Wheel of Time Discussion - Spoilers(with book spoilers)

Parmandur

Book-Friend
OK, fair enough. My memory--again, 25+ years old--is that Andor was basically England, and everything outside of it various shades of Europe. Sort of. I also mis-remembered the Aiel as darker, when someone clarified that they were light-skinned in the books.
Oh, goodness, no. The Borderlands are Steppe and East Asian, culturally, the southwest is Middle Eastern, etc. Andorra is pretty "English-y," but the Westlands are pretty diverse and broad: before the Seanchan, Aiel or Sharans enter the picture, just about every sort of human phenotype is represented in the Westlands, and a wide range of non-European cultures.
 

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Mercurius

Legend
Oh, goodness, no. The Borderlands are Steppe and East Asian, culturally, the southwest is Middle Eastern, etc. Andorra is pretty "English-y," but the Westlands are pretty diverse and broad: before the Seanchan, Aiel or Sharans enter the picture, just about every sort of human phenotype is represented in the Westlands, and a wide range of non-European cultures.
I remember the Seanchan being quasi-Asian, but not the Borderlanders. I thought that was new to the show. It has been awhile...
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I remember the Seanchan being quasi-Asian, but not the Borderlanders. I thought that was new to the show. It has been awhile...
The Seanchan government is modeled after dynastic China or ancient Persia as a huge bureaucratic autocratic imperial state, but the Seanchan are diverse phenotypically themselves, with blonde hair and blue eyed soldiers next to black nobles, or vice versa. The Borderlanders have generally Asian cultural elements and looks, but don't have large imperial structures as they fight for survival on the frontier.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Alright, I finally watched the last episode. My impression, the short version: Disappointment. I was hoping that this episode would draw together the various threads and tonal qualities of the season, but it actually accentuated my overall problems with the series.

For one, it felt really rushed, like it should have been several episodes but was crammed into one. I know they're dealing with an impossible task: reducing 14 huge books to (probably) 8 seasons with a total of 64 episodes. That means about 4.5 episodes per book on average, which is just absurd. But, this is the task they've set themselves with, and I feel like they're both trying to do too much and doing too little, and the end result is still entertaining, but overall it feels much less than it could be if they had committed to a slower burn.

Connected to that is an ongoing problem I have with the writing and direction, which is a feeling that it is trying to be more dramatic than it actually is. It is almost a variation of "telling" rather than "showing": Rather than showing us stuff that evokes emotion, it feels like they're outright saying, "This is really dramatic - feel emotion now." It just isn't quite working, imo.

A couple other things. The Seanchan just seemed random. I've read the books, so I understand their backstory, but it just felt like a random plot element thrown in, with no context - or at least that's how I imagine a non-book reader would feel.

Finally, as I heard elsewhere, the editing and effects are just uneven, and I can't shake the feeling that it is a low budget show, even though I know its not. he Trollocs looked very video gamey, and some of the scenes looked unfinished. Who knows, maybe Amazon is throwing their bucks into LotR. Or maybe they're rushing it? I don't know. But it isn't as high quality as it should be.

Don't get me wrong: I still like the show. But a lot of that is not because I think it is really well done, but because I like the story and it is, at least, visually appealing (for the most part). But I can't say, at this point at least--things might change once we get into season 2--that they're doing a good job of adapting the books, certainly nowhere nearly as good as Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. I think it is a middling job at best, and in some ways not good at all. And I also can't say that it is a well done show. It is impossible not to compare it to Game of Thrones, and it just looks rather bad, comparatively (and I say this as someone who preferred the Jordan books to the one Martin book I read).

p.s. I will say something good about the episode. I loved the glimpse into the Age of Legends - a very cool set piece, with the towers, flying craft, etc.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I’m sorry, that’s not a dig at you. It was a reference to the fact that in the age of legends people were beyond racism and didn’t segregate. I just don’t understand what is sloppy about genetic makeup being mixed across lands, following an enlightened time like this.

If the genetic make up in the mountain town is mixed to start with… then it isn’t going to resemble any one particular group in 500 years time. Also don’t forget that the Edmonds Fielders are descents of a massive city. It’s like if something indiscriminately wiped out 99.5% of Londoners and the survivors started again.
They also aren't as isolated as you guys are making it out to be. They get news and hear about wars. Hell, Tam went to the Aiel war to fight and then came back. It's not beyond reason for some of them to move away and some people to move there to get away from larger cities.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
As a counter example...it isn't necessarily "good worldbuilding" that three cousins from a small rural community have as wildly different accents as Pippen, Merry and Frodo do in the movies (a Scotsman, an Irishman, and an American all walk into a bar pretending to be English gentry...), but approximately nobody cares.
No true Scotsman is that short. :p
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
They also aren't as isolated as you guys are making it out to be. They get news and hear about wars. Hell, Tam went to the Aiel war to fight and then came back. It's not beyond reason for some of them to move away and some people to move there to get away from larger cities.
Yeah, they aren’t visited often by the tax authority due to a lack of much to give, but they aren’t a completely isolated community.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
I thought it was because they were so distant and Caemlyn's arm only stretched so far.
It's a return on investment situation; it would cost the government in Caemlyn more to try to tax the Two Rivers than they would get, so as long as they aren't declaring independence they are content to just let their wool trickle out in trade slowly. The geographic barriers to the South, West and East mean that there is no national security concern for Andor, as any other nation would have to go through the rest of Andor to get to the Two Rivers, so there is no reason to have fortifications or military present.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A couple other things. The Seanchan just seemed random. I've read the books, so I understand their backstory, but it just felt like a random plot element thrown in, with no context - or at least that's how I imagine a non-book reader would feel.
I imagine that they saw it as a cliffhanger new development, rather than just a random plot element.
 


