The Wheel of Time author Brandon Sanderson apologizes for Perrin's arc on the TV show

Brandon Sanderson, who finished writing The Wheel of Time books after original author Robert Jordan died, is open about not liking some aspects of Amazon's TV show. "It's not my fault. I tried."
Marcus Rutherford (Perrin Aybara), Gary Beadle (Elyas Machera) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video.
Marcus Rutherford (Perrin Aybara), Gary Beadle (Elyas Machera) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video. /

The Wheel of Time is a 14-book strong epic fantasy series written by Robert Jordan, and finished by author Brandon Sanderson after Jordan died in 2007. In 2021, Amazon Prime Video debuted a TV series based on The Wheel of Time. It's definitely a thrill to see this iconic story play out on the small screen — overall, we're enjoying the series and looking forward to season 3 — but from the beginning, some fans have taken issue with the changes showrunner Rafe Judkins and his team have made to the source material, and that includes Brandon Sanderson himself.

For example, in the very first episode of the show, the character of Perrin Aybara — a mild-mannered smith living in the sleepy country town of Emond's Field — accidentally kills his own wife, Laila, when the town is attacked by beast-like Trollocs. In the books, Perrin does not have a wife, and he doesn't kill anyone during the Trolloc attack. This was a big sticking point with fans, and Sanderson didn't like it anymore than they did.

"Sorry about Perrin on the show," Sanderson told a crowd of people at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, per PopVerse. "It's not my fault. I tried. Oh, how I tried."

Rafe Judkins has explained why they changed Perrin's story like this. “So I talked to people, when we first started the adaptation, about like, ‘What are things you didn’t like about the books?'” he said in 2021, when fans were first up in arms about this alternation. “One thing that pretty consistently came up was people felt like they didn’t really know Mat or Perrin, especially, until later in the books. You can’t really afford, in a television show, for one or two of your seven leads to not be characters that really pop until season four, right? (Laughs.) So one of our big tasks was to make sure that each of these five kids from the Two Rivers, you could understand the kernel of the story that they’ll face in season one — and through the whole series — in that first episode.”

"For this character that’s extremely internal — you really never get to hear his internal monologue that out loud in the book — we give him a moment at the beginning of the series where you understand why he, across the course of the series, has such a struggle with violence."

You can decide for yourself whether that's a good enough reason to give Perrin a wife he doesn't have and then have him immediately kill her. Sanderson understood what Judkins was trying to do, but suggested another idea for getting across the same message. "I presented a completely different thing to do with Perrin that would still get what they wanted," Sanderson told the crowd at C2E2. "[I]nstead of the first big event that happens, [my idea was] what if he wounds Master Luhhan? He's worried about the rage inside of him - you can get all the same beats without doing the thing that you did, and then he also won't be traumatized for the entire first season. And he can actually go on fun adventures with friends."

Brandon Sanderson_Photo by Nazrilof (high res)
Brandon Sanderson. Photo by Nazrilof. Image courtesy of Tor Books. /

Brandon Sanderson blames "forces at play" for why his Wheel of Time ideas didn't get through

Obviously, this idea was rejected, although apparently Judkins "took it all the way to the higher-ups and fought for my version of it, and they said no."

Sanderson made a few references to shadowy figures handing down edicts about The Wheel of Time show at Amazon. "There's just lots of forces at play," he said, "I'll just say that."

"There are certain things. Certain forces moving. You know that Jeff Bezos, at one point, said, 'I want Game of Thrones, buy it for me.' And they were like, 'You can't have Game of Thrones,’ and he was like, 'Buy me something that is my Game of Thrones' And there are certain forces at work."

I'm not surprised to hear that Sanderson suggested a way to change Perrin's arc, nor am I surprised that his idea was rejected — even though he wrote the final three Wheel of Time books, the TV show is its own entity and he's not in charge. I am a little surprised to hear him whisper about it like there's some conspiracy afoot...What "forces at play" is he talking about? Who above Rafe Judkins has the power to veto this idea? Head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke? Is it even possible that Judkins took the idea all the way up to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos? Imagine Bezos, a man worth over 200 billion dollars, looking Judkins in the eye and saying, "Perrin must kill his wife. I have spoken."

Somehow I doubt it, but Sanderson's words have fired my imagination. The author did add that the crowd shoudn't "rag" on the creators, shouting out star Rosamund Pike and saying that "there are some really good writers on that show" who were "working very hard to give you a fantastic experience."

The third season of The Wheel of Time is on the way, although we don't have a release date as of yet. "Certain forces" will let us know when they're ready. In the meanwhile, here are some other times Brandon Sanderson has ragged on The Wheel of Time show:

The Wheel of Time co-author Brandon Sanderson harshly criticizes season 2 finale. dark. Next. The Wheel of Time co-author Brandon Sanderson harshly criticizes season 2 finale

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