The noble order of Aes Sedai is prepping the Randlands for the second coming of the Dragon in The Wheel of Time, an Amazon Prime exclusive based on Robert Jordan’s high fantasy novels of the same name. The original fourteen volumes explore the duality of life, the cyclical nature of fate, and the bitter cost of war in a world where lasting peace is a mere figment of an improbable future. But this pipe dream is what keeps the Aes Sedai, an all-female group of trained magic users, from flickering into obscurity; both the books and the miniseries tell the story of the Dragonborn, the present-day reincarnation of an ancient progenitor and the individual cursed to eradicate humanity, or extricate it from ruin.
Audiences are taken on a journey across the World of the Wheel through the eyes of Moiraine, a key member of the Aes Sedai, as she travels the gorgeous expanse with five young warriors, one of which serves as the mortal vessel of the all-powerful deity. Moiraine, played in the show by Rosamund Pike, pits the five through various tests and trials to determine the so-called Dragonborn in time for an impending war with Shai’tan (also known as the Dark One) and his army of eldritch monstrosities.
The Dark One and his ilk represent the cosmic evil in the universe; the former, however, is an unseen antagonist infamous for recruiting tyrants to his cause. Unwilling to reveal his face at the risk of betraying his identity, he poisons those easily susceptible to temptation or suggestion with odious intentions, thereby inducing otherwise improbable, but adverse, events that ultimately shape patterns across the Randlands. Shai’tan is The Wheel of Time’s version of Satan and other Abrahamic personifications of evil. Check out the first full-length trailer for The Wheel of Time:
The only person who can expose the Dark One and stop the onslaught of darkness blanketing over the Randlands is the Dragon Reborn, the predetermined champion of the Light. Moiraine and the Aes Sedai secure five possible candidates for this lifetime: protagonist Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski), wolf telepath Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford), Captain-General of the Band of the Red Hand Matrim “Mat” Cauthon (Barney Harris), future Aes Sedai Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins), and Dreamwalker Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden).
Like many fantasy epics, the trailer for Amazon Prime’s The Wheel of Time begins in medias res. Nynaeve chucks the less experienced Egwene off a cliff; she immediately plunges into the lake. Nynaeve is a channeler just like Moiraine and the Aes Sedai, and is training her friend to survive in the elements. Segue to a bustling Randland village — best buds Rand, Perrin, and Mat laugh and share drinks inside a crowded tavern when a beautiful young woman enters. It’s Nynaeve. She locks eyes with Rand, and smiles.
All seems perfectly in order until a glimpse of what looks to be Lews Therin Telamon (the Dragonborn of the Age of Legends) tearfully pressing a pendant to his lips, coalesces with a shot of Egwene covered in paint, rising from the depths. In voiceover, Moiraine muses, “The wheel of time turns, and ages come and pass. Leaving memories that become legend.”
Long shots of both luxurious kingdoms and rural landscapes part to reveal Moiraine, our viewpoint character, lowering her hood before a council of dedicated Aes Sedai. The meeting in Tar Valon’s White Tower, the group’s guarded citadel, is led by the Amyrlin Seat (a role Egwene would eventually assume) and seven Ajahs. They have assembled to discuss the next Dragonborn. In voiceover, Moiraine talks of the One Power; in Robert Jordan’s books, this refers to the dual-natured True Source, natural life-giving energy present in all places at all times that can be channeled to wield magic.
The concept is derived from the Tao, an inexhaustible force that ties all of creation together. If that sounds familiar, it is; the Force in Star Wars is rooted in the same school of thought. The only difference is availability; similar to the Yin and Yang, the One Power comes in two halves — female and male. The all-women Aes Sedai can only use the female half. The universe seeks balance, so the wheel of time turns whenever the One Power is used as one.
This is how the Aes Sedai protects the Randlands: by using their unique understanding and mastery of the One Power to repel war and save lives. The trailer showcases the group in perfect sync; one member extracts the energy from Moiraine while several trained Ajahs face an unseen enemy, channeling their magic into fending off a torrent of arrows. They are accompanied by male channelers. The whole while, our five young heroes journey across the World of the Wheel, learning basic combat techniques, collecting relics and powerful weapons, tussling with vicious beasts, and facing all sorts of untold dangers. Rand’s father Tam al’Thor (Michael McElhatton) ruminates on past and future coexisting at once and the circumstances that inevitably turn the wheel of time; with every challenge bested, or relationship fostered, the wheel inexplicably moves. Rand can be seen intimately relating with Egwene in the bathhouse; the two dated in the books.
It’s not long before the Dark One and his militia start ravaging homes and pursuing the Dragonborn candidates; scenes of murder and bloodshed flit across the screen as the Aes Sedai and its male cohorts (led by Daniel Henney’s al’Lan Mandragoran) suit up. Shai’tan is briefly seen. Grim, the current Amyrlin Seat tells Moiraine, “The last battle is coming. The only thing that matters is what you do.”
Henney’s Lan has significant screentime in the Wheel of Time trailer, given his standing as the greatest swordsman of the Third Age, Nynaeve’s future husband, and Demandred’s killer. The teaser ends with the powerful imagery of Moiraine unleashing the full extent of her abilities as monsters overrun a village. A bolt of lightning strikes the ground as Moiraine turns her gaze to the sky.
The Wheel of Time features a massive cast, led by Rosamund Pike, Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Barney Harris, Zoë Robins, Madeleine Madden, Daniel Henney, Michael McElhatton, and Álvaro Morte. Rafe Judkins (Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) serves as showrunner. The Wheel of Time will air on Amazon Prime from November 19 to December 24.