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.
Aleksandra (Ola) Hill is a Polish-Canadian writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of khōréō, a 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 First Binding by R. R. Virdi is a South-Asian-inspired epic fantasy that builds heavily on the traditions of Tolkien, Rothfuss, and Jordan to create something startlingly original. Recommended for fans of The Kingkiller Chronicles and She Who Became the Sun. The first book in the Tales of Tremaine series, it’s a promising start to a complex, intriguing world. # The First Binding is a hefty book, clocking in at over 800 pages. Those who are familiar with the genre will immediately recognize the structure of The Kingkiller Chronicles: a figure shrouded in magic and conflicting legends, myths, and tales tells—we think—his true story. And that story is something. Ari, our protagonist, is now known as simply the Storyteller: a magician who wanders the world telling stories with hefty doses of magic both in them, and used in the performances thereof. Yet he once was an orphan working in the understage of a theater in the bustling city of Keshum. He knew nothing of his family or past, but does know stories: the legends of the creation of the world and the great heroes of lore, which are inspired from Hindu mythology/cosmology. It is clear how much the author loves both his source material and storytelling in general, and how deeply meaningful both are to him. Early on in the novel, Ari says: "I don't know if you're aware of what it's like to be deprived of your past, your parents. The idea that there is nothing connecting you to anyone in this world apart from your work. There is a certain hollowness, singular and all encompassing [sic], that fills you. The notion that you are all that is—nothing more—and when you're not much on your own, it's a rather crushing thing." (p.89). The manner in which Virdi weaves stories-within-stories-within-stories in this book is an absolute pleasure both in how they snuck up on me as a reader and how well they fit both the narrative and the philosophy: that a story, fuzzy as it is, is both identity and truth. Eventually, Ari encounters magic for the first time. When a Binder arrives at the theater, he learns not just that magic exists, but that he may learn it, too. In this world, magic is enacted through five pairs of Bindings, where each member of a pair acts as counterbalancing force to the other. These bindings are controlled by the "folds" of the mind—a compounding of your thoughts to create your own version of the world, reminiscent of the Mythbusters' quip of "I reject your reality and substitute my own." More folds result in stronger magic, or a stronger counterbalancing: if I use six folds to lob a stone at your head and you use eight to imagine yourself dodging it, then you will be safe; less, and you will probably end up with a lump on your forehead. Before Ari can learn any of the Bindings, he must learn the folds; before he can learn the folds, he must learn to settle his mind. The exercises he is first set to—the candle and flame—are strongly reminiscent of the flame and void that Tam teaches Rand in The Wheel of Time. Ari is promised the opportunity to study at a magic school named the Ashram if he works hard with his new teacher. And he wants to learn: Yet, before Ari can do so, tragedy strikes and he must put of his dreams of the Ashram a little bit longer. Perhaps the most marvelous part of this story is not the magic system (which I greatly enjoy), but the combination of Ari’s absolute determination to survive and succeed and his utter inability to hold his tongue—to the point of seeming to have a death wish at times. He's reminiscent of Matrim Cauthon in that sense: someone you can't help rooting for despite the fact that you're certain you'd want to thwap him over the head if you had to spend any time with him in person. His personality is also perfect for the magic that exists in the world: he is hungry and ambitious in a way that I felt in my bones; he wants more viscerally than almost any character I’ve ever encountered. And that means that he lives on the edge of a knife. “There is a cost to magic—old magic especially,” a teacher tells him. “If you wish to enforce your will on the world, shape it—shift it—make it—break it, what do you think will be the cost, hm? If you