Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film, video games and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years. 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. Please note this article contains very mild spoilers for The Wheel of Time novels. Way back in the day, the video game industry got surprising mileage out of video games based on novels. Cheaper than licencing actors’ likenesses for games based on films and not constrained by matching release dates (for “release synergy,” a term that destroyed many a promising video game adaptation during gestation), book-to-game adaptations provided a relatively cheap way of enticing fans to try out a developer’s latest project. One of the first licensed video games from a novel was The Hobbit, published by Melbourne House in 1982. Based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, this was a text adventure which cast the player as Bilbo Baggins, embarking on the traditional adventure to kill the dragon Smaug. The game was a huge success and also sparked some very early memes such as Thorin’s rather frequent tendency to sit down and start singing about gold whenever he was bored. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, released by Infocom two years later, was in a similar vein but had greater kudos because Douglas Adams himself worked on the title as a writer and designer. Novel adaptations went huge in 1988 with War in Middle-earth, another Tolkien adaptation, this time by the visionary designer Mike Singleton. A dynamically-unfolding wargame, the title allowed players to refight the War of the Ring using a variety of different factions and characters, sometimes resulting in radically different results to the novel. The 1990s saw Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series adapted as a trilogy of best-selling games, as well as a version of Terry Brooks’ Shannara series that is best ignored. Arguably the most successful such book adaptation of the decade was Betrayal at Krondor (1993), based on Raymond Feist’s Riftwar series. An expansive, semi-open-world CRPG, it worked as both a very good video game and a very strong adaptation of the books (although, ironically, Feist’s own novelisation of the game is arguably his weakest book). It was in this time period that The Wheel of Time got its own video game adaptation. Released on 11 November 1999 by GT Interactive Software, The Wheel of Time took Robert Jordan’s expansive, vast world, cast of thousands and epic battles and turned them into a…first-person shooter? It was an interesting and bold choice, one that turned off a lot of fans who’d been hoping for a roleplaying game, but once they got over their shock at the design choice, they soon found a very interesting game. The game was developed by Legend Entertainment, who’d previously made relatively straightforward adventure games. The team at Legend decided to make a much more ambitious title and, after their company was slightly oddly bought out by Random House, they decided to focus on a novel adaptation (even more oddly, of a non-Random House series). The design team tore through The Wheel of Time and began to design an adventure game that would retell the story of the novels. It would be expansive and large. Robert Jordan had other ideas. He didn’t want the game stepping on his toes (he was still only halfway or so through writing the series) and he didn’t want the game to use other versions of his characters. The designers came up with the notion of setting the game in an alternate dimension, a Portal Stone world, where events could take place that echoed those of the books but were distinctly not the same. It was also decided to abandon the adventure design in favour of a first-person perspective similar to other games of the time, such as Doom. This was markedly ambitious for Legend, who’d never made such a game before, but they took it in their stride. Budget restrictions meant that they had to look around for a customer engine rather than designing their own, and after considering the BUILD and Quake engines settled on the engine for a game still in development that was extremely obscure, called Unreal. The Unreal developers were surprised that anyone would be interested in licensing their engine and the Wheel of Time team got it on extremely generous terms. As development continued, the Unreal team saw the development of Wheel of Time and some of the ideas fed back into their own game in development. Unreal was released to massive success in 1998 and quickly became the go-to engine for first-person video games. The Unreal Engine today powers a vast number of games, from indie hit The Outer Worlds to the epic Mass Effect trilogy to the mega-successful Fortnite, which have collectively sold hundreds of millions of copies. On its release, The Wheel of Time attracted glowing reviews…but not much sales. Barely 30,000 copies were shifted in the first three months on sale, shooter fans more energised by the then-recently-released Half-Life, SiN and Quake III. Legend’s expertise with the engine saw them hired to make Unreal II: The Awakening, which should have been a huge hit, but by then the excitement had moved onto the online version of the franchise, Unreal Tournament, and Unreal II was not a huge hit either. Legend shut down in 2004. The Wheel of Time game is an odd beast, but a strangely compelling one. It casts the player as Elayna, an Aes Sedai who can barely channel (think of Morgase Trakand) but whose powers have been augmented by ter’angreal. A trusted lieutenant of the Amyrlin Seat, she is dispatched to Shadar Logoth in pursuit of an assassin, the Hound, who managed to penetrate the White Tower itself. