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May 2021: Are We Optimistic?


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I confess, I haven’t been following the news about Prime WOT, and I’m too lazy to dig through all the showrunner interviews. So I was hoping the regulars here could help me gauge the state of play as we approach Summer 2021. 
 

I have a few specific wishes for this show. Like on terms of, these are things that I think could make the show better than the book series if properly executed. For each one, can you please tell me if I should be optimistic, or prepared for disappointment, based on what you’re hearing?

 

1. Start Ep 1 with the Prologue, just as RJ intended (pretty sure this ain’t happening due to actor continuity….)

 

2. Keep the first 3-4 seasons pretty faithful to Books 1-4 (IMO the best of WOT - masterpiece quality), then cut massively from books 5-11, consolidating the high points from those books into a couple of seasons, before the final act of Books 12-14.
 

3. Keep the focus on Rand where it belongs. Nothing wrong with Mor and the Super Girls - they all play important parts and have good storylines - but don’t go overboard with the “woke.”
 

4. Flesh out the Forsaken from the one-dimensional baddies in the books into really interesting, conflicted characters. Like what GOT did with most of its bad guys. Most of them weren’t always evil. What made them turn?

 

5. Make the bad guys more competent. That means killing off some important protagonists earlier. 
 

I think that’s my whole list. So what do you think - should I be optimistic or does this show look to be headed in a different direction?

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2 hours ago, Beidomon said:

1. Start Ep 1 with the Prologue, just as RJ intended (pretty sure this ain’t happening due to actor continuity….)

Unlikely. But you should take heart, because I think the Prologue will make it into the show, just more as a means of getting into the Rand/Lews Therin relationship later on.

 

2 hours ago, Beidomon said:

2. Keep the first 3-4 seasons pretty faithful to Books 1-4 (IMO the best of WOT - masterpiece quality), then cut massively from books 5-11, consolidating the high points from those books into a couple of seasons, before the final act of Books 12-14.

Hard to say, given how loose "pretty faithful" can be. But Rafe has acknowledged that there will be lots of chopping from the "later middle"  portions of the series. Many commenters believe that season 2 will combine books 2 and 3. I'm hoping for more of a S1 = B1 and S2 = B2 then starting to combine after that.

 

2 hours ago, Beidomon said:

3. Keep the focus on Rand where it belongs. Nothing wrong with Mor and the Super Girls - they all play important parts and have good storylines - but don’t go overboard with the “woke.”

You can't tell the story without telling Rand's story. It is Rand's story. But I do believe that for tv adaptation purposes, it is important for us to experience other characters' relationships to Rand. So while the focus can (and will) be on Rand, that doesn't mean that we will spend all our time with him - or even a majority. It would make sense - especially in later seasons - for him to become almost an antagonist.

 

2 hours ago, Beidomon said:

4. Flesh out the Forsaken from the one-dimensional baddies in the books into really interesting, conflicted characters. Like what GOT did with most of its bad guys. Most of them weren’t always evil. What made them turn?

Probably a good bet. Though we've heard nothing about any of the Forsaken so far. I wouldn't be surprised if none of them are in S1 and the conflict at the Eye is dramatically altered.

 

2 hours ago, Beidomon said:

5. Make the bad guys more competent. That means killing off some important protagonists earlier. 

I agree with the general idea. I don't necessarily agree that the death of important characters is necessary to accomplish this. What's required is a greater understanding of their plans. Hopefully that's something we'll get.

 

Hope this answers some of your questions...

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9 hours ago, Beidomon said:

2. Keep the first 3-4 seasons pretty faithful to Books 1-4 (IMO the best of WOT - masterpiece quality), then cut massively from books 5-11, consolidating the high points from those books into a couple of seasons, before the final act of Books 12-14.

WoT is as complex a story as any fantasy series ever. Even LOTR doesn't come close to the number of named characters (that actually play parts in the story and not just as historical/legendary reference material). There is so much going on, and so much written descriptive detail, smoothing of dresses, braid tugging, and in-head exposition about what people are thinking not so much doing, that inevitably leads to the on-screen adaptation having to choose which scenes to keep/cut/change.

