Ayoola Smart’s Aviendha Brings a Dune Energy to The Wheel of Time

The Wheel of Time has introduced Aiel warrior Aviendha, and Ayoola Smart commands the screen like a fierce Fremen from Dune.

Ayoola Smart as Aviendha in The Wheel of Time
Photo: Jan Thijs | Prime Video

This article contains The Wheel of Time spoilers.

Readers of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan may already know that the author was heavily influenced by the Dune books of Frank Herbert, but even for those who only know these sci-fi/fantasy classics from their screen adaptations, one parallel became very clear in the latest episode: the character of Aviendha played impressively by Ayoola Smart (Killing Eve). The Aiel prisoner immediately evoked all the desert warrior vibes of a Fremen, making her one of the most compelling new characters of the season.

The Aiel people hail from an arid land to the east of a barrier mountain range, separating them from the kingdoms of the west, just as an ocean separates the Seanchan from the known world of The Wheel of Time. The show has made clear that Aiel are mistrusted in this land because of a great war a generation ago and that Rand himself displays the red hair that distinguishes the race to others. His Aiel parentage was even revealed in a breathtaking flashback to his mother fighting in the Aiel War in season 1.

But Aviendha, whom Perrin encounters caged in Atuan’s Mill, is an actual native of the Aiel Waste, or the Three-fold Land as her people call it. Right away, we can see three similarities to the Dune Fremen: they wear sand-colored hoods; they are skilled fighters; and they hail from a desert land. When Aviendha raises her mask, a sign that she’s about to kill her enemies, she brings more action than The Wheel of Time has seen since… well, the pregnant fight sequence mentioned above.


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