‘The Wheel of Time’ review: Get your ‘Game of Thrones’ fix all over again

The first two episodes of the Amazon Prime series showcases an enjoyable cast and plot, as well as the stratospheric production costs and sweeping vistas of Prague where it is being shot

If you are in the mood for high fantasy in faux medieval times, or suffering from withdrawal symptoms from the incest and gore of Game of Thrones, or are dedicated fans of Robert Jordan’s epic series of 14 books and a prequel, The Wheel of Time is here. If, however you are not looking for any of these things, or looking for high fantasy set in spaces other than the medieval Europe, you are bound for disappointment.

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Watching the first two episodes with sword-brandishing and cloak-sporting savants of Jordan’s series on the big screen was a fun experience. The stratospheric production costs was there to see in the costumes and sweeping vistas of Prague where the show is being shot.

The few minutes of prologue brings everyone up to speed with the happenings on the unnamed planet where the Dark One was defeated by the Light commanded by the Dragon. As he was being shut away, the Dark One was able to taint the One Power so only women can wield it—men are driven insane if they handled it (yay!).

There is a prophesy of the Dark One breaking out of his prison and the Aes Sedai, who channel the One Power, are on the lookout for the Dragon reborn to fight the Dark One.

The Wheel of Time

  • Season: 1
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Creator: Rafe Judkins
  • Starring: Rosamund Pike, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Zoë Robins, Barney Harris, Madeleine Madden, Daniel Henney, Michael McElhatton, Álvaro Morte
  • Storyline: A powerful woman shepherds a group of youngsters towards their destiny

The first season follows the events in the first book of the series, The Eye of the World. Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), an Aes Sedai, arrives at a small town with famed swordsman, al’Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney). Moiraine senses the power in five youngsters – Rand (Josha Stradowski), Egwene (Madeleine Madden), Nynaeve (Zoe Robins), Mat (Barney Harris) and Perrin (Marcus Rutherford). She however is unable to say which one is the dragon reborn. With the arrival of the horrid Trollocs (sounds familiar to Orcs?) the muscle for the Dark One, Moiraine urges the youngsters to travel with her to the White Tower.

The youngsters are not particularly pleased with being bossed around by the strange and beautiful noblewoman. Also in the way of youngsters, they do not follow instructions and bad things naturally follow.

The Aes Sedai, like the Jedi and all the many wizards in all the quests of high fantasy are not as powerful as they used to be and are hunted by vicious military orders like the Children of the Light. While the levels of violence—burning at the stake, dismembered animals, and dead bats coming out of mouths (ewww…) are on the Game of Thrones level, without ambitions and political machinations, The Wheel of Time with its straight forward quest is more like The Lord of the Rings—it even has orc cousins, the trollocs.

While the show took some time to get into its stride and draw the viewer in, the second episode moves quicker. The action is all happy, glorious and gory. Pike is lovely and inscrutable, the young cast is personable and with the second and third season already renewed, we can look forward to much dismemberment and decapitations apart from witches, magic and nasty beasties.

The Wheel of Time will stream on Amazon Prime Video from November 19 in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu

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