Rosamund Pike, who stars in Amazon Prime’s forthcoming take on Robert Jordan’s fantasy series, says his female characters are role models. Really?

What is going on with Amazon Prime’s characterisation of The Wheel of Time? I ask this as a fantasy fan, someone who not only adores the classy stuff (NK Jemisin, Guy Gavriel Kay etc) but has also devotedly ploughed her way through The Belgariad, most of Terry Goodkind (until it got too crazy even for me) and Simon R Green. And how many people involved with the forthcoming adaptation have actually marathoned their way through all of the books?

My eyebrows were first raised back when the deal to adapt Robert Jordan’s extremely long series was announced in 2018, when head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke praised its “timely narrative featuring powerful women at the core”. Now, I read these books in my late teens, but my resounding memory of them was not of “powerful women”. In fact, I remember thinking Jordan’s depiction of women was pretty dismal – he might have packed in far more female characters than Tolkien ever did, but they’re constantly objectified, forever hoisting their bosoms around, adjusting their skirts – even getting spanked as punishment.

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