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How The Wheel of Time Season 2 Departs From the Book Series

Fans of the books that served as inspiration for the Amazon Prime series can look forward to a wild and unusual voyage with the return of The Wheel of Time for a second season. Although some variations from canon were probably caused by circumstances rather than on purpose, the finale of season 1 saw some very significant departures from the first novel of the book series by Robert Jordan.

A number of Covid-related work stoppages, as well as the untimely departure of Barney Harris, who played Mat Cauthon, one of the show's main characters, contributed to the difficulties that beset season 1 of The Wheel of Time's production. The reason Harris quit the series was never made clear, but it forced a significant shift in how the plot developed in the program compared to the books. Mat left his friends behind and ended up heading back to Tar Valon, the capital of the Aes Sedai, rather than traveling to the Eye of the World with the rest of them. Although it was by no means the only deviation from the books, it was undoubtedly the most significant. As a result, many fans questioned whether season 2 would bring the plot back on course.

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The answer is both yes and no based on the first four episodes of season 2. Even if it would deprive some book fans of some of their most beloved scenes from the original novel, so far, it seems to be a good thing.

Choosing to go a different route
Ayoola Smart and Marcus Rutherford portray Avienda and Perrin Aybara, respectively, in Jan Thijs's Prime Video.
Ayoola Smart and Marcus Rutherford portray Avienda and Perrin Aybara, respectively. Video by Jan Thijs, Prime
The events of The Great Hunt, the second book in The Wheel of Time series, are purportedly followed in Season 2, which will premiere on September 1 on Amazon Prime with three new episodes. However, things have already started to go extremely differently. For instance, at the beginning of the book, all the main characters—including Mat Cauthon and Rand al'Thor—reconvene at the walled city of Fal Dara, where Moiraine begins her plots against the people of Two Rivers. Rand also meets with Siuan Sanche, the leader of the Aes Sedai, who informs him that he is the Dragon Reborn. Rand, Mat, and Perrin accompany Shienaran lord Ingtar on his quest for the legendary Horn of Valere.

In the first few episodes of the show, none of this happens. While working at a sanitarium in the city for his own purposes, Rand, who pretended to die at the end of the first season, has instead made his own way to the city of Cairhien. There, he has established a casual sexual relationship with a strange and attractive innkeeper named Selene. The Red Sister Liandrin Sedai has imprisoned Mat in the White Tower, where he makes friends with Min Farshaw, the reluctant seer and fortune teller we initially met in season one. As the lone Two Riversian accompanying Ingtar on his search for the Horn, Perrin encounters the Seanchan, a mystery invading force composed of muzzled women with channeling abilities and led by a Lady Suroth.

This will all look like a very strange series of events to book fans. Even Egwene and Nynaeve's Tower adventures, which thus far have stayed considerably more true to the events in the novels, are gradually deviating from those accounts.

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As a longtime reader of the books, watching the events of the first few episodes of season 2 have played out has been like watching a game of Telephone: each change in the story, unintentional or not, generates another and another, producing a bizarre funhouse version that is somewhat similar to the original but hopelessly distorted by all the iterations in between. However, it somehow works for the show, being more in line with the spirit of The Wheel of Time books than the actual text.


Daniel Jack

For Daniel, journalism is a way of life. He lives and breathes art and anything even remotely related to it. Politics, Cinema, books, music, fashion are a part of his lifestyle.