wish to affect it, do you think you will be spared its effects on you? There. Are. Costs.” (p. 573). As Ari comes closer and closer to wielding magic as a child, the reader feels the tension rising, knowing that he can’t possibly fathom the costs and that there is a very real chance that he might not think about them until it’s too late. Though I found myself breathlessly reading many parts of this book, I do have to note that it was a very slow start for me. While it seems many readers found the prose compelling from the first page, I found it somewhat overdramatic; it eventually settles into competent, very readable writing. In larger part, however, I found Virdi's writing of female characters deeply irritating in a way that was reminiscent of the most outdated parts of The Wheel of Time —a gender essentialism that feels forced and unnecessary and like it belongs in the 1980s/90s. In the “present tense” sections of the book, Ari spends almost the entire time telling the story of his childhood to Eloine, the singer/temptress/’broken thing’ our narrator meets in the first chapters of the book. I flipped to a random page to draw an example: this isn’t the most egregious one I could remember, but it is representative: By this point, I had already annotated "omg, stopppp" in the margin: so many of these interactions feel cliché to the point that it seems the author is either trying to parody classic fantasy works or prove his own maturity in matters of romance. Eloine is at times coy, at times humourous, at times wounded—but only quietly so, hinting at trauma without ever speaking of it. In general, the various women in Ari's life all feel insufficient, foils for his experience and learning rather than true characters on their own (though, to be fair, many of the male characters are treated in the same way: Ari is, above all, a self-centered figure out of the need to survive). Most importantly, all the past sections of this book (let's say about 500 pages of the total text) are told directly by Ari to Eloine, within the first few days of meeting, while hearing barely anything of her story—which translates to about thirteen hours of speech on Ari's part. The idea of listening to a monologue that long from a person I just met, regardless of gender, is truly horrifying and often pushed my suspension of disbelief to the point of breaking. If I hadn't promised to review this book, I would have likely given up within the first fifty pages, as many folks on GoodReads seem to have done. But, I pushed on—and I’m glad I did. At page 97, I finally found myself pulled deeply into the world. My interest waxed and waned throughout; I inhaled the past tense and found myself often trudging through the present. Ultimately, however, I found myself so compelled by the magic system and the setting that I fell in love with the world. And, I suppose, Virdi would quote his book right back at me for my gripes:"[i]t's a horrible thing when someone asks for a story and isn't willing to patiently sit through it and listen" (p. 129). This one required a lot of patience for me; for others, I’m certain it will be a breeze. Above all, I believe that what he is trying to do is something excellent: pull something new into fantasy. It builds on familiar foundations while drawing from a well of tradition that has been underrepresented in fantasy. I am deeply curious about the life that Ari leads and how he ends up growing, changing, learning, suffering, loving, losing. If the “present tense” of the story were written as engrossingly as the “past tense” section, I would unquestionably continue on this series and await the next book eagerly. As it stands, I am mildly hesitant but overall hopeful and look forward to seeing where Virdi goes with Book 2. I recommend The First Binding for any reader hungry for an epic fantasy that builds on the tradition of the ‘classic’ greats like Jordan, Rothfuss, and Martin while integrating South Asian lore. I most heartily encourage curious readers to give it a try. I hope to see this trilogy become successful—I want more stories like this one in the world, and I think Virdi is a strong early voice to build on this branch of the genre. The First Binding is available in the Dragonmount eBook store. Find it here! Reviewer Note: Quotations are pulled from the ARC of The First Binding; they may have been updated in the final version of the book.
