What is Wrong with the Wheel of Time?

Alice Bonasio
8 min readDec 19, 2021
Courtesy of Amazon Studios © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.

I’m not a “hater.”

Putting that out there for anybody taking all of five seconds to conclude that I’m one of those people who expect screen adaptations to exactly reflect the beloved books upon which they are based in every single detail… well, I’m not. Far from it, in fact. I desperately wanted to love the long-awaited TV adaptation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, but after watching several episodes, the disappointment has built up to an uncomfortable level where I feel I must vent, even if that gains me the label of “disgruntled reader.”

As a writer and producer with experience of the creative industries, I know very well that adapting a text to a different medium comes with an acknowledgement that what you are doing is, after all, an adaptation. Modifications — and compromises — are clearly at the heart of this process.

But modifications should be made with purpose. Change for the sake of change is simply destructive, and the choices you make early on are paramount to how the plot — especially such a devilishly intricate one as Jordan weaves in the WoT — can develop at later stages. And this is where the Wheel of Time has epically failed.

First, though, let’s give credit where it is due: The series has got two things spectacularly right: Costume design and diversity of casting.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios © 2021 Amazon Content Services LLC and Sony Pictures Television Inc.

Both of these are not only welcome in their own right, but also do justice to the WoT expansive and colorful universe. The Aes Sedai are a case-in-point: It was a joy to see women from so many different ethnicities, with costumes reflecting their native lands while heavily favoring their ajah color.

Which makes it all the more painful to watch how the mark has been so badly missed in other areas. The cavalier disregard for the plot is palpable throughout, almost flaunted.

One of the most obvious and grating examples of this is the design of the Great Serpent Ring.

One Ring to Rule them All

The ring is central to the plot, in that every Aes Sedai wears one. The ring is not a magical artifact. It…

Alice Bonasio

Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications