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Werthead

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  1. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. He'll be writing a regular column called Adam's Wheel of Television. 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. Principle photography – or “the actual filming” – began today on Amazon Prime’s Wheel of Time television series. The shoot is expected to run through to the end of May 2020, with months of post-production to follow. When we will see the show on air is still open to question, but late 2020 to early 2021 seems reasonable. Showrunner Rafe Judkins took to social media to both celebrate the news of filming beginning but also commemorate the passing of Robert Jordan, who sadly passed away on this day in 2007 at the age of 58. Robert Jordan had been diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis, an exceedingly rare blood condition (affecting only one in a million people), and had spent almost two years undergoing experimental treatment. During this time, he had mustered as much energy and creativity as possible to create an outline for the ending of The Wheel of Time in the form of writings, draft chapters, dictation on cassettes and copious notes, which was later used by Brandon Sanderson to deliver an ending to the series. Whilst millions of Wheel of Time fans worldwide remember Jordan on this day, they also have questions about the television adaptation. Last week, the cast shared their first group photo, taken in Prague on the day of the read-through of the script for the series. Notable by his absence was the actor playing Thom Merrilin, who hasn’t been announced yet. This led to a storm of controversy and online hot takes as people furiously debated if the character would appear in the show or if he’d been cut. To be fair, a large number of other characters expected to appear in Season 1 also haven’t been announced, even those that Rafe Judkins has confirmed are in the script. According to Judkins’ previous comments, both Tam al’Thor and the false Dragon Logain Ablar will be in the show and neither actor has been confirmed yet. Assuming that Season 1 adapts at least The Eye of the World, we can also reasonably be expecting Min, Elayne, Gawyn, Galad, Elaida, Morgase, Gareth Bryne, Geofram and Dain Bornhald, Jaret Byar, Padan Fain, Agelmar, Ba’alzamon, Basel Gill and Mordeth to be cast. Sure, a few of those characters might be held back until Season 2 to save money (Min, Elayne, Gawyn and Galad have to be front-runners here), but certainly not all of them, and some of them fulfil important plot functions: without Padan Fain or Ba’alzamon, Season 1 doesn’t really have a primary antagonist, and calling the second episode Shadow’s Waiting without including Mordeth would be a bizarre choice. [See our article "5 WoT Characters likely to have Expanded TV Roles"] Thom Merrilin’s status on the show is likely to be leaning more towards a recurring role than a regular one. We know that episode two is called Shadow’s Waiting, which implies that the Shadar Logoth adventure will take place in the second or third episode. In the novel, Thom drops out of the story a few chapters later, which means that Thom will be leaving the series less than halfway through the first season (which is expected to run for 8-10 episodes at the lower end). Hollywood crediting practices can be complicated, but generally speaking, a studio will announce the regular cast for a new show first and with a great deal of fanfare. On this basis we can expect that Barney Harris (Mat), Madeleine Madden (Egwene), Zoe Robbins (Nynaeve), Marcus Rutherford (Perrin) and Josha Stradowski (Rand) will get a billing as series regulars, with Rosamund Pike (Moiraine) and Daniel Henney (Lan) probably getting the much-coveted “featuring” or “and” credits given to actors with a lot of experience and credits to their name. The status given to secondary and recurring cast varies dramatically from project to project. In many shows, recurring and guest stars (actors in several episodes of a series but not all, or just one) would not be announced ahead of time at all. For Game of Thrones, HBO were keenly aware of the media and fan interest in the property and announced even relatively minor Season 1 recurring characters like Lysa Arryn and Ser Hugh of the Vale with a surprising degree of fanfare back in 2010. It’s unclear which route Amazon will take, although I suspect their marketing plans to announce something new about the series every month means we will get some more news before the show launches. This does lead back to a bigger question though: is Thom even going to be in the series at all? For fans, cutting Thom is unthinkable. He shows up near the start of The Eye of the World and is a useful font of knowledge and information for the young characters (and exposition for readers) about the wider world, especially useful given Moiraine’s secretive nature. He has his own secrets, which in time give us more information about the Aes Sedai, the Red Ajah and the royal family of Andor, not to mention his involvement in the Cairhienin civil war in the second book. In the third book he reluctantly teams up with Mat Cauthon once again and then remains an active part of the story until the very end. As one of the original “seven samurai” who sets out from the Two Rivers at the start of The Eye of the World (with Nynaeve “making the eight,” so to speak, when she catches up with them in Baerlon), Thom is an iconic character from the books and, for many fans, cutting him should be as ridiculous an idea as dropping Legolas from the Fellowship of the Ring. That said, once the initial anger passes, an argument could be made that Thom doesn’t do a huge amount. He provides a fair bit of exposition, sure, but that could be provided through other characters, such as a more garrulous Moiraine. He spends entire books of The Wheel of Time as a background character, and even sits out the eighth book altogether. He does have some more important things to do at the end of the series, but for some readers these can come a bit out of left field and other characters could perform the same tasks. That’s not so say that I honestly expect them to cut Thom as a character, but when it comes to the core cast, he’s arguably the most disposable. They could also split the difference and keep Thom, but not introduce him until the TV show reaches the events of The Great Hunt or even The Dragon Reborn. With shooting now underway, I wouldn't be surprised to see leaks and more hints getting out about other castmembers, so we may find out if Thom is in the show, one way or another, soon. As ever, we will find out in time.
  2. Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's new TV show blogger. He'll be writing a regular column called Adam's Wheel of Television. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for 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. Casting for Amazon’s Wheel of Time TV series is in full swing. The latest to join the Two Rivers party is Korean-American actor Daniel Henney, who has been cast as al’Lan Mandragoran, the Uncrowned King of Malkier, Diademed Battle Lord of the Malkieri and an all-round, fan-favourite character. In many respects, Lan is the closest analogue Wheel of Time has to Aragorn, the uncrowned King of Gondor in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings and memorably played by Viggo Mortensen in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation. Like Aragorn, Lan is the heir to a fallen lineage, who constantly questions himself and his abilities compared to his legendary ancestors. However, whilst Gondor still exists and Aragorn knows he can reclaim his throne when the time is right, for Lan he has no hope. Malkier has been destroyed utterly by the Shadow, absorbed by the Great Blight, and there is little to no chance that it will ever rise again. Instead, Lan throws himself into his war against the Shadow, spending the first twenty years of his life in fierce combat training with Bukama Marenellin, the sole survivor of the band of Malkieri warriors who bore the two-year-old Lan from his homeland. Lan becomes skilled in the art of swordplay, eventually being acclaimed a blademaster, and declares war on the Blight. He wages his personal war for years, becoming respected and honoured for his drive. Only one event takes him away from his mission, when the Aiel cross the Spine of the World and the nations unite at Tar Valon to fight the Battle of the Shining Walls. When Lan’s mentor Bukama is killed as a result of political machinations in Kandor and the manipulations of the Black Ajah (as related in New Spring), he is offered the chance to join Moiraine Damodred in her mission to find the Dragon Reborn and avert the end of the world. He agrees, becoming her Warder, and for two decades they scour every corner of the Westlands for any sign of the Dragon Reborn. Finally, destiny and the Pattern call them to the town of Emond’s Field in the Two Rivers district of Andor. Lan’s obsession with defeating the Shadow leads him to train the young men from the Two Rivers in the art of combat, but his mission acquires a new focus when he meets Nynaeve al’Meara, the village Wisdom, a resourceful and skilled young woman with a singular determination. Lan is a major character in The Wheel of Time, although one (as with many) who sometimes sits out entire books in the series. His arc from The Eye of the World through A Memory of Light is one of finding hope and something to live for, and for finding reasons to live beyond pure revenge. Daniel Henney is an interesting choice for the role. Born in Carson City, Michigan to a Korean mother and an Irish-American father, he was a star basketball player in high school and then a professional model. His career took him all over the world, but his South Korean heritage saw him picking up a lot of work in the Seoul film and TV industry. He crossed over into acting via the Korean TV drama My Name is Sam Soon, where he played Dr. Henry Kim. An acting career in South Korea beckoned, but was complicated by the fact that Henney spoke no Korean. He had to learn his lines phonetically whilst frantically cramming language lessons. Several successful roles in South Korea followed before he got his first acting gigs in the USA in 2009, on the TV series Three Rivers and in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he played Agent Zero. His US career has included guest star roles on Hawaii Five-0, Revolution and NCIS: Los Angeles, and voice-over roles in Big Hero 6 (which he reprised for the spin-off TV series) and Mowgli. He is best-known for playing FBI Special Agent Matt Simmons in the Criminal Minds franchise, appearing in 47 episodes to date. He also played the same character on the spin-off Beyond Borders, for a further 26 episodes. Henney was initially reluctant to appear on a long-running US drama series with a heavy workload (especially as he remains