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 Showrunner Rafe Judkins answered questions about season two of The Wheel of Time on Prime Video. Recent announcements came during the San Diego Comic-Con panel focused on the Wheel of Time Origin shorts. They announced more Origin episodes are coming in August, released a season 2 sizzle reel, and announced that the television show is renewed for season 3! After the panel, Rafe posted to Twitter that he’d answer questions on season two. Rafe answered a lot questions (there are over 400 replies to his post), but here are the highlights: Rafe shared thoughts on the general plotting of season two and where the story may take us. Many fans speculated, but Rafe confirmed, that season two will cover book two: The Great Hunt and book three: The Dragon Reborn. The third season just announced will cover book four: The Shadow Rising. Mat’s plot was changed the most, but by the end of season two his plot will line up for the events in book four. This makes a lot of sense, since Mat’s character didn’t really shine until book three. Rafe also expanded on what’s in store for Moiraine and Lan. Rosamund Pike and Daniel Henney are big stars for the show, and it makes sense to give them a bit more to do. This will be a rather large change to the story, so it will be interesting to see how the wheel turns for those two characters! Rafe also gave fans confirmation of a few fan favorite characters and scenes. We will be seeing everyone’s favorite wolfbrother: Hopper. We also will have scenes with Egwene and Renna (which means more of the Seanchan plot from book 2). We will love to hate Kate Fleetwood as Liandrin. Rafe gave us some clues about what to expect from the shadow this season. The darkfriend social, which opens book 2, will be in the show. It’s a fantastic scene, and should make for great sleuthing and speculating. Rafe confirmed we will see more than one forsaken, and that they will have an expanded role closer to what we see in later books than what’s in books 2 and 3. Rafe also gave us some background on season one. The first was about Uno - that he was breathing. Some fans thought Uno died after he was stabbed with the tainted dagger, but it sounds like Uno will live to swear again. Many fans had questions about the Egwene - Nynaeve scene in the finale of season one. Rafe shared that the scene was changed at the very last minute due to COVID restrictions, and the original plan was for Egwene to help Nynaeve using Wisdom skills. It sucks for everyone that these compromises had to be made. Finally, Rafe shared that we will continue to see the cold opens for the episodes as an ode to the point of view chapters in the books. It’s just one of the ways the team has adapted the written story to television. And WE WILL GET LONGER EPISODES. Great news and we can’t wait to see how The Wheel of Time team uses some extra time to tell this beloved story. There's a lot to still learn about season two (we haven't heard when it will premiere), but hopefully this gives everyone plenty to speculate and theorize over until we can watch new episodes of The Wheel of Time on our screens again. What's your favorite answer from Rafe? Anything important that we missed? (400 replies is a lot to shift through!) Let us know in the comments below or in our forums.
Macmillan Audio announced today that Rosamund Pike, who plays Moiraine in Prime Video's TV show, will narrate new versions of Robert Jordan's second and third Wheel of Time novels, The Great Hunt, and The Dragon Reborn. The new version of The Great Hunt will be available August 2, 2022, and The Dragon Reborn will arrive sometime in 2023. The most well-known of versions of these audiobooks were recorded by the real-life husband and wife duo of Michael Kramer and Kate Reading. Prior to them, during the early 1990's, actor Mark Rolstrom recorded both abridged and unabridged versions. Long-time fans can be rest assured that the older versions of both audiobooks from Michael Kramer and Kate Reading will remain available along with these new versions from Rosamund Pike. It is unknown whether Rosamund Pike will narrate all books in The Wheel of Time series. For now it seems as though she is keeping pace with the story adaptation presented by Prime Video's series. Season 2 of The Wheel of Time is expected to adapt many of the events in these two novels. Here's the full tree release from Macmillan Audio: The new audiobook can be pre-ordered here on Audible. It's also available on Libro.FM, Apple Books, Google Play Books, and more. Tell us what you think in the comments, and be sure to join us on our forums and on social media.
