Expectations are high among fans for Amazon Studio’s forthcoming adaptation of The Wheel of Time, the late Robert Jordan’s bestselling 14-book series of epic fantasy novels, purportedly due to premiere later this year. And now it looks like we’ll be getting a Wheel of Time film trilogy as well, according to Deadline Hollywood, focusing on the history of Jordan’s fictional world before the events of the books.
Most of the canonical pre-history of Jordan’s fictional world is revealed in flashbacks and legends found in The Wheel of Time Companion, but it is otherwise largely unexplored territory. The intent is to complement rather than compete with the storyline in Amazon’s adaptation for TV. Per Deadline:
The first movie will be set several millennia before the time of the books, in a period known as the “Age of Legends”— a futuristic utopia powered by a magical force shared by men and women known as the “One Power.” When an unspeakable evil is unleashed upon the world, civilization descends into chaos, and war blankets the globe. When men using the One Power become insane and destroy much of the planet, a small band of women unite under the White Tower, and are humanity’s last hope of survival.
Screenwriter Zack Stentz (Thor, X-Men: First Class, Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous) will take on screenwriting duties for the first film. “I’ve been a fan of Robert Jordan’s work for many years, and it is especially his allusions to the origins and backstory of The Wheel of Time that I have always found most intriguing. I’m excited to be bringing this era Robert Jordan conceptualized to life,” Stentz said in a statement. “A fusion of the fantasy and science-fiction genres, the Age of Legends is a tale of paradise lost, as a futuristic Garden of Eden devolves into a dangerous and broken world.”
(Warning: a few book spoilers below, especially the first book in the series.)
As I’ve written previously, The Wheel of Time is as popular as George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, selling more than 90 million copies worldwide—the bestselling fantasy series since J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The conclusion of the series was published after Jordan died and written from Jordan’s notes by bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. There was one feeble prior attempt to jump-start a TV adaptation a few years ago. Entitled The Winter Dragon, the 30-minute short series pilot covered just the prologue of the first book in the series, The Eye of the World. The less said about it, the better.
The Amazon series will center on Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of a powerful, all-woman organization called the Aes Sedai. (In this world, magic exists, but only certain women can use it—i.e., the members of the Aes Sedai.) She identifies four young people, one of whom could be the reincarnation of a person who, prophecies say, will save or destroy humanity. Together, the youngsters embark on a journey across the world.
The first round of casting, announced in 2019, included Josha Stradowski as Rand al’Thor, aka The Dragon Reborn, He Who Comes With the Dawn, the Coramoor, Shadowkiller, and who knows how many other monikers. Marcus Rutherford was cast as apprentice blacksmith and dream-walker Perrin Aybara. Zoe Robins plays healer Nynaeve al’Meara, and Madeleine Madden plays the powerful channeler Egwene al’Vere. Barney Harris was cast as series comic relief Matrim Cauthon. In December 2019, more cast members were announced, including Hammed Animashaun as Loail, a close friend to Perrin the dream walker and Rand al’Thor; Alexandre Willaume as Thom Merrilin, a “Gleeman and adventurer”—basically a traveling bard; Johann Myers as the villainous Padan Fain; and Alvaro Morte as Logain.
Production on the Amazon series began in the autumn of 2019, but then there was a global pandemic, and everything shut down. Filming wrapped in the Czech Republic in May, and Amazon is so confident in the series, it has already renewed Wheel of Time for a second season, before S1 has even premiered, which is likely to happen later this year. “Getting a second season order before the first season has even premiered is such a vote of confidence in the work we are doing and the property itself, and we couldn’t be happier to be able to continue to live and work in the world Robert Jordan created,” showrunner Rafe Judkins told Deadline Hollywood.