active in Korean TV and advertising), but was impressed by the scripts where his character was positioned as both an action hero and also a more sensitive family man in a successful relationship. He felt that Asian roles in US dramas tended to be less traditional and was happy to play a role that in the past would have gone to Caucasian actors. At 6 ft 2, Henney is certainly tall enough to fill the imposing shoes of Lan Mandragoran and his acting resume is nothing to sniff at, including comedy, action and romance. At 39 (40 in November) he is also a reasonable fit in age for Lan, who is 44 or 45 when the events of the first book begin. Henney is also a big book fan (his favourite author is Japanese author Haruki Murakami) and a major geek, complete with his own He-Man action figure collection. He is also a huge dog fan, with his dogs making frequent, unexpected appearances on his YouTube Q&A videos. Henney's videos are interesting, as they show a lot of thought and contemplation has gone into his career choices and how he embodies the characters he's playing. It'll be interesting to see the inevitable video where he talks about the decision to take on the role of Lan. So we now have our Lan Mandragoran, and I'm sure all Wheel of Time fans wish Daniel Henney well in the role. But there are still a lot of characters still out there to be cast, including Tam al'Thor, Thom Merrilin and Padan Fain, and we'll be waiting to see if we get any more casting tidbits in the next few weeks. Until next time, farewell.
  3. There's a technology called Digital Noise Reduction (DNR). When used properly, it removes grain and pops from old film stock to make for a better image when it is scanned in HD or 4K. It's very useful for getting old movies and TV shows upgraded to modern high-def. When used badly, it goes haywire and starts "smoothing" everything on screen, making it weird and soft-looking. On people, it can remove a lot of the detailed features, especially of the skin, and make people look slightly off-putting and fake. Fox used it particularly badly on their recent HD remastering of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (especially in Season 1) and it has that effect. If you fiddled around with it and reduced its effect to just a character's face, it could achieve the same fate as the Aes Sedai ageless look. We know now from RJ's notes that yes, Taim was Demandred and, yes, it was changed because the fans figured it out. So that could be kept the same, and Shara kept firmly off-screen altogether.
  4. Here's my attempt at such a map or diagram of the White Tower.
  5. My initial thoughts for a somewhat more realistic cast list: Rand – Louis Hoffman (from the Netflix series Dark, although he's not that tall but they can always work round that) Lan – Daniel Wu (from Into the Badlands) Egwene – Ally Ioannides (also from Into the Badlands); Camilla Mendes from Riverdale I thought was also a good match Nynaeve – Jessica Henwick (from Game of Thrones and Iron Fist/Defenders) Moiraine – Morena Baccarin (from Firefly and the Deadpool movies) Thom Merrillin – Miltos Yerolemou (from Game of Thrones, where he played Syrio Forel) Padan Fain – Callum Keith Rennie (from Battlestar Galactica and Jessica Jones) Lanfear – Eva Green or Katie McGrath (the latter from Merlin and Supergirl) Elaida – Maria Doyle Kennedy (from Orphan Black and The Tudors) Galad – Bradley James (from Merlin) Of course, some of these are more likely than others. Into the Badlands seems to be doing really well for AMC, so those actors are likely locked in there for a long time to come.
  6. EotW is very reminsicent of LotR in tone and structure, and it makes a lot of people bail out of reading the whole series because they think it's a Tolkien rip-off. It was one of the more challenging questions as to how they were going to address that in the TV show. They're not massively going to change the story or anything around, so it sounds like they'll address it through emphasis, shifting the early POV from Rand (which pretty much destroys any tension as to the identity of the Dragon Reborn) to Moiraine. To what degree they do that is unclear though, as apparently Episode 1, Scene 1 is still Rand and Tam on the road into Emond's Field. It might not very different at all to the books.
