Warning: SPOILERS ahead for The Wheel of Time season 1 & books 1 through 3.
The Wheel of Time season 2 is currently in production and, as a result of the season 1 finale, seems on track to make even broader adaptations of its source material, hinting at better things to come. While the first season of The Wheel of Time was well-received overall (with an 82% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes), it drew flak from many readers of the original novels written by Robert Jordan. Though showrunner Rafe Judkins took great care to adapt certain moments note-for-note, other events and characters from Jordan’s first novel The Eye of the World were omitted entirely.
Some of the changes made to The Eye of the World were indeed smart choices that effectively helped a book series notorious for its slower pacing transition successfully to television. Others, however, rank of necessity due to Amazon’s short eight-episode season order. The final few episodes of The Wheel of Time season 1 doubled down on these changes and made it impossible for the show’s second season to pick up where Jordan’s second book, The Great Huntbegins.
Despite the difficulties posed by adapting just one of Robert Jordan’s 700+ page novels into eight episodes, The Wheel of Time season 2 may succeed in a big way by partially merging multiple books in the series. The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn, the second and third books, each contain huge character moments and revelations, but they are also relatively slow reads. Certain story beats are very similar between the two books, which could make some creative merging and streamlining a smart decision. As creative decisions and the surprising mid-season exit of Barney Harris kept the first season from accurately setting up The Great Hunt, Wheel of Time season 2 may take bolder (and beneficial) steps away from its source material.
Rand and Mat Will Already Begin Their Separate Journeys
Some of season 1’s most notable departures from The Eye of the World were in the stories of Rand and Mat. Due to the untimely pre-wrap departure of Barney Harris, the actor who played Mat Cauthon (and his subsequent recasting for The Wheel of Time season 2), Mat did not venture to the Blight with Rand, Perrin, and the others. In The Great Hunt, however, Mat leaves with his friends from Fal Dara to hunt the stolen Horn of Valere. This is crucial, as Mat’s journey through the entire Wheel of Time book series is linked closely to the Horn. Mat’s location at the end of the show’s first season is a mystery, though The Dragon Reborn may provide a clue.
Mat’s story in The Dragon Reborn begins in Tar Valon, far from Rand and Perrin, where he is tasked with delivering a message for Elayne (an omitted Wheel of Time book character) to her mother, Queen Morgase, in a city called Caemlyn. However, most of Mat’s time in the book is simply spent traveling, so his story from The Dragon Reborn can be modified beyond that point to reunite him with his friends. He is an essential player at the end of The Great Huntwhere he has a role unlikely to be changed in the show.
Meanwhile, Rand’s choice to go off into the wilderness alone at the end of The Wheel of Time season 1 is another divergence from the books, where Rand also joins the hunt for the Horn of Valere. Like Mat, much of Rand’s time in The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn is spent simply traveling, with him hardly in The Dragon Reborn at all. The Dragon Reborn does begin, however, the same way The Wheel of Time season 1 ends, with Rand leaving his group and heading off alone. Condensing these stories into one makes a lot of sense, as otherwise Rand would be almost sidelined in the show’s third season.
Moiraine and Lan Will Be Part Of The Group Tracking Rand
Moiraine and Lan are almost absent from the second book, and showrunner Rafe Judkins has even stated they “do not have a lot to do” in that novel. As Judkins has pledged to keep characters active in the story once they’re introduced (something Robert Jordan was notorious for not doing), Moiraine and Lan will likely be on the hunt for Rand after his disappearance. This is exactly what they do in The Dragon Reborn, which implies their appearances in The Great Hunt will be skipped entirely to keep the characters’ momentum intact while continuing to honor Jordan’s story. With Perrin chasing the Horn of Valere in the second book and helping Lan and Moiraine track Rand in the third, it’s unclear if Lan and Moiraine will have help from the golden-eyed blacksmith in The Wheel of Time season 2.
The Black Ajah Will Become a Major Obstacle
The Black Ajah, a group of Aes Sedai devoted to the Dark One, becomes an increasingly consequential faction over the course of Robert Jordan’s novels. They’re especially important to the stories of Nyneave, Egwene, and Elayne, who all train to become Aes Sedai and are tasked with hunting down the treacherous group. The Black Ajah factors hugely into the women’s journeys in both The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn, but will likely be condensed for The Wheel of Time season 2 as they are largely talked and learned about rather than seen. There are big moments on the way, however, if certain Wheel of Time Black Ajah teases are any indication.
The Seanchan Will Bring Everyone Back Together Again
Although streamlining books 2 and 3 would make for an exciting and compact season, The Wheel of Time season 2 will almost certainly share the finale of The Great Hunt. The end of the first season showed the arrival of the Seanchan, who acted as the major antagonists of Jordan’s second book. A nearly unbeatable military force in the books, the Seanchan will likely be the catalyst that causes Rand, Mat, Moiraine, and the rest to reunite after spending most of the season apart. In The Great Hunt, this reunion happens at a town called Falme, where a battle ensues and Rand, Mat, and Egwene have massive character moments. As these moments are too big to miss, this point may be where The Wheel of Time season 2 most closely resembles its paperback counterpart. The deadly Seanchan villains in Wheel of Time are sure to be the impetus of a thrilling finale, despite any other changes made to the show.
The Dragon Reborn has its own thrilling conclusion, but merging its first and second acts with those of The Great Hunt would make for a more exciting journey well-suited for a streaming show. Outside of those made necessary by a low episode count, the changes made to Robert Jordan’s novels so far have been in the name of crafting a faster-paced story more evenly divided among its many strong characters. Some of these alterations may have been controversial, however The Wheel of Time season 2 may reach new levels of success by embracing that change.
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