Madeleine Madden will star as “Egwene Al’Vere”; Josha Stradowski as Rand Al’Thor, Marcus Rutherford as “Perrin Aybara”; Zoë Robins as “Nynaeve”; ; Barney Harris as “Mat Cauthon”;
TW: Racism, rape, lynching
As we mentioned on Episode 19 of the Podcast, The Wheel of Time has announced more of it’s casting decisions, which really boil down to the main characters of the series. This is going to be chock full of spoilers from the books but there was something that I want to bring up that is important that you will be hearing depending on how the series goes.
The Wheel of Time is a 14 Book series if you don’t count the prequel book that came out, New Spring. However I would not be surprised if they took books 8-10 and condensed them down. Over all the books, there were 147 unique points of view which really just bogged down much of the books. The story is going to require a lot of cleaning up, but at the same time you will need to be careful with the cleanup.
I only thought of this later when I was editing the podcast, but the casting diversity you may wind up seeing problems in the news in the future. Just like when there were articles such as “American Gods has a Lynching Problem” you may see the same exact type of articles crop up in with this story and this is where we are going to get into Spoilers.
On the covers on all the books, well, everyone is white. So when you see a book cover and read a book you probably start reading it as people are being white if skin color isn’t specifically mentioned (and they really don’t mention it much in the book). I have no issue with the diversity of the cast that they selected. I even told a friend of mine who is a big fan (I mention this on the podcast) my only issue with Perrin’s actor is that Perrin is big and broad shouldered. He’s not as tall as Rand but he’s written to be a big blacksmith who actively has to work to be gentle with people so he doesn’t accidentally hurt them. Marcus has plenty of time to become beefy.
Shadows Rising is my favorite book of The Wheel of Time because of Perrin. Perrin can speak to wolves and travel in what he calls The Wolf Dream. However, just like real life, it is going to cause issues because it can falsely label him as “darkspawn” and a “dark friend” which, as you guess it, is a bad thing. One of the things of being a Wolfbrother that happens is that you get the hearing, smelling, and eyesight of a wolf, but your eyes also become wolf eyes. This might not sound as bad in theory but here is where race comes into play.
In Eye of the World Perrin and Egwene get captured by The Children of the Light, or as their derogatory term is known, Whitecloaks. They are looking to purify the world of “dark friends.”
If you look at the casting you can see where I’m going with this. They abuse them for a few days when they are captured after Perrin, in a fit of wolf rage, kills two Whitecloaks for killing wolves who were trying to save them. They later escape (the casting for Lan has not been announced but Nynaeve helps in the escape), but members of the Whitecloaks are constantly against Perrin.
While issues come up in Book 2, really it comes to the head at book 4, Shadow Rising. The Whitecloaks have a darkfriend with them that is ordered by the Lord Commander of the White Cloaks to be with them. This darkfriend is trying to hunt down the 3 main characters, Rand, Mat, and Perrin. In the book you find out that the Whitecloaks, under this Darkfriend’s orders, tortured and killed Perrin’s entire family. People are told it was Trollocs (dark creature abominations) but it was really a bunch of the Children of the Light that did it on orders of the darkfriend Padan Fain.
Perrin is a blacksmith’s apprentice who didn’t live with his family because of travel. His family were farmers. So now what we might wind up having is a scene where basically the KKK murders black farmers.
Not cool, not cool at all.
It doesn’t help that later it might make Perrin just seem to be a violent black man because in Knife of Dreams he cuts off a prisoners hand with his axe while trying to save his wife, and that scene actually is an important turning point with his character.
The Whitecloaks are really awful in general. This includes keeping a woman hostage and raping her to try to get political gain. Later books the Whitecloaks try to get cleaned up due to other characters that have not been announced or casted yet.
I would not say that the Wheel of Time is going to be as cringy as Game of Thrones might be, but there is going to be more talk about specific things that I never really seen discussed for Game of Thrones because of the casting decisions.
I don’t want this to be bogged down by issues with race, but it is issues that we are going to have to talk about and I plan on talking about more in the future when the show comes on the air. I’m also probably going to be overly critical if they just start turning things into black man tropes without realizing it.
I am glad that the Wheel of Time is shaping up. It is a good series of books even though Robert Jordan had diarrhea of the word processor for a few books, but the first 7 books and the last 3 books were really good in general. I am excited to hear about other casting choices (Lan, Lanfear, Elayne). I want to see my favorite characters come to life on the screen and hope that my favorite scenes aren’t lost in the cleanup.