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that the Forsaken Ishamael is looking for the seals on the Dark One’s prison. At one point there is a coup by the Black Ajah inside the White Tower which results in the death of the Amyrlin and Elayna’s rise to replace her, along with the revelation that Elayna is really the most powerful Aes Sedai born since the Breaking, her powers sealed off to protect her until she learns to use them correctly. In a final battle, the Hound, now bonded to the dark power Mashadar, tries to kill both Elayna and Ishamael but is defeated. Elayna unlocks her powers and uses them to protect the Seals, ensuring the Dark One cannot escape his prison until the Last Battle and the arising of the Dragon Reborn. The plot is interesting but clearly at odds with the books, with the developers confirming that the game takes place in a Portal Stone world, a parallel universe similar but not identical to the books, and certainly the game is not taken to be canon in any way. From an architectural level, the game is phenomenally well-designed, with some fantastic locations that look like they’ve come straight from the books. The darkness-shrouded streets of Shadar Logoth and the gleaming white walls of Tar Valon are rendered well and the storyline is intriguing, although confusing given the game’s setting in a parallel universe to the books (not something that’s made hugely clear in the game, it has to be said). The cast of characters is well-drawn, and it’s still refreshing to see a first-person shooter based in a fantasy setting with a female protagonist. The use of ter’angreal instead of the normal array of guns from a shooter is something that does feel contrived, but it works quite well and makes for an exciting action game. Trollocs, Myrddraal, Black Ajah and Whitecloaks make for fun enemies to engage in combat with, and there’s a nice feeling of dread in the battle of wills with the Hound, your character’s nemesis. Originally there was going to be a whole “evil campaign” with you playing the Hound, but this was cut for time and budget reasons. The Wheel of Time is a surprisingly solid game (especially by the conservative standards of the time), but it can’t be denied that a Quake-style 3D FPS feel like an awkward fit for Jordan’s huge, narrative-driven fantasy epic. The game feels like it should have been an RPG with a lot more choice and consequence, drawing more on Jordan’s vast world. The ambition was there, but sadly the budget and required time was not. Arguably we wouldn’t get a novel-to-video game adaptation that really hit that spot until the release of The Witcher (based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s books) in 2007, and in particular its second sequel in 2015, almost certainly the greatest CRPG released this century. We must pause, of course, and remember that although Legend’s Wheel of Time was the first official, licensed video game adaptation of the series, it’s not the only one. In 1993 The Wheel of Time MUD (multi-user dungeon) was launched, a relatively primitive, fan-made dungeon game with a text interface. It was quite popular with the MUD scene. More recently there’s been a number of “mods” – fan-made modifications of commercial games – focusing on a Wheel of Time theme. The most notable is The Gathering Storm, a mod for Mount & Blade, and there’s been various mods for Skyrim, introducing weapons and armour from the Wheel of Time world. There’s also been a number of abandoned mods, such as ones that were in development for several years for Civilization IV and Rome: Total War, and rumours of one for Crusader Kings II. The completion of the books seemed to erode fan enthusiasm for more mods, and the scene has been quiet for a few years now. Of course, with The Wheel of Time now heading to the television screen, the question arises if a new video game could be on the cards. Given modern game budgets are now averaging towards the high tens of millions of dollars and development time is in years, it’s questionable, but if the Amazon TV series is a huge success it may be something we’ll see before too long. Hopefully this time it will be a game that gives the setting and Robert Jordan’s writing the scope and scale it deserves. Further Reading: The Wheel of Time video game producer (and budding fantasy novelist), Glen Dahlgren, has published several interesting articles about the game: a 20th anniversary retrospective, a very in-depth account of the making of the game and the game's original design document. All well worth a read.
