Wheel of Time News! Opinions! Casting Suggestions, Revisited!

OH EM JEEPERS, y’all, it’s actually happening.

That’s right: the long-optioned rights to the TV adaptation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic fantasy series have been officially ordered by Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television, to premiere on Amazon Prime Video at… er, some point.

I mean, it’s vague, yes. And things could still crop up as obstacles. BUT STILL. This is a giant step closer to what all we WoTers have been woting I mean wanting. And dreading, yes. But mostly wanting.

But that in itself isn’t solely what inspired me to write a post about this announcement; it’s also about the direction of the TV series that the Variety article implied. One which I found exciting, to say the very least.

And what is that, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Or rather, quote at you:

Set in an epic world where magic exists but only women can use it, “The Wheel of Time” follows Moiraine, a member of the shadowy and influential all-female organization called the “Aes Sedai,” as she embarks on a dangerous journey with five young men and women across the world.

Oh, does it, now?

Art by Dan Dos Santos

Basically the article very strongly implies that, at least to start, Moiraine will be the protagonist of the TV series, rather than Rand. It should surprise precisely no one that I find this possible female-oriented reinterpretation of WOT to be both intriguing and delightful.

Part of this, of course, is Sony and Amazon being opportunist tappers of the zeitgeist: with all the current bullshit going on in the world, depictions of powerful women pwning men are a, shall we say, selling commodity to a non-insignificant portion of the population right about now. A population portion which most definitely includes yours truly. Just about anything that would provide such a refreshing palate cleanser for reality, even if we have to resort to a fictional fantasy world to get it (sigh), is a-okay by me. In fact, if we could skip right to the scene in The Eye of the World where Moiraine dominates the shit out of a bunch of self-righteous over-entitled Whitecloak jerkbros, that would suit me just fine right about now.

So there’s that. But on a more purely “narrative aesthetic” level, I am open to the idea of shaking up a bit of the more formulaic aspects of WoT, especially in the early books. I mean, yes Joseph Campbell, yes honoring the tradition of epic fantasy Farmboy Messiah Protagonist, but there’s nothing saying you can’t switch things up a bit by telling things from Genderswapped Gandalf’s point of view for a while, amirite?

Plus, making Moiraine the focus early on, rather than Rand, could help the TV series sustain the mystery (for those not familiar with the books) over which of the Superboys is really the Chosen One in TEOTW—possibly better than the novel did (because honestly, the book didn’t really sustain that mystery very well at all, did it?)—which would actually constitute an improvement over the original.

I am aware, naturally, that there will be some fans who will not be thrilled by this possible reinterpretation of WoT even a little bit. Some for purist “faithfulness to the source material” reasons, some for more misogynistic jerkbro-y ones.

To the former I say: I get where you’re coming from, I do. But consider: there’s no way WoT is making it to a visual medium without enduring fairly significant alterations of some kind, so you’re kind of already scrod on that one, dude. If it has to change, at least it might change interestingly.

To the latter I say: get bent. I have no fucks left for the likes of you these days.

And of course, there’s always the possibility that Variety has just got it dead wrong, and “female-driven” is a massive overstatement of the TV series’ focus. Wouldn’t be the first time, for sure. That will make me sad, though.

But either way, yay! A TV series! That is actually happening!

Which is as good a time as any for me to reignite everyone’s favorite endless argument, which is (dun!) casting. I point you to my giant WOT casting post from—holy crap, 2016—for reference, but encourage you to comment on this post instead.

For my own part: Admittedly, with the exception of Chloe Grace-Moretz, most of my casting choices for the Superboyeth and Girleth from that post are even more unworkable now—if Emma Stone was too old to play Nynaeve in 2016 she’s definitely too old now. Same goes for Nicholas Hoult, which is a real shame, because he’d make a fantastic Rand in my opinion. Oh well. (But honestly, the SuperYoots should all be played by unknowns anyway, who are actually teenagers, whose careers will hopefully be launched thereby.)

Most of my choices for the adult characters, though, I still stand by. Especially and most relevantly, my (or rather, Sister Liz’s) choice of British actress Janet Montgomery to play Moiraine. C’mon, she would be fabulous. (And I still love the idea of Ken Watanabe playing Lan. And Rufus Sewell playing Ba’alzamon! And Lucy Lawless playing literally anyone!) But hey, if you’ve got other ideas, this is the place to yell about them. Again, heh.

In conclusion, A Wheel of Time TV series! That is actually happening! And might be All About The Ladies! Yay!

Leigh Butler is a writer, blogger and critic, who feels that humor, weirding of language, and the occasional application of head to desk is the best way to examine the impact of sociocultural issues on popular SF works (and vice versa). She has been a regular columnist for Tor.com since 2009, with three series so far to her name—the Wheel of Time Reread, A Read of Ice and Fire, and the Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia—and a fourth one coming up soon. She lives in New Orleans, and therefore advises alla y’all to let your good times roll.

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