The Wheel of Time is finally coming back, a massive relief to those who have been waiting for the next chapter in Amazon’s premiere high-fantasy adaptation (or, at least, the first one out of the gate ahead of The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power). Unfortunately, fans still have a bit of a wait to see what comes next for our beloved ta’veren; season 2 isn’t set for release until Sept. 1, 2023.
When The Wheel of Time season 1 concluded on Amazon in December 2021, it was on a bittersweet note: Yes, Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) and her Warder Lan (Daniel Henney) had found Rand (Josha Stradowski), who is the Dragon Reborn. And yes, Egwene (Madeleine Madden) and Nynaeve (Zoë Robins) had come into their own powers. And yet, their initial attack on the Dark One (Fares Fares) left them all feeling nearly defeated. Rand set off on his own to go into hiding, Perrin (Marcus Rutherford) found himself betrayed by a trusted ally, and Moiraine was spiritually cut off from her power and her connection with Lan.
It’s a tough place to leave off, with all its “one step forward, two steps back” energy.
The series has a major following interested in seeing them finally get the adaptation they deserve. While showrunner Rafe Judkins’ vision made some drastic changes to the world of Robert Jordan’s books, the reception was fairly positive. And Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time has already received a third season renewal before its second season is even out.
While there’s still a bit of time before Wheel of Time shows us the next adaptation, fans can revisit the first season for free on Freevee starting July 14, and, of course, revisit the Wheel of Time world in Robert Jordan’s beloved books. And luckily, we do know a few things about what season 2 will bring to The Wheel of Time.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the second Wheel of Time book, which may be the entire basis for the second season of The Wheel of Time.]
When does Wheel of Time season 2 premiere?
In May, Amazon finally gave us a release date: Season 2 of The Wheel of Time will premiere on Prime Video on Sept. 1.
Filming got underway in July 2021 (before season 1 premiered), so it’s been a while since we got to catch up with the ta’veren. That was by design, according to Amazon reps.
“We are going to be really thoughtful about how we release these shows,” Vernon Sanders, Amazon Studios’ head of global TV, told TV Line in December 2021. “In our minds, they are very different shows, but we are cognizant of our genre fans, and we are excited about the collection of content we have.”
Rand, The Wheel of Time’s Dragon Reborn, is in for some growth
After a lot of hemming and hawing over who the great Dragon Reborn could be, it’s… Rand! Just like in the books. But in several postmortem interviews, Judkins was careful to emphasize that he wants the show to be about all five of the Two Rivers crew, not just Rand’s journey as the “chosen one.”
That being said, Rand’s showdown with the Dark One set the tone for what viewers can expect from future battles. In particular, Judkins wanted actor Josha Stradowski to establish his own style of channeling unlike that of the women we’ve seen so far.
“That was one of the biggest challenges for me was actually the channeling but I was really thankful for the for the books because in the books they [have] a lot of description — beautiful descriptions — about what channeling is for men and how it feels and what it is like,” Judkins told The Wrap in December 2021. “And what I wanted it to be is that you can see that it definitely costs something of you … And, as a man it’s also something that is a dangerous thing as well because that One Power — if you use that as a man it’s tainted by the Dark One, so that means the more you use it, the closer you go to madness, really.”
That’s ultimately why Rand decides to go off on his own and let his loved ones think he perished.
“He’s now cut off from his roots. And this is the start of an identity shift. Becoming the Dragon Reborn means that you’re the only person in the whole wide world who can save or destroy the world and that responsibility is insane,” Judkins said.
“That weighs heavy and yes, I think Rand now has to go his own way to do what he needs to do. And it’s just the start of his transformation to — now knowing that he is the Dragon Reborn, now it’s actually about becoming the Dragon Reborn. And how do you do that? Who can help you with that? And it’s the start of a very heavy, dark, dramatic journey.”
What happens in Wheel of Time season 2?
While Amazon hasn’t said exactly what will be included in season 2, the arc of the first season — which pulled from the first book in the series and the prequel New Spring — suggests it’ll likely be based (mostly) on The Great Hunt.
In that book, Rand is struggling with the newfound knowledge of being the Dragon Reborn, while also trying to keep the Horn of Valere out of the grasp of The Dark One. That horn is a magical one, meant to be blown by the Dragon Reborn as he heads into the “Last Battle” against the Dark One. He joins fellow ta’veren and Shienaran soldiers to keep it safe, while Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne head to the White Tower to begin learning the ways of the Aes Sedai.
In the show, Perrin is the one who finds the Horn of Valere — though it’s promptly stolen by Padan Fain, who reveals he’s a Darkfriend who came to the Two Rivers to find the ta’veren. That change was intentional, as Judkins told The Wrap.
“You don’t get to spend a lot of time with the dark friends in the books outside of the forsaken. And so, we really wanted to make sure that each dark friend that we meet in the show like Dana, who you met in episode 3, and Padan Fain … that you kind of understand them as people and that their goal is not, you know, the evil. They’re not just evil people who are born evil who want evil,” Judkins said.