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. 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. Please note this article contains very mild spoilers for The Wheel of Time novels. How do you transfer a story from the pages of a novel or comic to the TV or film screen? It’s an interesting question, one asked many hundreds of times over the last century or so, and one which has never really gotten a reliable answer. Some films have used the book only as light inspiration, with the same basic premise and maybe some character names but otherwise doing their own thing. This paid off with films like Jaws and The Godfather, but not so much with Shannara or Earthsea. Others have slavishly adapted the source text almost line by line, but this has also backfired with the likes of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. It appears that the best way of adapting a book to the screen is to take the story, characters and story and transfer them, but also being aware that a screen story needs to be more streamlined than a novel. Where a novel can sprawl luxuriantly and bring in dozens of new characters at will, a film or TV show can’t afford to do that. Where a novel can pause and delve deep into a character’s internal monologue to show their thoughts and reactions to an event, a visual adaptation can’t do that without resorting to cheesy voiceovers (viewers of David Lynch’s Dune will be aware that this doesn’t really work either). One approach, favoured by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens in their adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, is to strip the story down to basic tacks and then rebuild it for the screen. For Rings, they decided first what was the story actually about: clearly, this was the Ring and Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. That wasn’t enough story to fill a trilogy, so they began with this story as the core and kept adding more elements back in from the book. They needed a major subplot, so just used that from the books: Aragorn leading the people of Rohan and then Gondor into battle and his quest to become king. A primary cast was needed, so the cast from the books was added, with a strong focus on the Fellowship, and subplots for each character. In this way they rebuilt the story using the same ingredients, but being aware of the limitations of the medium. By the time they got to the Scouring of the Shire and Tom Bombadil, they were aware they were exceeding the time limit and budget of each movie and made the painful choice to remove them. They also simplified other elements for time, such as using the Army of the Dead to save Minas Tirith rather than using them to liberate the port of Pelargir and then transport Gondor’s southern army to the battlefield; the latter idea (from the novels) would have required considerable exposition, more time and more money to work on screen. This process was mostly successful, which makes it more disappointing that for the Hobbit trilogy it was abandoned (due to studio interference requiring three three-hour movies out of the very slim source material, to Jackson’s distress, according to some sources). A similar process was used for the early seasons of Game of Thrones, although this was complicated by the source material being incomplete. In the case of Thrones, it seemed that the first half of the series, which adapted the first three novels relatively faithfully, was very successful and the latter half, which was based more on very loose outlines and chose to mostly ignore the fourth and fifth books, was much more critically mauled. For such adaptations there seems to be a thin line between the necessary creativity and invention to transfer a story from one medium to another, and outright hubris where a scriptwriter feels he or she is better than a novelist who has already enthralled millions of readers for decades and starts making changes for changes’ sake and to put his or her stamp on the story. The upcoming Watch TV series, based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, has been open about using the books as a very loose inspiration for the show, which will feature Pratchett’s characters in dramatically different situations and roles to the novels. It will be interesting to see how both fans and general viewers react to such a reinvention. How The Wheel of Time handles this remains to be seen, of course. In other news this week, Amazon decided to confirm what they’d already revealed a few weeks ago, via the table-read for the series: Irish actor Ian McElhatton has been cast in The Wheel of Time. However, they also confirmed what role he will be playing: Tam al’Thor, Rand’s father and all-round good egg, a brave and honourable soldier, devoted husband and father, capable farmer and a skilled swordsman. It’s a nice reversal of roles for McElhatton, who for many years was best-known for playing the devious and sly Roose Bolton on Game of Thrones. McElhatton’s interpretation of the character was different to the novels (where Bolton is more clearly a villainous wrong ‘un, fond of being leeched to take away imagined toxins and treating everyone with disdain), but still a ruthless, amoral power-grabber whose biggest mistake was trusting his psychotic son, Ramsay, with too much power. McElhatton now gets to play arguably one of the most upstanding, honourable and capable characters in the whole series. It is interesting they went with a known name for the role, as, if true to the books, it may be a couple of seasons before we touch base with the character again. McElhatton’s profile has increased since Game of Thrones, with him being cast in HBO’s critically-lauded mini-series Chernobyl earlier this year and I imagine he could take his career in any direction he chose. Rafe Judkins did note that his first instinct was not to cast anyone who’d been in Game of Thrones, but he overrode that decision because McElhatton nailed his audition. Given how Thrones used up a sizeable portion of the English-speaking acting talent available in the UK (from where Wheel of Time is drawing a lot of its cast), it’s also unlikely this is the last time we see a doubling up of actors who’ll have been in both productions.
Irish actor Michael McElhatton has been cast as Tam al'Thor for Amazon Prime's upcoming Wheel of Time TV show. This news was announced today as part of November's #WoTWedNesday on Twitter and Instagram. Here's his bio, as provided to us by Amazon Studios: Michael was visible in the recent promotional video that Amazon released showing the Table Read of the first episode. Fans quickly noticed him and began speculating on which role he would have. Now we have our answer as we know he'll be playing the stable, kind-hearted father figure to Rand, played by Josha Stradowski. For more information on the Wheel of Time show, be sure to visit our TV section.
