Amazon's Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series Coming in November

Is he specifically Asian (or whatever Asians are called) in the books?

So, fourteen books to cover and this season is only six episodes long? I understand Jordan was heavy on the verbiage, no way this covers the entire first book, right? Or were the first books shorter and he got long winded later?

I’m strangely looking forward to this, despite not liking Jordan as an author. I see the showrunner worked on some Agents of SHIELD and Chuck, both of which I enjoyed. He also had a hand in the show Hemlock Grove, which I liked, but apparently no one else has ever watched.

My favorite series of books ever. I also got one of his books in hardback signed by him. I’ve literally spent decades wondering what a series of movies or a TV show would be like.

I am absolutely certain this will disappoint me no matter what but, eh.

He’s not specifically not Asian, if that helps.

It’s a fantasy world. The races and cultures there don’t always have exact Earth analogs.

Lan is frequently described as tall and stone-faced, with “chilling blue eyes”. He has brown hair greying at the temples, usually worn long and held back with a leather band.

A tall, blue-eyed Asian might work just fine for that description. If Daniel Henney wore colored contacts I think he’d be a great casting choice. Unfortunately, it looks like they decided to ignore one of Lan’s most notable physical features.

Still, I’ll care more about how the actor plays the role than anything. Jason Momoa played my favorite version of Conan of Cimmeria, and that character also had the wrong eye color. (Though I think overall he looked closer to how Conan was described in the books than Schwarzenegger did.)

Of course it’s helpful to remember that a book series is adapted to television or film. They’re not trying to reproduce everything from the books exactly as it was written. Even as a massive fan this doesn’t bug me.

(They better get Perrin’s wolf-eyes right though dammit.)

Yep, that does help, thanks.

For those of you that have read the books, what do you think of the casting? Anyone in particular stand out as bad? Are uber-fans going nuts over anything?

I hated it.

To be fair, tWoT was my life for two decades. When the series was finally finished by Sanderson, I actually cried at finishing the last book; I can probably relate the general details of any one of the 10,000 named characters in the series. In short, I’m an insufferable Wheel of Time uber-nerd.

I am probably destined to be unhappy no matter what, but in watching the trailer, my least favorite part was the myrddraal. Second place goes to… the waygate. What the hell is the purpose of having changed the look of that? It makes me fear that the Ogier are being excised (this trailer and some casting announcements are the extent of my information regarding the TV series).

Well, the most jarring thing about the casting is the diversity of the people of Emond’s Field; from a lore perspective, the whole schtick behind it is that it is so very far removed from the world at large; for over 2,000 years, it has been an isolated backwater. One of the major plot points is how one character’s mother was an outlander, which is nearly unheard of (no spoilers, this is basically page one stuff) and it makes him stand out in the area just because his coloration is slightly different (darker skin, reddish hair, light-colored eyes, as opposed to everybody else’s).

Easy enough to handwave away (or ignore), and the world at large has huge amounts of diversity, so beyond that, I’m more interested in how the actors will portray characters than anything else. There are small details that are fucking annoying to me (again, I’m an uber-nerd on this, so take it as the usual basement-dwelling neckbeard whining that I’m sure it sounds like); like Perrin having a fucking beard. He doesn’t have a beard. None of them have a beard. IT’S PART OF HIS DEVELOPMENT AS A CHARACTER THAT HE GROWS A BEARD (because his romantic interest likes beards).

Lan is Shienaran, and as Alessan notes, Shienar is very heavily influenced by daimyo-era Japan; castle-dwelling warriors with a love of poetry.

The Lan casting is the one I’m most worried about. Physically menacing and tough as nails is how Lan is generally described. The guy they cast doesn’t seem to fill enough space.

I’m not a fan of the multiracial casting. Mainly because a major story point revolves around Rand not looking like the people of the town he grew up but looking like people over there. Generally, each kingdom is a race so I think it would have been better to have people linked to the various kingdoms. Like having the Aiel black or the Boarderlanders Russian or Northern Asian.

I was a little disconcerted by the red Ajah in the woods but the mixed ajahs in the white tower looked good. I’m not sold on the bits of the one power we saw in the trailer but I could see how they got to that image from the complex weaving of threads described in the books.

So far I think Perrin looks the best since he could be a blacksmith. I also thought Matt and the dagger looked tight. It was hard to pick things out of the trailer because it was quick and things don’t necessarily look like I’d expect. I totally missed there was a way gate in the trailer.

Fun Fact: Gary Gygax of D&D fame was incensed that they cast Schwarzenegger in part because his hair was the wrong color for Conan. I think how closely an actor matches the description from the source material doesn’t matter a whole lot. Hugh Jackman was too tall to be Wolverine, Tom Cruise was too short to be Jack Reacher, and they let Vivien Leigh play Scarlett O’Hare even though she wasn’t even Southern!

