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Five things to expect from the Wheel of Time TV show


Jason Denzel
  • The Wheel of Time TV show is ramping up fast, so naturally, we explore what to expect when it finally airs. 


After four years of relative quiet, excitement for the Wheel of Time is surging again thanks to the forthcoming TV show, scheduled for a 2020 or 2021 release on Amazon Prime. We know very little about the creative direction the show will take, but we know it left a positive impression on Brandon Sanderson, who recently shared his admiration for both the first two episode scripts, and for Rafe Judkins, the executive producer, writer, and showrunner.

And, of course, there was a bit of excitement last week when Rafe and the studio announced that Rosamund Pike would be playing Moiraine.

So what else can we expect from the forthcoming TV show? Here are my best guesses.

First, some disclaimers: I have no involvement with the forthcoming TV show, although I've been in touch with some of the folks at Amazon. Before that, from around 2005-2011, I was a consultant to Red Eagle Entertainment, the group that originally acquired the rights to the series and remains executive producers on the show (though the scope of their creative involvement is unknown.) Back then I was heavily involved in the creation of outlines and story treatments for a potential theatrical film release.

That project fizzled, but it helped familiarize me with the scale that the executives were going for at the time, and how the thinking has evolved over the years. While none of that makes me an expert in the TV effort, the ideas below come from a reasonably well-informed position.

Without further ado, here are the Top 5 things I think we can expect to see in the Wheel of Time TV show.

Adult Content

We all know that Amazon's Wheel of Time show, along with a million other TV shows, are going for the, er, throne, that Game of Thrones until recently occupied. GoT succeeded for many reasons, and one of those reasons was that it didn't pull any punches. The WoT books are full of battles and romance, but in a strictly PG-13 manner. I expect to see the WoT TV show dive into the sex and battles more (especially the One Power battles). It'll help sell the show to a wider, more general audience that's hungry for adult fantasy.

This idea is further confirmed by a casting call notice from last April that the show was seeking two female actresses to play characters named “Eliza” and “Nadie” (probably code names for Egwene and Nynaeve) that would require scenes of a sexual nature and partial nudity. It could be just a rumor, but the original source has a decent track record of accurate information, including correctly revealing Rosamund's role in the production before the official announcement.

All this is to say, don't be surprised if we see the Two Rivers characters, and others, getting busy on screen.

 

8-10 episodes, focused on Eye of the World

Amazon and Rafe haven't announced the official number of episodes, but we know each one will be an hour long. 8-10 episodes is consistent with other Amazon Originals in recent years. WoT could certainly receive more than 10, but I think it's a stretch that it'll happen that way for the first season, especially since the episode budgets could quickly balloon with visual effects.

As for whether or not we'll see more than The Eye of the World portrayed on screen in season 1: Rafe has already said the show will pull from everywhere as needed, but I believe the main season arc will focus on the flights from the Two Rivers, leading ultimately to the Blight, where the season finale will focus on the Eye itself. A fan asked Rafe this question on Twitter and he gave a short, cryptic response:

 

Quote

[Fan]: Hello Rafe, Do you anticipate Season 1 taking up Eye of the World and season 2 being The Great Hunt?
[Rafe]: Yes and no


The main argument for season1 focusing on book 1 comes down to the fact that if you pull too much from book 2 and beyond, it's just too much to develop and get a general audience to buy into. In 8-10 episodes they already need to introduce a complicated world and backstory, 7 major protagonists, 3-5 major antagonists (Fain, Ba'alzamon, Whitecloaks), trollocs, Aes Sedai, and so on. Once you add in the Horn of Valere and the Seanchan, it simply becomes too much, too soon. The whole “Hunt for the Horn” makes great season 2 material, and possibly getting into book 3 depending on how many episodes get greenlit.

Yes, there are lots of ways to skin a cat, but it feels right to do season 1 = book 1, just like Game of Thrones did to great success.

Expanding Secondary characters...and maybe a few big omissions

Since the project was green-lit last October, there's been nonstop talk that Moiraine will be the focus of the series, or, at least of season 1. We don't know how that will play out, of course, but it's likely that all the attention on her in the press releases has been due to the fact that Rafe and company have planned to cast a big-name actress for that role from the very start. She (and Lan) are the most logical choices for bringing brand-name actors on board in order to reach a wider audience. I expect we'll get into their backstories sooner than the books do, and also deeper into the Aes Sedai / Warder connection. I don't think we'll be seeing lengthy, full-episode New Spring flashbacks, per se, but pulling from Moiraine's younger years wouldn't surprise me either.

