Showrunner Rafe Judkins has confirmed that the first season of The Wheel of Time show will adapt parts of the second and third books. But which parts?
With just under two months until The Wheel of Time premieres on Amazon Prime Video, it’s time to start getting hyped. While many fans are still reeling from the recent news that Barney Harris will be replaced by Dónal Finn as Mat Cauthon in the second season, there are still a ton of reasons to be optimistic about this adaptation of Robert Jordan’s landmark fantasy book series. We’ve gotten a teaser trailer and it looks amazing. And there have been plenty of other teases about what to expect in the show’s first season.
It’s pretty much assured that The Wheel of Time will deviate from its source material in some major ways. Jordan’s masterpiece spans 14 massive books (15 if you count the prequel novel New Spring). According to showrunner Rafe Judkins, when it came time to figure out how to adapt WoT for television, he had to sit down and figure out how to tell the entire tale in a “reasonable number of seasons.” Roughly eight, from what we’ve gleaned of that early calculation.
That alone is enough to set our minds to wondering how Amazon and Judkins might alter or compress parts of the saga. Judkins dropped some tantalizing hints about what lies in store for fans during Comic-Con@Home last month, like this gem:
"Season One will cover Book One, plus some of Book Two and even Book Three. But also not all of Book One, as some of it is in Season Two. Cryptic enough?"
Yes, yes it is cryptic enough…so cryptic that we’re going to spend this article speculating wildly about what Judkins might mean.
The big question on our minds is which bits from books two and three will be included during the show’s first season. So let’s get to the brainstorming. Be warned that there will be MAJOR SPOILERS from this point on for The Wheel of Time novels, specifically the second and third books, The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn.
The Wheel of Time season 1 won’t include all of The Eye of the World
Judkins’ statement is interesting for a few reasons. To start, he talks about how not all of book one, The Eye of the World, is included in the first season…because some of it was moved to the second. So he’s not talking about parts of the book being cut — although there will certainly be some of that — but rather moved to later in the story.
So what parts of the book is he talking about? One of the things fans speculate about most is that season 1 might not include the city of Caemlyn, a major location from the story that we’ve thus far not seen any hint of in the pre-release marketing. Caemlyn is one of the largest and most central cities in the WoT world, and the seat of Queen Morgase Trakand. One of the biggest pieces of evidence that we might not see it (yet) is that so far we haven’t gotten a casting announcement for Morgase’s daughter, Elayne Trakand, or her siblings Gawyn and Galad. Elayne is a central character on par with any of our other leads, and Gawyn and Galad are also major players, but they only appear briefly in The Eye of the World.
Given all that, it’s entirely possible that Elayne, Gawyn and Galad’s introduction could be moved to season 2. Given how many characters the first season is already introducing to viewers, it might be necessary.
Personally, I don’t think that the show will cut out Caemlyn entirely. We know that Basel Gill, the Caemlyn innkeeper who houses our band of heroes during their stay in that city, will be played by Darren Clarke in the show. Of course, there’s always the possibility that Gill is located in another city for the show…say Tar Valon, which looks like it will get a healthy amount of screen time. (In the novels we don’t actually see Tar Valon, the home base of the Aes Sedai sorceresses, until book two).
The other option is that season 1 will end before the ending of the first book. But considering how much ground the show has to cover, and how well that climax works as the fulfillment of some of our main characters’ arcs for that part of the story, this would be surprising.
The Wheel of Time season 1 will include part of The Great Hunt
Now let’s talk about The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn. The second book, The Great Hunt, has a lot of major events that prove hugely important later, namely the introduction of the Seanchan, a people who dwell on another continent and seek to conquer the lands where our main characters live. While the Seanchan are staking their claim on a city called Falme, our heroes split into two main parties. One group pursues Padan Fain, a singularly malevolent character who steals several important magical items. The other goes to Tar Valon to receive training from the Aes Sedai. The eventual convergence of the disparate plotlines is one of the best climactic sequences in any Wheel of Time book.
If season 1 is, potentially, not including characters like Elayne, then I doubt it’ll introduce the Seanchan either. They are a wholly different culture than the ones we get familiar with in the first book, with vastly different costuming and design needs — not to mention lots of visual effects for some of their native creatures. The only way I could see that working is if the Seanchan are introduced in one of the final scenes of the season, as a way to set up the events of season 2.