  7. Red Eagle are Producers In Name Only. They'll have a production credit, in recognition for the work they did in setting up the original deal with Sony, but that will be it. Judkins was cracking jokes about Billy Zane, so his opinion of the Red Eagle infomercial appears to be fairly low. GRRM wrote multiple episodes of the TV show, had limited casting approval, acts as a creative and visual consultant, had (and still has) final say on any spin-offs that are made and got both a big chunk of cash up front and a slice of the revenue the series makes, not to mention benefiting in the form of 73 million (and counting) extra books sold as a result of the TV show being made. His deal was exceptional by TV standards and unusual (because he used to work in Hollywood so knew what kind of deal to make). I suspect Harriet's deal will be significantly less generous, mainly because of the legal mess the situation ended up in. However, they do say they will be using Harriet as a consultant (and not anyone at Red Eagle).
  8. These are the only characters mentioned explicitly by the showrunner. So of course Perrin will be in the show and I think we can assume most major characters from the books will be. Where characters will likely be cut is around the level of Weiramon, Dobraine and about 80% of the Aes Sedai named or mentioned in the books, unless their casting budget is ten times higher than Game of Thrones.
  9. Huge Q&A with the showrunner today. Main take-aways: The books will not be mapped 1:1 to the TV show seasons. This sounds like the approach taken by The Expanse (which took all of Season 1 and then 4 episodes from Season 2 to adapt Book 1, then 8 episodes of Season 2 and 5 from Season 3 to adapt Book 2 etc) and the new His Dark Materials show (which will adapt 3 books across 5 seasons). Episodes will be 1 hour long each. There'll be more than 5, but definitely less than 14, seasons in total. Amazon hasn't greenlit the project yet but there's been positive sounds in the last few months (which is why he's been allowed to do the Q&A). New Spring may be adapted as well, possibly as a special of some kind once the series is fully underway (could be a good way of keeping Moiraine and Lan's actors interested when they're not doing much in the main series). The TV show will be a faithful adaptation of the books, but will of course have to condense some characters, storylines. Apparently the "latter middle" section of the series may be compressed a bit more (i.e. PoD through CoT, surprising nobody). Judkins notes himself as a Lady Stoneheart fan (from Game of Thrones) and was sorry to see her cut from the TV show, but these things are sometimes necessary. He wants to cast Rand and the Aiel as "tall gingers" if possible. On LGTBQ+ representation, there'll be "pillow friends out of the wazoo." How channelling will be handled is still being discussed, but Judkins liked how the magic was done in Doctor Strange and Avengers: Infinity War, which may serve as a template. Trollocs and other Shadowspawn may be a combination of CGI and prosthetics, but he feels that prosthetics is better for both actor and viewer immersion. Billy Zane will not be reprising his role of Ishamael from the Red Eagle informercial. Judkins is aiming for the quality level of the LotR movies or GoT, definitely not Shannara. Brandon Sanderson, Harriet and the rest of Team Jordan will advise on the show's development, some more than others (I suspect Brandon will be busy with his own books to do a huge amount, though). Confirmed characters: Rand, Egwene, Cenn Buie (if less than in the book), Logain (in an expanded role), Tam, Bela, Padan Fain (who'll be less obviously a villain), Faile, Mat. His favourite Forsaken are Graendal and Moghedien, so it sounds like they'll be in as well. Unconfirmed characters: Aviendha, Min, Elayne. Judkins notes that the four-way relationship from the books isn't really viable for the show and will be changed. He refused to confirm if this means that some of these characters will be merged or cut. I suspect this is the most controversial take-away from the Q&A. My guess is that the characters will still be in the show and Rand may be sequential relationships with them, but won't be in a polygamous relationship with all of them at once. His favourite character is Egwene and his favourite scene is Dumai's Wells. His least favourite character is Faile, but promises she'll be awesome on the show. In terms of tough scenes to write, Tel'aran'rhiod is proving problematic (mainly as they won't know how it's going to be depicted until the vfx department comes on board). There'll be less braid-tugging and dress-smoothing than in the books. There will be one braid-tug in the first episode though. No decision yet on filming locations. He hopes the budget will be large enough so they can visit the most appropriate locations around the world.