Rafe has also stated that he plans to expand Logain's character, which is a great idea. Seeing more Logain allows us to see male channelers before Rand really gets going. If you buy into the earlier idea that season 1 will focus on Eye of the World , then that means they have 8-10 hours to explore the first book, which is plenty of time to expand on a brooding false Dragon. I have a hunch he might steal the show early on with his charisma and power.

Other expanded roles that we're likely to see: the Children of the Light (Geofram Bornhald would make a great bad guy), Elyas, Hopper and the other wolves, the Tinkers (Aram?), and Padan Fain.

The jury's still out on what the production plans to do with Min, Thom, Elyane, Galad, Gawyn, and Loial. All of those except Thom and Loial only have cameo roles in the first book, so I suspect they will either get expanded roles in season 1, or possibly... sorry... get cut from the season. I know, I know. It's hard to imagine a WoT show without Elyane or Min. But everything's fair game, people! Maybe if Moiraine leads everyone to Tar Valon instead of Caemlyn, then the writers can easily introduce Elayne and her brothers being there for training. Logain can also be gentled there, which would give us introductions to Elaida and the Amyrlin Seat all in one nice location that's visually amazing to look at. Or maybe those secondary characters: Min, Elayne, etc, are introduced in the second season.

Less Binary Evil

The Eye of the World was written in the late 1980's and published in early 1990. Robert Jordan intentionally designed the opening to resemble Lord of the Rings, with its dark riders and quiet, idealistic rural countryside, and then flipped everyone's expectations after Shadar Logoth. At the time this approach was groundbreaking, and where he takes the sequels is still, to this day, original and remarkable. But many of the ideas in the first book have been copied and done many time since by a lot of writers, and the result is that the binary “good farmboys vs a pure evil Dark One” isn't going to cut it with a general audience anymore. Rafe touched on this subject during his Twitter Q&A:
 

Quote

"I think most people would say [the central/key/core conflict of the series is] light vs. dark, but I'd actually say [that it's] balance vs. imbalance."


The easy solution is to introduce more nuanced antagonists as early as possible. The Whitecloaks, Elaida, and even Padan Fain (who could hold onto a shred of his humanity, perhaps?) offer opportunities to craft bad guys who have somewhat relatable (or at least understandable) motivations beyond simply wanting the world destroyed. I doubt we'll see many of the Forsaken besides Ba'alzamon in the first season (unless by flashback), but if we do, I wouldn't be surprised if they became less pure-evil as well. Robert Jordan's Forsaken, while interesting and fun, were admittedly somewhat flat until Asmodean arrived on the scene. (Lanfear / Selene is a possible exception, but I would be stunned if she had a role in season 1. She could be a big-name actress they could bring in for season 2)

More Diversity

Finally, expect the Wheel of Time TV show to double down on its diverseity of characters and relationships. Rafe has been very public about this, stating outright that this is an important theme to him.
 

Quote

“I think that gender is such a key theme of the books, and discussing gender without a full representation of LGBTQ+ people would be a disservice to that discussion. Rest assured, their will be pillow friends out the wazoo.”

“I'm a feminist and it's very important to me that the show is feminist in today's context.”


The most obvious place we're likely to see changes is in the romantic relationships. While I don't think we'll see Rand and Perrin kissing each other (imagine those ‘shipping debates! Can I coin the term “Rarrin”? “Perrand”?) it wouldn't shock me if Egwene, Moiraine, Elyas, Aram, Galad, or Logain became involved in same-sex relationships. (Besides, did any of you really, really, totally buy the Moiraine-Thom romance from the books?) Some of these might not blossom in season 1, but certainly could later.

We're also more likely to see wider racial diversity in the cast. I know Robert Jordan is very specific with his descriptions of every character and culture, but when it comes to adaptations like this, nothing is guaranteed. Rafe and his team already cast a “tall Moiraine”, so who knows, right?

Take a look at this script excerpt Rafe shared on Twitter last August, which points this out on the very first page:

 

 

Quote

[A QUICK NOTE: race in the world of Wheel of Time is much less defined than in our world.

