Episode 1 of The Wheel Of Time begins with Moiraine, one of the Aes Sadai, preparing for the coming of the Dragon. This child, whomever it is, must be found before the Dark Lord does.
This world is full of magic, typified by Liandrin Guirale, a red robed woman who hunts several men across the rocky wilderness. This man seems to be possessed with magical powers but he struggles to control it, seeing images of an elderly chap by his side. This happens to be a hallucination though, and it’s enough incentive for Liandrin to begin torturing him.
High above though stands Moiraine, who’s adamant this isn’t the man they’re after. Instead, they’re bound for the Two Rivers, a quaint little medieval village where it’s rumored that Four Ta’veren have just started to come of age.
These four happen to be 20 year old farmer Rand, his longtime companions Perrin and Mat, and the head-strong Egwene.
There’s a lot of drinking, a lot of laughter and a lot of good times being shared. That is, until Lan and Moiraine show up and spoil the party. As the Aes Sadai settles in, paying her way for a room, she looks over our diverse rabble of characters before heading upstairs.
While this is going on, there’s a romance brewing between Perrin and Laila, who totally rip off Star Wars through their: “I love you”, “I know” routine, while Rand and Egwene wind up kissing next to all the washing up. Kissing turns into so much more though but unbeknownst to them, a strange shadowy figure (whom we later find out is a Myrddraal or a “Fade” as is referenced here) watches over this village from afar.
Nyn is not exactly taken with Moiraine’s presence and there’s no love lost between them when the pair talk. As we soon find out, Nyn’s adoptive mother was cruelly turned away by the Aes Sadai after traveling by foot all the way to their headquarters, the White Tower. For now, their conversation is left ominously teetering on a knife-edge.
Lan finds an ominous omen out in the woods. A whole flock of sheep are mutilated, left in an unnerving circle on the ground. A puddle of blood surrounds them. This warning arrives too late, as Lan approaches Moiraine and urges her to leave. Trollocs are coming. While a festival gets underway, celebrating the passing of the deceased, everything comes to a devastatingly abrupt end.
These Trollocs, engineered soldiers that are a fuse of man and beast, begin slaughtering the townsfolk. Tam squares off against a lone Trolloc, but it’s Rand who hits the killer blow. Unfortunately, Tam is badly wounded in the ensuing skirmish, poisoned with a Trolloc blade.
Moiraine shows up with her OP magic level and makes short work of these grunts, turning the tide of battle and granting these villagers the courage to fight back. At least, to begin with anyway. When reinforcements show, Moiraine takes a blade to the shoulder for her troubles. She does manager to conjure enough magic to take out the Trollocs approaching but the damage has already been done.
Two Rivers is a smoldering mess. The village is full of casualties, Nyn has disappeared and Tam is suffering badly from the Trolloc poison. Moiraine manages to purge the poison but there’s bigger problems at play here.
Moiraine turns to the others and tells them that the Trollocs have arrived for the same reason she and Lan have. One among them is the Dragon Reborn, and with 300 Trolloc inbound, the four need to leave. If they stay, they could well be killed. There’s no time, and they need to go now before the army arrive.
The Episode Review
I must admit, I’ve only read half of the first Wheel of Time book so my knowledge of Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic is limited. However, I do know how prolific this series is and how eagerly fans have awaited this to drop on Amazon Prime.
The first episode of Wheel of Time gets off to an intriguing start, albeit a slightly messy one as it crams so much into the span of 50 minutes without spending adequate time building these characters up. It feels like we’ve barely got to know any of these people before we’re whisked in the middle of this Trolloc battle. However, the action is pretty good, even with the iffy CGI replaced by the excellent practical effects for the Trolloc.
The acting is a bit hit or miss at times though, but first episodes can sometimes be a bit rough around the edges so it’s easy to look past that. There’s certainly enough here to stick with, although avid book lovers may not like some of the changes done to Jordan’s source material, especially the plot changes and the pacing issues.
It’s early days so we’ll have to wait and see what’s in store for us across the rest of the season.