There are neither beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
Wheel of Time is coming. And I am going to say, right now, with 100% confidence, it’s going to be the greatest TV Fantasy show we’ve ever seen. It is going to blow everything else that we loved and loathed completely out of the water. The reason is simple — Robert Jordan’s wife, Harriet, is well known to be extremely protective of her late husband’s legacy. There is absolutely no way she is going to let anyone drag it through the mud, play with it without actually reading the source material, add random changes for no good reason, or any other haphazard things that have happened to some of our beloved series in the past.
Plenty to Look Forward To
First, some good news. After the 2015 Winter Dragon fiasco (which reigns up there with The Star Wars Holiday Special for cringeworthy-ness) we finally have a real Wheel of Time series coming out. The bad news: All production for pretty much…everything on the planet is shut down right now due to the global pandemic. But while we are waiting for the show to go on, there are still things to talk about. The casting has started and they’ve made some great choices so far. While eagerly anticipating further announcements, I started thinking about the characters in the series. Well, not all of them, Wheel of Time is notorious for the sheer number of named characters in the book (there are 2,782 named folks to be exact). Beyond the main characters, who else is interesting? Who else are we going to love and hate, root for and against? Who else will we wish dire death upon (not regular death, but dire death)? Who are these “others”? Who are the Hodors, the Mace Windus, the M’Baku’s that no one is thinking about now, but will love as the series goes on?
Verin Mathwin: Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah
Also known as the Hufflepuff Ajah. The Browns won’t make us hate them or love them, and they are always low key, much like their Huffly counterparts. But that’s where the comparisons end. Verin always seems to pop up at the right time in the right place with the right kind of information that just blows the lid off everything. She is as low key as a L.A. Clippers fan in the 80’s. But Verin gets it done and has one of the most satisfying character arcs I’ve ever read in a fantasy novel. There are few characters in Wheel of Time that are as tactically sound as Verin Mathwin, and I dare anyone to find one character that knows how to play the long game as well as she.
Loial: Son of Arent, Son of Halan
Listen, how do you like your academic bookworms? Quiet, smart, unassuming, hairy, ten feet tall, able to wield axes that mow though trollocs like a hot knife through butter? Yeah, me too. Loial is another great character that will resonate with a lot of us. Just a kid trying to see the world, escape an overbearing mom who wants him to settle down, get married and get a real job. Loial is every kid not quite ready for the real world. He’s backpacking through Europe. He’s festival hopping through Brazil. He’s on his way to Burning Man to blow off some steam. Yeah, Loial decided to take the KING of all gap years and ends up way over his head. He is one of the most loveable characters in the series because of his unwavering support, despite knowing with extreme conviction how much he’s out of his element. Robert Jordan does a great job of breathing life into these characters over the series, they all grow and change in different ways. Loial’s realization of his impending growth, his attempts to halt it and the realization that he has no choice but to face it make for a very interesting character arc.
Birgitte Silverbow: Hero of the Horn
In fantasy books, we always learn about the prophesied heroes. The ones the Great Prophecy talks about, that will return and “bring balance to the Force” or defeat the “big bad” and you know… do whatever. Sit on the throne, kill the dragon, pull the sword out of the lake. But what happens when the hero returns too soon? When the hero must figure out everything on their own because the prophecy got jacked up somehow? Yeah, that’s Birgitte. And it’s fun to watch her and even more fun to root for her as she tries to figure out what to do now.
Thom Merrilin: Jester/Assassin/Gleeman
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you mixed a court jester with John Wick, and any Jeff Bridges character from the last 4 years. That’s Thom, and yes, he’s as awesome as he sounds. Thom was once the consort of a queen and through a series of mistakes, tantrums, bad luck and stubbornness, is now a traveling gleeman. Thom is the very definition of low key, it doesn’t seem like much ever rattles him. Robert Jordan takes him from a juggler traveling backwater inns, to a man calmly writing a ballad in the midst of brutally murdering warlocks and it all seems very in character for him.
Tuon Paendrag: Daughter of the Nine Moons
A royal who is about to find out that everything she thought about the world was a lie. But has to act as if it isn’t. She is one of the most complicated characters in the Wheel of Time series and I would love to get a stand-alone series on her life. I need to know what it was like growing up as the daughter of the empress (may she live forever) having to carve out a space on the royal court through wits, will and blood. To have to figure out how to survive assassination attempts by your own siblings. By the time we meet Tuon, life has already shaped her into a substance as hard as heartstone. She comes as a conqueror, intent on reclaiming lands long thought lost. What she finds is a continent on the brink of disaster. Her character is amazing and we love seeing Black women running things in sci-fi/fantasy.