As much as possible, our cast should look like America will in a few hundred years -- a beautiful mix of white, brown, black and everything in between]


The Eye of the World portrays all seven of the main characters (the five Two Rivers people + Moiraine and Lan) as light-skinned. Add in Elayne, her brothers, and Min, and we have a whole lot of similar-looking characters. This is in fact a trend throughout the books. Sure there's differences between the Cairhien and Andorans, but it isn't really until later books where we see the Seanchan (especially Tuon), the Sea Folk, Faile, and some of the western nations with more racial diversity. (An exception to this is the Shienarans, who appear at the end of the first book. )

Here's what Rafe had to say about this when questioned by a fan on Twitter:

 

 

Quote

“I really want to stay true to the books in creating a world that feels way more diverse than what we're used to seeing in our fantasy tv shows”


I know we could all debate what certain characters look like for days and weeks, but that also sort of supports my point that there's plenty of room for interpretation, especially as we move away from the Two Rivers. My hunch is that the Emond's Fielders will look a lot like what we expect, but beyond that, there will be more racial diversity. Logain, Elyas, Siuan Sanche, and the Shienarans are all easy candidates for looking different than Robert Jordan perhaps portrayed them.

The books are great... why change all this?

Everyone knows that TV and movie adaptations bring changes, and passionate fans like you and I are likely to scratch our heads and wonder why they'd change something when it works well on the page. As discussed above, the first book in this series was written 30 years before its TV adaptation release, and audience expectations have changed since then. We also have the hindsight now to understand what works in the books, and what could stand to be better. (Do you really think they'll have Perrin spend three seasons trying to rescue Faile?)

I'm looking at this TV show as a fresh turn of the Wheel. The Third Age that I read about in the books has passed, and been reborn now that the Wheel has turned all the way around. With every coming of an Age, it's the same story again, yet different. While this may not be the official explanation from the show's producers, I think it's a good way to look at it. We'll always have the books to return to: those aren't going anywhere. By allowing ourselves to accept changes from book to screen, even ones we don't fully like, we open ourselves to having a better experience. I, for one, and beyond excited to see what Rafe and his team do.

So what do you think? Leave a comment below, or discuss it on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram channels. What do you think we should expect from the upcoming Wheel of Time show?

Jason Denzel
Jason@dragonmount.com

 



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All good points. I'm beyond thrilled for this series! I cheer on Rafe & company every time Amazon asks me for any other comments on their original content surveys.

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I am very happy to have read “The Third Age that I read in the books has passed , and been reborn now that the Wheel has turned all the way around.” It helps relieve the worries I had about how the show would be different from the books. But that is a great way to put it 

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I hope they dont over sexualize the show.  There are a number of scenes for those two in the books that would require partial/complete nudity, most notably the later Aes Sedai testing when they are clad in the light.

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Hopefully they don’t change anything when it comes to characters. I get the diversity argument but if a character is written a certain way then portray them loyally. If you want to make a super diverse cast for the sake of being diverse right from the get go even if it’s against what’s in the books then just make a different show with new source material.

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I also hope they don’t over-sexualize the show. I would like to share in watching this with my teenage daughters who have been up until this point, unwilling to tackle the books. I’m not comfortable asking them to sit down and watch something with gratuitous sex. The trials to become Aes Sedai, fine. But they could still appear to be nude from the shoulders, up. The books were great at a PG-13 level, and I believe the show would still be as well. 

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While I hoped that season 1 would be only The Eye of the World, from the episode names given so far, it seems obvious that EotW will only be half the season.  I'm surprised that you don't acknowledge this!

 

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I am wholeheartedly embracing your mindset! The Wheel has completely turned... and the Age that was, comes again!

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 I don't have a problem with diversity, but fundamentally changing the characters' relationships to one another (Egwene/Gawyn, Perrin/Faille, Moiraine/Thom, Siuan/Gareth, Mat/Tuon, Rand/Min/Aviendha/Elayne, and Nynaeve/Lan, Birgitte/Gaidal Cain), makes them no longer the characters from the books; the writers would then have to change the motivations for many of the things these characters do, and as a result, it would disrupt the actual storyline--since these relationships directly affect important plotlines. There are already many characters in the books who DO represent the LGBTQ community (Aran'gar and Osan'gar, Ailil Riatin and Shalon din Togara Morning Tide, Elaida and Meidani, Galina and Tarna, Seonid Traighan, just to name a few), and the books are already racially diverse.  If they're going to change things just for the sake of changing them, they may as well just make up an entirely new story and forget about WoT.

