I didn't like the first episode of this new show available on Amazon Prime Video at first, much as I just could never really get into the Wheel of Time books, even though I read The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt and Dragon Reborn. I think it's because I had read a lot of typical fantasy 'chosen one' stories already by the time I got around to reading The Eye of the World, and so it seemed bland to me, perhaps simply on account of its age. One gripe I did definitely have with the series, however, was its pacing. Oh my God, was it slow paced. I think a snail could have outpaced it. It was on par with The Dragonbone Chair for poor pacing (which I also couldn't finish). Upon second viewing of the first episode of the new show, though, I found myself liking it more. Put down your cynicism goggles for a moment and it turns out this is a romantic gem that can touch your heart - at least to some extent.
The romanticism was done well, I thought. As everyone does, I think Rand Al'Thor is portrayed like a whiney git in this show, but apart from that he's OK. The backdrop for some of the scenes was breathtaking, and Rand's moment with Egwene when she tries to tell him she's going to become a Wisdom is actually quite heartbreaking, thanks in great part to the soundtrack. I should take this opportunity to say the soundtrack was sublime, evoking sadness or foreboding perfectly depending on the circumstances. Speaking of forebeoding, I thought the typical village dancing scene we see in so many fantasy films/books was brilliantly interrupted by the arrival of the trolloc. The shock of the moment, the gore. I thought it was great. The costumes and the acting, too, were on point. Not a complaint there.
Where I do have some qualms, however, is where the show takes liberties diverging from the books. In the introdution, Moiraine says the Dragon could be a man or a woman. But surely it MUST be a man because of the nature of the Dragon? Is this a mistake or feminism run rampant? And why change Matt and Perrin's characters? Why give Perrin a Laila only to kill her off? I'll have to wait to see how these changes develop before giving a verdict, I think, but I'm always suspicious when they go off-script like this. We shall see. We're watching you, Amazon!
Finally, I thought the fight scenes were pretty fantastic actually second time around, particularly Lan Mandragoran vs trollocs, which I thought was well-choreographed. Trollocs vs Perrin was a good time until the Laila incident. Damn it, I liked Perrin in the books. Why you gotta go make him a wife-killer? Grumble grumble ...
Overall, I enjoyed it in the end actually. It is the sort of thing I ought to enjoy, being a fantasy author, but I just never gelled with the books so I wasn't sure how I'd get on with the TV series. Anyway, yeah, thumbs up so far! Be sure to let me know what you thought of it and check back another day for more fantasy content :)