Amazon seems intent on becoming the new home of prestige fantasy television. A Lord of the Rings series that chronicles the adventures of young Aragon was announced a while back and is expected to air in 2021. But that’s not all. The streaming service plans on bringing another popular fantasy saga to the screen, which is based on what is arguably the most popular series of fantasy novels outside of the literary universes of J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin.
According to Deadline, Amazon has greenlit a series order for The Wheel of Time, which is based on Robert Jordan’s best-selling novels. Rafe Judkins, who produced ABC’s Agents of SHIELD, will write the series and serve as the showrunner. Right now it is unknown how many episodes there will be or when it’s set to air, but when it does, fans of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings will have another show in the same realm of entertainment to satisfy their mythological needs.
This project is also a dream come true for Judkins. As he told Deadline, “For so many people, including me, this book series has served as a world to escape to, to lose yourself in, to devour and inhabit completely. And I couldn’t be more honored to be the one finally bringing that world to life on screen, for old fans to lose themselves in all over again and new fans to discover for the very first time.”
The story follows Moiraine, a mage from an organization called the Aes Sedai, who have the ability to channel a form of magic known as the One Power. The story follows her as she embarks on an epic journey with five young men and women to aid in the fight against apocalyptic evil. She believes one of them is the reincarnation the Dragon Reborn, a champion of the world who will stop a being known as the Dark One from ushering in an age of darkness.
That’s the cusp of the story, but it’s also a generalization that doesn’t even come close to encompassing everything in the saga, a series which spans 14 novels, the majority of which are upwards of 700 pages in length and packed with world-spanning adventures. There’s a LOT of material here, folks.
Centering the story around Moiraine is the best route to take, especially at the beginning. She’s the driving force during those initial adventures that bring our main protagonists into the fold as they come-of-age and discover their destinies. However, eventually, the series is going to have to branch out and decide which other characters receive some focus.
In the books, there are several strong protagonists who end up on their own epic quests, some of which could be the focus of their own entire Amazon spinoff series. Ultimately, though, this beating heart of the story is Rand al’Thor, who’s the central part of the prophecy that predicts a final showdown between the forces of light and darkness. But even focusing predominantly on him would be doing the viewer a disservice as the source material chronicles multiple character journeys. The key is to condense the show into something that covers the main bases while still showcasing the vast splendor and mythology of this universe.
Of course, deciding what to cut is where it gets tricky. Jordan created an enormous world of rich mythology and populated it heavily. Reading these books as a nerdy teenager was a joy to get lost in, but it was also frustrating since they contain some unnecessary fat. That said, one person’s fat is another person’s favorite part of the story. Some of the best characters and quests in the books are of secondary importance to the main mission at hand.
It’s no secret that Amazon is looking for their own Game of Thrones. With The Wheel of Time, they have an IP that they can milk for several enjoyable seasons and create prequels and spinoff shows from afterward, just like HBO is doing with their hit series. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this franchise could last for over a decade, and that’s with the main stories from each book being stripped down to the essentials.