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I am fully expecting changes, how could I not?  Written word and screen are two entirely different mediums.  And, of course, it has been a full generation since the first book was written.  As long as the spirit of the story is intact I am all for this long-awaited adaptation. 

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We know episode six is at least using a working title of "The Flame of Tar Valon," taken from Suian's introduction in book 2. I don't think that means it's going to actually delve into book 2. It just means Suian will likely be introduced earlier.

 

I think that's reasonable to expect, if Rafe wants to increase Logain's role in the first season, then we might see him and Elayne, and co (and possibly Min) arrive in Tar Valon, and see Logain's gentling. 

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Hawaii Rod

Posted (edited)

I hope Rafe Judkins doesn't pull a Miles Millar and make the kids from Emond's Field look like the Power Rangers, like Millar did in the casting of Shanarra Chronicles TV show. It sounds like Rafe would like to make the Third Age look more like the Woke Age? Where societies and nations are painted with a modern brush, so that cultures in WoT look more Heterogenous with modern sensabilities, just like the world we live in today, but without the cars...

Edited by Hawaii Rod

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I was so excited to read about Rosamund Pike. I am very skeptical this LGBTQ thing is going to be done tactfully. Nothing like crowbarring something into a show that will ruin it. The books have enough diversity as they stand, follow them and things will be fine for everyone. No need to over-sexualize this series in any direction. 

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Please stop changing characters from our favorite books, comics, etc to 'check a box'. The world of WoT has plenty of diversity as is, so what if not alot of that is shown in the first season or w/e, it'll be shown in plenty later. When we see the White Tower not a small amount of diversity will be presented there as Aes Sedai come from all over. On the sexual preference front and the like, please for the love of god do not change the characters... there's plenty of 'pillow friends' and bi relationships and the like as is.

 

Also the Wheel of Time series as a whole mainly focuses on the three young men; Rand, Perrin and Mat. They are the primary characters of the series, though many others play LARGE parts of the story as well.

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The music is also very important. A song that is specific to the fantasy genre will help to illuminate the plotting and attract new viewers. 

Game of Thrones, had a powerful score, so, may I suggest something like this, for The Wheel of Time:

 

https://youtu.be/tVGprrog_Ww

 

Please, suggest your own, appropriate, musical theme.

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DarkOnesLuck777

Posted (edited)

I agree with many of the comments on this thread. Since the diversity lgbtqia...craze is a relatively recent thing, I am sure there are plenty of YA fiction books blasting this theme. Let us not forget the recent "Wrinkle in Time" movie...I enjoyed these books growing up. I am sad to see Amazon pick up this show as they are the most "woke" when it comes to changing original content to reflect post modern, post christian views. I would want my children to experience the same joy I felt about the world building when diving through these books. I can tell you this series will be banned from our home if they try to to steam roll viewers with GOT level over-sexualization or unsolicited gender disphoria in the main characters.

Edited by DarkOnesLuck777
Wrong words

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2 hours ago, DarkOnesLuck777 said:

I agree with many of the comments on this thread. Since the diversity lgbtqia...craze is a relatively recent thing, I am sure there are plenty of YA fiction books blasting this theme. Let us not forget the recent "Wrinkle in Time" movie...I enjoyed these books growing up. I am sad to see Amazon pick up this show as they are the most "woke" when it comes to changing original content to reflect post modern, post christian views. I would want my children to experience the same joy I felt about the world building when diving through these books. I can tell you this series will be banned from our home if they try to to steam roll viewers with GOT level over-sexualization or unsolicited gender disphoria in the main characters.