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. At the moment there’s a huge amount of hype swirling for the imminent launch of two fantasy shows based on literary properties: House of the Dragon, a forerunner to Game of Thrones, hits HBO on August 21st. Lord of the Rings prequel The Rings of Power follows that up on Amazon on 2 September. Both shows have recently dropped new trailers and started the marketing process. With those two behemoths facing off, it’s understandable that Amazon is holding fire on the marketing for Season 2 of The Wheel of Time. Season 2 of the series wrapped back in May but so far we haven’t had much news about the launch date for the show (although we now have a Season 3 renewal confirmation!). Given that Season 1 wrapped in May 2021 and the show launched in November 2021, it might be logical to assume that Season 2 will likewise appear on Amazon before the end of the year. Indeed, fans and content creators have been debating this point for a while. Looking at the timeline of how Amazon shot and then marketed Season 1 might be interesting: 19 September 2019: Season 1 starts shooting 17 March 2021: First brief teaser footage released 28 April 2021: Season 2 greenlit 14 May 2021: Season 1 wraps 30 June 2021: Logo revealed 19 July 2021: Season 2 starts shooting 23 July 2021: Poster revealed 18 August 2021: Publicity images revealed 2 September 2021: First trailer, release date confirmed 9 October 2021: First clip released 27 October 2021: Second trailer released 19 November 2021: Season 1 premiere 19 May 2022: Season 2 wraps shooting 21 July 2022: Season 3 greenlit, Season 2 behind-the-scenes teaser released Based on the precedent from Season 1, we might be expecting publicity images and maybe a poster to emerge in the next month or so, followed by a trailer in September and Season 2 to premiere in November. No problem, right? There are, however, two major differences compared to the launch of Season 1. The first is the impact of COVID. Season 1 filmed over twenty months with two shutdowns of production caused by filming restrictions. The longest gap fell between the completion of shooting on Episodes 1-6 and the start of shooting Episodes 7-8 (it was during this gap that Barney Harris left for reasons that remain undisclosed). During these gaps in filming, post-production was able to proceed at a solid clip. CGI, editing, composing, etc all took place whilst the show was on hiatus and is believed to have been partially or mostly completed for the first six episodes by the time the show wrapped in May 2021. Thus, post-production was really only required for the last two episodes once shooting ended in May 2021. Whilst I have no doubt that some editing, vfx work etc started for Season 2 before it wrapped, it does appear that post-production was in a less advanced state then it was when Season 1 wrapped. So, more work and presumably more time is required for Season 2’s post-production requirements. The second issue is more obvious: Amazon are launching The Rings of Power with a double-episode bonanza on 2 September. The remainder of the eight-episode first season will be released once a week, taking them through 14 October (this may be less relevant, but House of the Dragon will release episodes from 21 August through 23 October). Amazon may feel leery about immediately following up The Rings of Power with another epic fantasy show straight away, or even a month later. They also have an additional scheduling problem in that the second season of Carnival Row has been sitting on the shelf for a lot longer than Season 2 of The Wheel of Time (Season 2 of that show wrapped in August 2021). According to Deadline, Amazon has internally committed to releasing Carnival Row in 2022, which would require them to either double-up on original show releases (which Amazon traditionally doesn’t do, at least not in the same genre) or push Wheel of Time to 2023. Although Carnival Row is also fantasy, it’s more of a steampunk fantasy with a 19th Century Victoriana vibe, which would set it apart from the medieval-ish fantasy of both The Rings of Power and The Wheel of Time. For these reasons, I would guess that The Wheel of Time will not debut in 2022 but instead will launch in the first few months of 2023. On the subject of the renewal, there’d been some ideas floating around from fans a few months ago that Seasons 3 and 4 would be renewed at once. We have seen more and more shows doing multi-season renewals – Netflix’s The Dragon Prince even got a four-season renewal a few years ago – and they’re being seen as a good way of spreading costs around, since shows can now go straight from producing one season into working on the next without an awkward pause (potentially lasting months) whilst the suits crunch numbers behind the scenes. This is both good – you know you’ve got gainful employment for the next two years rather than the next few months – but it can also be limited. When a streamer or network renews a show, they often also assign the budget, and when they renew for two seasons, they sometimes assign the budget for both seasons ahead of time. This is great if you know you’re not going to be ramping up the scale and scope of the project between seasons. If you are, it can be better to be more flexible and go on a year-by-year basis, even if that means a toe-curling wait every summer. Having two seasons renewed can also complicate things if one season goes over-budget: The Wire had its final two seasons approved by HBO in one go, but when Season 4 went seriously over-budget they were not given any more money, but had to “raid” Season 5’s resources to make up the shortfall, explaining why Season 5 was both shorter and had fewer locations. It’ll be interesting to see if Amazon start any marketing moves towards launching Season 2 of The Wheel of Time in the next few weeks, beyond the Season 3 renewal and “sizzle reel” for Season 2. If we get into September and October without any trailer or marketing information, a 2022 launch I think could then be ruled out. The second season of The Wheel of Time does not have a release date yet. As usual, we will keep you informed of all the relevant details. For more information, visit our TV show section of the website. 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.
