We realize our full spoiler review of episodes 1 – 3 might have been just a little daunting, so we’ve created this separate article containing just our book to screen comparisons for the first three episodes. These comparisons are not exhaustive, and there are other characters and plot points we may discuss in the future.
Note: Like the full review, this article contains full spoilers, and when we say “full spoilers,” we’re including the entire book series, as we will be discussing changes from the books and potential ramifications for the future. If you don’t want plot points from the books that may show up in future episodes and seasons of The Wheel of Time spoiled for you, please read our spoiler-free review instead.
Book to Screen Comparisons
Multiple comments from Rafe have indicated season 2 would be a combination of The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn. This isn’t surprising, as the books have many repetitive plot beats. However, mashing two sequential books into one coherent storyline is never going to be easy, and we had quite a bit of trepidation about how that would play out this season. Overall, in the episodes we’ve seen so far, the writers have done a commendable job of weaving the two books together.
Moiraine and Lan: This is one of the biggest changes from book to show. Of course we know Moiraine wasn’t cut off from channeling in the books. However, her plot in The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn is fairly thin, consisting of a few chapters of prophecy research and then a lot of chasing after Rand. The writers’ decision to cut her off from the Source — and we’re still convinced she’s shielded, not stilled — was a way to inject more conflict into her television plot, as well as give an A-list actress like Rosamund Pike more compelling material to work with. Ultimately, so far Moiraine seems to be on a similar trajectory to her book counterpart. She’s clearly hunting for information, collecting and researching, and we know from trailers and other promotional material that she will eventually end up in Cairhien, where it only seems reasonable she will find Rand. Instead of her epic takedown of Be’lal at the Stone of Tear at the end of The Dragon Reborn, she could play a similar role at Falme, if freed from her shield. Lan’s plot is similarly lacking in these two books, and sidelining Daniel Henney for a season is clearly not an option, so the changes to his story are very similar to Moiraine’s. His struggle to find meaning without Moiraine is also clever preparation and foreshadowing for what’s to come.
Rand: On its face, Rand’s plot is also significantly changed. But the main beats are there, just reworked and in different geographical locations. He’s alone now, similar to the way he’s alone in much of The Dragon Reborn, but there are still echoes of the journey he undertook in The Great Hunt: he learns about sword forms, finds a mentor who teaches him about the games nobles play, and struggles with learning to control the One Power without going mad or worse. Pairing him up with Logain, while not in the books, is a fantastic adaptational choice that will fuel his desperation to find a mentor who can actually teach him how to channel. Another notable change is to the relationship between him and Selene: he didn’t meet her as a damsel in distress in a portal world, and they’re also in an intimate relationship. We’ll see how their relationship in the show plays out, but so far it seems like a more believable and adult way for the characters to interact, especially considering the way the younger characters were matured for television. But despite the changes, Selene’s dialogue is still full of subtle references that book readers will catch, and we love watching their interactions. A standout moment was when she tells Rand she’ll kill him if he leaves her again, moonlight glinting in her eyes.
Perrin: Perrin’s odd abilities last season took a backseat to his trauma over the loss of his wife. With Elyas in the picture now, it seems he’ll begin his book journey of discovering how to manage this connection with the wolves. Ishamael’s words were another clever way to make him reluctant to embrace this connection. This all rings true of book Perrin, who struggled many times over the choice between peace and violence. The show certainly seems to be prolonging Perrin’s wolf journey, which seems reasonable since in the books his character infamously peaks early and then spins his wheels for multiple books.
Mat: It would be remiss of us not to point out that Mat’s journey this season probably needed to be reworked entirely from the original season 2 draft scripts that were written prior to the sudden departure of Barney Harris. While we wonder what that original season was meant to look like, what we have instead does work well for the character. Mat already struggled in season 1 due to his family dynamics, but his decision to stay behind while his friends headed off into danger is something that still haunts him. The Mat of the books is a reluctant hero who often thinks one thing, but then does the complete opposite. He puts himself into danger for the sake of his friends even while grumbling about it, and this type of behavior makes sense when viewed from the perspective of a young man who feels guilty for failing his friends once but also has had to live many years of looking out for himself because of his parents. Of course, all book fans are going to be wondering, what about his fight with Gawyn and Galad before leaving the White Tower? Showrunner Rafe Judkins previously commented that was a scene he was excited to adapt, but he wanted to make it “more believable”. With signs pointing to Gawyn and Galad’s introductions being held for season 3, we think that iconic fight won’t appear this season, perhaps giving the show a chance to first establish Mat’s quarterstaff skills.
Nynaeve: Nynaeve seems to be spending a bit more time as a Novice than in the books, but that makes sense considering her television counterpart has barely channeled after arriving at the White Tower. While her block has been changed a little — only channeling when angry or scared, and seemingly formed because of her trauma in Fal Dara — her Accepted test in the show is very similar at its core to her test in the books. The most blatant difference is the change to her first arch, but the show’s version featuring her parents feels truer to the core of Nynaeve’s fears. This change also provided additional emotional resonance due to the parallel between her experience as a child in the first arch and her experience as a mother in the final arch. While some readers may find her third arch was significantly changed, the show ultimately expanded on the book version. In the books, in the third arch she enters a vision of her as the queen of Malkier, with Lan and their children, and is tempted to stay to the point she misses the arch to return. Once she realizes what she’s done, she manages to channel and bring back the exit.
Egwene: It seems that Egwene is needing to work much harder than her book counterpart to learn to channel. Her budding frustrations of being overlooked despite her hard work and her potential are brought to the forefront. This feels absolutely true to Egwene’s book nature and helps provide additional believability to why she is so ambitious and so eager to learn. It also provides an interesting starting point for her journey of struggle ahead. Will she come to regret her desperation to be acknowledged by other channelers? We shall find out.
Verin: It appears Verin has been combined with the character of Vandene, Adeleas’ sister in the books. Book readers know that these two sisters were at the center of one of the long-running “whodunnits” in the books. It will be interesting to see how changing Vandene to Verin will affect how this mystery plays out, if it’s included in the show. Additionally, it seems that show Verin is less “dotty aunt” and more “sweet grandmother.” It’s a subtle difference, but it also makes sense given that this Verin spends quite a bit of time with her flamboyant sister and would therefore be a bit more social. It also still provides excellent contrast for those moments where her true intelligence shines through and we realize she knows much more than she lets on. Verin also serves as a perfect method to communicate prophecies to the audience. She specifically mentions Toman Head, battles in the sky, a sword of flame wielded by a branded hand. Additionally, the gleeman in episode 3 mentions that the Horn of Valere will “summon the Heroes of the Ages back from the grave.” These are all things that should sound familiar to book readers, and their inclusion hints at what we can probably expect later this season.
Liandrin: Liandrin’s character continues to be expanded upon and fleshed out exponentially more than she ever was in the books, doing heavy lifting in both Nynaeve and Mat’s character arcs. The inclusion of a son was a surprise, but it’s the first time the television show has shown what it means for channelers to live far longer than non-channelers. It will be interesting to see where this development leads in terms of Liandrin’s motivations going forward.
The first three episodes of season two were released on September 1, 2023. The season will contain eight episodes in total written by Rafe Judkins, Amanda Kate Shuman, Justine Juel Gillmer, Dave Hill, Katherine B McKenna, Rammy Park, John McCutcheon, Rohit Kumar, and Timothy Earle. WoTSeries.com is a news site by fans, for fans, and is not affiliated with any paid sponsors or brands. We stand in solidarity with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA and encourage donations to the Entertainment Community Fund to support those affected during the work stoppage.