Dragonmount has some amazing members! We'd like to honor those who have used The Wheel of Time as inspiration, or have contributed to the fandom, or who simply want to share their Wheel of Time story with others who love the series as much as they do. Today we are highlighting member @Lian Crescent who has worked tirelessly through the month of October to produce some amazing Wheel of Time artwork. During the Inktober Challenge (a daily drawing prompt for each day in October) Lian referenced something from The Wheel of Time! I had the opportunity to chat with Lian about his amazing artwork. Day 10 - Pattern 1. Tell us about your Wheel of Time journey. When did you start reading the series? My Wheel of Time journey started back in 2002 when the Lord of the Rings movies and fantasy was popular. My sister borrowed a book from her college classmate which was The Eye of The World. The cover of Lan and Moiraine caught my eye and I asked my sis what is it about. I then bought my own copy which was the version that was split into two parts, From the Two Rivers, that was published on that same year. Day 16 - Wild 2. Has Wheel of Time inspired other areas of your artwork? The Japanese art for Wheel of Time has influence my work especially with the character designs. I also took inspiration from Disney and anime and mixed them with my WoT art. I would like to give credit to my dear friend, Mina U.(pettymotives online). Her Forsaken designs greatly inspired my work. Hope WoT fans would check her work as well! Day 15 - Legend 3. After Inktober is over, do you plan on making more Wheel of Time fanart? Definitely but I would have take a break since have a long queue of commissions that needs to be finish. haha Day 26 - Dark Day 18 - Misfit Day 23 - Ancient Day 21 - Treasure 4. Some of your works have depth, like “Day 21: Treasure” with Elayne’s action pose or the symmetry used in “Day 23: Ancient.” Others are shown with humor; “Day 18: Misfits” fits this, as does “Day 26: Dark (One).” How do you decide on a tone for your current piece? It's usually a challenge to find ideas for WoT characters to match the official prompts. I often go for a comedic tone as long as it fits which sadly ending up not using my initial sketches like on "Day 18: Misfits." My first drawing was the Two Rivers five staring in the distance in a serious look. I wasn't happy with it so I had to redo it with The Chosen in a wacky pose. So yeah, I have a couple of scrap Inktober sketches and some of them will never be finished or publicly seen. Day 20 - Tread 5. So far, which piece has been your favorite? My favorite so far is "Day 20: Tread" the one with Aviendha. I put a lot of effort and detail on it and happy on how it turn out. "Day 15: Legend" is a personal favorite cause I made it for someone. 6. Do you have any social media pages you’d like other Wheel of Time fans to know of? Yes, I am active on Twitter @LianCrescent. I also have a tumblr of the same name where I post my old Wheel of Time fan art. Thank you, Lian! Your artwork is amazing and it was so fun to follow your progress throughout the whole month! If you want to see Lian's other Inktober artwork, check out the DM Gallery here!
Over the years, Dragonmount has provided various chapter summaries and recaps of each book in The Wheel of Time. Now, for the first time, we've expanded that and published short book summaries, and complete chapter recaps for all 15 books in the series (main series + New Spring). Take a look for yourself. Head over to Dragonmount.com/Books and begin browsing. The book summaries are a good way to recall what happened in each book, especially if you've not read it in a long time. And the chapter recaps provide a bit more detail and depth. Creating this content has been a multi-month project by a fantastic group of volunteer fans. Each writer and editor is credited on the individual pages. They are: Joan Albright, Rajiv Mote, Erick Walter, Jim Vogel, and Angela Carter. Also, special thanks to Matalina (aka Alicia Wilkerson), a long-time contributor to Dragonmount, for creating a handy script to help automate the conversion of the original Google Documents into these web pages.