  10. Sorry, I was talking about what the actual TV writers are doing. They've already confirmed that Episode 1 will cover the introduction, Winternight, battle for Emond's Field etc, and Episode 2 will then be Shadar Logoth (and presumably Baerlon as well, although they may indeed cut that or speed through it).
  11. At the moment we know that Episode 1 ends with the team leaving Emond's Field and Episode 2 takes them through the Shadar Logoth encounter. So whilst they're going fast, EotW is clearly going to cover 6-8 episodes at the lower end, not 2 or 3. The question at the moment is if they are working towards 1 book per (short) season or 2 books per a standard 12-13 episode season.
  12. Yes. The showrunner, Rafe Judkins, is actually posting new information every (or almost every) Wednesday on his Twitter and Instagram feeds. So far we know that Sony is making the show, Amazon are funding and will show it and the series has two writers in the bag already: Judkins (Agents of SHIELD) and Amanda Kate Shuman (The Blacklist). They have completed writing the first two episodes: 101 will be called Leavetakings and 102 will be called Shadow's Waiting. Judkins has also confirmed four characters from the books (so far) will be in the TV show: Rand, Mat, Tam and Bela. Presumably most of the main cast from the early books will be in the show, but I expect to see massively less characters than are in the books later on (we're not going to get 150 Aes Sedai characters who are pretty similar to one another). They've also said (today) that they will be looking for a fairly diverse cast to reflect the books: East Asian-looking actors for Shienar, ginger-haired actors for the Aiel Waste etc.
  13. The showrunner is making occasional Twitter and Instagram posts confirming he's working on the script.
  14. It's worth noting that previously options have been taken out, but never before has the option been taken up and the project gone into active development. So this latest project is certainly by far the most serious and has gotten much further than ever before. It's not 100% greenlit yet, but almost.
  15. Amazon just picked up a Conan TV show, which suggests that they may be open to helming more than one fantasy show at a time. Although of course now that means they need to be willing to work on three simultaneously for WoT to have a shot.
  16. @Werthead At this stage, largely irrelevant. Until Sony confirm their partnership with a network (or go it alone), there's probably not much for him to do on WoT (I assume a pilot script was written ages ago). Benioff and Weiss did this on GoT, after writing the pilot script they broke off and did other things for a while (like working on the Halo movie that never got made) until HBO greenlit GoT and they snapped back to that. They even wrote some movie treatments and other things whilst working on GoT, and have started development work on another HBO series. Uncharted has also been in development for years with multiple writers and script drafts attached, so this will be less of a writing from scratch job than another pass at a pre-existing draft. Much less time-consuming. Depending on your workload, a scriptwriter could do it in a week or two.
  17. Because they can't stop the actors ageing? That's going to be a problem for WoT. In fact, even moreso. It's possible to very likely that the show will have 18 month gaps between seasons assuming a high production quality. Assuming 7 seasons, it'll possibly take 10-11 years to get the show done. So any actors they start with in their late teens or early twenties will be in the late twenties or early thirties by the time it's done. There's no realistic way around that. Sony have been talking about making their shows themselves and then selling the finished product to networks, rather than teaming with a network in the first place. That would make sense as they nearly did that for the Dark Tower TV series, so WoT would be a logical way of handling the situation. I know Sony felt burned on their experiences working alongside AMC on Breaking Bad which led them to that idea, but then again their experience on Better Call Saul has been a lot better so they might have retreated from the idea. But certainly as part of the process of selling the show to a network, they'll need completed scripts, a series bible, an outline for the series overall, notes on the characters etc. The books I believe are his original paperbacks from the early 1990s. I think it's his way of showing he's been a WoT fan for twenty plus years and is old-skool (i.e. he didn't hear about the books five minutes before he was asked to helm he project). His experience so far has been in network TV: My Own Worst Enemy, Chuck, Hemlock Grove and, most recently, Agents of SHIELD (fortunately since it stopped being unwatchable). Not an outstanding CV but not an embarrassing one either.
