countdown on Dragonmount's stream that will help you align the two videos. Showrunner Rafe Judkins said he’d answer one question that came up during the live stream, so make sure to tune in and help us determine which question to ask! After episode one, we asked Twitter to help us choose the question. Our fans on twitter picked - What is something you think no one has noticed or commented on from this episode? Rafe replied with a little help from book consultant Sarah Nakamura. Warning, there are some spoilers for future plot points. Our next rewatch is episode two on Monday October 23 at 9pm Eastern, 6pm Pacific. Come watch Shadows Waiting with us!
Thirty years ago, I fell in love with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. Today, I opened a box. As I’ve said before, it has been the honor of a lifetime to write ORIGINS OF THE WHEEL OF TIME, to put my thoughts beside Jordan’s, to touch in my very small way the thing that he built. I’ll write later about what it feels like to have worked on this — honestly, I’m still trying to get my head around it — but as I’m seeing the book and holding it today I want to point something out. When you pick up your copy, you’ll want to look inside the covers, front and back. This is where you’ll find what’s called the “end papers.” In most Wheel of Time books, they feature a glorious map of the Westlands. We could have done that in ORIGINS, too, but we didn’t. (And, no, we didn’t use the new map of Randland that appears in this book, either.) What we used instead is a glorious image of the symbol of the Wheel of Time: the interwoven snake and wheel. I tried not to make many requests in the production of this book, but using this imagery was very definitely one of them. It’s for Harriet. In 2013, you see, Harriet — Jordan’s editor and widow — gave an interview with Tom Doherty, then the publisher of Tor Books. Talk turned to many things — it’s a great interview — but among them was the Wheel of Time. Towards the end of the conversation, Harriet said there was something she’d always wished she could do in the Wheel of Time books but never did: The simple truth is that the Wheel of Time does not exist — this world we love would not exist — without Harriet. And neither would ORIGINS OF THE WHEEL OF TIME. She gave the book her blessing. She read it and checked it. She was supportive from the beginning to the end and back again. And no one needs me to tell them that aside from being one of the greatest editors in the history of science fiction and fantasy, Harriet is also a truly wonderful human being. So when I read this interview, when I saw that she’d had this dream unfulfilled … well, by the Light, I was determined to fulfill it for her. When you get your copy of ORIGINS on November 8, go ahead and open that front cover and look at the Snake Wheel on the end papers. Then, for good measure, do the same with the back cover. It’s there, too. Now hold them both open, like so: There are neither beginnings nor endings in the Wheel of Time. And so it is. I’ll have more to say about ORIGINS as the weeks pass. As I look at it now, for instance, I see how my words are framed by this image, how my book “fits” within the Wheel of Time, how I’m a part of it now. It’s a lot to think about it. So for now, I’ll focus on this: Today I opened a box. I opened my book. For me, it was full of cherished words and a promise fulfilled. Soon, very soon, you‘ll open yours, too. Perhaps you will come to Charleston for the book-signing with me and Harriet and Jordan’s amazing assistant, Maria, on November 8. If so, we’ll read a few of those words together. But wherever you are, wherever I am, those words will still connect us. To me, that’s the greatest gift of the Wheel of Time, after all: that across time and space and even the spans of existence that might separate us, we can open our books and be there together, you and I, with Rand and Egwene and all the rest — and with Jordan and Harriet, too. It’s magic. And it’s real. I can’t wait. Visit Michael Livingston's website or follow him on Twitter.
Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years, and was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2020. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon. Prime Video revealed footage as part of a sneak peek for the second season of The Wheel of Time. We still don’t have a release date, but we now have a bit more of a clue as to what stories we’ll be seeing in the sophomore season. According to showrunner Rafe Judkins, the second season will draw heavily on The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn, the second and third books in the series. His plan is to arrange things so that the already-greenlit Season 3 can focus on more closely adapting the fourth book in the series, The Shadow Rising, the favourite book of many readers. The video opens in a somewhat desolate landscape with eleven riders heading down a road. It’s probable that this is Perrin and Loial travelling with Lord Ingtar’s party in search of the stolen Horn of Valere, since the terrain is very similar to what we saw for Fal Dara in Season 1. We then see Rand (Josha Stradowski) staring out of a window whilst we hear Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) saying that they did not defeat the Dark One, but released his strongest lieutenant (Fares Fares, presumably playing Ishamael). That lieutenant is now awakening the Forsaken, the Dark One’s most powerful servants. Rand's tribulations have certainly been good exercise. We see a figure with long hair hands covered in blood being awoken before cutting to a table with twelve figures sitting around it, with their faces hidden apart from Ishamael. Based on the dialogue you might be expecting this to be a council of the Forsaken. However, there are twelve rather than thirteen figures and the figures have somewhat distinctive clothing, including the white gloves and sleeves of a possible Child of the Light, and one Aes Sedai ring. This may then be the “Darkfriend social,” a fan-favourite event in the second book when a group of high-ranking Darkfriends from across the land gather to hear of the Dark One’s plans. We then cut to the arrival of a detachment of what appears to be Seanchan troops in a village. They have imprisoned Uno (Guy Roberts), one of Ingtar’s men. He is forced to kneel before several damane whilst Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Loial (Hammed Animashaun) watch on. We then cut to Mat Cauthon, now played by newcomer Dónal Finn, before seeing a member of the Seanchan nobility, the Blood, complete with an ornate face mask hiding her features and long, lacquered fingernails (based on the books, this is possibly the High Lady Suroth). Moiraine then warns Lan (Daniel Henney) that he has “no conception” of the power “they” wield, as we see Seanchan soldiers assemble. Moiraine may be talking about the Seanchan or, maybe more likely, the Forsaken. The Seanchan are a strong focus of the preview. The camera cuts to Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) standing in a field, Lan practicing his sword forms, Nynaeve practising sword combat with Alanna’s Warders, Moiraine hiding with a drawn dagger, and several Seanchan soldiers lowering their spears alongside what might be a Seanchan nobleman. We see Egwene (Madeleine Madden) a stone room, Mat looking at a flame, Loial restrained by ropes, Moiraine in a bath, Rand tied to a wheel (maybe a dream sequence?), Perrin looking scared, Uno defeating a Seanchan in combat, and the Amyrlin Seat Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo) descending from a carriage. Over this, Ishamael intones that “the only way to stop all this suffering is to stop the Wheel itself.” We then see more scenes of combat; Egwene screaming with a metal collar around her neck; the Children of the Light assault the Seanchan stronghold; a cloaked figure with a long, serrated blade; a group of soldiers charging into battle; and a man being engulfed in flames. Princess Not-Appearing-in-this-Video. Putting these pieces together, it looks like mostly material from The Great Hunt. The Seanchan conquering the town of Falme, consolidating their control, and then being attacked first by Ingtar’s Shienaran soldiers and then the Children of the Light, with Egwene’s captivity hinted at. Notably missing from the preview video is any sign of Elyas (Gary Beadle), Elayne (Ceara Coveney) or Aviendha (Ayoola Smart) or the Aiel in general, or other storylines linked to The Dragon Reborn (apart from Rand’s solo adventure), so there’s obviously huge amounts of material from the season missing from this brief teaser. New material is hinted at, such as Nynaeve learning to fight physically, possibly a result of her learning more about her wilder’s block and needing another way of protecting herself. We also know that the pursuit of the Horn is going to be somewhat different, with neither Mat nor Rand taking part, but what exactly they’ll be getting up to in the meantime is unclear. I suspect we’ll be getting some of Mat’s adventures in Tar Valon from The Dragon Reborn and some of the material from Rand’s solo adventure from the same book. As usual, please continue to follow developments on our casting and news pages, and the forum, and stay tuned for more info as we get it.
At the New York Comic Con today, Prime Video hosted a joint Wheel of Time and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power panel. The Wheel of Time started off first. It was streamed live on the popverse site, but to watch the full panel now that it's over you'll need a digital ticket. Just a warning, the clips were blocked so only those in the room could see them. Actors Marcus Rutherford, Madeleine Madden, and Daniel Henny were joined by showrunner Rafe Judkins and two new actors for season two - Dónal Finn (Mat Cauthon), and Ceara Coveney (Elayne Trakand). The panel began with a short introduction from Rosamund Pike, followed by some discussion of Perrin, Egwene, and Lan’s character arcs in season two. The clip from Rosamund was shared to instagram. The next clip was the cold opening for Season one, Episode 7: The Blood Snow. Then, they introduced Dónal Finn as Mat Cauthon. Dónal is taking over the character after actor Barney Harris left the show during filming of the first season. The clip was only shown to folks in the room, but The Wheel of Time social media channels posted a photo of Dónal as Mat. Donal joined the group onstage to discuss his role as mat in season 2. Next they began to discuss a major new character - Elayne Trakand, Daughter Heir of Andor, played by Ceara Coveney. The group at the comic con were shown a clip of Elayne in the White Tower, and again The Wheel of Time social media accounts posted a photo of Ceara as Elayne in novice white. The final clip was a sneak peek of season two. The Wheel of Time also posted it to YouTube, so check it out here: There's a lot there for fans to dissect and discuss! Finally they ended the panel with some audience questions. Stay tuned for our full breakdown of the panel! What did you guys think? Let us know in the comments below what you can't wait to see in Season Two.