I wholeheartedly agree. The book series had those things, but it wasn't in your face. There was gratuitous nudity at times, but I can't recall gratuitous sex. There was blood and death and battles, but I don't recall gratuitous gore. The gender thing was done tactfully and not in your face. If they are that integrated, and those relationships are that normal, would "pride" still be a thing? I don't think so. Personally, I don't care for them to "update" the series. I like the series as it is. But, I understand moving it forward for current audiences. However, they should realize that all these ultra woke shows and movies are getting trashed at the box office and in views. If you want to make an ultra woke show, that is fine. But that is not WOT, and I won't be watching

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Dagon Thyne

Posted (edited)

13 hours ago, Solaren said:

I hope they dont over sexualize the show.  There are a number of scenes for those two in the books that would require partial/complete nudity, most notably the later Aes Sedai testing when they are clad in the light.

Seems they may be planning on making Elayne and Aviendha bisexual, and in love with each other, not just Rand.  They want to do something to appeal to the LGBTQ crowd, and since same sex relationships make up a good amount of the backstory in much of the series, they figure turning the love triangle into a polyamorous relationship could be a good move, instead of having it as a polygamist relationship where three women marry the same man, and share him.   

Edited by Dagon Thyne

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I'm open to change. You can easily make tertiary characters fall in line with some LQBTQ themes. I don't think they can change the main characters indentities so much, however. Gay/Bi/ etc Mat, Perrin, Thom, etc just strays far from the plot. Totally agree with you on the Thom/Moraine relationship though. Always felt those two falling in love was not necessary at all. I hope they find ways to kill off "important" players. One of the most annoying things when I reread is that practically everyone lives to the Last Battle. It takes away from the effectiveness of the Dark. Personally I think allowing Min to die early would be great. And help remove the ridiculous 3 girls 1 Rand plot line. All in all I think your mindset of a "new turning of the wheel" is a good outlook!

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I will be disappointed if they change too much from the books. I expect some story lines to be cut. Perrin should not spend 3 books rescuing Faile. Masema was another plot point that kind of didn't need that much devoted to it. However, the books already have diversity in race, class, religion, belief systems, sexuality, government systems, trade and more. The books fit into the context of today's climate without smashing us over the head with today's social climate. It's ahead of its time. If they add or alter too  much to be "woke" I will be turned off and I DO fit a lot of what people consider under represented and under privileged groups. I have also noted how annoying it is when white, privileged Hollywood types try to shove that crap down under privileged people's throats as if I don't know better about representation and discrimination that I've faced and people like me. 

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Oh boy can't wait for "wokeness" to ruin an American high fantasy. Probably gonna have everyone spewing pc and gender nonsense in British accents.

I have no interest in Rafe's woke lgbtq1+® fan fic bullcrap.

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Daniel

Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, Ariake Shikima said:

I wholeheartedly agree. The book series had those things, but it wasn't in your face. There was gratuitous nudity at times, but I can't recall gratuitous sex. There was blood and death and battles, but I don't recall gratuitous gore. The gender thing was done tactfully and not in your face. If they are that integrated, and those relationships are that normal, would "pride" still be a thing? I don't think so. Personally, I don't care for them to "update" the series. I like the series as it is. But, I understand moving it forward for current audiences. However, they should realize that all these ultra woke shows and movies are getting trashed at the box office and in views. If you want to make an ultra woke show, that is fine. But that is not WOT, and I won't be watching

I just got done with my third re-read and even though this is my favorite book series of all time. It definitely needs an update. WoT is a very progressive book series for how many years it continued on for along with the progressiveness of where it started. Idk if you remember but nudity is a major thing for a few of the WoT cultures. Along with tests for the white tower. Don't forget a very important point in Rand and Aviendha's story line. If that's something that'll prevent you from watching then good. I'd much rather you guys not watch and let Raf and the team do this amazing series justice. If LGBTQ stuff grosses you out. You probably shouldn't re-read the books because it's definitely there and will be in the show. That said if they don't have Lan be somewhat Asian I'm going to revolt. 

Edited by Daniel

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Elessar

Posted (edited)

Thanks for the reflections/insight, Jason (Phoenix).

 

A few thoughts on the 5 points mentioned:

 

 

Pt 1: Adult Content. This has me somewhat concerned. I mentioned elsewhere at DM that I feared they would be overly sexual with GoT-style nudity etc in the WoT series. Sex sells, we all know that, but I found Robert Jordan’s subtlety with regards to the ‘sexual adventures’ of Rand, Min, Elayne and Aviendha a nice change from George RR Martin’s more explicit/vulgar style in this regard. I hoped the producers would follow Robert Jordan’s style for this but am far from surprised they probably are going for more explicit scenes. It’s not a major thing for me but I hope they don’t go ‘overboard’.