 

My comparison, thinking back to the LOTR when it was being made, and the rumor mill that "OMG! Tom Bombadil might be cut!" or "OMG! The hobbits may be getting their swords handed to them by Aragorn instead of via the barrow wights!" or "OMG! Faramir didn't waver like that!" ... to think those were all considered major departures. That was chicken feed compared to what WoT has to deal with.

 

The general consensus is that WoT will have to take drastic steps compared to those examples, like major characters entirely cut or combined, whole cities omitted or moved to very different points in the storyline. The introduction of entire families delayed for continuity or perhaps actor contract realisms. Entire relationships abandoned that will cascade into other plot devices needing adjustments.

 

Point being: there is just no way S1 == Book1, S2 == Book2, S3 == Book3, ...

 

I really, really wish this were possible. But as Elder and others have said, even the Green Man and the EotW ending is likely to be very different than written. We may not even see A and B Forsaken in that sequence. A and B may not even exist *as* Forsaken in the adaptation at all. We may not even have 13 Forsaken (I still say that is about as weird as not having 9 Nazgul, whether they have much to do in the story or not)!

 

It is hard to find a comparable level of necessary cutting and changing in other complex series as in this one.

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Posted (edited)
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2. Keep the first 3-4 seasons pretty faithful to Books 1-4 (IMO the best of WOT - masterpiece quality), then cut massively from books 5-11, consolidating the high points from those books into a couple of seasons, before the final act of Books 12-14.
 

This is a tricky one. While Books 1-4 are really stellar in terms of material for Rand and Perrin, several hugely important plotlines for other characters fall after this time period but before Tarmon Gai'don (for example, Mat's memories and the Band, Egwene and the Tower, Aviendha channeling, Elayne retaking the throne, etc). Some of these could be compressed into a season or two pretty easily, but with others it'd be much more difficult, and I'm not sure you could do them justice if squeezed into like 2 seasons between books 1-4 and books 12-14. Mat in particular would be really hurt by this, I think.

 

One answer here is to extensively rejigger plotlines, and they may do just that; but assuming a run of 8 season, Season 4 finishing at Book 6 at least sounds about right.

 

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3. Keep the focus on Rand where it belongs. Nothing wrong with Mor and the Super Girls - they all play important parts and have good storylines - but don’t go overboard with the “woke.”
 

 

This is a bit unrealistic in the context of how the medium works, I'd say. While we see a huge portion of tEotW through Rand's eyes, that simply isn't how things work in the context of a TV show, and lots and lots of stuff will be happening onscreen when Rand's not around. I imagine all the original Two Rivers crew will have fairly equal screentime out the gate, especially since they cannot obviously favor Rand if they want to keep some mystery about who is the Dragon Reborn.

 

After that, it's in no small part a coinflip to see which characters connect more strongly with audiences. Much like GoT did, WoT TV will adjust as the show goes along to give more screentime to "breakout" characters even if it exceeds the scope of their role in the books. Ultimately, I expect that while the whole show certainly will pivot on the Dragon Reborn and the events he sets in motion, we will likely end up with at least several other characters having similar (if not greater) screentime to Rand.

 

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4. Flesh out the Forsaken from the one-dimensional baddies in the books into really interesting, conflicted characters. Like what GOT did with most of its bad guys. Most of them weren’t always evil. What made them turn?

This they definitely need to do, and can likely achieve it quite easily, especially if they dramatically cull the ranks of the Forsaken (as seems likely).

 

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5. Make the bad guys more competent. That means killing off some important protagonists earlier.

If by this you mean killing off major characters significantly earlier than it happens in the books, well, I would be shocked if this happens.

Edited by TheTuna450
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Reading the Pattern did a good analysis of how books 2 and 3 are kind of the same and would be easier to combine.