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. 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. Please note this article contains very mild spoilers for The Wheel of Time novels. The arrival of the Wheel of Time TV series marks an interesting time for the fandom. The Wheel of Time has always had a passionate and fervent fanbase, ever since The Eye of the World arrived to strong sales in January 1990. It was one of the first epic fantasy series to benefit from the emergence of the Internet, with fans debating theories and swapping plot ideas on CompuServe and in early chat rooms before moving onto forums like Wotmania, Theoryland and, of course, Dragonmount. For twenty years, fans were able to discuss their ideas, favourite characters and, of course, ships. A few times there were also able to discuss things with Robert Jordan himself, on the old Tor Q&A page and then a blog hosted on Dragonmount before his sad passing in 2007. In more recent years, they have been able to discuss things with Brandon Sanderson and, occasionally, Robert Jordan’s team of editors and advisors. The Wheel of Time fandom has been traditionally friendly, welcoming and vibrant. Many couples have met through their fandom of the books and children have been born as a result. Other fandoms have splintered off: some of the earliest discussion of series like A Song of Ice and Fire, The Malazan Book of the Fallen and even Harry Potter can be found on ancient, archived Wheel of Time forums before those series acquired their own websites and followers. The fanbase wound down a little after the final book in the series, A Memory of Light, was published in 2013. The years of theorising and musing came to an end and fans were able to see what they had guessed correctly and what they had not. Some fans have kept up some discussion, such as over the nature of the ending and how much material was in Robert Jordan’s notes and how much had to be created by Brandon and the editors, but for the most part the fandom entered a much quieter state. Now it stands to be reinvigorated. Amazon’s Wheel of Time television series will bring millions of fresh fans to the series who have never heard the phrases “Aes Sedai,” “One Power” and, of course, “Easing the Badger.” Tor and Orbit will issue the books with new covers to tie in with the TV show, piled high at the front of your local bookstore or even supermarket, probably with some cover quote trying very hard not to mention Game of Thrones as a comparison point. Forums are bracing themselves for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of new members, and working out spoiler policies for newcomers. In some cases, this has already happened with early adopters rushing to read the entire series before the TV show hits (likely in early 2021). This has happened before. The immense box office and critical success of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy saw even Tolkien’s supposedly-ubiquitous books sell an extra 50 million copies in just a few years (considerably more by now). When Game of Thrones debuted in 2011, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books had sold about 12 million copies. Last year, the books passed 90 million in sales, showing how having a huge TV show based on your books can impact their numbers. TV shows based on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher series are due to arrive in the next two months (on HBO and Netflix, respectively), and the publishers of both are readying new tie-in editions of the books. The Wheel of Time is already one of the biggest-selling epic fantasy series of all time. Its lifetime, worldwide sales are at around 90 million, roughly equal with A Song of Ice and Fire and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, so I’d expect the success of the TV show to catapult it over the 100 million line relatively easily. If the show is a success, Wheel of Time merchandise will become as unavoidable as House Stark bumper stickers and poster maps of Middle-earth. The Wheel of Time will go from that topic you keep trying to interest your real-life friends in to the hot show they’re eager to talk about every week (possibly whilst you lament the casting choice for Cenn Buie or the cutting of your favourite minor character). We can expect new fan art, fanfiction and theories, this time about what or how the TV show is going to change things from the books. This might not quite be as intense as that for Game of Thrones – one benefit of The Wheel of Time already being complete – but it will still breath new life and new energy into the franchise and get the old fandom wheel turning again. In other news, shooting is ongoing, although there’s been little to hint at what the cast and crew might be up to right now. Madeleine Madden did post a picture of her trailer door on Twitter whilst Daniel Henney (Lan) has been hitting up guitar shops and train stations in Prague on his days off and Josha Stradowski (Rand) has been getting into some classic literature. There’s also been a flurry of casting rumours, which we’re not going to get into until Amazon have confirmed the details. Until next time, peace.
Today, October 17, would have been Robert Jordan's 71st birthday. There've been a number of tributes to him on social media, but Amazon Prime's official WoT on Prime account is requesting fans to submit messages and video clips describing what the series means to you. So please leave a message on WoT on Prime's Twitter or Instagram feeds, or you can reply to any of Dragonmount's social media accounts with your message. Bu use to use #WoTonPrime and #Dragonmount in your messages. Happy birthday, Robert Jordan!
