fantastic swashbuckling adventure to watch this new year

Developed By: Rafe Judkins

Actors: Rosamund Pike, Daniel Henney, Madeleine Madden, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Zoë Robins, Barney Harris

Genre: Fantasy action

Country / Language: USA / English

8 episodes, approx. 54 minutes each

Release date: November 19, 2021 (first three episodes)

Amazon Prime Video was on the hunt for its own hit show to rival the megahits of streaming giants Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu. And they might well have found it. “The Wheel of Time” is Prime Video’s new big-budget project that has been released, perhaps, to see how it performs commercially before embarking on their even more ambitious adaptation of “Lord of the Rings.” And it looks like the hard work and the budget are paying off. ‘The Wheel of Time’ would be the most watched show on the streaming site, with India being one of the top countries in terms of viewership.

Based on Robert Jordan’s beloved novel series, the eight-part show, which last aired on December 24, is highly entertaining. It takes place in a fantasy world where witchcraft, orcs, destructive spirits, and magical portals are common. It is explained that many years ago a man known as the Dragon helped the Dark One (an evil and almighty entity) escape his cage and destroy the world.

The world was then rebuilt from the ashes and ruins of war. And now, many years later, the Dark One is once again gaining strength and numbers to escape the prison. Moiraine (played by Rosamund Pike from “Gone Girl”) is a magical Aes Sedai who searches for the Reborn Dragon. Together, she hopes, they can end the Dark One and save the world from yet another doomsday war.

After many years of searching, she finds five young friends in a humble village who radiate certain energies. These energies convince Moiraine that one of the five young people is the Dragon Reborn who could save the world. But she is not sure which of them it is. It is also possible that Moiraine has personal motivations for this research and that she should not be completely trusted.

The story is ambitious, epic, and full of action and twists. The writers had the Herculean task of balancing the many different characters, giving each one enough screen time and characterization. And they surely succeed. Over the course of the eight hour-long episodes, we get to root the five motley friends: sweet Egwene (Madeleine Madden), stocky Rand (Josha Stradowski), blacksmith Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), mischievous Mat (Barney Harris). and the older and wise Nynaeve (Zoë Robbins).

While the characterization of all the characters is not perfect (we wish we had seen more of Egwene’s personal demons), Perrin and Mat’s vulnerability and suffering wins our hearts as Nynaeve’s worn eyes and face let us down. give clues to past pains without the need for words.

The action is thrilling to say the least. Many settings such as the desolate and haunting town of Shadar Logoth, the bustling multiethnic town of Tar Valon, and the inn where the heroes face off against a gang of evil orcs led by the pale, eyeless monster called a fade are all extremely memorable. , giving the fantasy world a deeper sense of authenticity. the

the only visual downside, while not too big, is the special effects when the characters channel their powers. The bluish-white waves that look like electricity don’t look very real and certainly need some getting used to in the first few episodes.

Another great facet of this show is the wonderful diversity of the cast and characters and how much that visibly enriches the show. We get a parallel inside this magical world with the real world Roma. Like the Roma people, the fictitious nomadic Tinker community faces discrimination and has a notorious reputation for being child thieves and savages. Contrary to this belief, the Tinkers practice non-violence while teaching Egwene and Perrin a thing or two about forgiveness and the truth.

The cast is fantastic. Priyanka Bose (from “Pareeksha” and “Lion”) plays the mighty Aes Sedai at the White Tower who helps Moiraine run the Tower’s politics. We get a frightening and absolutely devilish performance from Abdul Salis as Eamon Valda, a leader of the “Children of the Light”, who stalks the Aes Sedai women and burns them at the stake because witchcraft is not ” not the way of the Light [read “Lord”](A clear parallel with the history of the Church’s witch craze in Europe and America).

Marcus Rutherford gives us a heartbreaking performance as kind Perrin who suffers from guilt over his past. Rosamund Pike is the star of the cast and the backbone of the series. And my boy, do we like it. Playing the powerful, stern and frontman Aes Sedai Moiraine, Pike has the strength to captivate audiences with his words and a look. In a key scene, Moiraine is on her horse with her guardian Lan (charmingly played by Daniel Henney) and four youngsters.

Hearing the young people sing an old ballad, Moiraine asks if they know the story behind the song. Then she tells us a living story of the ancient city during the Great War era that fought evil monsters and Darkfriends for many weeks, day and night, without any help from outside the city. Pike tells this story compellingly, without the help of flashbacks or background effects, but simply with shots of the group riding their horses across green pastures and cutting from different angles. It is a fascinating and captivating moment.

It might even bring tears to your eyes and make us feel patriots for a fictional ancient city and its spirit of never saying. Barney Harris plays Mat Cauthon, a young thief with a heart of gold. The exceptional Harris will be missed as the actor will not be returning for Season 2 for some undisclosed reason, and will be replaced by Dónal Finn from ‘The Witcher’ instead.

And finally, the angle of the empowerment of women is another endearing point of this captivating adventure. For too long, the high fantasy genre of television shows has sidelined female characters to give more space to men, such as the “Lord of the Rings” books and movies and the “Vikings” series.

When women share the series space, they are often forced to endure unreasonably increased cruelty and voyeuristic sexual violence at the hands of men, as in “Game of Thrones”. Women (as well as men) can watch “The Wheel of Time” knowing that there is no unnecessary sexual violence inflicted on women (or men) on this show.

Not only that, but the women in this story, especially the esteemed cult of Aes Sedai, are very powerful characters who can channel magic to defeat men twice the size. There’s even a subplot where women can get away with touching black magic while men aren’t strong enough to handle it, thus going crazy to meet them.

It’s also fun to watch the all-female Aes Sedai politics unfold as we learn the practice of the members choosing a male lifelong partner, called Warder, with whom they share an indestructible bond. These women can also choose to have more than one partner.

“The Wheel of Time” is very exciting and fast paced, with each episode ending on a cliff hanger which makes it easy to become addicted to the frenzy of the series. We look forward to the second season (which has already been lit) of the series. It is hoped that the series will get bigger than it already is, thus gaining more and more seasons until it sparks a world wide “Game of Thrones” style fandom. It would certainly be more deserving of it.

“The Wheel of Time” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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