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The Wheel of Time Season 1: Dawning of a New Age for Fandom

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Based on the epic fantasy novels written by Robert Jordan, the first episodes of The Wheel of Time TV series aired on 19 November 2021.

This post is focused on The Wheel of Time Season 1. I dive into the background, principal cast and showrunner, and all the information you need to start watching now. I’ll also share links to The Shining Walls‘ content for the season, including my fantastic reviews and recaps.

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Waygate poster. Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Sedai standing between the Waygate’s pillars, with tendrils of the One Power in the foreground.
© Amazon Studios
Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails on a black background. White text reads “The Wheel of Time Season 1.”

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Release Date

The first three episodes of The Wheel of Time dropped on Prime Video on 19 November 2021. The remaining 5 episodes landed weekly on Fridays, with the Season 1 finale released for visual consumption on Christmas Eve 2021.

The Wheel of Time Heroes & Villains poster. Characters from left to right are Perrin, Egwene, Lan, Moiraine, Nynaeve, Rand and Mat. A Fade on an undead horse is pictured above, flanked by horned Trollocs.
© Amazon Studios

Each episode is approximately an hour long, which isn’t always helpful for the show. Sometimes, wisely used, a few extra minutes would improve the content. However, The Wheel of Time TV series has now enjoyed a second season with longer run times, and filming for Season 3 is ongoing.

Jordan Studios in Prague

The production is a collaboration between Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television. The Wheel of Time enjoys a generous budget and films in several European locations. It also ventured to Morocco for second-season shoots.

The budget and locations shine through on our screens with beautiful landscapes, costumes, and set designs. It’s hard not to be impressed.

Primary filming is done in the Czech Republic where, in what can be seen as a sign of commitment, a new filming studio was built to house the production. Aptly named “Jordan Studios,” the 32,000 square-meter complex in Prague hosts several soundstages, sets, a costume department, a writers’ room, and administrative offices. It’s an impressive set-up.

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Summary

In the Two Rivers, residents are typically unaware of events outside their hometown. But when they are visited by a strange woman who can wield magic, the lives of five men and women are destined to change forever.

We meet a powerful group of women who can use magic and have conflicting motivations; it’s a magic that drives men mad if they wield their half of it. There’s a prophecy that foretells a Chosen One who will save the world or destroy it, and we follow five young villagers who discover abilities they didn’t know they had.

Beautiful landscapes, a captivating soundtrack, and delicious baddies make the series engaging. The show also boasts a massive, sprawling world and diverse characters. There’s something for everyone, and it’s family-friendly for the most part.

To give yourself a sneak peek, why not watch the teaser trailer below?

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Cast & Characters

If there’s one aspect of The Wheel of Time’s first season that almost everyone agrees on, it is the acting. Everyone is fantastic! The casting director needs an ovation, but the performers deserve high praise. Let’s look at the people who bring their all to our screens in The Wheel of Time:

Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Damodred

Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Damodred stood on a cliff with a forest below.
Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Damodred

We begin by learning that Moiraine is looking for the Dragon Reborn (a re-birth foreseen in prophecy), and her 20-year search has led her to the Two Rivers as the series starts.

Moiraine isn’t the gushing type, and despite her power-bound vow never to speak a word that is not true, she has a way with words. They often conceal the truth that lies behind them.

Renowned actor Rosamund Pike gives a captivating performance. She humanizes the gravitas, urgency, and secretive nature of her character.

Daniel Henny as Lan Mandragoran

Daniel Henney, as Lan Mandragoran, looks stoic while ash fills the air.
Daniel Henney as Lan Mandragoran

Lan is Moiraine’s Warder, a bodyguard sworn to protect her.

To summarize a complex relationship, the bond between a Warder and his Aes Sedai is deeper than loyalties or love. The show explores this with secondary characters in the first season.

Lan is stoic in his role and has a legacy for himself. He’s far from your average warrior sidekick, and Daniel Henny’s performance oozes Lan’s persona and silent strength. Daniel is an excellent fit for the character.

