After months of fervent speculation, the mystery of who Meera Syal is playing in The Wheel Of Time‘s soon-to-be-released second season is finally solved. Nerdist exclusively confirmed yesterday that the popular British actress and comedian, best known for her work on The Kumars At No. 42, The Sandman, and Doctor Who, and for the semi-autobiographical novel Anita And Me that was adapted into a 2002 film, will portray Verin Mathwin of the Brown Ajah next season on Amazon’s The Wheel Of Time, and presumably for many more seasons afterwards, given that the character has a prominent role in the source material, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s fourteen-book epic fantasy series.
It’s been said many times already, but I cannot overstate this enough: do not look up Verin Mathwin if you do not wish to be spoiled for one of the most brilliant character arcs in fantasy literature! Too many readers have already learned the hard way that Google and other search engines will respond to even the most innocuous questions about the books with answers that hold nothing back, while slightly further down the first page of results you’ll find yourself bombarded with answers to other readers’ unrelated questions about events in the last book. Why take that risk, when you can sit back and let me explain to you who Verin is without spoiling anything for the books beyond The Great Hunt, where she first appears? I will be thorough, but brief.
Verin Mathwin was born and raised in the city of Far Madding, and would have happily stayed there and wed her childhood sweetheart Eadwin if the city’s strict rules against channeling didn’t forbid her very existence. Forced to leave behind her home, her family, and the life she’d always known, Verin saw no other choice but to travel to Tar Valon and seek training at the White Tower. She was “raised to the shawl” within eleven years, and chose to join the ranks of the Brown Ajah; archaeologists and scholars whose passion is the pursuit of knowledge and the reclamation of secrets lost during the Breaking of the World. Verin is the first Brown Aes Sedai we meet in the books, and inarguably the most important character belonging to that Ajah, but because she’s rather unusual amongst Brown Aes Sedai in that she is often outside the Tower, the books subsequently spend very little time in the Tower’s Brown quarters, which is a bit of a shame. Hopefully, with Egwene and Nynaeve returning to the Tower in season two for their own training, every Ajah will be eager to take them on a tour of their separate, distinctly decorated corners of the Tower. I’m most excited to get a peek into the Brown’s extensive archive of ancient, magical relics.
Anyway, back to Verin. In book two, The Great Hunt, she and her Warder Tomas arrive in Fal Dara alongside the Amyrlin Seat Siuan Sanche, which is a sequence I think will be altered for the show so that Moiraine and Siuan don’t meet again so soon after their emotional parting in the first season. Maybe Verin will come in place of the Amyrlin, or maybe things will unfold very differently, but however she’s introduced, it’s an important development early in the book that Verin ends up being entrusted with many of Moiraine and Siuan’s closely-guarded secrets after independently deducing that one of the boys from Emond’s Field is the Dragon Reborn. Leaving her Warder in Fal Dara, Verin then decides to follow Rand and Perrin (again, independently) as they hunt for the stolen Horn of Valere. That may not be possible in the show with Rand and Perrin being on separate paths, but I could envision a scenario where Verin follows Perrin while Moiraine goes after Rand and Siuan takes Egwene and Nynaeve, ensuring that each of these unpredictable ta’veren has a trustworthy Aes Sedai looking out for them at all times (Mat’s already accounted for, in the hands of the Red Ajah).
I’ve also seen speculation that, in a departure from the books, Verin could be introduced in the city of Cairhien – an important stop on Rand’s journey in The Great Hunt – and that if Rand ends up there earlier than in the book just by wandering aimlessly south from the Eye of the World, he might start learning from her about what it means to be the Dragon before reuniting with Moiraine. In the book, Verin does give him some valuable lessons on the mechanics of Portal Stones, mysterious gateways built before the Age of Legends that allow their users to pass out of time and space, through “Worlds that Might Be”, which we might call alternate realities. This is very similar to the Ways introduced in season one, however, and I could see where some viewers might get confused or frustrated if the show keeps inventing new techniques to get characters from one side of the continent to the other in minutes, without major consequences.
My lips are sealed regarding Verin’s role in The Wheel Of Time going forward, but I can absolutely assure you that she’s a far more important character than she might seem at first glance, and with Meera Syal in the role, I’m sure she’ll be as instantly lovable and funny as she was in the books. Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below, but make sure not to spoil anything for new readers and fans of the show!