  18. That information seems in line with what we know. Sony are taking the project seriously - far more seriously than Dark Tower, thankfully - but they have not joined forces with a studio/network production partner yet, so that is the biggest problem to be overcome. My understanding is that, frustratingly, Sony were very close to signing a deal with Amazon but Amazon then asked for a delay. During that time the Lord of the Rings prequel project came up and Amazon went with that instead. Them making Wheel of Time as well as LotR is unlikely, as I understand it, so the WoT project went back out to the networks. This has caused problems because a lot of the other studios have signed up other fantasy projects in the meantime. So to recap, HBO are out because of GoT and the spin-off project; Showtime are out because of the Kingkiller Chronicle prequel project; Netflix are probably out because of The Witcher; AMC likely won't provide a big enough budget; Starz are less likely to commit because of their immense expenditure on American Gods and Outlander; Paramount/Spike already have Shannara; Amazon have the Lord of the Rings series; SyFy don't have enough money (they had to cancel Dark Matter to afford Nightflyers) and so forth. There are some interesting options on the table. Apple TV really need a big flagship project to spearhead their invasion of the TV space and don't have one yet. Netflix may feel that the relative small scale of The Witcher means they have scope and time for a bigger project as well. FX are a pretty good possibility, especially now they've been bought by Disney. Disney could also decide that WoT is a good match for Hulu or their new adult streaming service launching in 2019 (with a new Marvel show and the first-ever Star Wars live action TV series). Starz may decide to plump for a third big series, especially with American Gods' future in doubt. We may also see CBS All Access getting in on the act. They have deep pockets but they also need more content for the streaming service: Star Trek Discovery is popular but one show isn't going to keep interest going. Another interesting piece of information: Sony have been quietly developing a TV series based on Joe Abercrombie's First Law fantasy series. First Law is much darker and grimmer than WoT, so this may be a sign that Sony are interested in developing multiple fantasy projects with different focuses. But there must be a concern that if First Law moves forward, their focus may shift to that. I don't believe that's likely, as WoT was far more expensive (eight figures for the rights) and has a far higher global profile, but it may be something worth bearing in mind. On the plus side, WoT showrunner Rafe Judkins has tweeted that he is working on the books for the adaptation, which may be a sign that something is going on behind the scenes. There were no 30+ actors playing the teens. The oldest age difference I believe were Kit Harington and Richard Madden, who were both 23, playing 14-year-olds who'd been canonically aged up to around 18 in the show. Of course, the show has been on the air for 7 years so Harington is 30 now, but they explain that in the show by having the series cover a lot longer period of time than the books.
  19. This was the last season of House of Cards anyway, they'd not quite pulled the trigger on it because they've been talking about doing a spin-off and were apparently debating on whether to make it a whole new show or continue it under the same name. This is why the current round of controversy is a slight headache for Netflix rather the major catastrophe it would have been two seasons back. I don't think you can do WoT frugally, at least not do so and do it any justice. It doesn't need $100 million a season from the off, but you can't do it for much less than the $6 million an episode that GoT started with back in 2011, and if you look at the first season now it's painfully obvious how much less money they had.
  20. My thoughts on what the Lord of the Rings TV series from Amazon means for Wheel of Time. In short, Amazon was really the best shot for a WoT TV show. If Amazon is going with the better name recognition of Tolkien, it leaves WoT without a really obvious home. I don't believe that AMC will be capable of giving the show the budget it needs, HBO turned down Tolkien because of their commitment to the GoT franchise so they're never going to touch another fantasy series for many years to come, and Showtime have signed up to do the Rothfuss prequel TV show instead. Starz and Hulu I think are a long shot. Netflix might be the only card left on the table, but they've got themselves into some debt issues and are looking for a lot of cheaper shows going forwards (cancelling Sense8 and House of Cards due to their expense) with only one or two expensive tentpoles, which going forwards will be Stranger Things and maybe Altered Carbon (depending on how the first season does).