Bolares

Hero
One element of the series that I find a bit awkward from a world-building sense, is the hodge-podge multiculturalism. I have no issue with the showrunners making it (far) more multicultural than in the books, but as a world-builder, the lack of any internal consistency is annoying.

The only vaguely consistent element that I've seen is that Borderlanders seem to be Asian.
Isn't this story set on the future of our world? It'd only be logical for the world to get more and more multicultural antil the big apocalypses happen. And then the world would rebuild, but people who lived in multicultural places would still be very diverse. I think it would be unrealistic for people to segregate again after the world blew up...
 


Bolares

Hero
The Two Rivers is an isolated mountain community, with little contact with the outside world except for peddlers and the occasional stray gleeman or traveler.
Isn't the two rivers the remnant of a great and proud city state? that traveled very far on the trolloc wars (or another war, I can't be sure)? So, no, it's not an analogue of an isolated community with little contact with the outside world from our context. It's the descendants of something huge, that could easilly be very diverse and multicultural. So, there is worldbuilding here, justifying a diverse casting.
 

A couple of points based on a discussion with my wife, who has no knowledge of the books.

The Seanchan at the end did exactly what I would expect the showrunners hoped….it introduced a new threat that is mysterious and dangerous but not yet understood. My wife was like “WTF who are these guys?”

Regarding the Horn of Valere….she had no idea that’s what was in the box, nor what it is. They mention it once, and then there’s a line of dialogue explaining what it is according to legend. But given the scene and the focus on Fain and Perrin, she totally missed that. All she knows is that it’s something important. And honestly, that’s enough. The show can expand on the horn next season pretty easily.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Isn't this story set on the future of our world? It'd only be logical for the world to get more and more multicultural antil the big apocalypses happen. And then the world would rebuild, but people who lived in multicultural places would still be very diverse. I think it would be unrealistic for people to segregate again after the world blew up...
People aren't going to move from far away pockets or other continents to one place to live, though. You'd still have segregated pockets of people that grow in numbers until you have countries.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I thought it was very misterious, and made it a good reason for the trolloc army to be attacking fal dara and not trying to find rand and moiraine.
If it had been known, though, you'd have had them being attacked by the countries to the south as well. That horn is very powerful. Plus the trollocs and the dark one don't really need a reason to want to attack southward and kill people.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Isn't the two rivers the remnant of a great and proud city state? that traveled very far on the trolloc wars (or another war, I can't be sure)? So, no, it's not an analogue of an isolated community with little contact with the outside world from our context. It's the descendants of something huge, that could easilly be very diverse and multicultural. So, there is worldbuilding here, justifying a diverse casting.
I don't think this is correct. Manetheren fell 1800 years ago. Two Rivers has presumably been mostly isolated for that time, with only sparse contact with the outside world. Or at least that's the norm we start with at the beginning of the story, and there's no implication that it was once a thriving cosmopolitan center anytime in the recent past.

An isolated community tends to get pretty homogenous over 1800 years.
 

I don't think this is correct. Manetheren fell 1800 years ago. Two Rivers has presumably been mostly isolated for that time, with only sparse contact with the outside world. Or at least that's the norm we start with at the beginning of the story, and there's no implication that it was once a thriving cosmopolitan center anytime in the recent past.

An isolated community tends to get pretty homogenous over 1800 years.

But does the show imply this as strongly as the books do?

I didn’t really get that impression. Is it a remote place? Yes. Is it so remote that there is little to no contact with the outside world? We don’t know enough from the show to say so.

Have they even said in the show what country the Two Rivers is from? Or made many comments about how rare strangers are? I don’t think that the show has made any strong attempts to do so, where as in the books this is all very specifically stated.
 

Mercurius

Legend
But does the show imply this as strongly as the books do?

I didn’t really get that impression. Is it a remote place? Yes. Is it so remote that there is little to no contact with the outside world? We don’t know enough from the show to say so.

Have they even said in the show what country the Two Rivers is from? Or made many comments about how rare strangers are? I don’t think that the show has made any strong attempts to do so, where as in the books this is all very specifically stated.
I do think they say it is part of Andor. Don't they mention tax collectors not coming because it is so far from civilization, or was that only the book?

And in the show, they do look upon the arrival of Padan Fain and Thom Merrilin as rare. I think it is strongly implied that Two Rivers is very isolated. I mean, the five had never been to Baerlon, the closest large town.
 

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