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On 5/2/2021 at 8:20 PM, redgiant said:

WoT is as complex a story as any fantasy series ever. Even LOTR doesn't come close to the number of named characters (that actually play parts in the story and not just as historical/legendary reference material). There is so much going on, and so much written descriptive detail, smoothing of dresses, braid tugging, and in-head exposition about what people are thinking not so much doing, that inevitably leads to the on-screen adaptation having to choose which scenes to keep/cut/change.

 

My comparison, thinking back to the LOTR when it was being made, and the rumor mill that "OMG! Tom Bombadil might be cut!" or "OMG! The hobbits may be getting their swords handed to them by Aragorn instead of via the barrow wights!" or "OMG! Faramir didn't waver like that!" ... to think those were all considered major departures. That was chicken feed compared to what WoT has to deal with.

 

The general consensus is that WoT will have to take drastic steps compared to those examples, like major characters entirely cut or combined, whole cities omitted or moved to very different points in the storyline. The introduction of entire families delayed for continuity or perhaps actor contract realisms. Entire relationships abandoned that will cascade into other plot devices needing adjustments.

 

Point being: there is just no way S1 == Book1, S2 == Book2, S3 == Book3, ...

 

I really, really wish this were possible. But as Elder and others have said, even the Green Man and the EotW ending is likely to be very different than written. We may not even see A and B Forsaken in that sequence. A and B may not even exist *as* Forsaken in the adaptation at all. We may not even have 13 Forsaken (I still say that is about as weird as not having 9 Nazgul, whether they have much to do in the story or not)!

 

It is hard to find a comparable level of necessary cutting and changing in other complex series as in this one.


Right. I totally support the cutting. Welcome it, actually. I just hope most of those cuts occur in the latter 2/3rds of the series. I’m not expecting exact book-to-season adaptations, but you could tell a hell of a great story focussing on Books 1-4, adding in a few more major plot points from the latter books like Dumai’s Wells and the Cleansing, the then head for the Last Battle. 
 

I’d be very happy cutting down the number of Forsaken if it meant actually getting them more involved and making them more interesting. 

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The issue with focusing on books 1-4 and the Last Battle to the exclusion of the others is that it seriously under-serves Mat and Egwene. They could do it - but I don't think that they should. Both Mat's memories/the Band and Egwene as the Amyrlin are the keystones for those characters' stories and will need a good deal of screentime.

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23 minutes ago, TheTuna450 said:

The issue with focusing on books 1-4 and the Last Battle to the exclusion of the others is that it seriously under-serves Mat and Egwene. They could do it - but I don't think that they should. Both Mat's memories/the Band and Egwene as the Amyrlin are the keystones for those characters' stories and will need a good deal of screentime.

I agree. Even some of the less popular arcs like Faile's kidnapping, the Whitecloak trial, and Morgase's entire story should remain, provided they are condensed and handled in just a few episodes.

 

Of course, much will depend on how successful season 1 is. They have a lot of flexibility and could probably do justice to the source material in somewhere between 5 and 8 seasons.

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My guess is we'll get at least two seasons which will probably get us to the end of book 3.

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33 minutes ago, mistborn82 said:

My guess is we'll get at least two seasons which will probably get us to the end of book 3.

We know we are getting two seasons. No longer a guess.

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I’ve heard mention of combining books 2 and 3 into one season. And I guess I could see that from a sheer page perspective. As I recall, Book 2 was pretty action packed but a good chunk of Book 3 was pretty slow. 
 

The difficulty is that Books 2 and 3 each have a major climax, and I don’t see how both could realistically be fit into one season.

 

Also, I think Matt and Eg would be ok if their storylines were better interwoven into the earlier material. Beyond the first 4 books I just don’t see how the show can closely follow the pacing and organization of the rest of the series. If the show lurches toward basically all the non-Rand characters for several seasons as the books did, that just ain’t workable. 
 

I also think the Seanchan and the Shaido are gonna need to make a much earlier exit - i.e. not be resurrected.

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1 hour ago, Beidomon said:

If the show lurches toward basically all the non-Rand characters for several seasons as the books did, that just ain’t workable. 

