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The Wheel of Time

Madeleine Madden is catapulted onto the world stage in a sprawling, entertaining new fantasy from Amazon Prime.

There’s captivating scenery, action aplenty, romance and magic -and you even get Madeleine Madden in a break-out role.

Yes, there’s a lot to like in Amazon Prime Video’s new saga, The Wheel of Time.

Based on best-selling books by Robert Jordan the big budget 8 part series is money on the screen and effortlessly entertaining while we await Lord of the Rings in 2022.

At the hub of this wheel is Rosamund Pike as Moiraine, a member of the powerful all-female organisation called the Aes Sedai. Accompanied by her sword-wielding warrior companion Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) she is on a quest to find a reincarnated dragon/ child, who has the prophesied power to either save the world or destroy it.

Arriving in the small medieval town of Two Rivers she encounters a band of young men and women who could include the chosen one. They are Egwene (Madeleine Madden), who has inherited the ability to speak to the wind, handsome young archer Rand (Josha Stradowski) -with whom Egwen has a thing- blacksmith Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris).

Moiraine is treated as an outsider in the village until the vengeful trollocs wreak havoc on the innocents and her magic fireballs help save the day. But it’s clear that dark forces are upon them so the group begin a quest to the White Tower, endeavouring to stay one step ahead of the trolloc army.

Along the way there will be tests and threats as the young followers discover their true selves and hopefully which one is the reincarnated ‘Dragon’ (I’d tip that to be the season finale?).

Rosamund Pike is worlds apart from her last Prime Video outing, I Care a Lot, in a dominant, if cold role, but it’s nice to see it is women who rule this universe. Aussie Madeleine Madden (Mystery Road, Picnic at Hanging Rock) as the juvenile lead, and affecting a largely British accent, is fantastic as Egwene. She tumbles into rivers, shows vulnerability and strength and makes a matinee debut onto the world stage here.

Joining them in swooning scenes is dashing Josha Stradowski (High Flyers), drawn to Egwene but with a boyish temper. The other roles of Perrin and Mat Cauthon aren’t afforded quite as much screen time or character development in early episodes, but you get the feeling there is plenty of time in this wheel for that. There is also colour-blind casting throughout this world, which never feels imposed.

The troupe are surrounded by period extras, CGI threats and stunning vistas (Prague landscapes are almost worth the time alone). Collectively, these make the series an easy watch as it ticks plenty of fantasy boxes. This doesn’t automatically place it alongside seminal work such as Game of Thrones but you get the feeling it certainly hopes to achieve such.

That’s going to depend on script above all else and it’s too early to know if this will ultimately land as high quality Young Adult entertainment or something that commands true respect.

Nonetheless, you’ll surely enjoy this wheel as it turns through magic, fear, romance and gallantry.

The Wheel of Time screens Friday at Amazon Prime Video.

7 Responses

  1. Having watched the first 3 episodes of ‘Wheel of Time’ this show does have the potential to be the best fantasy / sci-fi offering this year in my opinion, even though it does contain familiar fantasy tropes and melodrama. The overall production values are high which adds further to the viewers interest, the story uses adult themes (violence) which have been missing in recent times for this genre, I cant say Wheel of Time is bingeworthy TV but it is a welcome addition to our screens especially if you are a Lord of the Rings fan, it will make an interesting comparison when the new Lord of the Rings series arrives, maybe next year.

  2. I’m sure that ‘Wheel of Time’ book readers will be able to correct me but this series looks very ‘Lord of the Rings’ to me, hopefully this new series will fulfill its potential and just be true, as far as any screenplay adaption can be, to author Robert Jordan’s creative vision. Fantasy genre fans do need a new fantasy favourite since GoT has finished, more recent offerings have been lacking suspense with Netflix’s ‘Shadow & Bone’ as an example.

    1. Yes I agree I think more along the Lord of the Rings than anything else in comparison, in a much expanded apon world due to the number of books, I read them all many years ago now which is probably good as I won’t be comparing what I remember too much as being different from the books as a lot of people who have read the series a number of times are doing . Will be interesting to see how this comes to life over a number of seasons.

  3. I read the series to book 8 (which was then brand-new) the summer I broke my leg. Liked it but the prospect of however many more then (IIRC it was then intended to be a 12 book series) to read turned me off.

    My dad saw a few adverts for Amazon Prime/WoT on SBS a while back. Last time I was speaking to him he’s pretty keen on seen the series. Might be a case of “wait until Xmas, old man, so we can watch it together” but at least it will buy me enough time to re-read the first book after 20-something years.

    That said I cannot wait to see this world realised. Bring tomorrow on!!

  4. Well 14 books worth, if you include the prequel, and prologues, the last 3 completed by Brian Sanderson from Jordon’s notes after he died. It tries to be high fiction but its a rather slow moving collection of bits of English medieval mythology and history with fantasy cliches. I didn’t make it to book 5. They didn’t confirm who The Dragon Reborn was until the end of Book 3, but it’s not really concealed. Not sure what pace Amazon’s series is going to move at.

    1. It sounds like they will be using parts of the first 3 books in this first season, most likely to move the story along, and the reveal you’d hope in season 1 as the story is really more about characters growth over the journey than who is the dragon reborn (which of course is what the story ultimately revolves around).

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