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 At San Diego Comic-Con today, Prime Video released a sizzle reel showcasing behind the scenes of Season Two of The Wheel of Time. There was a panel on the Origins series with panelists including Rammy Park, writer and producer for season two. This is our first glimpse of what’s in store for fans in season two since filming wrapped in May 2022. Fans will be breaking this down for months! There are scenes fans might recognize and some that appear new. Anyone spot a fade on a door and a fight in the White Tower courtyard? I’m so excited to see what else the Wheel of Time team has in store for us! They also announced new Origins episodes are coming in August. The last piece of news is that Season three of the TV show has been green lit! Check out the Dragonmount article all about season three. What do you think of the behind the scenes for season two? Let us know in the comments below or in our forums.
Prime Video announced today that The Wheel of Time TV show has been renewed for a third season. This announcement came today, July 21, at San Diego Comic-Con during the "Origins" panel where they showcased behind-the-scenes footage from the forthcoming season 2. The season 2 release date has not been announced but is expected sometime in 2023, probably in the first half of the year. Here's the press release for the season 3 announcement. As always, for full coverage of The Wheel of Time TV show, follow us on social media and check out our TV show section of the website.
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 Kate Reading and Michael Kramer are the narrators of the Wheel of Time audiobooks and were special guests at the first WOTCon convention last week. WoTCon is a Wheel of Time convention created for and run by fans of the Wheel of Time. The first convention took place July 8-10, 2022 in Columbus, OH. During one of the panels, they performed a live reading of Moiraine’s Weep for Manetheren speech from The Eye of the World, the first book of the Wheel of Time series. Weekly Wheel News recorded the live reading and posted it to their YouTube channel. Check it out here: Anyone need a tissue? Their voices are so incredible and this scene is such an iconic Wheel of Time moment. Let us know what you think in the comments below or on our forums.
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. J.R.R. Tolkien said “all stories are ultimately about the fall,” and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time certainly fits that description. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time, but much like the Hindu cosmology on which the Wheel’s cyclical history is based, there is an Age that represents the apex of human civilization (the Age of Legends), and an Age that falls into the nadir, where the Dark One casts his shadow on the world. Apocalyptic stories chronicle the fall. The stakes are whether there is hope of a subsequent rise. While Robert Jordan’s take on the fall of civilization centered around the rise of an evil Dark Lord, it manifested in recognizably political ways. Our own world history shows war and strife following the rise of cults of personality around authoritarian leaders, fanning the flames of a society’s worst impulses. In the story, the road to Tarmon Gai’don was filled with such cults and despots, many of them familiar. Let’s look at a few. The Children of the Light The Children (or Whitecloaks as they’re called when not in earshot) are a military organization answerable to no authority but themselves. Though based in the nation of Amadicia, their Lord Captain Commander holds more power than the Amadician king, and they boast that their authority extends wherever the Light shines. Robert Jordan claimed that religion didn’t exist in his world, because the Creator and the Dark One were evident to all, but the Children are religious zealots, complete with a holy text, The Way of the Light, and an inquisitorial body, the Hand of the Light (or Questioners). We don’t know much about the group’s founder, Lothair Mantelar, but he wrote The Way of the Light and organized the Children during the War of the Hundred Years. It was a brutal, bloody period of chaos following the disintegration of Artur Hawkwing’s empire. During such eras, charismatic leaders offering certainty, purpose, a banner, and an enemy tend to flourish. The Children’s enemies were Darkfriends, but Mantelar also had a useful target in the Aes Sedai. During Hawkwing’s final years (and possibly under Ishamael’s influence), the High King waged war against the White Tower, and his distrust of Aes Sedai was so great he even tried to build a capital around an Ogier