Roll up, roll up…it’s time to try your luck on the wheel of time. It may sound like a cheesy arcade game, fit with fat donkeys trudging along the beach and screaming kids tugging at ankles, but this is no Butlins. Welcome to the dystopian and matriarchal world of The Wheel of Time.
If you’re not familiar with the book series by Robert Jordan (we don’t blame you – it consists of fourteen pretty meaty volumes), allow us to recap. Cast your mind back, wait…forward, wait…backwards and forwards to the distant past and the distant future. Time moves strangely in this world, so whilst the characters may look like they have been plucked from Tolkien’s middle-earth, there are notable modern advances which set this fantasy franchise apart. The most significant of which is the refreshing switch up of gender roles. It’s feminism at its finest, and we have the privilege of Rosamund Pike as the leading lady in the Amazon adaptation of the book series.
With an already well-established, and well-received plotline behind it, plus the bounteous bank of Bezos pumping up the production values, the show was feted as the next Game of Thrones. But does it live up to its prodigal potential?
“It’s got brio, it’s got style and it’s got enough portentous voiceover book-ending events to make everything feel high stakes”, Lucy Mangan writes in The Guardian, a notion which is seconded by The Financial Times’ Fiona Sturges, who says that the show’s “usual markers of modern swords-and-sorcery epic” are present, i.e. “enough violence and faux-mysticism to keep genre fans happy”. However, Sturges goes on to warn that “convincing human interactions are harder to find”. Hugo Rifkind, writer for The Times agrees, suggesting that “WoT has completely missed the essential brilliance of GoT”. “Yes it’s polished”, he continues, “yes it means well. But it’s dreary as hell.”
However, with a second series reportedly already on the cards, time isn’t quite up for the series, and we have high hopes that the wheel will spin in its favour. In the interim, it’s a Must for fantasy fans, and a maybe for everyone else.
First shown November 2021.