I think anyone who is invested in the actors having some resemblance to the characters from the book are likely gnashing their teeth at this point. Emond’s Field is supposed to be on the ass end of nowhere and most of the people rather look alike. But the diverse casting makes Emond’s Field look a lot more cosmopolitan than it actually was. I don’t think it’ll get in the way of the story though.

It doesn’t bother me that Emond’s Field is cosmopolitan. Rand being an outsider was a plot point but a pretty brief one. Once the kids leave their home (and it doesn’t take all that long, relatively speaking) they are exposed to the whole world, and that plot point is somewhat moot.

What’s more important than Rand not looking like the other villagers, and a more long-lasting part of the story, is who Rand does resemble. (I’m not being specific because spoilers.) And that plot line can still work if they want to incorporate it.

I think it also helps to remember that they are guaranteed to not include all the different plot lines from the books. There are a lot. I’m sure there will be characters either not included, or dramatically changed. That’s inevitable. And some of those changes might even make things better, or at least work better on the screen than on paper.

So I’m open-minded, at least until I watch it and undoubtedly find something to piss me off. (I know that will happen, I just hope it won’t happen too often.)

I agree with this, which is why I’m not upset by the multiracial casting. If Rand doesn’t get constantly confused for a different culture (race?) and once he’s with the new culture blend in physically but not culturally lot of interesting developments will be removed.

I agree. In any adaptation of a book to motion picture I do not expect the creators to adhere to the original 100%. In addition to having to hire real life people to fill these roles, changes will be made for pacing, time constraints, budget, and to cater to the audience’s sensibilities. If the Emond Fielders, Lan, and Moiraine had all been cast with white actors I suspect many audience members would have cried foul and the show would get attention for all the wrong reasons. And as you point out, at the end of the day it’s a minor point and they could still have Rand being different with the red hair and his height if they want.

I know I don’t need all the different threads from the book to be included. It’s been a while since I’ve read some of the earlier books, but I know there were times when I let out a heavy sigh and thought to myself, “Are you seriously introducing another %# character?”

It would take 20 years to include every plot thread in a TV show and like we’ve talked about even for fans of the books the series bogged down for several books which would be several years of TV time. I think of TV as a retelling of the story not a duplicate.

I will disagree with you on the adding of characters though. I enjoyed all of the characters and that’s why I still reread the series. I think it make it feel more like a world and less like 5 friends go on an adventure. Each place and person has their own culture and interesting things happen when they interact. I also think it’s fun how some minor characters that might not even be worth having as more then a thumb nail sketch in other works have a huge character arc, like Talmones.

I’ve forgotten so much about these books that I couldn’t tell which characters I was supposed to recognize. Doubtless someone will have some annotated video up if I poke around on YouTube.

But The Wheel of Time only has 2782 distinct named characters!

I’ve only read The Eye of the World (I know when to drop a book series like a hot potato), but I know Moiraine should be just 5ft and change. But in that group shot, she’s the same height as Lan.

Yep, Lan should be as tall as Rand, and one of Rand’s defining characteristics is that he is abnormally tall, and one of Moiraine’s defining characteristics is that she is actually fairly short, even for a Cairhienin (who are generally shorter in stature than most lineages).

I don’t think the casting is nearly as “diverse” as you seem to think it is. Rand is clearly white (as is Moiraine). All the other Emond’s Fielders are significantly darker skinned than he is. So he will definitely stick out. Assuming EF isn’t also peppered with dozens of other extremely-pale-skinned people, then Rand will 100% stick out and everyone else will look at least somewhat of-a-kind, particularly to the typical American eye, if not to a really expert ethnologist.

Yes, EF is not the typical generic-European-village that so many fantasy stories are set in. But it’s also not just “open casting call, race irrelevant, because woke”. (The closest exception to this among announced casting might be Tam, who is played by the same guy who played Roose Bolton in GoT, who is pretty clearly white… but he could certainly look old and grizzled enough, or possibly have his backstory changed some-but-not-a-ton, for his physical appearance to fit into the story just fine.)

Anyone who is curious about the main characters, headshots and a discussion are here (minus Lan, who was announced a bit later):

I wouldn’t say Barney Harris (Mat) is any darker skinned than Josha Stradowski (Rand), never mind significantly. I think that perception is just coloured by his darker hair and beard.

The guy playing Matt doesn’t look darker to me than the guy playing Rand. Emond’s Field is supposed to be a backwater little village where nothing happens, few Emond Fielders ever go further than Watch Hill, and where the annual visit of an itinerate gleeman elicits excitement. Emond’s Field is not the type of place where a variety of phenotypes converge and party among themselves.

It’s not a typical generic European village? I pretty much got the impression from the books that Emond’s Field was a pretty generic European style village. They even have a holiday where they dance around a maypole. Personally I think it was “open casting call, race irrelevant, because woke” and I’m fine with that. The production would have been raked over the coals online had our plucky band of adventurers been depicted as they were in the book.