WoT’s Dragon Reborn Reveal Was Disappointing (If You’ve Not Read The Books)


The reveal of Rand al’Thor as the Dragon Reborn at the end of The Wheel of Time season 1 may not have been a big surprise, but it was disappointing, particularly for viewers who hadn’t read the books that the Prime Video series is based on. The revelation was faithful to the source material, in which Rand is the Dragon, but the show has also changed so much from Robert Jordan’s original story and had teased things going in a much more interesting direction with its adaptation.

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In the world of The Wheel of Time, the Dragon Reborn is a prophesied figure who is the reincarnation of the legendary Dragon Lews Therin. Moraine believes that the Dragon Reborn is fated to both save and destroy the world and be a key figure in the battle between light and dark. While there were always hints that Rand was the Dragon Reborn, the series and its promotional material went out of the way to suggest that one of the other four youths Moraine takes from Emond’s Field might turn out to be the Dragon.

In the season 1 finale of The Wheel of Time, Moiraine realizes that Rand is the true Dragon, leading to his first confrontation with the Dark One. This is true to the books and was perhaps seen as necessary to avoid rewriting the source material even more drastically. However, from the perspective of someone only viewing the streaming series, Rand is probably the least interesting choice for the Dragon, creating an element of disappointment going into The Wheel of Time season 2.

How Amazon’s Wheel Of Time Show Changed The Dragon Reborn

In Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, which is the basis of the first season of Amazon Prime Video’s Wheel of Time series, Moiraine only considers Rand, Perrin, and Mat as possible Dragons. The Dragon is presented as being an exclusively male figure in the gendered schema of Jordan’s magic system, and his association with the male inability to control the One Power without going insane is part of what makes him such a threat to light and dark alike. In fact, it was Lews’s attempt to seal away the dark ones that led to the corruption of the male force of “saidin” and the end of male Aes Sedai.

However, Amazon’s Wheel of Time teases that Egwene or Nynaeve could also be the Dragon Reborn. In promotional appearances prior to the series’ release, its creators teased that the Dragon Reborn’s identity was a mystery and stated that it could be a female character or someone different from the books. There are also suggestions that there have been female False Dragons in the past, claiming the mantle of the legendary figure. These teases are a major factor as to why the series’ decision to have Rand be the Dragon after all was so disappointing, as the teases of something more interesting made sticking with the books’ choice feel overly safe.

Why Wheel Of Time Revealing Rand As The Dragon Was Disappointing

Amazon’s Prime Video Wheel of Time series had already signaled that it is willing to make major changes to Jordan’s source material, including leaving out characters from The Eye of the Worldand making its core cast more diverse and slightly older than in the original novels. However, making another character the Dragon would have been an even bigger and bolder shift that would make both book readers and show-only fans unsure of what was to come.

Part of the reason why the Dragon reveal might be especially disappointing to fans who started with the streaming series is that the show has done a poor job presenting Rand as an interesting character. All theother “ta’veren” have intriguing subplots, whether it be Perrin’s connection with wolves, Mat’s corruption by the cursed dagger, or Egwene and Nynaeve’s induction into the Aes Sedai. Rand, by contrast, comes across as something of a generic hero. In the books this is mitigated somewhat by having him be the most frequent viewpoint character, making readers empathize with him, but this is harder to build in a visual medium. The series also removed a significant subplot involving Rand and changed the first book’s ending, reducing his agency in beginning the final confrontation.

Revealing Rand as the Dragon also undercuts efforts to introduce more diversity to TheWheel of Time‘s fantasy setting. For all the expanded roles given to women and persons of color in the Amazon Prime Video adaptation, it is ultimately still a white man who gets to be the Chosen One, as in so many fantasy stories that have come before. A daring but more interesting choice would have been to change the identity of the Dragon or to subvert what the Dragon Reborn means altogether.

Who Should’ve Been The Dragon Reborn In Amazon’s Wheel Of Time

There were a number of potentially more interesting answers to The Wheel of Time‘s Dragon Reborn mystery. The most interesting single person to be the Dragon would have been Egwene. A female Dragon who is part of the Aes Sedai would have caused interesting conflict and tension both within the White Tower and in the wider world. This choice also could have created an interesting character arc for Rand, as he tries to cope with his lover’s ever-growing power and prophesied role.

Another option would have been to turn the notion of the Dragon Reborn on its head and reveal that all five of the ta’veren from Emond’s Field were the Dragon, and that they collectively would all lead to the saving and breaking of the world. This would turn The Wheel of Time into much more of an ensemble show, with equal weight placed on all five characters’ arcs. However, there’s a chance that this ending would be seen as a cop-out, particularly by viewers who are new to the story.

The world of The Wheel of Time is rooted in prophecy and recurrence, with the titular “wheel” referring to a pattern of history that happens again and again. Given this, one of the most interesting options might be to reveal that there was no Dragon after all — that is, that the prophecies were wrong, and that our heroes have to create their own fate. This would make the Amazon adaptation a direct subversion of Robert Jordan’s original Wheel of Time books and much more unpredictable for fans both new and old. Even maintaining persistent doubt about whether Moiraine’s belief in the prophecy is correct would have made for a more interesting adaptation.

However, the real problem is not that The Wheel of Time stuck with Rand as the Dragon but that it spent so much effort trying to create doubt among viewers that the series didn’t make the final reveal satisfying, especially for new fans. By including more of Rand’s story from the books, and being more straightforward in marketing around the series, Amazon’s The Wheel of Timecould have avoided having the Rand reveal feel like a disappointment. As it is, the series raises a lot of intriguing possibilities that it ultimately doesn’t follow through on.

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