Episode 2 of The Wheel Of Time begins with a look at the Children of Light. Led by the enigmatic Eamon Valda, this man burns an Aes Sedai and watches in satisfaction as she burns to death. He’s been collecting rings from these sisters too, and it seems it’s only a matter of time before he closes in on Moiraine.
Meanwhile, Moiraine, Lan and the kids hurry to the nearby town, Taren Ferry. They need to cross – and now. The only thing that stops Trollocs is deep water and as they leave the shore, Trollocs arrive in their numbers and head down to the dock.
Dancing torches light the horizon as that same Fade – the shadow rider we saw outside Two Rivers last episode – shows, piercing the air with a sickening shriek. These highly intelligent creatures serve the Dark Lord and for now, Moiraine and the others have managed to avoid a close encounter.
Not willing to risk another encounter, Lan and Moiraine cut the ropes tethering the ferry, being sure to disband it in a magical whirlpool to avoid the Trollocs from crossing. The ferryman is livid and cursing his luck, calling out the Aes Sedai as being cruel.
This singular acts leaves a big impression on the kids, who start questioning Moiraine and what she’ll do if one of them steps out of line. Moiraine does eventually explain her actions, talking to Egwene in private. The conversation is a simple one and paves way for her quizzing Egwene about the One Power, something that comes naturally to women in this world. This comes in the form of a “spark”, meaning Egwene will channel her magic one day, whether she wants to learn it or not.
That evening, all the kids wind up experiencing a frightening dream about bats and a strange man with red eyes. When Moiraine learns of this, she’s very clearly concerned and demands the kids follow her for the time being. They’re heading East to the White Tower but Rand is not happy about playing errand boy. He defiantly stays where he is and questions Moiraine’s ruling.
Egwene calls Rand out for his childishness and points out how Moiraine is using her powers to keep them alive, even at the expense of her own strength.
On the way though, they run into the Children of the Light, these “Whitecloaks” that certainly have no love lost for Ae Sedai. Eamon leads the charge, throwing shade on Moiraine’s story and pointing out how eight sisters were originally dispatched. He thinks she could be one of them, until Moiraine shows off her Trolloc wound.
Now, the Aes Sedai may be able to heal others but they can’t heal themselves, which is a pretty inconvenient weakness. Lucky for her though, it’s a convenient wound to show to the Whitecloaks to gain safe passage without bloodshed. She also tells them they’ve come from Taren Ferry and while their story does allow them to continue on their way, a shifty side-eyed glance from Eamon is unnerving enough not to let any of them get too comfortable.
Moiraine is no fool and she speaks to Lan later on about this encounter. The man had seven rings and that means Eamon is closing in on the final sister – that being Moiraine herself. How long will she be able to hold out?
With Trolloc and Fade running wild, ambushing the gang that evening, Whitebridge is out the question. Instead, the group head up to the abandoned and very-cursed Shadar Logoth, which means “Shadow’s Waiting”. With Moiraine passed out and riding with Lan, he makes the call to head inside.
The walls tower over them all as the place is eerily quiet. This area is watched over by a shapeless evil called Mashadar and its presence can be felt everywhere. There’s no birds, bugs or greenery here; cold, hard stone is their only refuge. The Shadowspawn fear to enter and this place is incredibly cursed.
Lan and Moiraine warn the kids not to touch anything. So naturally Mat heads out at night and begins sniffing around.
In the rubble, he comes across a beautiful but deadly dagger. Unsheathing the blade, this singular action sees one horse suddenly disintegrate and turn to ash. Shadows begin stirring in the night as Moiraine, still struggling from her wounds, awakens long enough to tell Lan he’s doomed them all.
These shadows dance off the walls and floor, serving as a quicker and more energetic version of the Vashta Nerada (shout out to fellow Dr Who fans for that quote regarding those ravenous evil shadows). Thankfully the gang manage to make it to safety but everyone is separated in the ensuing chaos.
Lan and Moiraine slip away into the woods, Rand and Mat edge through a crack in the wall while Perrin and Egwene plunge into the water below after plunging off the top of the walls.
As the episode closes out, Nyn returns and holds a knife up to Lan’s neck, demanding to be taken to the others right away.
The Episode Review
The Wheel of Time slows down this time around and in doing so, starts to actually deliver some compelling high fantasy material. The chase through Shadar Logoth was brilliant, the long, establishing shots of this beautiful world very much welcome and the journey toward White Tower spread out nicely to help get a sense of scale to this world. That’s before mentioning the history lesson for different parts of the world either, which helps to shed extra light on these different areas.
Of course, most of this story feels eerily similar to The Lord of the Rings and that’s no coincidence either, given it’s how Jordan wrote this book. However, this second chapter seems to get the pacing right, at least from this reviewer’s perspective, and it makes for a far more engaging watch as we get to know these guys and gals a bit better.
The verdict is still out on this one though and the characters aren’t quite as charismatic or memorable as one may hope, but there’s definitely enough here to sink your teeth into.