  21. The Aspect-Emperor Book 4: The Unholy Consult When is the ending not the ending? Thirty years ago, when Scott Bakker first conceived of The Second Apocalypse, he planned to conclude it with the events that, finally, conclude this novel. Some time later he reflected that this might not be the best idea, and drafted a plan for (at least) two further novels to wrap up the saga in a different manner. Having finished The Unholy Consult - the seventh and most revelatory novel in the series to date - it is hard to say if this was a good idea or not. For those who read this series (so far comprising two sub-series, the Prince of Nothing trilogy and the Aspect-Emperor quartet) for the warring philosophies, SF ideas such as genetic engineering and quantum theory seen through an epic fantasy prism and the way it inverts so many fantasy tropes to the point where they unhinge, I suspect they would have seen nothing wrong with Bakker dropping the mike on the final line of this book (and it's a humdinger) and walking off into the sunset. I suspect other readers, such as those who enjoy the brainy digressions of the series but still read it as an epic fantasy with cool magic and a mystery-laden storyline, would be more horrified at the prospect. Whilst dropping the series at this point would doubtlessly be more artistic, more bloody-minded and more, well, Bakker, it'd also be, from a mundane narrative standpoint, less satisfying. Rewinding to the start, The Unholy Consult picks up in the tumultuous aftermath of The Great Ordeal, which left many of the major characters of the series apparently dead or missing. The novel wastes no time in resolving most of these questions and getting the story back on track. Other events fall away and the story begins to narrow in on Golgotterath as the Great Ordeal, battered, bloodied and compromised by the horrors it has been forced to adopt to survive, finally arrives in the shadow of the Golden Horns. Other factions soon join them and there are moments of reunion as characters compare notes on their experiences and realise that their prior assumptions about what they face may have been erroneous. From there the book explodes in a titanic battle sequence as Ordeal and Consult finally clash and we realise, in the grand tradition of Tolkien (whose influence lies deeper on this series than I think is often appreciated), that both forces are not what they once were, that evil has degraded and is lesser than it once was even as good faces the same predicament. The battle is long, arduous and packed with individual moments of epic heroism and foul reversals. Bakker, for all of his philosophical preoccupations, is good at blowing stuff up and sets to blowing stuff up in this battle with wild abandon. But the battle outside the foul Ark is matched by another struggle deeper within it, as intellects and ideologies clash in a struggle of viewpoints which is even more important. Indeed, seasoned fantasy readers may be struck by the structural similarity between The Unholy Consult and A Memory of Light, the final novel in the Wheel of Time sequence, of the great "last" battle of swords and sorcery being matched by a battle of arguments and semantics that may decide the fate of the world. Bakker is considerably more concise here (in a novel less than half and only a bit more than a third as long as A Memory of Light) and of course roots his arguments in considerably more complex concepts. The Unholy Consult is a striking novel, remarkable for its conciseness given the magnitude of the ending it depicts (similar to The Thousandfold Thought, the conclusion of The Prince of Nothing trilogy which opened this mega-series, Bakker knows how to drop an effective ending without milking it for a thousand pages) and for the way the author handles his revelations. This series is rooted in mysteries built atop mysteries and it'd be easy for the author to refuse to address them (like Lost), or give a nonsensical, pat answer you suspect they thought of only five minutes earlier (like the latter Battlestar Galactica), but Bakker shows no fear in simply squarely answering questions with answers reached a long time before. He resolves thematic and character arcs begun fourteen years ago in The Darkness That Came Before and if you figured out the answer to a particular mystery in a late-night discussion on the Three-Seas, Westeros.org or Second Apocalypse Forums five years ago, well done. Also, hold tight because here come another three revelations which you really didn't see coming. There are some revelations here that will have the reader nodding in approval, others that will be mystifying and several that are surprising in both their content and their elegance (one, extraordinarily important, answer to a vital series-spanning question would even border on the mundane, but the implications of the revelation are far-reaching). Other issues go resolutely unaddressed: those hoping for Bakker to drop a Dungeons and Dragons Manual of the Planes-style explanation of how the metaphysics in his universe work should brace themselves for disappointment, although some concepts are further elaborated upon. The author is careful here to reveal some more of the recipe for this story without giving you a full list of the ingredients. Events build in the novel to a frenzy of battles, arguments and, yes, death swirling down, and Bakker sticks the landing. Epic fantasies have a rather horrible tendency to blow the ending but The Aspect-Emperor gets the payoff it deserves, more The Lord of the Rings and The Crippled God rather than Magician's End or The Born Queen, and epic and impressive it is. You not so much read the finale as survive it, and in the nerve-shredded aftermath have to ask the question which will drive a lot of discussion in the months and years ahead: "Now what?" The Unholy Consult (****½) is perhaps less elegantly structured as a novel than some of its forebears, with not much in the way of build up before it starts smashing things asunder (from that perspective, this books feels the lack of The Great Ordeal immediately before it far more keenly than vice versa), but it makes up for that with tremendously satisfying character moments, Bakker's best-ever action scenes and, in the final chapter, possibly Bakker's most powerfully effective pieces of prose to date. The novel will be published on 6 July 2017 in the UK and on 11 July in the USA. Note: The Unholy Consult is a relatively short novel, clocking in at around 450 pages. The rest of the book is made up by an encyclopaedic glossary - an expanded successor to that found in The Thousandfold Thought - a collection of maps and two short stories previously only available on Bakker's website: The False Sun and Four Revelations.
