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The Wheel of Time might well be part of the next Game of Thrones telly gold rush, which has seen fantasy books, games and comics snapped up for big budget adaptations.
But it’s definitely got more of a Lord of the Rings flavour than anything connected to Westeros or the Iron Throne.
The new Amazon Prime show is one of the biggest telly events of the year, and looks amazing.
Based on the mega selling Robert Jordan series of books, published well before George RR Martin's books which became Game of Thrones, it’s a thrilling story of ancient darkness, magic and unlikely heroes in a world of brutal monsters and war lords.
— Amazon Prime Video UK (@primevideouk) November 17, 2021
Set in a medieval-style world where a matriarchy of magical women, the Aes Sedai, keep the peace and guard against evil, the story follows a search for a group of young people, one of which is an unknowing chosen one who can hopefully rise against a growing darkness.
The fantasy set up will feel familiar for Tolkien fans, rather than the more political world seen in Game of Thrones, and there are echoes with great sci-fi and fantasy legends from Greek mythology to Star Wars.
But just because it’s got echoes of stories we all know and love, doesn’t mean this isn’t fresh and original. The story might have similar beats but this is a unique world, with unique rules, and most importantly, unique characters.
Rosamund Pike is the biggest star of the series, and she’s amazing as the magical and heroic Moiraine, the Gandalf/Obi Wan of the world, a road-weary warrior and leader who’s on a quest to save the world from darkness.
Having women as the keepers of the magic, and the power, is a great change from the traditional grey-haired dude trope, and Pike is great as the earnest but aloof heroine, who struggles to exist in the world she’s sworn to save.
She’s surrounded by colourful characters filling the screen, and in the pilot, the young contenders are well drawn as they develop and the scene is set as destiny comes calling, quickly followed by brutal attacks which set the action and a perilous mission in motion.
There are villains and shaders on all sides, and even the good guys are questioned in a world where you’re kept guessing from minute one.
It may look like a world you feel you know, but it’s the characters and the nuances that make this different to the slew of post GoT rivals in recent years. There’s fun and charm to it, and a thrilling pilot which definitely draws you in for adventures yet to come.
The Wheel of Time launches on Amazon Prime Friday November 19, with episodes released weekly from then.
Watch: Rosamund Pike talks Wheel of Time