Josha Stradowski as Rand al’Thor

Josha Stradowski as Rand al’Thor wearing a woolen, gray jumper.
Josha Stradowski as Rand al’Thor

Rand has been raised by his father, Tam, in the Two Rivers and is a hardworking, stubborn young man loyal to those he loves. Rand expects to marry Egwene and raise children in the Two Rivers. Unfortunately, that may not be possible.

Josha plays Rand with a quiet suspicion of Moiraine that sometimes boils over, and he isn’t happy when things don’t go his way. Despite his disquiet and temperament, Josha exudes a character that’s hard to dislike.

Madeleine Madden as Egwene al’Vere

Madeleine Madden as Egwene al’Vere sat on the edge of a bed.
Madeleine Madden as Egwene al’Vere

Ambitious and headstrong, Egwene aspires to be more than she is and has the confidence to commit, whatever the challenges. Hers is a story of discovery, and Egwene loves to discover everything!

Madeleine displays Egwene’s naivety in equal measure to her tenacity and is a joy to watch. I’m happy to declare that she’s one of my favorites throughout the season.

Barney Harris as Mat Cauthon

Barney Harris as Mat Cauthon walking through the Emond’s Field village, chickens feeding behind him.
Barney Harris as Mat Cauthon

A lovable rogue is too simplistic to describe Mat Cauthon. He likes to gamble, joke, and play pranks. Yet, underneath, he hides deep-rooted goodness and always seems to do the right thing in the end (usually by nefarious and ill-advised means).

Barney is on point with his portrayal – despicable, desperate, lovable, and loving. He’s a treasure on screen.

Zoë Robins as Nynaeve al’Meara

Zoë Robins as Nynaeve al’Meara with her arms folded in concern.
Zoë Robins as Nynaeve al’Meara

Nynaeve is a strong woman with deep-set insecurities hidden or exposed by her temper. As Wisdom of the Two Rivers, Nynaeve feels a great sense of responsibility to its people and will stop at nothing to keep them well.

In my opinion, Zoë is simply sensational in her role. She grows bigger and brighter every time she’s on screen. Honestly, she’s brilliant to watch throughout.

Marcus Rutherford as Perrin Aybara

Marcus Rutherford as Perrin Aybara in his blacksmith’s apron.
Marcus Rutherford as Perrin Aybara

The gentle giant, Perrin, has physical strength that doesn’t match his personality. He’s the thinker in our group of main characters and isn’t swift to act unless in a rage.

There can be no one better to play this part than Marcus. As a viewer, you can see the trauma behind his eyes and the conflict he has within.

The Showrunner

Rafe Judkins

Showrunner and Executive Producer Rafe Judkins on the blue carpet at The Wheel of Time's London premiere.
Rafe Judkins (Showrunner and Executive Producer)

Rafe is deeply passionate about The Wheel of Time books and, of course, the TV series. He grew up reading the novels with his mother and is living his dream as the executive producer on the show.

His insights, passion, and engagement with The Wheel of Time’s community are the least of his qualities. There couldn’t be anyone more sincere running this show.

Was Season 1 of The Wheel of Time a Success?

The Wheel of Time was the most popular new TV series in the United States in 2021. In fact, the show took Prime Video’s share of streaming service demand ahead of Disney+ in the year’s final quarter. According to Nielsen, the first three episodes enjoyed 1.16 billion minutes of viewing time.

As a result, The Wheel of Time became the most-streamed original series in America for 2021.

However, early reviews for the show were unkind. The series suffered from the harsh dissemination many critics apply to the fantasy genre. In some cases, there was a cynical bid to attract viewers/visitors to review sites with negatively coined clickbait headlines.

Season 1 gets its fair share of hate online, and readers of the book series are divided in opinion, as most fans are when adaptations are put in front of them. Fans are naturally passionate, so their meticulous scrutiny has led to many visceral outbursts in forums, videos, and other online spaces.

Rotten Tomatoes’ critics score is a solid 82%, but its audience score is a disappointing 63%. In contrast, the IMDB rating for the series stands at 7.2 out of 10, which I think is a fair reflection.

Considering everything, Season 1 of The Wheel of Time was one of Prime Video’s greatest hits. It proved itself with its production values, the splendid cast, and its unique tone. For the most part, the show exudes its source material but also lends itself well to the televisual medium.

