Even though the last seasons and finale disappointed pretty much everyone, Game of Thrones was a HUGE success, so huge that, naturally, everyone raced to copy it. Netflix was first out of the gate with an expensive fantasy series touted as “the next Game of Thrones” with The Witcher, which turned out to be more dumb-fun than prestige viewing (although I’ve heard season two is a big leap forward in quality and drama stakes). HBO is hoping to recapture the magic with a spin-off prequel series focused on a civil war hundreds of years before the events of GoT, and Amazon is launching TWO entries into the race, a massively expensive Lord of the Rings spin-off, and The Wheel of Time, a series based on Robert Jordan’s long-running and popular series of fantasy novels. Rosamund Pike headlines the series, which just got its first teaser. It looks fine.
Take my merely enthused reaction with a grain of salt, I’m not a hardcore fantasy nerd. Some things in the genre hit me right, usually when dragons are involved (GoT, Robert Aspirin’s great MythAdventures series). I tried The Wheel of Time as a teenager because the cover of the first book, The Eye of the World, caught my eye in a used book shop, but I did not make it even halfway through. Like Lord of the Rings before it, I just couldn’t get into the story, the lore bored me, and worse, there’s a shocking lack of dragons. So, like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, I am glad to see an adaptation come along, because I will never read these books—there are like, fifteen—and an adaptation will at least give me an overview of what I’ve been missing all these years.
Though there are no dragons (nor unicorns, which Robert Jordan loathed), there is magic. The teaser emphasizes that there are women in the world who are magically gifted and thus important, and Rosamund Pike is one of these special magic women. Although I’m pretty sure the “chosen one” in this story is the pouty-lipped dude, not the magical girl floating down the river. I feel like the teaser is trying to sell me a story about magical women, but I remember enough of The Eye of the World to recall that the dude, Rand, is the main character. Hope that bait-and-switch doesn’t bite the show in the ass. Audiences don’t like to be misled. I also hope everyone is setting their expectations at “no dragons”, because if you’re looking for the next Game of Thrones, you’re probably looking for that, at least in part. Dragons, prophecies, and tits, that was the lighting in the GoT bottle. The Wheel of Time has plenty of prophecies, but no dragons. We’ll have to see about the last one, though I bet The Witcher has the edge there, what with all the bath scenes.