 

 

Pt 2: 8-10 episodes, focused on Eye of the World. I hope they go for 10 episodes (pr season) and it covers the book until they are at the Eye, then the chance is smaller I think that it will become an overly simplified, ‘dumbed down’ version of the book which is one of the major fears of many of us here. Let me add, were I producing this tv-show I would certainly have started it with the prologue from Eye of the World, both to stay in tune with the book and also because the emotional impact of the Lews Therin/Ishamael scene would be strong and hard-hitting but also interesting and intriguing for what was to come.

 

 

Pt 3: Expanding Secondary characters...and maybe a few big omissions. With the multitude of characters in the WoT books it is to be expected that many characters are left out, but I do sincerely hope they don’t leave out any of the main characters outside our Two Rivers heroes (am thinking of characters like Min, Thom, Elayne, Galad, Gawyn, Loial, Morgase). Giving f.ex. Logain a bigger role does not bother me so much, it is necessary to alter some things to make a story work on tv/film, but the closer to the books they stay the happier I will generally be. I think GoT managed this balance quite well. If the producers follow the same line, I will be pleased.

 

 

Pt 4: Less Binary Evil. One the one hand what is mentioned there does not bother me much, on the other having the Forsaken/Chosen less ‘pure-evil’ makes me both surprised and a little concerned, unless all it means is that f.ex. the Forsaken will be many-faceted, though keeping their dark, evil hearts and extreme ambitions as in the books.. There is no need to become revisionist when it comes to the Forces of Light fighting the Forces of Evil (Dark One) I believe, this is the main story of the books, never mind that it may seem a little generic to some people. Saying it’s ‘balance vs imbalance’ sounds somewhat vague and ‘out there’ for me. Even if it not entirely untrue, I think the producers should keep the 'light vs dark' at the chore of the series as I believe it is in the books.

 

 

Pt 5: More Diversity. This has me somewhat concerned tbh. If there is any fantasy-series out there which has plenty plenty diversity as it is, it is the WoT – when it comes to race, gender, sexuality, personalities, backgrounds etc. I cannot see any reason why there should be need to amplify this, just make use of the enormous ‘tapestry’ of characters Robert Jordan has already given us. I see no need either to emphasize the LGBTQ or feminism part, it is already a part of the WoT Universe. Practically the whole Red Ajah are lesbians if we are to interpret what Robert Jordan wrote/implied, and think about all the female characters in the WoT, from our heroines to hundreds of Aes Sedai women.. has there in fact ever been a book series with so many strong, diverse, female characters? I highly doubt it. There is plenty to work with there without having a 'girlpower'/feminist agenda.

 

And as for having gay relationships between characters who are straight in the books (say Egwene is now suddenly depicted as a lesbian), that smells of sensationalism and political revisionism to me and will certainly turn me off the show. Moiraine and Siuan had a 'romp' in bed at one time, which does not necessarily make her a lesbian but could open the door for the producers for her to be say bi-sexual, but doing it with a book-written straight character sits less well with me. As for making a white character in the books black/Asian-like I see no need to do so due to the great diversity already in the books, but if they do it I hope it is with a side-character, not one of the main ones. And not to be a bigot or anything, but if Mat suddenly becomes Mandy the transvestite during season 1 of the show, I may have a word or two or three to say about that..

 

I don’t like the tv-series of today being so political, that they change the source material to appeal to modern views on feminism/metoo, race, gender, sexual orientation etc. (Rumours of f.ex. making James Bond more 'feminist' in his views in the coming film due to metoo makes me shudder.. James Bond is James Bond with all his mannerisms in a fictional movie-universe, let him be what he is!). There are more than enough films and tv-series of a more social-realism nature that cater for that. Let the WoT be the WoT, producers - and give us a quality tv-series with book-based integrity, heart and style to love and cherish (ref. Peter Jackson and 'The Lord of the Rings'-movies and also the GoT tv-series I would say), the best way to honour Robert Jordan’s legacy and memory.

Edited by Elessar

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Elgee

Posted

About the only change I would be on board with is losing the "Moiraine gets hooked up with Thom" thing. That just never worked for me at all. Moiraine being gay would work much better, if they do want to change it up.

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