In an article about "Wheel of Time," a girl magically transports paper planes out of her window and into her neighbor's.

The Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills

The Amazon Prime adaptation improves upon the Robert Jordan classic.
August 29, 2023
7 mins read

SPOILERS for The Eye of the World and season one of “The Wheel of Time”

With any book-to-screen adaptations, there must be changes. It is only natural that when transferring mediums, the story needs to change to fit its new form better, even if the adaptation is nothing like the original. In the case of the Amazon series, “The Wheel of Time,” this is for the best. Released in 2021 and based on Robert Jordan’s novel series of the same name, five individuals seek to find the Dragon in order to defeat the Dark One, a benevolent evil entity.

The first book in the series, “The Eye of the World,” was released in 1990, making it 31 years between the book and the show’s release. The show is based on the events of “The Eye of the World” but also contains aspects of the second novel, “The Great Hunt.” The show has many significant differences from the books, sometimes feeling like a different story. An adaptation doesn’t have to be exactly the book, and sometimes it is even better for it to be different, so long as it doesn’t lose the heart of the story. In considering “Wheel of Time”, the novels would not translate well if there were to be an exact adaptation. With 14 books in the series and the first one running to 814 pages, it makes sense that they would cut out some things.

Format changes how a story is told. A direct book adaptation for The Wheel of Time would not make for good on-screen media. There is too much to cover in the span of the series. It makes sense that the TV show would make changes in an attempt to condense the extensive texts. With these adjustments for the digital format, the story is a lot clearer. For example, not knowing who the Dragon Reborn is earlier on in the show adds mystery. It makes it more worthwhile to learn about the reincarnation of the ancient champion destined to either save or destroy the world.

Some of the added backstory, such as with Mat and Perrin, are quick ways to add the drawn-out, slower-paced character development in the books. This also helps with setting up for later possible adaptations. In the series, it is revealed that Perrin accidentally killed his wife, a storyline that was not in the books. This added layer sets viewers up for Perrin’s later emotional conflicts and turmoil. The addition of Perrin’s late wife in the adaptation opens up the door for some drama, depth and hesitance to his developing relationship with Faile, who becomes his wife later on in the book series.

Similarly, Mat’s newly added backstory sets up his character and spurs on his development and new conflicts earlier in the story. In the book, he doesn’t have the flashback or plotline where he tries to look out for his younger sisters. This addition portrays him as more caring and heroic than he may seem, which will play out later on throughout Mat’s character development. He was a bit flat in the beginning of the books, so this is a way to generate more depth to his character from the start. The books utilize monologues and lengthy descriptions to form the characters. These added story elements and scenes allow for the TV series to show more in a limited time.

Not only did the pacing change, but the order of events as well. One prime example is the book’s prologue with Lews Therin—an older incarnation of the Dragon, and his wife.t His introduction was moved to the end of the show, which allows for the audience to get to know the main characters and follow the unraveling mystery of the Dragon Reborn. The show’s creators changed the sequence of events, but the series still delivers similar story-related information.

Min is also introduced later in the series than she is in the books, not appearing until episode 7 of the show. Many of the travel scenes were also cut for time-consciousness so the show can focus on deeper character development and pacing rather than their numerous travels.

Many other scenes were added to the show as a way to communicate the information better in a TV show format and to set up for potential future seasons. Take Nynaeve channeling the ways in episode 7 for instance. This never happens in the book, but it sets up for the future of her power and character.

The many changes serve the 8-episode format, as it leaves room for further development in later seasons. At times, it may seem unrecognizable from the source material, but the story is still there and the heart of the characters remain prevalent. Consider it a different telling of the same story. While it’s a bit disappointing to fans of the novels that the show seems so different, these changes are not without cause. The story needed to be told in a new way, otherwise, the show would likely drag on and not fit an on-screen medium. Cut scenes, added scenes, pace changes and all else make it so the adaptation is well, adaptable.

With season 2 releasing September 1, 2023, there will likely be many changes to anticipate, but they may be changes necessary to make a lengthy novel translate to the screen. A new medium is a way of exploring a different lens to the story, a different format to explore the story from a different angle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Don't Miss