Ultimately, the production of Season 1 was failed by Covid and its awkward finale. Despite this, the series can’t be seen as anything other than a resounding success, in my opinion.

The Wheel of Time Season 1 Reviews & Recaps

While accepting that lockdowns were accountable for many of the issues I have with the first season, I’m not apologetic for the show in my reviews.

For the most part, I don’t need to be, which is praise itself. My reviews are based on each episode’s merits, regardless of any production setbacks. My ratings are an honest reflection of my feelings about what Season 1 of The Wheel of Time ultimately delivers.

It’s my opinion, of course, so I’m sure many of you will disagree. Please share your thoughts in the comments sections, which you’ll find at the bottom of each review page. Each review has a detailed episode recap, a best actor award, an episode rating, and an “Inside the Episode” video. Enjoy!

Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails. Season 1: The Wheel of Time Episode 1 Review link.

Overall Opinion

Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails on a black background. White typography reads “7/10,” which is The Shining Walls’ overall rating for The Wheel of Time Season 1.
SEASON 1 RATING

My overall opinion on Season 1 of The Wheel of Time is that it’s good but not great. However, I won’t balefire it from the sky like I’ve seen some online reviewers do. At times, the adaptation is fantastic, and I’m keen to recommend it. It may yet grow to be a must-watch program for anyone who consumes television.

Without a doubt, there are moments in this season that are breathtaking. Unfortunately, when the show stumbles, it takes the viewer with it. It does a handy job of picking you back up again, though. My overall rating is a solid 7 out of 10, and I’ll let the official trailer do the talking for me:

Site Content for The Wheel of Time Season 1

Reviews & Recaps

I recap Season 1 of The Wheel of Time in my reviews, so I hope you enjoy these. I’ve also provided an honest review, grade, and a Best Actor award for each episode.

One of the hallmarks of The Wheel of Time’s first season is its cold openings. They’re often the best part of the show, so I give them a particular focus. I hope you like my approach and that it sparks healthy debate in the comments. Please make your point if you like or dislike what I say or if you notice a mistake!

Get started with my Episode 1 review.

Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails. Season 1: The Wheel of Time Episode 1 Review link.

How to Watch The Wheel of Time TV Series

The Wheel of Time TV series is exclusive to Prime Video, a streaming service that hosts high-quality content—The Boys and The Rings of Power, the new Lord of the Rings series, can also be found there.

The upsides of being a Prime Video subscriber are:

  • You can watch movies, series, news, and sports, including award-winning Amazon Originals and other exclusives.
  • You can add channels (varies by country) like CBS All Access, Cinemax, HBO, Showtime, and Starz. No extra apps are needed to download, and no cable is required. You only pay for the ones you want and can cancel anytime.
  • You can enjoy the newest movies and rent classics in the Prime Video Store directly through the website and the Prime Video app.
  • You can stream from the web or use the Prime Video app on your smartphone, tablet, set-top box, game console, or smart TV.
  • You can enhance your viewing experience with 4K Ultra HD- and High Dynamic Range (HDR)-compatible content.

Prime membership offers the best shopping, savings, and entertainment to make everyday life more convenient, budget-friendly, and fun.

In select countries, that includes free, fast delivery on millions of items, unlimited streaming of movies and series like The Wheel of Time, live sports, ad-free listening of 100 million songs and millions of podcast episodes with Prime Music, free games with Prime Gaming, more than 3,000 books and magazines with Prime Reading, unlimited photo storage, and incredible savings with Prime Day.

Follow my links for more information, and start a free trial today.

Watch The Wheel of Time on Prime Video Now!

Choose your country, and enjoy a free Prime Video trial!

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Please use the comments section below this post to share your thoughts on Season 1 of The Wheel of Time. I love to hear from visitors to the site, and I always respond to your contributions. With that in mind, please be good-natured and avoid profanity. After all, I want to keep these walls shiny!

Until next time, may the Light shine on you, my friends!

Russell

Link to The Wheel of Time Season 2 hub page. A golden-eyed wolf staring forward on a solid black background.
TAP FOR MY SEASON 2 HUB PAGE
Fire dragons biting at each other’s tails. Season 1: The Wheel of Time Episode 1 Review link.

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