Everything We Know About Amazon's 'The Wheel of Time' TV Series
Another post–'Game of Thrones' high fantasy adaptation is on the way.
It's no secret that Amazon's Jeff Bezos (alongside literally every executive in the streaming space) wants to get his hands on the next Game of Thrones. At first, it seemed that Amazon Prime Video's Lord of the Rings spinoff would be the platform's leading contender. But then Amazon signed on to co-produce another epic high-fantasy adaptation: Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series.
The series of novels began in 1990 with The Eye of the World; following Jordan's death in 2007, fantasy author Brandon Sanderson used notes left by Jordan to complete the series, in 2013. For decades now, Hollywood has been after the source material, which sprawls across 15 massive books and more than four million words, and, after some failed projects and some squabbles over adaptation rights, it's finally going to happen. And soon! Here's everything we know about The Wheel of Time TV series.
When will The Wheel of Time be released?
The Wheel of Time is officially arriving on—sound the trumpets!—November 19, 2021.
Where can I watch The Wheel of Time?
The series will be released exclusively on Amazon Prime.
Is there a Wheel of Time trailer yet?
Yes, at last! In early September 2021 Amazon released the first trailer for the series, which promises an action-packed fantasy adventure led by an eclectic and powerful cast of characters. Before this, they'd only teased snippets of footage—and we mean SNIPPETS—showing important weapons in the series, like the forging of the iconic heron sword and the sinister ruby-hilted dagger of Shadar Logoth, as well as a couple seconds of Moiraine using the One Power.
How many episodes are in Wheel of Time Season 1?
Season 1 will have eight episodes, the same number that the already greenlit and already filming Season 2 will have.
What are the Wheel of Time episode titles?
The Season 1 episode titles we know of so far are, in order: Episode 1: "Leavetaking," Episode 2: "Shadow's Waiting," Episode 3: "A Place of Safety," Episode 4: "The Dragon Reborn," Episode 5: "Blood Calls Blood," and Episode 6: "The Flame of Tar Valon." The final two Season 1 episodes are still shrouded in an appropriate amount of secrecy. We'll update you when they're disclosed.
Has The Wheel of Time resumed filming?
Filming on Season 1 is done. While production began in 2019, shooting had to shut down a few times during the pandemic. Season 1 finally wrapped in May 2021.
Has The Wheel of Time been renewed for Season 2?
Yes. On May 20, 2021, Amazon renewed The Wheel of Time for a second season.
The swift greenlight before the series premiere was made possible, in part, due to the production delay on Season 1. At the virtual Robert Jordan convention JordanCONline in spring 2020, Judkins made a surprise appearance to give fans reassuring news about the state of the show, mentioning that, given all the downtime, he and his team were already deep into the writing stages for a follow-up season. "The nice thing about [the quarantine hold on production] is that we will now have all eight scripts going into prep for Season 2, which will let us do such a better job with it and it lets me focus more on the scripts and the editing that we’re doing right now because were not shooting," Judkins said. His words came true: Filming on Season 2 began in Prague in July 2021.
Unless more COVID delays get in the way, Season 2 shouldn't take as long as Season 1 to shoot. If you're looking for a Season 2 release date, we're not there yet, but if all goes well, a late 2022 debut would be a possibility.
What is Wheel of Time Season 1 about?
The Wheel of Time takes place in what is technically the future, but due to the cyclical nature of time in the series, looks a lot like Earth's distant past. It's during a time known as the "Third Age," roughly more than three millennia past a cataclysmic event known as "The Breaking of the World," which put an end to a technologically advanced era known as "The Age of Legends." It's all very A Canticle for Leibowitz, but in this universe, magic (controlled through an ability known as "channeling") is real and society looks a whole lot like medieval Europe.
The first season of Amazon's adaptation is based on the first book in the series, The Eye of the World, which follows Moiraine Damodred, a member of the Aes Sedai (an all-female magic organization), as she attempts to find the Dragon Reborn, a prophesied figure whose actions will eventually save or doom humanity. After arriving in the small town of Two Rivers, Moiraine is unable to ascertain which of three young men—Rand al'Thor, Mat Cauthon, and Perrin Aybara—is who she's looking for. Accompanied by their friend Egwene al'Vere and wise-woman Nynaeve, the group sets off for the Aes Sedai city of Tar Valon, avoiding forces sent by the Dark One that are also in search of the Dragon Reborn.
Fans of any book series will always be a little nervous about how their favorite novels will be adapted onscreen, but The Wheel of Time showrunner Rafe Judkins has been working with Jordan's widow Harriet McDougal, Jordan's assistant Maria Simons, and concluding novelist Brandon Sanderson to honor the legacy of Jordan's books. He has also said that he's been watching tons of interviews Jordan gave to get the pronunciation of all the character and place names. So it sounds like the show is doing everything it can to adapt this faithfully.