stedding, where the One Power could not be used. Given the Dark One’s taint on saidin and Hawkwing’s hatred of Aes Sedai, it would have been easy for Mantelar to harness historical and legendary animosity toward those who wielded the One Power. The glass columns of Rhuidean revealed the willingness to scapegoat and lynch suspected Darkfriends even before the Breaking of the World. The attitude carried forward through centuries, and is reminiscent of the Whitecloak ways. The White Tower While their name translates to “Servant to All” (“public servant?”), the Aes Sedai were a rarified class who lived centuries longer than ordinary people and, of course, could wield the magic power that drove the universe. What we know of the Age of Legends reinforces the idea that they were elites whose status was conferred by an inborn trait, the ability to touch the One Power. The White Tower was founded after the Breaking of the World, during a time of great strife. The Aes Sedai themselves became an even more exclusive group, as all the male Aes Sedai were driven mad by the Dark One’s taint. Since its founding, the White Tower’s mission has been to spread its influence and consolidate its authority. Each Aes Sedai is treated in most nations with the status of a ruler, and the Tower’s premier, the Amyrlin Seat, has been known to command kings and queens. The Tower reinforces its authority by suppressing its failures. Moiraine won Lan’s trust by revealing one of the Tower’s secrets. Into this atmosphere of elitism, arrogance, and secrecy comes the Dragon Reborn. When the Amyrlin Seat Siuan Sanche’s secret dealings with the Dragon Reborn were revealed, a faction of Aes Sedai led by Elaida do Avriny a’Roihan staged a coup and deposed Siuan. Elaida was strong in the One Power among Aes Sedai, which conferred standing. She was also steel-hard, determined, and sporadically possessed of the ability to Foretell the future, if not necessarily understand it, which gave her a disastrous false certainty. She was also almost laughably narcissistic. (I have since been disabused of the notion that someone so self-preoccupied could never achieve such a position of power in the real world.) Mesaana and the Black Ajah couldn’t have picked a better leader to tear the White Tower apart. Elaida reigned through intimidation, threats, and bullying. She seemed incapable of building consensus or coalitions except through appeals to fear or greed. And she devoted a great deal of time and resources to self-aggrandizement, like building a personal palace to rival the White Tower itself. Elaida’s coup broke the Tower into its first open schism that became an all-out civil war. In the context of current events, Robert Jordan’s take on the White Tower’s schism may have been optimistic. While Elaida’s unhinged leadership, and coterie of cronies and secret Darkfriends caused significant damage, Jordan showed that the institution of the Hall of the Tower, as well as backchannel activities of serious-minded Aes Sedai acting for the good of the Tower (and the world), were capable of healing the break. Egwene was instrumental in bringing the White Tower to Tarmon Gai’don on the side of the Light, but she did not act alone. The Dragonsworn If the Children of the Light brought elements of quasi-religious fundamentalism to the world of the Wheel, the Dragonsworn brought full-on, militant, religious extremism. It’s fitting. Rand al’Thor is a figure of religious prophecy, a messianic avatar of the Creator sent to save the world from humanity’s great adversary, the Dark One. The crumbling of nations was foretold; the Dragon’s appearance signaled the End Times, a new global purpose, and an open, literal war between Light and Dark. And in this cosmology, it’s absolutely, beyond-any-doubt true. When Masema Dagar, a soldier who has guarded against the Blight all his life, saw Rand al’Thor in the sky, battling what appeared to be the Dark One, it was a religious experience that filled him with awe and zeal of purpose. In this world, that is a reasonable reaction to the arrival of the actual messiah. But as the Prophet, Masema amassed madmen around him, and became a crazed fanatic. How much of that was due to the disguised Forsaken (probably the proxy-loving Demandred) manipulating him? It’s unknown. Some people are just fanatics in search of a focus. What’s interesting is that the Prophet, much like the Children of the Light’s Lothair Mantelar, invented his own moral code to rally his followers. For the Dragonsworn, extreme austerity, a detachment from worldly concerns, and devotion to nothing but the Dragon Reborn were the hallmarks of their beliefs. None of this came from Rand al’Thor. It became