A good fantasy novel will have some familiar archetypes that avid readers of the genre know well. There are the endless battles between Good and Evil, Lightness and Dark, a Dark Lord and a scrappy Hero. Mix in a harrowing quest, a magical system, and a cast of mythical creatures, and you can create an epic novel that grips the reader to the very end. Good writers are able to reinvent these concepts in new ways again and again to keep fantasy readers hooked. Kel Kade presents us with a trope-subverting version of those archetypes in her new novel, Fate of the Fallen: Shroud of Prophecy (Book One). “What happens when the path of good and right, the triumph of light over darkness, the only path to salvation...fails?” This is the question Kade poses for us in the prologue of the book. I was instantly intrigued at the concept of evil winning out over good. I have come to expect heartbreak and tragedy as I travel along my fantasy journey, but however messy the journey becomes, I always expect the heroes to win the day. We are thrown immediately into a medievalesque world where a young handsome hero Mathais and his faithful friend Aaslo are bantering in the forest. We quickly learn the depth of their bond, and the book continually reinforces the lengths that “brothers in all things” will go to in order to honor that friendship. It isn’t long before our main characters have left the quaint life they once led, where their greatest worry was whom to take to the next town dance and are now venturing off into foreign lands. The duo are taking on a seemingly doomed quest to save humankind. In Kade’s world, the Greek-like gods take an active role in the manipulation of human lives. These ethereal beings exist in their own microcosms of the universe he created; and the lines between the realms seem less static than in other fantasy novels. As a reader you have to pay close attention to disentangle the many varied names and locations that are thrown your way as Kade gallops rather quickly through book one of this series. There are a few abrupt transitions that left me going back to reread the previous page, but I do not think that this was an accident. I believe Kade was intentionally trying to subvert the typical experience of the fantasy genre. She wove a tapestry of fascinating characters who were easy to love and that easily pulled me through the pages. In my opinion this book’s greatest strength is the witty banter that exists between its characters. There is a relatable and endearing comradery between Mathais and Aaslo that had me wondering if my best friend would go to such epic lengths for me? I finished the last page and was surprised to find myself so committed to seeing this journey to its end. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of book two, to hear more of Mathais and Aaslo’s banter and to see what other surprises Kade can conjure. Get a Free extended preview (ebook) on the DM ebook store Other Links KelKade.com Dragonmount eBook Store Amazon Barnes & Noble IndieBound.org / local retailers
WARRIOR OF THE ALTAII, a stand-alone fantasy novel by Robert Jordan, is now available. The novel is is published by Tor Books, the same publisher of Jordan’s U.S. Wheel of Time books. The book is set in a unique fantasy world that is unrelated to the WoT universe except for some coincidental and thematic similarities. The book was originally announced in January 2019. Here’s the official plot description: Warrior of the Altaii was originally written in 1977 by a then-unpublished Robert Jordan. It went through an unusual process of being acquired by a publisher, only to quickly have the contract cancelled when Jordan asked for more money. It continued to receive interest from publishers for a while until Robert Jordan decided to shelve the project in favor of developing his WoT books. Harriet McDougal, RJ’s wife and editor, describes the story in great detail as part of the novel’s introduction. An exclusive edition of the book with additional interior color artwork is available from Barnes & Noble. The book is available in print and ebook formats. In addition, an audiobook is available and is read by WoT audiobook reader Michael Kramer. Barnes & Noble (exclusive edition) Amazon Indiebound.org Dragonmount eBook store
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. 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. Please note this article contains very mild spoilers for The Wheel of Time novels. Filming is now well underway on Amazon’s Wheel of Time TV series and for this month’s “WoT Wednesday,” Amazon gave us a special surprise: a clip of the table read for the first two episodes. For those who are unfamiliar with the process of making television, a table read is held for each episode or, if the season is short enough, the entire season, with all of the actors present. The table-read helps actors learn each other’s voices, get into character and feel comfortable with the dialogue, and also helps the producers make sure they’ve got the timing correct for each episode. This is less crucial for a streaming service than it is for a network show selling adverts, which has to be 44 minutes on the dot, but Amazon still seems to keep things more strictly within a time limit than, say, Netflix or HBO. The table read is also often the first time the actors have read the script, rather memorably in Kit Harington’s case for the final season of Game of Thrones. The clip is the first time that we get to hear the actors embodying the characters they’ll be playing on the show, confirming that they’re going with a fairly ordinary English accent as the default accent for the Two Rivers, and perhaps all of Andor (as Robert Jordan indicated many years ago). Moiraine also has a somewhat “posh” accent, as you’d expect from a noblewoman and Aes Sedai. Barney Harris gets the biggest laugh as Mat Cauthon, cautioning his friends to be wary of Moiraine as she can “shoot fireballs,” so they should heed her advice. Combined with a line about crossing the river, this seems