That knocks one of The Great Hunt‘s plotlines out of the running. What about the others?
We have confirmation that Johann Myers, who plays Padan Fain in the show, was only contracted for one episode this season. Fain is around at the very beginning of The Eye of the World and figures into the Winternight attack on the Two Rivers, so we’re betting that’s his one episode. After that, it’s possible that the magical item hunt could happen without Padan Fain, although it would take a fair amount of reorganizing, so much that we wonder if it would be worth the writers’ time.
This leaves the Tar Valon plotline. This is the one I think will show up in season 1. We know we’ll see Tar Valon in this first batch of episodes; it’s all over the teaser trailer. The trailer also shows us Siuan Sanche, the Amyrlin Seat (the leader of the Aes Sedai), as well as a bunch of other Aes Sedai who aren’t around in the first book. The sixth episode of the season is titled “The Flame of Tar Valon,” which is one of the Amyrlin Seat’s titles. In the books, the Amyrlin Seat isn’t introduced until the opening chapters of The Great Hunt, so her being in the first season at all means parts of that book are being moved up.
But will we only see the Amyrlin Seat at Tar Valon, or will our characters actually visit the city? Perhaps the show will send Egwene and Nynaeve to the White Tower ahead of schedule, which would really open the door to material from books two and three, as there are tons of chapters that follow their journeys as Aes Sedai trainees. Given the extra emphasis the trailer puts on Egwene, I’m leaning toward this idea.
The Wheel of Time season 1 will include part of The Dragon Reborn
As for book three, The Dragon Reborn, well…book three is a bit of a weird one in the overall Wheel of Time story. One of the main characters is barely seen, allowing the rest of the cast more time in the spotlight. In fact, it isn’t until this book that Mat even receives his own point-of-view chapters.
All that aside, there are a few options here. Like The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn sees our characters split into two primary parties which then split further and converge at various points in the story. One group, the group with Perrin Aybara, is searching for someone, but I’m betting that plotline won’t figure into season 1 of the show at all; it’s simply too early in the story for it.
The other group, though, is once again stationed in and around Tar Valon. This plotline deals heavily with the training of Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne, as well as the hunt to uncover the villainous Black Ajah agents within the White Tower. The Black Ajah are Aes Sedai who have gone over to the shadow, and they figure prominently throughout the entirety of The Wheel of Time. Both The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn feature plotlines that revolve around them in one way or another, but they are only mentioned a handful of times in the first book.
If there is a major part of The Dragon Reborn that will be included in The Wheel of Time‘s first season, I’m betting it has to do with either the training of our fledgling Aes Sedai characters or with introducing the Black Ajah.
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention one last option…
Will Tel’aran’rhiod be in The Wheel of Time season 1?
The third Wheel of Time book familiarizes us with Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams. Tel’aran’rhiod is a concept that isn’t really fleshed out in the novels until The Dragon Reborn, when Egwene is learning more about the dream world and her own unique powers. However, Tel’aran’rhiod is in the first novel, The Eye of the World…it’s just that we don’t know it’s Tel’aran’rhiod yet.
The dream world is a crucial part of both Perrin and Egwene’s long-term stories. So whether we get a full explanation of it in season 1 or not, it would make a lot of sense for Judkins and his team to set it up from the start. Once again, considering the extra focus the show seems to be placing on Egwene, I wouldn’t be surprised.
A final note about New Spring
Before the wheel turns and we part ways, there’s one final thing I want to discuss: the prequel novel New Spring. It’s interesting that Judkins hasn’t mentioned New Spring given that we have confirmation that at the very least one of the Aes Sedai from that story will feature in the show’s first season: Kerene Nagashi, played by Clare Perkins.
New Spring is an interesting case in that it’s the origin story for Moiraine and Siuan Sanche. It shows how they begin their search for the Dragon Reborn, how they first become aware that the Black Ajah exist, and how Lan becomes Moiraine’s warder. We know that Keira Chansa will be playing a younger Siuan in the show, so it’s entirely possible that we’ll be getting at least some parts of New Spring this season. The show could include flashbacks to some of those events, or reference them in some way. But I wouldn’t bet on it spending a large amount of time on the events from New Spring given the massive amount of material it already has to cover.
And there you have it: theories aplenty. What are your thoughts? Which pieces of The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn do you think will appear in The Wheel of Time‘s first season? Let us know down in the comments!