Who's in the Wheel of Time cast?
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) plays Moiraine, the Aes Sedai character who acts as a mentor and guide to her younger charges. Rounding out the characters in the main group are Josha Stradowski (Just Friends) as Rand Al'Thor, Marcus Rutherford (Obey) as Perrin Aybara, and Barney Harris (Billionaire Boys Club) as Mat Cauthon, with Zoë Robins (The Killian Curse) as Nynaeve, and Madeleine Madden (Dora and the Lost City of Gold) as Egwene Al'Vere.
If you think all of this sounds a lot like Game of Thrones, you're not entirely wrong, but you'll think that even more when you learn that Michael McElhatton, aka Roose Bolton, will play Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones) as Tam Al'Thor. Also cast in important roles: Daniel Henney (Big Hero 6) as al'Lan Mandragoran, Álvaro Morte (Money Heist) as Logain Ablar, Hammed Animashaun (Black Mirror) as Loial, Alexandre Willaume (Tomb Raider) as Thom Merrilin, Johann Myers (The Medallion) as Padan Fain, Maria Doyle Kennedy (Orphan Black) as Illa, Narinder Samra as Raen, and Daryl McCormack as Aram.
Who's behind The Wheel of Time TV series?
While Amazon Studios came on as a co-production company, the project originated in 2018 with Sony Pictures Television, which tapped Rafe Judkins (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hemlock Grove) to develop the series and act as showrunner and executive producer. Also executive-producing are Darren Lemke (Shrek Ever After), Red Eagle Entertainment's Larry Mondragon and Rick Selvage, and Radar Pictures' Ted Field and Mike Weber, with McDougal and Sanderson on board as consulting producers.
The visual effects—hugely important, given that this is a high fantasy series with a massive budget and a complex magic system—will be done by Cinesite, the company responsible for the VFX in Avengers: Endgame, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Netflix's The Witcher.
Who are the writers and directors of Wheel of Time Season 1?
So far, we know that Uta Briesewitz will direct the first two episodes of Season 1, Wayne Yip will direct Episodes 3 and 4, and Salli Richardson-Whitfield will direct Episode 5 and 6. The teleplays for the first six episodes are credited to, respectively, Judkins, Amanda Kate Shuman, Michael and Paul Clarkson (the Clarkson Twins), Dave Hill, Celine Song, and Justine Juel Gillmer.
If the name Dave Hill sounds familiar, you may recall that he was heavily involved with Game of Thrones, having served as showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss's assistant before being named a staff writer. He wrote four episodes: "Sons of the Harpy" (Season 5), "Home" (Season 6), "Eastwatch" (Season 7), and "Winterfell" (the Season 8 premiere episode).
Will there be a Wheel of Time movie?
In a way, yes! Not only is there Amazon's show in the works, but there's a trilogy of fantasy-sci fi films in development that will complement Amazon's series. The first of the movies, Age of Legends, will be written by Zack Stentz (Thor, X-Men: First Class), and will take place several thousand years before the events of the main Wheel of Time book series, during a technological, social, and magical boom time when the female users of the One Power must band together to destroy a great evil—basically the utopian distant past of the Wheel of Time's present. The trilogy is produced by Rick Selvage and Larry Mondragon, who are also executive producers on the TV adaptation, along with Radar Pictures' Ted Field and Justin Smith. The movies don't have a distributor yet (ahem, hello, Amazon?).
Hasn't there already been a Wheel of Time pilot?
The short answer is yes. Back in February 2015, a pilot of a Wheel of Time adaptation titled "Winter Dragon" aired at 1:30am on FXX with little warning or promotion. No one really watched it (arguably the point), but the reason it existed at all is even more interesting: The Verge reported at the time that the conspicuous timing had something to do with the series' rights, which were set to revert to Jordan's estate on Feb. 11, 2015, should the rights-holder at the time, Red Eagle Entertainment, fail to produce an adaptation. So the company rushed out a pilot and paid for airtime on FXX to get it out into the world.
At the time, Jordan's widow Harriet McDougal put out a statement (still available on Wheel of Time fan site Dragonmount), saying that the pilot was made without her "knowledge and cooperation" and without consulting Bandersnatch Group (Jordan's estate). The Hollywood Reporter reported that those comments eventually led to a slander lawsuit on the basis that McDougal had, in fact, been informed of the upcoming pilot.
In any case, the legal issues were resolved in 2016 and McDougal confirmed that a television adaptation was in the works. Woohoo!