Logain Ablar: The False Dragon
So earlier when we talked about Birgitte Silverbow, we talked about prophecy. And with Birgitte we talked about what happens to a hero spun out of prophecy too soon. What happens when they are a fish out of water? Well, with Birgitte at least she was still a fish, she just had to find the water. Logain Ablar grew up thinking the prophesy was about him. He had the look, he had the followers, he had the power. But he found out what happens when the pattern decides to play with you. Logain lost everything, his titles, his land, his power. But Robert Jordan wasn’t done with him yet, and Logain’s story is as complex as any of our main characters. Outside of Rand, I don’t think anyone is as haunted and as close to the darkness as Logain. You are never sure what he’s going to do, even at the end, and watching him fall and slip and fail and live and love is amazing.
Gaul: Aiel Stone Dog
Listen, for those of you who ever had like, a group of best friends, but within that group there was one dude you could always rely on, not matter what…That’s your Gaul. Gaul is not only a character, he is a way of life, he is a mission statement. Gaul is the friend, when you see him on the street, you yell out THAT’S MY MAIN MAN 50 GRAND! Gaul is the guy you make up elaborate dap/slap/clap with, the kind of dude your kids call Uncle. His mama gets mad when you miss their family reunions. Gaul is the guy you call last minute for bail money or the only friend of yours who shows up to help you move, from your 3rd floor apartment (on a Saturday morning no less). WHO??? Gaul, that’s who.
There’s a scene in The Town, where Ben Afflack’s character Doug goes to see his best friend Jem for some help. He walks into Jem’s apartment unannounced, Jem is laid back, watching TV. Doug says: I need your help, I can’t tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and were going to hurt some people. Jem says, Whose car are we gonna take? That, in a nutshell is Gaul’s character arc in Wheel of Time. Whose car are we gonna take?
Egeanin Tamarath: Leilwin Shipless
Egeanin is another example of Jordan’s ability to keep so many balls in the air at the same time. She shows up towards the end of Book Two in the series, and she isn’t a major character, but I’m not convinced she knows that. She rises and falls hard numerous times in the series and by the end of it, you just want Egeanin to win. I think part of it is, we just see how many bad breaks she gets. You’re waiting to see if she ever gets the ball to bounce her way once. I’m not sure if it ever does really, but I know watching her never give up, watching her refuse to yield no matter what situation she faces, her ability to adapt to it all and find a place to stand is amazing to watch.
Siuan Sanche: Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah
I don’t know how much I can actually say about her character without spoiling things. But I will say this, I didn’t like her when I first met her. I thought she was overbearing, overly secretive, untrusting and manipulative. By the end of the book I realized she was overbearing, overly secretive, untrusting and manipulative, but I understood why. She is another character whose arc would of destroyed anyone else in her place. I love how she was written, and I love how hard she fought. I think she is the Ric Flair of the Aes Sedai, she may be the dirtiest player in the game, not above a low blow or a hook of the tights to win, but you know she’s going to give it her all every time. She’s going to put on a helluva show and it so hard to root against her.
Bao the Wyld: aka Demandred
Yeah, I know, this last choice is unconventional, maybe even controversial. I get it, we aren’t supposed to root for the bad guy, especially one as one dimensional as Demandred. I found Demandred to be a cookie cutter bad guy. Jealousy turned him evil, power kept him bad, the whole spurned love angle. But once I read about Bao the Wyld, my understanding of the character changed a bit. Yes, he turned evil, but he had good(?) reasons for doing so. I mean, everything made logical sense, if you looked at it through Demandred’s eyes. While reading River of Souls I found myself actively rooting for Bao, even though I knew how evil Demandred was. I love and hate many of the characters from the Wheel of Time series but Bao the Wyld is the only character that I really wanted more “story” from. I want to see Bao’s journeys through Shara, I want to see how he fulfilled those prophecies. I want to understand the Sharan society in the same way we understand the Aiel. I want more, I need more and I think it’s a testament to the writing and character creation of Sanderson and Jordan that I feel this way.
I know you’ve got opinions on which characters you’re looking forward to meeting. Hit us in the comments and on our social media channels!