The Wheel of Time: TV series discussion (open spoilers; comparison to the books allowed)

Jordan wrote New Spring in 2004 and he wrote The World of the Wheel of Time in 1998. There was also some semi rewrites of the first two books as YA fiction. I’m guessing it’s New Spring that you’re remembering since he only published one more book between it and his death but it hardly slowed his every two year pace for releases.

I thought New Spring was fun back story but hardly material to the overall arc but since it was published between two full length novels released two years apart I never thought of it as anything but more.

My wife and I have never read any of the books. We watched the first 3 episodes and we like it quite a bit. We’ll definitely continue watching week to week.

Some of these criticisms are fair. The pace of the series drops dramatically around books 6-10, with book 10 in particular being an absolute black hole. This is generally referred to as “the slog”, and while some hard-core fans claim to not be bothered by it, most people think those are the weakest books in the series. And not only does the pace drop, but more and more and more characters keep getting introduced, and the secrets that there are clues to get way less interesting and satisfying.

All of that said, it does have a few things going for it:
-I think RJ’s writing is, at its best, lyrical and beautiful.
-The worldbuilding is fantastic, and the plotting of the first five or so books, before things really get away from him, is just masterful. There are two big multi-book secret reveals in the first five books that are clearly hinted and planned from page 1 or book 1 which are just done perfectly, better than any other such I’ve ever read
-The main characters are distinct and engrossing

Obviously good writing is hard to objectively measure. But I certainly think this is a good bit better than generic middle-of-the-road fantasy writing:

“And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died. And men cried out to the Creator, saying, O Light of the Heavens, Light of the World, let the Promised One be born of the mountain, according to the prophecies, as he was in ages past and will be in ages to come. Let the Prince of the Morning sing to the land that green things will grow and the valleys give forth lambs. Let the arm of the Lord of the Dawn shelter us from the Dark, and the great sword of justice defend us. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.”

I have taken two runs at the book series, and each time faltered and failed at Book 7. I don’t know why that book in particular, other than realizing that I had stopped caring about the plenitude of characters and side quests that had been introduced. So, a TV series is a good alternative for me, even if they do change the plot lines… i’m assuming I’ll eventually get to some resolution of the overall plot line.

As I’ve mentioned before, I gave up at 7 too. 20 years later, I said “fuck it”, re-read the first three and them jumped right to the last three, skipping four books along the way. I have no regrets. Brandon Sanderson, IMHO, is a better writer than Jordan ever was, and he gave the series a finer ending than it deserved.

This is one of the reasons I’m so excited for the TV show. I love the characters and the world but those books are hard during every reread. I was hoping for the same story and characters just tightened up for a TV show which could take those books down to a half season at most.

As you say, good writing is hard to measure, and that may be better than generic middle-of-the-road. But boy oh boy does it not hit me in the way that the authors I like hit me; it’s definitely the sort of thing that I think of as owing far too great a debt to Tolkien.

De gustibus and all.

My biggest problem with the books was sometimes it would take an entire chapter to dismount a horse. So far the show seems to have fixed that problem.

I liked the books well enough. I’ve only read them once, and that was straight through a few years ago.

I definitely got the sense they’re trying for a Game of Thrones vibe, and it isn’t really there. In my opinion, GoT’s first season was one of the best seasons of any show ever, so lots of room to still be entertaining without being that good.

Sorry to hear the actor playing Mat is leaving, as his has been the most interesting performance so far.

Look, some male writers can clearly not write credible female characters. Tolkien basically completely skipped an entire gender other than a couple minor token appearances. Jordan on the other hand made the overwhelming majority of his characters female and he couldn’t write a credible female character to save his life. His world building and lore is one of the best in the fantasy genre, but I can’t call his writing good when he’s so damn bad at writing women.

I always felt the same way, but what’s odd is I was a little bit active in the WoT early internet fan community and such, and I would say for fantasy epic series it had the biggest percentage of female fans of any series I can remember in the 90s, these are genres that often seem to have predominantly male fanbases. I always felt like I’d be annoyed or even offended by how Jordan portrayed women if I was a woman, but his series was very popular with a big fanbase of female fans.

Maybe it’s just because it’s a sub-genre of fantasy where female characters with significant importance in the story are relatively rare, so just having them on offer attracted the fan base. Or maybe it’s that a lot of women liked the way Jordan wrote women, and as an old man I have no clue what women look for in fantasy novels.

It’s 100% this, representation is important. At least he tried.

I’ve been thinking about the show a lot and I just am confounded by some of the choices made. I get that there have to be things cut. I was surprised the Tinkers showed up in E3 for they might have been one of the first things on my cutting room floor, for example. But I just don’t get some of the changes. The one that just makes me the most wtf is probably Perrin’s wife. As she isn’t a book character, book readers aren’t going to care too much about her too soon. We know she’s got to be a dead woman walking. And she had so little to do and no time to develop for show-only people to care about. What’s the point of creating an entirely new character just to watch her die horribly? Yes, I know that’s going to be a character development thing for Perrin, but you can’t convince me it couldn’t have been done in another way, a way that wasn’t a fridging.

Episode 4 was quite excellent. That ending scene especially. Just a great action sequence between the Aes Sedai and the fake Dragon’s forces.

Same here. Sorry for the actor, but I think that type (Anakinish-looking) will be damaged goods for at least another generation.

So, as someone who never read the books, but enjoyed the GoT series, would you recommend it?

If you enjoyed GoT for the world building, the plot and intrigue, and deep and complex story, sure.

If you enjoyed it for the set design, the gratuitous sex and violence, and clearly defined good vs evil storyline, then probably not.


Well, i really did enjoy the set design and overall production values. I didn’t feel it had a “clearly defined good vs evil storyline”, i thought it featured some people who were evil, and a lot of others who were flawed in various ways. I kinda like clearly defined good characters, but don’t need them. I do need sympathetic characters. If i hate all the characters, i don’t enjoy a work I enjoyed the gratuitous sex, but it wasn’t the draw. I disliked the gratuitous violence, but it didn’t drive me away.

Its good fun fantasy tv, that’s all there is to it.

So far, and I haven’t seen the 4th, there is something a little off about some of the sets. They are just a bit too obviously CGI. Maybe that’s just jaded from having seen really good CGI, but there were definitely a couple spots where it didn’t look very good.

OTOH, they actually did film on location in some fairly beautiful areas, so there are some nice panoramic views from time to time.

There were some people who were evil, no doubt. But there was also the whole White Walkers thing, pretty much pure evil.

In WOT, there is the “Dark One” who certainly portrays the entity of evil, and has minions who follow him in his evil ways, but it’s a bit more complex than that. Been forever since I read the books, so it’s hard to go into more detail, and I don’t know how much of it gets into the show, so it may be irrelevant, but many of them were more fallen heroes than actual villians.

There are no unflawed characters, but there are a few that are consistently on the side of doing what they believe to be the best for their people/kingdom/world. That’s as close to “good” as any of us realistically get, anyway.

There were romantic relationships and even sex in the books, but certainly not in any sort of graphic detail. I think it was along the lines of, “and they went into the tent together…” “Next morning…” I don’t know if the show will be more or less explicit.

A whole lot of people do die in WOT, some of them in some fairly unpleasant ways. I think the show has been a bit more graphic in some of this than the books were, but it’s still no Tarentino slaughterhouse of horrors.

I thought the 4th episode was by far the best yet. I’m still enjoying it, but I’m wondering how they’re going to compress what became such a dense and meandering story in the books. Hopefully they’ll figure out how to cut out all the chaff.