Top positive review
Not the Books, And That's Not a Bad Thing!
Reviewed in the United States on November 19, 2021
Lots of negative reviews here seem to expect the show to be perfectly in line with the books, and if that's what you're expecting, I get why you would be disappointed. However, that's clearly not what the producers of this show are going for, and I think they very successfully accomplished what they actually seem to be trying to do.
The backstories of each of the main characters have been changed, some of them significantly, but I found that those changes are very effective at giving them more believable and interesting motivations to be acting as they do for the rest of the show. I do agree that episode 1 feels rushed, but once it slows down a bit in the later episodes the strength of the characters really comes to the focus, and the mysteries surrounding the magic and the events of the episodes are incredibly interesting and well developed, I think. For book readers, the changes will be surprising and maybe disappointing, but necessary to an adaptation to a show given that we don't get to be in character's heads like in books. I felt thoroughly satisfied with this show, and would give the 2nd and 3rd episodes especially a 10 out of 10, with the first episode a little lower (writing this immediately after finishing episode 3).
I also want to mention how gorgeous this show is. A lot of fantasy has a standard visual and audio style, and this show does not follow those whatsoever. This feels like a very distinct, non-Western culture and world, with a background score matching that, and that makes it stand out from things like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. The color scheme is rich, with lots of blues and greens and yellows, distinct from the drab greys and browns of GoT, and I felt that the costume design was excellent, especially the Trollocs. I really do feel that people who have read the books and who haven't will be thoroughly satisfied with this show, and the complaints that people might have will either be resolved in future episodes or are based in false expectations from book readers.
Favorite bits: Changes to Mat (character really shines through in these episodes, especially compared to how lackluster he is in the first book), portrayal of the Aes Sedai politics and motivations, relationships between characters, and visual/audio
I only have one serious complaint, about a character change in the first episode which fell very flat and felt forced (people who have watched it will probably know exactly what I'm talking about), but I feel confident enough in the producers that I believe this poor choice will be used to better the show later on. Other than that, I am absolutely delighted with this adaptation, and I think the changes from the books are because they work well for the story of the show, which is excellent so far.