critical to his victory that Rand wasn’t the sort to dictate what was in people’s hearts, but as a religious figure, his refusal to do so created a moral vacuum for those who saw all old ties and purpose burned by the coming of the Dragon. That allowed others--Masema and the Forsaken manipulating him--to fill that void in a way that served the Shadow. The Shaido Aiel Just as the White Tower was sundered by news of the Dragon’s rebirth, the Aiel suffered an identity crisis when Rand proved himself their Car’a’carn by revealing their secret history. Even today, in the real world, people fight bitterly over the history they reveal about their own society. Identity is the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and to learn that identity is a lie invites a crisis. When Rand revealed that the Aiel, proud, honor-bound warriors, began as sworn pacifists whose honor was to serve, he revealed that every one of them was one of the worst things an Aiel could be: an oathbreaker. The Tuatha’an, whom they called “lost,” were actually the keepers of the true faith. Some of the Aiel killed themselves to expiate their shame. Some permanently became gai’shain, a temporary status that contained an echo of what the Aiel once were. The Shaido Aiel doubled down on the lie of their identity, rejecting the revelations about their history as falsehoods designed to break them. Their clan chief Couladin claimed to be the Car’a’carn who would lead the Aiel to glory, a lie that many of his people would want to believe over the shame that Rand offered. Couladin offered to Make the Aiel Great Again. Militant fundamentalists, arrogant out-of-touch elites, unhinged narcissist heads of state, religious fanatics, historical revisionists, violent secessionists. If Robert Jordan’s depictions of an apocalyptic age seem prophetic, it’s because he was a lover of history. The Wheel of Time repeats its patterns, and so do world events.
Amazon Prime Video has released the first deleted scene from season 1 of The Wheel of Time TV show on its social media channels. The deleted scene features an alternative version of the events from Episode 1 that take place inside the Women's Circle cave in the Two Rivers. Nynaeve narrates about the role of women in society as Egwene is submerged into a pool with streams of paint. The paint colors correspond to the seven Ajahs. This image was originally teased in the first TV show trailer, but never made the cut into the finished episode. This clip was first revealed at the closing ceremonies of WoTCon, a first-year fan convention that took place in Columbus, Ohio. A day later, it was released on social media. A second clip was also shown at the convention featuring Egwene and Tam al'Thor. (Updated) Here's our reaction video to this deleted scene, featuring Kitty Rallo.
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 The Wheel of Time: Origins Series has been nominated for Best Animated Short Form Series by the Hollywood Critics Association. The second annual HCA TV awards will be shown on broadcast and cable August 13th, and streaming on August 14th. The Hollywood Critics Association is an organization that is known for promoting diversity of film and television and was the first organization to create separate categories for certain streaming and broadcast television awards. The Origins series debuted on November 19th with the first episode of Amazon Prime’s The Wheel of Time TV show. There are six episodes, each about three minutes long which explores the lore and history of the Wheel of Time story. The Origin series was originally hard to find in the X-ray content on Amazon Prime video, but the shorts can now be found as bonus features on the main menu or in the explore tab. The Episodes are: 1. The Breaking of the World 2. The Fall of Manetheran 3. The Greatest Warder 4. Saidin, Saidar, Stone 5. The White Tower 6. An Ogier's Longing Written by Rammy Park Producer Jakub Chilczuk Director Dan Difelice Animation by MPC Episodic Narrated by Ida May Rupert Degas The Wheel of Time’s social media accounts also recently announced a panel focused the Origin series at San Diego Comic Con on Thursday, July 21st. The description for the Comic Con panel hints that fans will see something special: The writer of the Origins series, Rammy Park posted the news to Instagram and said: I can't wait to see what the Wheel of Time team has in store for us. The animation of the series was beautifully done and it was a great way to introduce TV fans to the background and lore of the Wheel of Time. Be sure to check our the Origin series if you haven't seen them yet! Let us know what you think of them in our forums or in the comments below.