  22. It will not be HBO. HBO are not interested in competing with themselves and they are lining up a GoT spinoff show to replace GoT once it is done. I agree on the prosthetics approach. It would be simpler and look better. The Draghkar and Darkhounds will need to be CGI already, making the Trollocs non-CGI will make life easier for everyone. Plus the prosthetic orcs in the LotR trilogy are far superior to the CG orcs in The Hobbit movies. Outlander was big, but not "the biggest-selling series in its genre for 50 years" big, which is what WoT is. That was Variety who made that mistake, not the original press release from Sony. Variety are a trade website, they're not involved in making the show. LotR has been in continuous print since 1954. It would easily still be in print without the films. In the 1990s there was even a big boom in sales of LotR, driven by the explosion in popularity of the rest of the genre, before the movies came out. LotR has sold over 400 million copies and about 50-60 million of that came after the films. This is a pretty illogical statement. Red Eagle were a rights-handling firm set up to buy the rights from RJ and sell them on for a credit and a profit to recoup their initial investment. If everything had gone according to plan and there'd never been any acrimony with Team Jordan or the fanbase, Red Eagle would still not be expected to have any creative input on a TV show or movie. That's not how rights-handling companies operate and it's certainly not how movie or TV studios work. They will put their own team in charge, unless maybe the rights-handling company had lots of TV creatives with experience in the industry already (which REE don't). There seems to be a tug of war over the narrative here which is a bit pointless. Red Eagle have done what they set out to do, retain a stake in the project and its success to their benefit. However, it sounds bad after thirteen years of them saying they'd be involved in making the show that they won't have much to do with it (even though they never were going to have much to do with it) so they're trying to say they will have creative input (which arguably they will: they'll probably have the showrunner's email address and can pipe in some ideas every now and then). However, they won't be making decisions and they won't be approving anything, and they will have zero creative control over the process. It's silly because, actually, everyone has come out of this with something they wanted: REE get a credit and some money (and, lest we forget, they set up the original meeting with Sony back in 2014 which probably led to this deal), fans get the knowledge that REE won't be intimately involved in the project and the TV show gets made and everyone can move on.
  23. I think it'd be decent on AMC. But they will be cutting a lot of stuff out of it. I don't see how they can afford showing much of the One Power or more than a few Trollocs on screen. OTOH, this might be the project that convinces AMC they need to stop being so cheap and start putting some serious money into their shows, which can only be for the good. I agrees effects and money are not everything, but you can't make a show like WoT on a low budget, it'll look terrible and will put off people from watching it.
  24. Red Eagle will on board as Producers In Name Only. They didn't win the legal battle last year, there was an out-of-court resolution. The traditional outcome in cases like this is that they would agree not to hold things up by continuing legal action in return for a slice of the pie. So they'll get a credit and a relatively nominal payment and won't be involved day-to-day (Judkins - who was a contestant on Survivor in 2005! - will be the primary writer and producer and they rarely take on board advice from rights-holding companies). Much depends on the channel that picks this up. If it's FX, Starz, Netflix or Amazon, I think it could do very well. If it's AMC - and I'm hearing that AMC may have the best shot or first refusal but are not a lock - I would be more concerned. AMC are tightwads in how much money they spend and Wheel of Time needs 14-16 episode seasons and at least (bare minimum) $5 million per episode to start with (a lot more later on). AMC, on the other hand, have refused to give a budget increase to The Walking Dead from its already-low budget of $3.2 million for over four years despite it being one of the most popular TV shows on the planet, which is ridiculously cheap of them.
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