Adaptations of books to screen always make changes — it is a necessity of the shift in medium — and Amazon’s The Wheel of Time is no exception. The existing fanbase has been torn on many of these changes and omissions — some loathe how the series has been adapted so far, while others have loved the changes.
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Good or bad, the differences between the books and the show have been made. Some, like Thom Merrilin (Alexandre Willaume) missing his long, bushy mustache, were minor and will have little to no impact on the series as a whole. Others may have a more profound rippling effect on the story and characters. Hopefully, as the filming of Season 2 nears completion, the showrunners and writers have been up to the task.
This article contains spoilers for Season 1 of The Wheel of Time and the book series.
The Number of ‘Ta’veren’
Five Ta’veren collage
The term ta’veren is mentioned a handful of times in the first season of The Wheel of Time, but it is never explained well. In a nutshell, a ta’veren is an individual that, for a time, has a significant impact on the Wheel’s Great Pattern, twisting events around them.
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In the books, Rand (Josha Stradowski), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), and Mat (Barney Harris, Dónal Finn) are the only living ta’veren known throughout the series. In the show, Egwene (Madeleine Madden) and Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) have been added to the list. Strange things happen around ta’veren, so having two more could add some interesting events to certain storylines.
Perrin’s Missing Mentor
The Wheel of TIme mash-up of Perrin and a Wolf
A lot of book fans were disappointed with how Perrin’s story was treated — from killing off his show-only wife, leaving his signature axe behind, and (maybe) crushing on Egwene. However, the biggest omission, thus far, to Perrin’s story is that he did not meet Elyas Machera. In the books, Elyas appears fairly early on and helps Perrin understand his strange connection to the wolves.
While he did not appear where he does in the books, it is still possible Elyas makes an appearance in Season 2. It would be a real shame to cut the character entirely since he has such a pivotal effect on Perrin.
The Denizen of Shadar Logoth
Rand and Egwene on balcony in Shadar Logoth
The dead city Shadar Logoth was near perfectly captured on screen. Devoid of any living thing — even bugs and birds dared not venture into the walls — the city streets were suitably ominous. It is here that Mat obtains the ruby-hilted dagger that begins to corrupt him. Whereas Mat finds the dagger on his own in the show, book Mat, along with Rand and Perrin, meets an elderly man called Mordeth who tempts them with treasure.
Mordeth may have been hinted at in the show, as a shadow on the wall (though he casts no shadow in the book), but this is more likely an appearance of Padan Fain (Johann Myers); fitting, considering Fain and Mordeth become inextricably linked in the book.
The Ruby-Hilted Dagger
Mat finds the ruby-hilted dagger
Speaking of the dagger of Shadar Logoth, this iconic MacGuffin has undergone some changes as well. Superficially, the dagger’s ruby has traditionally been depicted set in the pommel of the dagger. According to the production team, this was changed simply to allow the ruby to be more prominent when being held.
A more interesting change comes in the form of its abilities. At the end of Season 1, the Ogier Loial is seen being stabbed with the dagger. By book rules, Loial should have died a horrific death, as the dagger quickly and painfully kills anyone it scratches. So, unless the dagger Fain carries is a fake, this artifact has been greatly weakened for the show.
Overview of the city of Tar Valon
After the Two Rivers folk get separated at Shadar Logoth, they make their way to the Aes Sedai’s city of Tar Valon. At least, that’s how it goes in the show. In The Eye of the World, the party reconvenes in the city of Caemlyn, the capital of Andor. Here, a similar scene unfolds with a troupe of Aes Sedai carting in a caged Logain. However, a few key characters are introduced at this point in the books — most notably, Elayne Trakand and Elaida do Avriny a’Roihan.
Elayne is confirmed for Season 2, but there is no official confirmation of Caemlyn appearing. She could be introduced at the White Tower. While a lot of fans were disappointed Caemlyn did not make its debut in Season 1, it did make sense due to budget and time constraints.
How Waygates Work
Moiraine activates a Waygate
Waygates are the entrance to the darkened Ways, a labyrinth of bridges that reduce travel time immensely — if you can survive. While their appearance varies greatly between the show and medium, it is how they are opened that could have the greatest impact on future storylines. In the books, the gates can only be opened and closed by the removal and placement of a stone trefoil leaf, and few people know about it.
While an image exists of Fain with such a stone in his hand, the show only displays channeling as an option, which is not at all how it works in the book. If this change is not walked back, it will significantly affect who can access the Waygates.
Mat Staying Behind
Mat is left behind as the Waygate closes
One of the most significant departures from the books occurs at the end of the sixth episode. The party reunites in front of the Waygate, preparing to travel into the Blight and face off against the Dark One. At this point in the show, Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) does not know who the Dragon Reborn is, still believing it could be any one (or all) of the five Two Rivers folk. It comes as a shock to the whole group, then, when Mat remains outside the Waygate as it closes.
This change is a drastic departure from the book, but one that had to occur in the show. Barney Harris, the actor portraying Mat in season one, left production during the pandemic lockdown for currently unknown reasons. While Mat has been recast, the shift in his story will need to be handled well to get Mat back on track for the upcoming seasons.
The Eye of the World
Rand and Moiraine face down the Dark One
The titular Eye of the World, and the events that take place there, underwent severe alterations in the adaptation. In the book, the Eye is well of pure, untainted saidin (the male half of the One Power). In the novel, Rand taps into this source of power and kills a freshly freed Forsaken before turning the Power to the Trolloc army attacking Tarwin’s Gap.
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The most important change, though, is the showdown at the Eye. In the show, Rand seemingly kills who he thinks to be the Dark One and cracks the ancient Aes Sedai symbol they stand on. These changes may shift Rand’s storyline for the following seasons.
Moiraine after being blocked from the One Power
During the climactic encounter between Rand and the Dark One, Moiraine appears to be cut off from the One Power. She confides in Lan (Daniel Henney), that she can no longer touch the Power. Having seen Logain suffer this fate, it would seem Moiraine is going to have a hard time in Season 2. However, it is possible she was shielded from the Power, rather than cut off entirely. Either way, this is a major change from the book.
Moiraine never loses her ability to channel in the novels. In the first few books, while Rand and the others continue to come into their power, Moiraine is the one doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the One Power.
Rand Leaving the Party
Rand looking back at Moiraine before leaving
Like Mat staying behind, Rand venturing off on his own does not happen in the book. Rather, he returns with everyone to Fal Dara and begins learning to use his father’s sword with Lan. After the Horn of Valere and the ruby-hilted dagger are stolen by Fain, Rand, Mat, and Perrin all join the hunt to reclaim the artifacts.
With Rand separated from the group, it is unlikely he will join the hunt for the horn, at least not in the way it occurs in the novels. Rand may head for the city of Tear, accelerating his story into the third book’s storyline. Whatever happens, Rand will have his work cut out for him as he tries to navigate the world alone.