When it comes to pop culture, nothing can make you feel more ostracized than walking into a Game of Thrones conversation and not being able to contribute. In the past decade premium tv networks have taken TV Series production to a whole new level. It used to be that the premium cable channels provided movies and people subscribed to these channels to watch them. With popular streaming services like Netflix and the availability of movies on the internet, many of the channels had to evolve in order to compete.
The most successful channel has been HBO with their release of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones has become so popular that people have flooded their TV service providers with requests for the premium network. One single show has the power to drive people to purchase a service, they would usually just ignore. With the sixth season of Game of Thrones ending, the seventh in production and the final eighth season on deck, one can wonder what will HBO do next or what could their competitors do to capture the premium programming throne. As a fantasy geek at heart, allow me to provide an answer.
My immersion into the fantasy genre began way back in sixth grade when I was exposed to the Dragonlance series. After reading the first book, I was hooked and the pathway into Dungeons and Dragons began. During the next few years as my ability to meet girls increased my passion for Dungeons and Dragons waned. However, my appreciation for fantasy did continue well into my high school years when I was introduced to the story that could slay the current king of fantasy series.
Even though Dragonlance holds a special place in my heart it lacks the political intrigue and adult content that have made Game of Thrones into a masterpiece. However, the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan has it all. I started reading the wheel of time when I was 17, the series covers 14 books and the last one wasn’t completed until I was 39. Spanning two generations and more than 10,000 pages the series outlived Jordan who died before the last three books were completed. Before his death Jordan met with Brandon Sanderson who finished the last three books.
The Wheel of Time focuses on Rand Al Thor who is the prophesied Dragon Reborn. It follows his journey and the journey of his allies through the Hero’s Journey, on his way to the final battle against the dark one. The world created by Jordan is as believable, vibrant and full of unique cultures as our own. In the Wheel of Time Rand is a young man who finds himself coming to terms with his destiny as not only the savior of the world but the destroyer of the world and ultimately his death. Even though the various civilizations and countries bend to his will, there are factions who want to control him.
Its hard to tell throughout the course of the series who is loyal to Rand. The only certain allies Rand has are his childhood friends. Others prove their worth and loyalty to Rand but only a few you can be certain are loyal. The most questionable faction towards Rand is the sect of female magic users whose visions of superiority view Rand as a tool to do their bidding. The real conflict is the love that Rand shares for many of them. The Wheel of Time series has just as much backstabbing and political games as the Game of Thrones. However, the Wheel of Time has a much larger conflict between the sexes that divides men against women in conflicts that are worthy of their own season.
One of the biggest problems bringing the series to life is the sheer size of the world. Robert Jordan’s books have featured more than 2000 unique characters, over 20 factions trying to control Rand and an epic last battle that occupied more than 250 pages of the final book. Of course many of the 10,000 pages Robert Jordan wrote are extremely descriptive, leaving little to the imagination. The single biggest problem with bringing the world to life is the current copyright holder.
As of this writing, the Copyright for Wheel of Time is held by Red Eagle Entertainment who has had the rights since the mid-2000’s. Red Eagle Entertainment has not managed to launch or capitalize on the copyright despite numerous attempts. Even though numerous TV Channels, movie studios, video game companies, and comic companies have shown interest in acquiring the copyright, Red Eagle refuses to sell. Red Eagles attempts to make video games, and a TV adaption have fallen completely flat. The closest Red Eagle has come was a late night pilot on an obscure channel in the middle of the night.
One of Robert Jordan’s last blog entries before he died was a venomous attack at Red Eagle Entertainment, who he felt had dishonored his series. Various lawsuits have been filed between the estate of Robert Jordan and Red Eagle. Supposedly, a TV adaptation is in the works, but judging from the quality of the late night pilot, Red Eagles handling of the copyright for the past ten years, I am not convinced that the series will live up to its potential.
Fantasy fans can only hope that by some miracle, a major player in the entertainment industry will succeed in obtaining the rights and bringing what could be considered as the next great fantasy epic to life.