to confirm that the first two episodes will, between them, cover at least all of the events of Winternight, the battle at Emond’s Field and our main characters’ flight from the Two Rivers by cover of night. Exactly how much of the book the first episode – which we known has the working title Leavetakings – covers has been fiercely debated, especially as the second episode is called Shadow’s Waiting, suggesting it focuses on events in Shadar Logoth, although some have suggested that Episode 2 ends with the characters reaching the cursed city. Episode 3 is called A Place of Safety, which could be an ironic alternate title for Shadar Logoth itself. Of course, such speculation is not helped by the fact that, as of yet, we don’t know how many episodes there will be in the first season either. We do know there will be at least six, but not how many more than that. A nine-month shoot is more suggestive of ten to twelve episodes, but that remains to be confirmed. The clip is also interesting in that it gives us a look at some actors who have not been officially announced yet. Immediately recognisable is Irish actor Michael McElhatton, best-known for playing the villainous role of Roose Bolton in Seasons 2-6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones before recently appearing as a Soviet general on Chernobyl. McElhatton is infamous for his menacing stare and voice so could be playing a villainous role, but has also appeared in far more lighthearted and comedic roles. Bearing in mind that the table read is for the first two episodes, the most immediately appropriate casting would be for the role of Padan Fain, the friendly peddler whom, it turns out, is not quite as friendly as first appears. Other likely possibilities would be Tam al’Thor or Thom Merrilin. Less-likely but also possible would be Geofram Bornhald, especially if they introduce him in Baerlon rather than later on, or Ishamael/Ba’alzamon if they get as far as the boys’ first shared nightmare. Another possibility, that McElhatton might be playing Ishamael in the prologue, is discounted by Rafe Judkins’ Q&A of a year ago where he seemed to be suggesting that the prologue would not appear until later in the series (along with the events of New Spring), and an earlier statement that the first episode opens with Tam and Rand on the road to Emond's Field. The prologue is iconic and not using it to start the show might be considered sacrilegious, but there are at least two good reasons for not doing so. The first is that casting an actor as Lews Therin, using them briefly for one season, and then potentially not using them again for another two or three seasons is bad business practice, since it’s possible the actor will move onto other projects in the meantime and it’s expensive to put an actor under contract to not accept other work. Game of Thrones suffered from this problem, casting Ser Gregor in the first season and then having to use (two!) different actors later on because the original actor had been cast in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy in the meantime. More likely, given the show’s determination to make the identity of the Dragon Reborn more of a genuine mystery to TV watchers, is that the segue from Lews Therin to Rand is a bit on the nose and they want to keep things vaguer. One other actor who has been likely confirmed for the production is British actress Naana Agyei Ampadu, who recently appeared in a recurring role on British sitcom GameFace and in a minor role on the Steven Spielberg movie Ready Player One. Ampadu's casting was announced by her own casting agency on Twitter, who then quickly deleted the tweet, presumably because the release had not been okayed by Amazon. Dragonmount has asked Amazon if they could confirm McElhatton's and Ampadu's casting in the show, but they declined to comment at this stage. Tracking down other actors involved in the production is more difficult than you’d think, as several productions are currently shooting in and around Prague. Fear the Walking Dead actor Fernando Rojasbarr seemed a likely candidate, for example, until he revealed on his Instagram that he’s actually shooting a film called Zátopek. The movie Ophelia also wrapped shooting a couple of months ago, with some actors delaying posting any information to social media until recently, which briefly led to speculation that Tom Felton (Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy) might be in Wheel of Time until the misconception was cleared up (he's not). That said, northern Irish actor Stuart Graham (Michael Collins, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is in Prague at the moment and may be the grey-hair guy briefly glimpsed at the read. A similar age to McElhatton, he could also be a good guess for Thom Merrilin, Tam al’Thor or Padan Fain. Or he might be in town for one of the other projects mentioned above. We'll see if we can get his casting confirmed as well. As for the shoot itself, which is now about to start it's fourth week (of around 34-37 weeks, with shooting due to conclude in May), production has moved to western Slovenia where the Great Soča Gorge, near the Italian border, is being used to stand in for part of the Two Rivers. The spectacular scenery, with the eastern Alps as the backdrop, certainly seems to fit the book descriptions. Actors Daniel Henney (Lan) and Josha Stradowski (Rand) shared some pics they'd taken from the shoot via Instagram.Eagle-eyed Wheel of Time fans are now scouring the video for more clues to the identity of the other actors, and we’ll bring you their findings as soon as we can.
Amazon Prime released a new video for #WoTWednesday, their monthly scheduled day to release content related to the upcoming WoT TV show. Here's a full transcript of the video: Speculation has already begun as to who the other unnamed actors in the video are, and who they might be playing. We'll have more speculation and info soon, but in the meantime, join the conversation on our forums or social media or the comments below.