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Ever since Game of Thrones ended a little over two years ago, networks and streamers have been looking for the next great fantasy show. The latest project to take a stab at the heavyweight title is Amazon's adaptation of The Wheel of Time. Reviews are now making their way online and while critics were given access to the first six episodes (out of eight), most of them agree that it's a little too early to tell if this translation of Robert Jordan's sprawling novels is among the greatest television ever made.
Others, like Ed Power of The Telegraph, would argue that the next big television phenomenon has already arrived in the form of another HBO offering: Succession. Fortunately, showrunner/executive producer Rafe Judkins will have plenty of time to prove The Wheel of Time's worth as the series was given a rare second season renewal ahead of its Prime Video debut this coming Friday (Nov. 19). And if it doesn't end up finding its footing? Well, Amazon has a back-up fantasy plan with its insanely expensive Lord of the Rings prequel show that arrives next year.
Wheel of Time stars Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) as Moiraine, a member of a female order of spell-casting mystics known as the Aes Sedai. One night, she and her personal bodyguard, al'Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney), show up in the small mountain town of Two Rivers, seeking the Dragon Reborn — a prophesied individual who will either destroy or save humanity.
Head below to see what critics are saying...
"The result is a show that may well please Jordan’s core fandom from the first but which makes for a frustrating watch for viewers who care less about whether The Wheel of Time outdoes Game of Thrones for spectacle than about whether the show they’re watching is coherent and well-crafted on its own terms ... If it is to run even half as long as did “Game of Thrones,” “The Wheel of Time” will need to settle into itself and eventually do this sort of work, the sort it had neglected in dazzling the audience with a rush of exposition and of cataclysm. It has already proven it can do grandeur. What it needs to do, now, is to really show us who lives within it." -Daniel D'Addario, Variety
"The Wheel of Time is gorgeous, well acted, and strongly written, a show that understands the characters and plot of Robert Jordan’s books without being slavishly loyal to the source material. The first three episodes use a mix of gripping action and personal dramas to bring the pages to life while also providing an accessible introduction to series newcomers. The groundwork showrunner Rafe Judkins is laying shows he has a plan for the future. Hopefully he will be given the time and money to see it through." -Samantha Nelson, IGN
"The Wheel of Time has enough potential ... thanks to a high budget and deep commitment from the actors to faithfully bring the magic of this story to life. It’s simply a thrill to see these cherished characters finally get an adaptation worthy of such a grand adventure. Assuming future episodes and seasons continue to innovate (it’s already renewed), even if not every bold departure hits the mark perfectly." -Jon Negroni, TVLine
"The Wheel of Time, it should probably be acknowledged at the outset, is unlikely to become as big a phenomenon as Game of Thrones. In terms of media interest and cultural buzz, Thrones’s heir has already arrived in Succession. However, The Wheel of Time squeezes in enough excitement into the six installments sent to reviewers ... to suggest it could well be a blockbuster on its own terms." -Ed Power, The Telegraph
"The Wheel of Time doesn't skimp on the spectacle. The occasionally janky effects and underpopulated battle sequence aside, it plays like a few-expenses-spared effort. Even if it doesn't have Game of Thrones' continent-spanning reach, The Wheel of Time makes smart use of the countryside outside Prague and other Eastern European locations." -Keith Phipps, TV Guide
"For all the money and effort that’s gone into the show, Amazon hasn’t made a Game of Thrones successor, try as it might. The Wheel of Time is an interesting attempt at adapting Robert Jordan’s behemoth of a book series, but it’s also dragged down both by its unwieldy source material and its efforts to twist itself into a second coming of Game of Thrones." -Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge
"After so many years of waiting, there’s certainly a lot for fans to chew on with this adaptation. The Wheel of Time is a very strong start to a much-awaited series and created by someone who has a clear understanding of how adaptations can soar when complementing their source material rather than just copying it." -Preeti Chhibber, Polygon
"By the end of the six episodes that were given to critics for review, it really feels like the adventure is only just beginning — so it's fortunate that the streaming series has already been renewed for a second season. Like any good fantasy epic, The Wheel of Time is one that promises very impressive returns, provided audiences are willing to settle in for the long haul." -Carly Lane, Collider
"We’ll have to see next year how effectively House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings have used their budgets, but the underwhelming Wheel of Time is a reminder that money alone does not make a fantasy world go around ... Wheel of Time is arriving in this long gap between the end of Game of Thrones and the premiere of several other shows like it, which may bring in some fantasy fans starved for any morsel of magic and wonder. But the whole thing is empty, if expensive, calories." -Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone
"There’s little motivation to encircle yourself in The Wheel of Time in perpetuity. Fantasy die-hards may be too frustrated by the adaptation’s clumsy follow-through (if they loved the books, whatever they imagined has to be more convincing than this), while casual viewers may find deeper satisfaction in other shows. (The Witcher Season 2 is almost here!) But if you can channel just the right spell to find its wavelength, The Wheel of Time has its charms." -Ben Travers, IndieWire