Rajiv Moté is Dragonmount’s book blogger with a lens on the craft of fiction writing. When he’s not directing software engineers, he writes fiction of his own, which can be found catalogued at his website. The New York Times published an article, “Hobbits and the Hard Right: How Fantasy Inspires Italy’s Potential New Leader,” about how Italy’s fascist movement has used J.R.R. Tolkien’s work as their core myths. Author and neuroscientist Benjamin C. Kinney noted in a Tweet: Of course, many social and political movements present a romanticized past as a nostalgic ideal, all the way back to the major religions. In the Old Testament, humankind’s purest state of grace was in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were exiled for their Original Sin, humanity’s long road took them further and further from God. Time and distance from Eden was a vector of corruption. Hinduism has a similar view in its great cycle of ages. The first age of the cycle that begins with creation is the Satya Yuga, or Krita Yuga. It is considered a Golden Age. It degrades through three subsequent ages, and the last, the Kali Yuga, is an age of darkness. At this stage, the universe must be destroyed before being created again in a new Golden Age. Again, the further from the original divine action the universe moves, the worse off it is, and the best times of any given cycle are in its past. (I wrote a story published in Translunar Travelers Lounge, “Don’t Make Me Come Down There,” where the Hindu gods challenge this cycle.) Tolkien, like his friend C.S. Lewis, crafted fantasy with Christian themes. It’s not hard to see the Shire, a place of innocence and pastoral bliss, as a thematic representation of the Garden of Eden. Factoring in The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s world stretches along a moral West-East axis, with Valinor in the absolute west, the blessed realm of the angelic, undying Valar; to Mordor in the east, stronghold of the diabolical Sauron and the corrupt races who serve him. The “fundamental layers of conservatism” in Tolkien look very Christian--the King who returns to Gondor is a blood descendent of the Men of Númenor, who lived halfway between Middle-Earth and angelic Valinor. Those closest to the source of creation--physically, temporally, or spiritually--are the world’s salvation from evil. The final reward, reserved for the holiest, is leaving Middle-Earth altogether to reunite with the divine source in the ultimate West. I call these stories “Entropic Myths.” They’re tales that cast the primordial state as morally closest to the divine. Perhaps there is an inciting incident, a fall from grace or a Big Bang, or perhaps it’s simply the grind of time and human nature, but humanity drifts away from the divine ideal and thus diminishes. Humanity can redeem itself, but it needs to look backward, to the past. Entropic Myths, and the conservatism that uses them, rely on a concept coined by The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, “anemoia,” a nostalgia for a time one never experienced. The world of simplicity, innocence, and bliss that we yearn for was in a mythical past. We can find our way back if we stop recklessly moving forward. We can go back to the Garden. It’s a fantasy that captures hearts and minds with its long cultural history. Progressive SFF writers, of course, responded to the New York Times article by warning their peers that conservative fantasy tropes need to be interrogated and challenged. In my terminology, progressives are calling for “Enthalpic Myths” where the future can be better than past or present. Where the best is yet to come. The future is usually the domain of science fiction more than fantasy, and utopian futures like that in the Star Trek franchise do a great job of painting futures that progressives would like to live in. In fantasy, The Wheel of Time transforms a story that began as Tolkien-esque into an Enthalpic Myth. I’ve written about the contrast Robert Jordan makes between the Wheel’s conception of “home” compared to Tolkien’s. In Jordan’s epic, you can’t go back to the Garden, and you won’t want to. All the promise lies in the world before you, the world you can have a hand in creating. Jordan also put a twist on the Chosen One trope, where it was never about a single savior, but the world having the will to move forward and together. If there is a single, overarching theme to The Wheel of Time, it can be summarized by Rand al’Thor’s epiphany at the summit of Dragonmount. The past remains important in The Wheel of Time, but not as something to embrace uncritically. We learn from the past so we can forge a better future. The Golden Age is always ahead. That’s a great mythology to embrace.