The Wheel of Time — Two Rivers Woolens and the Esthetics of Handcraft
Criticism, what is that? How about a bout of pure fanboyage? If you’d like that, you’ve come to the right place. And if you don’t like it, what can you do about it? The wheel weaves as the wheel wills.
Update: After watching past episode 4, my fanboyage has unfortunately dropped to a meh level at best. The only reason I don’t go to outright criticism is because this is no review blog, and I probably won’t revisit this. The books are amazing, read the books!
Wheel of Time… There are only two book series in my life that cuts that deep — and if you’ve followed us for any time you know which one the other is. (A hint — it also involves a wheel, inside of a mind that also contains metal.)
Anyhow, we went to the premiering of the two first episodes of the Wheel of Time at Stockholm Film Festival, and saw the thing in its full cinema glory. And it far exceeded every expectation me and my wife had conjured up.
First of all, we came with the rather tempered expectation that it is an adaptation. You don’t grieve over the plot lines that are lost, you praise those they nail, in understanding that they can’t film it chapter by chapter (though some of us would have consumed every bit of that).
Casting — optimal.
Two rivers culture and architecture — whoa!
The attack on Two Rivers — it was shockingly emotionally impactful. Maybe because I was pretty tired and also in an epic movie theater being physically blasted by every sound, but hey.
Foreshadowing aimed at book readers only — yes! Give me more. More wolves. More Perrin and axes and smithies.
Yes, Perrin is my favorite guy. And that brings me straight to the “criticism”.
I won’t spoil anything, but there is this thing you’ll definitely notice with Perrin and his… altered relationships. It was the first thing that passed through my shield of positivity and caused a skeptical wrinkle on my nose. (My wife felt the same). But then I said to myself, hey let’s see why they did that change. (My wife unbeknownst to me did the same). Once the episode was over, I understood why they did it, and I applaud it as an immensely impactful way of setting up Perrins big future tool/weapon dilemma and character growth arcs.
Seeing that my wife came to the exact same conclusion, and went through every step that I did while watching, I can only conclude that these folks know what they’re doing, and they have won my trust for the future of the season.
But I’ll always keep the book in a separate category, and the series on it’s firm “adaptation shelf” — it’s the only way to not criticizes every change.
Okay, but why would Red Hatters care for The Wheel of Time
I hear you, loud and clear. Now, let me weave the threads of the pattern together for you. I have plenty of justification for allowing Wheel of Time into RHF Stories.
In the Two Rivers where our main characters are from, there is something called Two Rivers woolens. The place is known for frequent wearing of wool apparel. And that in itself should be enough — wool is after all our bread and butter. But there is so much more.
There is something about the Fantasy genre that caters directly to people like us. The sense of adventure, the esthetic of old rugged sturdy village craftsmanship. In the Two Rivers you’ll find thatchers, cobblers, smiths and knitters — all crafts that Red Hat Factory loves to celebrate.
And then the simple act of reading a book series of 14 books — it takes patience. The same virtue required to craft something with excellence and keep doing it.
It’s easy to make the connection why we love the Wheel of Time, and my final words would simply be — get an Amazon Prime account and give it a try. Then you might just find yourself being drawn into the longest written adventure tale you’ve ever consumed. 4,410 036 words over the course of 14 books plus a prequel.