Wednesday, 19 August 2020


With Amazon’s The Wheel of Time TV series about to resume production on its first season after a pandemic-enforced break, I thought it might be worthwhile to confirm the state of play on the adaptation at this current stage.

From left to right: Barney Harris (Mat), Madeleine Madden (Egwene), Zoe Robins (Nynaeve), Marcus Rutherford (Perrin), Rosamund Pike (Moiraine), Josha Stradowski (Rand) and Daniel Henney (Lan).

The Wheel of Time TV series is (naturally) based on the fourteen-volume novel series written by Robert Jordan (and completed by Brandon Sanderson, who wrote the last three volumes from Jordan’s notes) and published between 1990 and 2013.

The series is being shot and filmed by Sony Television for Amazon. Sony acquired the Wheel of Time TV series rights in 2016 and entered into an agreement with Amazon to make the series the following year.

So far, a first season of eight episodes has been commissioned (based on agency information and more recently confirmed by the showrunner). The shooting of Season 1 began on 16 September 2019 and was expected to end in May 2020, but the pandemic shut down production on 12 March. Production is now expected to resume imminently and to continue for another six weeks or so.

A second season has not officially been greenlit, but given Amazon’s recent tendency to renew shows early and the news that the writers’ room is already working on Season 2 scripts, a second season renewal seems inevitable.

Season 1 will adapt The Eye of the World and potentially parts of The Great Hunt, but this is not confirmed. Season 1 will also feature new and expanded storylines not covered in the book, most notably the story of the false Dragon Logain, and potentially using the prequel novel New Spring as the basis for flashback material.

An airdate for Season 1 has not yet been confirmed, but early 2021 has been mooted by various sources. Given the pandemic delay, this now seems likely.

The production is based in Prague, with location filming in the Czech Republic and Slovenia having already taken place. The Great Soča Gorge in Slovenia reportedly is standing in for part of the Two Rivers and Vojkovice in the Czech Republic is apparently going to be the site of the Taren Ferry river crossing. Additional filming has taken place at St. Wenceslas Church in Vysluni, Czech Republic (some have speculated for Shadar Logoth, but this is unconfirmed). 

The precise budget for Season 1 is unknown, but information from the Czech government on the rebates granted to the production suggest a season budget of between $80 and $100 million, working out at north of $10 million per episode. This is more than The Witcher (which had around $7 million per episode) and matches the budget of Game of Thrones in its sixth season.

Showrunner/head writer Rafe Judkins (right) with Brandon Sanderson.

The showrunner, creator and head writer on the series is Rafe Judkins, who previously worked as a writer, script editor and producer on series including ChuckHemlock Grove and Agents of SHIELD. Judkins is a lifelong Wheel of Time fan.

The other writers on Season 1 are Amanda Kate Shuman (The BlacklistBerlin Station), Paul & Michael Clarkson aka the Clarkson Twins (The FeedHis Dark Materials), Dave Hill (Game of Thrones), Justine Juel Gillmer (Into the BadlandsThe 100) and Celine Song (playwright).

Uta Briesewitz (Stranger ThingsWestworldJessica Jonesis directing the first two episodes and possibly the third. She is also an executive producer on the project.

Wayne Yip (Doctor WhoInto the BadlandsPreacheris directing at least one episode.

Salli Richardson-Whitefield (PunisherDoom PatrolAmerican Godsis directing at least one episode.

Kelly Valentine Hendry (Gangs of LondonHarlotsThe Last KingdomBroadchurch) is the casting director on the show.

Mark Risk (DreddThe WatchBlack MirrorOutlander) is a storyboard artist.

Joshua Lee (The Fifth ElementPrometheus, seven of the Star Wars movies and all of the Harry Potter saga) is handling the animatronics and model design for the show.

Nick Dudman (Carnival RowPenny Dreadful, the Harry Potter series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, WillowLegendKrullReturn of the Jediis handling makeup effects and prosthetics for the show.

Isis Mussenden (The Chronicles of Narnia film series, The WolverineMasters of Sexis reportedly the costume designer on the series.

David Buckley (PapillonThe Good WifeThe Good Fightis reportedly the main composer for the series. You can listen to samples of his work here.

Miroslav Prechechtel (Carnival RowKnightfallSpider-Man: Far From HomeThe Romanoffsis reportedly working on special effects for the series.

Jakub Chilczuk (CurfewBlack Mirror) and Karen E. Goulekas (The FirstLifelineRootsLooperSpider-ManGodzilla) are working on visual effects for the series.

Sonja Field (Turn Up CharlieGame of Thrones: The Long Nightis reported to be a dialect coach on the series.

Valyrian Steel will be producing replica weapons, jewellery and angreal from the series.

David Luther (His Dark MaterialsBlack Sails) is a director of photography. David “Moxy” Moxness (Whiskey CavalierFringeSmallvilleis also a director of photography on the series.

Matt Platts-Mills (The AlienistTaboois an editor on at least episodes 1-3.

Ted Field, Nina Heyns, Marigo Kehoe, Darren Lemke, Rick Selvage, Mike Weber and Lauren Selig are listed as producers on the project.