It might be. If Rand sort of becomes the primary antagonist of the later seasons and the character arcs revolve around how the others are reacting to his madness.

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Rand wasn't any kind of antagonist, except to Cadsuane and maybe other AS but the biggest argument for interweaving the plots from various books is that from Books 4-14 the timelines are all screwed up. I don't see Rafe or anyone following that because not only do major characters disappear but you'll confuse audiences. As an aside, I remember when first listening to the series, I never hated the Slog books but I came in at KOD so I never had the 'pleasure' of waiting years for very little movement.

@BeidomonI saw it on Reading the Pattern and it made sense because one major character doesn't really have much to do in those books and a few other things. It wouldn't upset me if 2 and 3 are seperate seasons but if that happens the S2 finale will be adjusted so Ishy isn't stabbed or it's another foresaken.

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36 minutes ago, mistborn82 said:

Rand wasn't any kind of antagonist, except to Cadsuane and maybe other AS

That's not exactly right. Rand's madness was a problem for basically everyone. It's why Egwene doesn't trust him when he asks her to break the seals. It's the reason the Borderlanders left their posts to seek him out. 

 

If you write the series from the perspective of people reacting to Rand instead of keeping us in his POV where Rand is reacting to everyone else, he will absolutely come across as an antagonist. And frankly, I think you want audiences wondering whether he will go all Danerys on everyone.

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in just a couple of days, we'll know if those voices about a trailer on 12 may were founded or not. i'm not very optimistic, though, as too often in the past i've been deluded. i keep hoping, but now i'll belive we get a trailer after i've seen it

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I'm pretty optimistic about the adaptation, but I'm also prepared to be disappointed. That's the only way to approach things like this imo. Here's my take on your questions:

 

1) I'd say it's unlikely to start the same way, but I don't think this is vital to telling the story, as long as Lews Therin's demise is described in some way at some appropriate point. It would be amazing to see, and I sort of expect them to give it some attention. But it's also a part of the backstory that could be delivered in a different way or at a different time. If you want the first scene to be identical to the books then I think you should be prepared to be disappointed.

 

2) I think they're forced to cut out a lot of extra stuff to make this work in video form, but it's unclear what they'll actually cut. I agree with you generally but there are important parts of each book, and parts that can be cut. So if you have a specific idea of what you want to stay and what you want to go, you'll probably be disappointed at some point. But the showmaker has talked specifically about trimming the middle books, so in general you can expect their cuts to follow that pattern.

 

3) I think you should probably expect the show to be "woke", and try not to make that into a bad thing. It's not malicious. The focus will probably be shared between the main cast as opposed to focusing heavily on Rand, because you can't have one character carry an entire TV show unless they're exceptionally brilliant. Nothing against the actors, but that's not something that a studio is likely to take a bet on. I'm expecting an ensemble cast and Rand will be important but it's not going to be a character study of Rand al'Thor.

 

4) I would love for the Forsaken to be given clearer development. I disagree that they're 1-dimensional in the books, but they do come across as cartoonish at times, especially at first. Although there's something charming about that, and it actually makes sense from a storytelling perspective to hold off on explaining them, I still would like to see nuance from them right away. I think it's something to be hopeful for from the show, but idk if I'd say that you should be optimistic. It depends a lot on the performances and the editing decisions...

 

5) I like the way the darkfriends fumbled around to be honest. They were dysfunctional agents of chaos being used by uncaring manipulative jerks. But I wouldn't totally object to seeing some more competent villains getting the spotlight more. There are plenty of those in the story to pick from. Luc would be fun to expand as an antagonist, for example.

 

Anyway those are my thoughts. Cheers!

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I'm really excited to see Johann Myers as Padan Fain. I've always wondered what this character would look like on screen 🙂

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29 minutes ago, Sean said:

I'm really excited to see Johann Myers as Padan Fain. I've always wondered what this character would look like on screen 🙂

Me too! And I’m hoping that they do something to make him a bigger part of the show. He sort of disappeared in the books and his ending felt tacked on. 

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