“They have complex human emotions and feelings and they probably view what they’re doing as being positive either for themselves or for the world or for their loved ones, or for whatever reason they view what they’re doing as important and we wanted to give that to Padan Fain. And that sets up a lot of what we’ll see in season 2 with each of our core characters also struggling with the balance of dark and light within themselves.”
At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Prime Video released a sizzle reel of behind-the-scenes footage for The Wheel of Time season 2.
For any fans worried about possible deviations from the book, Sanders hopes to allay fears. In the same interview with TV Line, Sanders said he thought season 2 would be “bigger, bolder, and a more expansive Wheel of Time.”
“Rafe has been a fantastic leader — thoughtful, kind, really dedicated to trying to do this the right way — and Rosamund as well,” Sanders said. “So we absolutely went into Season 2 with a real conversation about, ‘What can we do even better now that we have introduced this giant world and established these characters?’”
One thing we do know for certain: The first episode will be called “A Taste of Solitude.”
That phrase is the title of the 18th chapter in Wheel of Time’s sixth book, Lord of Chaos; make of that what you will.
Who are the people who attacked at the end of season 1?
In a tag for the first season, a young girl plays on a beach along the “Far Western Shore.” She looks out at the water to see a line of ships; the camera zooms in on (what appears to be) two Aes Sedai who are being manipulated to use the One Power to cause an enormous tidal wave.
While season 1 hasn’t given us much to go on, The Great Hunt does involve a subplot where an empire called the Seanchan attack. They want to retake the continent their ancestors came from, and have been gathering resources for years for what they call “the Return.” That means they’re coming armed and ready, including with enslaved channelers like the ones seen at the end of season 1.
The women we see channeling are damane, or “leashed ones,” per a translation of the Seanchan language. They are controlled by sul’dam — “leash holders” — and taken from wherever the Seanchan can find them, including kidnapped Aes Sedai.
What happens with Lan and Moiraine?
The final chapter brought a blow to what seemed like an impenetrable bond: Moiraine severs her connection with Lan to head into the (“first”) battle. But after tussling with the Dark One, she’s left cut off from the One Power — and unable to repair her and Lan’s bond.
To that end, Daniel Henney (who plays Lan) teased just a bit in an interview with Content Mode:
Lan and Moiraine will be tested. Individually and as a Warder/Aes Sedai unit. They’ll face challenges that have huge implications. I consider season 2 a “journey season” for Lan. He will be faced with many moments and situations that force him to question everything he’s believed in and how he’s lived his life up to this point. It’s really hard for me to not give too much away, but I will say this- 2 swords, multiple fades, blood….lots of blood.
The Wheel of Time cast grows
Most of the main cast will be returning for season 2: Rosamund Pike as Moiraine Damodred, Henney as Lan, as well ta’veran candidates Josha Stradowski, Marcus Rutherford, Zoë Robins, and Madeleine Madden.
As was previously announced, Dónal Finn will be taking over the role of Mat from Barney Harris. Although no one from Wheel of Time has commented on the reason for the swap, he did say the transition felt “seamless” between the actors.
And season 2 will welcome some new characters as well. Ceara Coveney will be playing Elayne Trakand, Queen of Andor and Cairhien, while Peaky Blinders star Natasha O’Keeffe will be joining in a role yet to be announced. Ayoola Smart was announced as Aviendha, a Wise One introduced in the third book of the series; she’s one of the strongest female channelers around. And while we don’t know the details of how Wheel of Time will treat her on screen, she’s one of Rand’s love interests in the books.
Broadchurch’s Meera Syal will be playing Verin Mathwin, Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah (and, if they’re faithful to the books, an absolute badass). Also joining as Bayle Domon is Julian Lewis Jones, who’s been in things like Justice League and Invictus. His character Bayle is first introduced in The Eye of the World (book one of The Wheel of Time series), but more prominently factors into The Great Hunt, particularly in the battles against the Seanchan.
Some of the 2023 casting announcements include: Chiad and Bain, played by Danish model-actress Maja Simonsen and Icelandic actress and former Olympic swimmer Ragga Ragnars, respectively. Chiad is a Maiden of the Spear of the Stones River sept of the Goshien Aiel who is bonded as a first-sister to Bain. Rima Te Wiata plays Sheriam Bayanar, an Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah who is particularly influential. We’ll also get more insight into the Children of the Light, with Jay Duffy signed on to play Dain Bornhald, a high-ranking officer of the Children of the Light.
Is The Wheel of Time getting a third season?
Yes! The news came at a Wheel of Time panel at San Diego Comic-Con, which was otherwise focused on an animated companion series, The Wheel of Time: Origins.
Showrunner Rafe Judkins said that Wheel of Time’s third season would be based on the fourth book in Robert Jordan’s series, The Shadow Rising.
“I’m so thrilled that we’ll be making a third season of The Wheel of Time,” Judkins said. “The Shadow Rising has always been my favorite book in the series, so being able to bring it to television and introduce new audiences to the stories that made me fall in love with these books in the first place is such an honor, and something I’ve been working toward since I first pitched the show years and years ago.”