In season two, The Wheel of Time once again proves why it’s one of the best fantasy series out there.

There have been a lot of negative reviews about The Wheel of Time – it’s too dense, too many characters, confusing plots, archaic language. In my opinion, those viewers are simply lazy. Too many people have become sucked in by formulaic, one dimensional story telling and 10 second reels. Throw in some fancy visual effects and cool costumes and you have a hit.

For those of us who read fantasy books and relish in expansive world building, The Wheel of Time has figured out how to aptly adapt a fantasy series that is far more expansive than The Lord of the Rings, without having to water things down or make massive changes to the source material to create a show. Amazon’s other tent pole fantasy series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, had its fair share of detractors and, if rumors are to be believed, The Witcher lost its lead actor because the writers strayed too far from the source material.

In fact, The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan were lauded for the exact thing the critics are complaining about: their length, detailed imaginary world, magic system, and its large cast of characters. The eighth through fourteenth books each reached number one on the New York Times Best Seller list. It’s one of the bestselling epic fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings. I think it’s fair to say Robert Jordan knows what he’s doing.

So, this review is for those of you who, like me, appreciate that there are still shows out there not afraid to delve deep into storytelling, plot development, character arcs, and compelling dialogue; who don’t feel the need to simplify and dumb down everything to try and hit the ideal mainstream demographic. For all the naysayers out there who just couldn’t wrap their heads around this show, feel free to stop reading and go watch the latest season of The Mandalorian.

The Wheel of Time Season 2 Review


Season 2 (based off of book two of the series, The Epic Hunt) follows our five heroes and their Aes Sedai and Warder protectors as they embark on their individual journeys. This allowed for ample character development and reinforced that, though Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) is the Dragon Reborn, all five Edmond’s Fielders are threads of the Pattern and have a vital role to play in this weave. While it does ask a lot of the writers to simultaneously pursue six story lines, they did so deftly, giving each one enough time to compellingly develop.

After loosing her connection to the One Power, Moraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) strikes off on her own and pushes away her Warder, Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney). Egwene Al’Vere (Madeleine Madden) and Nynaeve al’Meara (Zöe Robins) have begun their Aes Sedai novice training at the White Tower and are joined by the daughter-heir to the Andorian throne, Elayne Trakand (Ceara Coveney). While they all start off together, each quickly finds themselves on individual paths. Perrin Atybara (Marcus Rutherford), with the guidance Elyas Machera (Gary Beadle) learns more about his new found abilities as a wolfbrother. Mat Cauthon (played this season by Dónal Finn) finds himself held captive by the Red Ajah Liandrin Guirale (Kate Fleetwood) as she tries to separate him from the dark influence of the red dagger. By the end of the series, each character has faced overwhelming odds and undergone immense transformation.

I was especially fascinated by Egwene’s character arc this season. From a mild mannered and somewhat naïve teenager, she becomes a true force to be reckoned with. Madden’s performance throughout the series was a perfect blend of heart-wrenching and empowering. After being betrayed by Liandrin, Egwene is collared by the Seanchan and turned into a damane (a way to control women who can channel) or “Leashed Ones.” As she is held captive, tortured and trained to be a proper damane, Egwene continues to resist Adenna Emain (Xelia Mendes-Jones), her sul’dan captor, despite the often horrifying consequence. Madden’s ferocious grit shines through each episode. She was one of the highlights of season 2.

Rosamund Pike (Moiraine Damodred), Daniel Henney (Lan Mandragoran)
Rosamund Pike (Moiraine Damodred), Daniel Henney (Lan Mandragoran)
Credit: Jan Thijs/Prime Video / Copyright: Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.

While Egwene’s journey is one of overt pain, power, and transformation, Moiraine has a much more subtle, but no less compelling path to follow. Rosamund Pike did a masterful job of conveying the utter loss she feels upon losing her connection to the One Power, but she is no less determined to protect Rand at all costs. The schism between Moiraine and Lan was especially painful to watch and Daniel Henney brings so much emotional depth to his character. The relationship between Moiraine and Lan was one of my favorite elements of season one and it is further bolstered this season. The final episode, in which their bond is restored, was like a breath of fresh air.

Seanchan Army
Credit: Jan Thijs/Prime Video / Copyright: Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.

What would a good fantasy series be without epic fight scenes, breathtaking production design, and exquisite costumes? The Wheel of Time is magnificent in all three of these categories. Whether it’s one on one combat or fighting a hoard of Trollocks, each fight sequence is meticulously choreographed and invigorating to watch. This should come as no surprise, considering stunt coordinator Jan Petrina‘s extensive body of work. While VFX superhero powers look cool and all, there’s something to be said for good old gritty fight scenes. The production design and costumes, in my opinion, are far superior to anything we saw in The Ring of Power, despite having a significantly smaller budget. Huge shout out to costume designer Sharon Gilham and her team.

As mentioned above, there are a wealth of characters in this season and it would take way too long to cover them all, so I’ll be concise. While Liandrin’s betrayal is inexcusable, the revelation about her dying son puts things into perspective for the viewer. As always, Fleetwood brought nuance to a character that could have easily been one-dimensional, and I found myself empathizing with her. I wish Loial (Hammed Animashaun) had had more screen time as his mixture of sage knowledge and youthful wonderment is always a joy to watch. Fares Fares‘ Ishmael (The Dark One) is reminiscent of Star Wars’ Grand Moff Tarkin: seething with dark power while never having to raise his voice.

Alvaro Morte delivers an exceptional performance as Logain Albar, combining the torment of a fractured mind with the desire to simply live a normal life. Natasha O’Keeffe‘s Selene could have easily fallen into the trap of siren-esque, sultry femme fatal, but O’Keefe manages to keep her grounded without loosing any of her power. It was also nice to see an older woman (at the ripe old age of 37) engaged in a romantic relationship with a younger man – something we never see on screen. Min Farshaw (Kae Alexander) was as spunky as ever and another one I wish had had more screen time. The Darkfriend High Lady Suroth (Karima McAdams) is terrifying in both her stillness and frenetic energy. And I don’t know about anyone else, but the Seanchan notability’s long fingernails are creepy AF.

Aviendha (Ayoola Smart) was an exciting addition this season (she doesn’t show up in the books until later), and I’m glad they introduced her through a partnership and life debt to Perrin. A member of the Maiden the Spear, an all-female tribe of fierce Aiel fighters who will eventually serve as bodyguards to the Dragon Reborn (or Car’a’carn in their language), Aviendha leads a band of women through some epic battles and are reminiscent of the Vuvalini (The Many Mothers) tribe from the Mad Max universe. For anyone who is a consumer of British media, Lindsay Duncan was perfect casting to play Moiraine’s sister Anvaere Damodred. I truly believe she could silence a room with just a look. There is not a weak link in the entire cast.

All in all, if you liked season 1 and are a lover of epic fantasy, season 2 doesn’t disappoint. I can’t imagine Amazon will greenlight 14 seasons, but I for one will be sticking with The Wheel of Time as long as the story keeps on weaving. “The wheel weaves as the wheel wills.”

The season finale of season two of The Wheel of Time drops on Amazon Prime Video Friday, October 6th.