Christmas is coming early for fans of Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. If you are one of the millions of viewers eagerly anticipating the second season to stream on Amazon, it seems you won’t have too long to wait. Plus there is a new series companion titled Origins of the Wheel of Time out now full of exclusive material that will excite viewers and long term Jordan fantasy lovers alike.
With filming wrapped and the first pre trailer sneak peek now available, its looking likely that the series adaption based on Jordan’s 14 bestselling novels will air early in 2023.
Ahead of the launch, Tor Books has published the new series companion Origins of the Wheel of Time. Filled with previously unseen material and revelations, it explores the worldwide legends and historical events that inspired Jordan’s worldbuilding.
Fans are treated to alternative scene from an early draft of the first title in the series, The Eye of the World and the long-awaited backstory of one of the most mysterious characters of the series, Nakomi is finally revealed.
The author, Michael Livingston, is an English Literature professor at The Citadel from which coincidently, Robert Jordan graduated in 1974 with a degree in physics. A fantasy fan and author himself, Livingston worked closely with Harriet McDougal — Jordan’s wife and editor — who provides a foreword for the companion.
Commenting on the inspiration Jordan drew from English legends and figures for the series, Livingston stated: “Jordan, like Tolkien before him, was fascinated by the history of the British Isles. But whereas Tolkien was to some degree confined to the medieval and ancient past, the nature of the Wheel of Time meant that Jordan could pull from the fullness of history. His world is one in which the shadows of Napoleon and King Arthur can stand side-by-side in high drama.”
Character parallels are drawn with Mother Theresa, King Arthur, Alexander the Great, Sally Ride – the first American women in space and even Queen Elizabeth among others.
Livingston, who has been an avid Jordan fan since childhood, balances his historical insight with an intimate behind-the-scenes story of who Jordan was, how he worked, and why he holds such an important place in modern literature. Given exclusive full access to Jordan’s associates and papers, notes and drafts, he was able to delve deep into Jordan’s writing process to view the developments and changes as they were made: “I wish I had the words to describe what I felt when I found Jordan’s hand-written notes with some of his very earliest thoughts about the Wheel of Time. They’re literal scraps of paper, creased with ballpoint. I held them. I knew them.”
Most of those papers are housed in the Special Collections of the Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston in the US.
“I made a great number of discoveries while researching and writing Origins of the Wheel of Time. None of them changed my life quite like this one: the map was wrong.”
Livingston is quick to point out that he is not referring to the map of the Westlands that appears in each of the main books. Instead, he directs attention to the map of the entire world that was printed in The World of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, a companion book to the series that was published in 1997—a book that fans call, somewhat affectionately, the ‘Big White Book.’
“One of Jordan’s notes to the publisher was remarkably succinct: “Land of Madmen is wrong. Should be The Mad Lands,” he wrote.”
“So, yeah, there’s no Land of the Madmen. It’s The Mad Lands,” confirms Livingston.
Determined to follow Jordan’s wishes as evidenced in the author’s archived notes, Livingston gained the agreement of the Jordan estate for a brand-new map to be included within the companion featuring the revised Mad Lands.
Livingston estimates The Wheel of Time has sold 90 million copies in 33 languages so far.
When asked what was his view of the TV adaption, Livingston said: “I’m extremely excited for the second season of the Amazon Prime series! We’re incredibly fortunate to have the property in the hands of a truly exceptional cast and production team.”
Origins of The Wheel of Time by Michael Livingston is out now, published by Tor Books, priced £18.99 in hardback.