Robert Jordan’s world building in The Wheel of Time books goes deep. Just about every region has a far-reaching past with documented wars, power struggles, and royal lineage. A gorgeous, informative companion tome delves into that past with full color paintings and historical details. That history has a presence in the books too, and the TV series incorporates that presence. One particular key and memorable moment appeared in the series’ second episode, “Shadow’s Waiting,” with Moiraine telling the Two Rivers youths about Manetheren.
While in their nth hour of traveling on horseback, Mat sings a song about Manetheren and the “blood of Aemon.” He doesn’t know who or what Manetheren is, but the whole group starts singing along. The song has apparently pervaded the Two Rivers even if the meaning hasn’t. Moiraine tells the group that Manetheren, or “Mountain Home,” in the Old Tongue is the one-time name of the land now called the Two Rivers.
Moiraine’s story about Manetheren takes place early in the first book in the series. She and her traveling companions are still in the village. It’s a moving moment. Moiraine’s words capture the hearts of villagers who very much don’t want Trollocs to be their problem any longer. Two Rivers is an area apart from the larger happenings of the world, and its residents would be happy for it to remain so. But Moiraine reminds them of their legacy by sharing Manetheren’s history. The villagers take her speech like a pep talk. And this story serves as the first glimpse we get into how deep the world of The Wheel of Time goes. The history of Manetheren expands the world and its past.
Though condensed, the version Moiraine tells in The Wheel of Time TV series is no less moving and chilling. This is a story that makes everyone, characters in the show and viewers, sit up and pay attention. And series showrunner Rafe Judkins pushed to include it. He told Nerdist, “I had to fight very hard to get that to screen, because for some reason, people didn’t want a four minute monologue on the horseback in a television show that’s supposed to be like a rip-roaring action adventure. They’re like, ‘Why is she telling us that story on for four minutes while everyone listens?’ But I think it’s just so important to the DNA of the series. We had to get that there.”
During the Trolloc Wars, thousands of years before the events of the TV series, Manetheren stood strong. As Moiraine says, though a small area on the map, the people of Manetheren were a thorn in the Dark One’s hand. So the Dark One sent his forces in the thousands to put an end to Manetheren. Another country told Manetheren’s people that if they could hold out against the invading, monstrous army for three days, help would come. They miraculously kept the army at bay for three days and kept fighting, even when it became clear no one was coming to aid them. King Aemon and Queen Eldrene gave their lives in defending Manetheren, but the city fell with no trace left behind.
But this strong, powerful blood is where the Two Rivers’ legacy comes from. It may come up as the story progresses. This history of Manetheren speaks to readers and viewers. Judkins said, “Actually people who don’t know the books at all love that scene. Which is, I think, what I was going for. And for so many people, when I interviewed a bunch of people about what they loved about the books, when they first read them, that would come up a lot of times as the first moment that people really fell in love with the books. And so I knew we had to have it in the show.”
The Wheel of Time premieres new episodes on Fridays on Prime Video.