Harriet McDougal, the head of the Robert Jordan Estate/Bandersnatch Group, the editor of the book series and Robert Jordan’s widow, is a consulting producer on the project.

Larry Mondragoran of Red Eagle Entertainment is also a producer on the project. Red Eagle has no direct involvement in filming.

Brandon Sanderson, who co-wrote the last three books in the Wheel of Time novel series (from Robert Jordan’s notes), is a consulting producer and occasional creative consultant on the series. Wheel of Time uberfan Sarah Nakamura is also a creative consultant on the show.

The Episodes
The known working titles for the episodes are as follows:

101: Leavetakings, written by Rafe Judkins
102: Shadow’s Waiting, written by Amanda Kate Shuman
103: A Place of Safety, written by the Clarkson Twins
104: The Dragon Reborn, written by Dave Hill
105: Blood Calls Blood, written by Celine Song
106: The Flame of Tar Valon, written by Justine Juel Gillmer
107: unknown
108: unknown, probably to be written by Rafe Judkins

There will be goats.

So far, 38 actors have been announced or leaked for Season 1, but this is not the full cast. Actors marked* are probably in the show (usually through their casting agents putting the credit in their online bios and then removing them, presumably at Amazon's request) but Amazon has not formally confirmed them as yet.

Main Cast
  • Moiraine Damodred - Rosamund Pike
  • Rand al'Thor - Josha Stradowski
  • Egwene al'Vere - Madeleine Madden
  • Perrin Aybara - Marcus Rutherford
  • Nynaeve al'Meara - Zoe Robbins
  • Mat Cauthon - Barney Harris
  • al'Lan Mandragoran - Daniel Henney
  • Thom Merrilin - Alexandre Willaume
Other Major Characters
  • Padan Fain - Johann Myers
  • Logain Ablar - Alvaro Morte
  • Loial - Hammed Animashaun
  • Min Farshaw - Kae Alexander
In the Two Rivers
  • Tam al'Thor - Michael McElhatton
  • Abell Cauthon - Christopher Sciueref
  • Natti Cauthon  - Juliet Howland
  • Daise Congar - Mandi Symonds
  • Marin al'Vere - Lolita Chakrabarti
  • Bran al'Vere - Michael Tuahine
  • Cenn Buie - David Sterne
  • Master Hightower - Pearce Quigley*
  • Eldrin Cauthon - Lilibet Biutanaseva*
  • Bode Cauthon - Litiana Biutanaseva*
  • Laila Aybara - Helena Westerman*
Aes Sedai and Warders
  • Siuan Sanche - Sophie Okonedo (adult Siuan) & Keira Chansa (young Siuan)
  • Alanna Mosvani - Priyanka Bose
  • Ihvon - Emmanuel Imani
  • Maksim - Taylor Napier
  • Leane Sharif - Jennifer Cheon Garcia
  • Liandrin Guirale - Kate Fleetwood
  • Kerene Nagashi  - Clare Perkins
  • Stepin - Peter Franzen
Children of the Light
  • Eamon Valda - Abdul Salis
  • Geofram Bornhald - Stuart Graham
  • Aram - Daryl McCormack
  • Ilya - Maria Doyle Kennedy
  • Raen - Narinder Samra
  • Master Grinwell  - Pasha Bocarie
  • Mistress Grinwell - Jennifer K. Preston
  • Dana - Izuka Hoyle
  • Basel Gill - Darren Clarke
  • Narg / Trollocs - Roman Dvorak
  • "Steve" - Phil Snowden*
  • Unknown - Naana Agyei Ampadu*

In the case of some characters who do not appear until later books (notably Alanna and her Warders, and Eamon Valda), it is believed these characters will appear in the expanded Logain storyline, which will reportedly see him captured on-screen rather than off-page as in the book. The character of "Laila Aybara" does not appear in the books, but Perrin notes that he once had a girlfriend called Laila that he could have married, leading to speculation that the writers may be considering a major change to Perrin's backstory. However, this casting has not yet been confirmed by Amazon.

Assuming that Season 1 covers all of The Eye of the World, roles yet to be confirmed could possibly include Dain Bornhald, Mordeth, Jaret Byar, Elyas Machera, Bayle Domon, Floran Gelb, Morgase Trakand, Elayne Trakand, Gawyn Trakand, Galadedrid Damodred, Gareth Bryne, Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan, Lamgwin Dor, Ingtar Shinowa and Agelmar Jagad, among many, many others.

More news as we get it.

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Andrew said...

I hate needless speculation... So let me needlessly speculate on the episodes :)

Episode 1 - ends at tairen ferry
Episode 2 - ends after SL
Episode 3 - ends in camelyn
Episode 4 - ways, shienar, waste
Episode 5 - flashback episode
Episode 6 - ends with the great hunt starting and on the way to TV
Episode 7 - chasing, flickers, cairhein, TV
Episode 8 - seanchan and toman head battle

Lots of time in each episode to tell the main scenes from each of those parts, if cairhein feels too rushed could leave it for after tDR and stop there on the way to the waste.

Feels like we're looking at about 7 seasons, books 7,8,9,10 you could almost do as one season.

Andrew said...

Also, fantastic round-up, thank you! Really hoping production resumes soon.