Events in the Wheel of Time series

Events in the Wheel of Time series

This article is about the fictional world history of Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time" fantasy fiction series.

Creation

The world was created by the Creator, driven by the Wheel of Time, with existence unfolding in the turning of seven ages. As the introduction of each book states: "The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the age that gave its birth comes again."

The Wheel of Time is driven by two halves of the One Power - the male half is "Saidin", and the female half is "Saidar". Some humans can manipulate the One Power, an ability which seems to be transferred genetically as well as mystically (see Aran'gar, a male soul in a female body channeling Saidin).

At the moment of creation, the Creator bound the Dark One in a prison away from the world. The nature of the Dark One is not explored - perhaps an antithesis to the benevolent nature of the Creator.

It has been over 3000 years since the end of the Age of Legends, and records remaining are fragmentory, but it is known that there were huge cities, such as Paaran Disen, M'Jinn, Comelle, Mar Ruois, Adanza and V'saine, which was where the research center of Collam Daan was situated.

Nowadays, the Age of Legends is viewed as having been a utopian society: without even memory of war or crime, perfectly ethical, attuned to nature, and devoted to culture and learning. Aes Sedai were frequently devoted to academic endeavours, one of which inadvertently resulted in a hole---“The Bore”---being drilled into the Dark One’s prison by a group of male and female Aes Sedai looking for a new source of Power that both sexes could use equally. One member of this team was a female Aes Sedai, Mierin Eronaile, who later became one of the Forsaken when she took the name Lanfear. It is likely that the suspected new source of Power was in fact the True Power that the Dark One employs to direct and manipulate his agents.

The Collapse

The effects were not immediate, but over the next hundred years after the bore had been drilled the Dark One's influence was gradually felt over society, as his presence tainted every aspect of peoples lives.

Where there had previously been a peaceful utopian society, relatively free of major crimes, degenerate practices began to spread, violent sports became popular and society began to decline rapidly.This period is said to have lasted 80-100 years, before the first people began to declare for the Dark One publicly and the first assaults were made, originally with human armies, but then increasingly with constructs.

Eventually his followers tried to break him completely free, and the world plunged into the War of the Shadow, sometimes called the War of Power.

The name of this period of time indicates that there is no first-hand information about the age. Since no records from before the Breaking have yet been found, all knowledge of the age is based on documents written during the first few centuries after the Breaking. Numerous oral traditions have been passed down, but their accuracy is suspect and must therefore be considered "legends." Though the Aiel have the most authentic source of information about the age; a "ter'angreal" in Rhuidean that allows Aiel hoping to be clan chiefs and Wise Ones to peer into the lives of their ancestors, including those living during the Age of Legends; they do not like to speak of it.

Although "The Wheel of Time" is quite true to the fantasy genre, on occasion, Jordan slips touches of science fiction into his work; all of these significant departures from pure fantasy fall within this time period.

The War of Power

The War of Power occurred when those taken by the Dark One's influence rose in open war to destroy the existing order through conquest. At this time, the concept of war was unfamiliar to humanity, so the forces of the Dark achieved quick gains before a war of attrition began.

Events in The Shadow Rising show that the War lasted about three generations, probably 50-75 years of fighting before the Breaking began. However, Robert Jordan has stated in the book "Robert Jordan's World of the Wheel of Time" that the war lasted only about 10 years or so.

Aes Sedai, both due to their ability to wield the One Power, and as important academic and civic figures, frequently became the leaders of the forces of the Light. However, many Aes Sedai - including some of the most powerful - went over to the forces of the Dark, becoming the Dark One's 'Chosen' - called the 'Forsaken' by the forces of the Light - as leaders and generals on the opposite side of the battle. One of the Forsaken, called Aginor by the forces of the light, was primarily responsible for engineering the Shadowspawn armies: Trollocs, Myrdraal and Draghkar, as well as constructs like the Gholam.

At first the Forces of the Dark advanced against an unprepared populace, taking vast swathes of territory and a number of cities. When the Forces of the Light fought back, they pushed the Dark Ones forces back heavily, retaking a number of cities and vast swathes of territory. But it was during this they discovered the terrible atrocities the armies of Trollocs and Darkfriends had committed, both when taking the City, and under the administration of the Dark One's followers. Cities retaken were little more than blackened wastelands, where people refusing to swear for the Dark One were burnt alive at the corners. Retaking a city was a massive loss of morale as well as a drain on resources to rebuild it.Again the Dark One took the offensive and gradually began to push the Forces of Lews Therin back again, as more and more of his generals defected to the other side convinced Lews Therin and the Forces of Light would lose. It was said that 'It was as if with every step forward by the Shadow, disorder and chaos grew, and feeding on that, the Shadow gained strength, so that its next stride was longer, and the next after would be longer still'

Eventually, the forces of the Light began to succumb, particularly given the willingness of the enemy to use manufactured beasts and constructs such as the Trollocs as soldiers, and to murder much of the population of conquered territories. For several years, they had barely been able to hold their own ground against the attacks, and it had been many more since they had been on the offensive. The Forces of Light could no longer sustain a war, and they were moving rapidly towards defeat.

It became clear that the Light must undertake some sort of war-ending mission, bringing the Shadow to its knees in one fell swoop, but the Hall of Servants was deadlocked on how to do so. Two possible plans were espoused. The first concerned the use of two great "sa'angreal", one female and one male, to construct a second prison around the Bore itself, allowing the Dark One the run of Shayol Ghul but little else. These "sa'angreal" were, in theory, so powerful that either one could draw enough of the Power to destroy the entire world; since no living human could stand that much Power, "access key" "ter'angreal" would be required to shield the wielder from harm. The other, proposed by Lews Therin himself, was to take a circle of the most powerful Aes Sedai to Shayol Ghul and re-seal the Dark One's prison.

This plan was considered highly dangerous—Lews Therin admitted that there was little chance any of them would return, even if they succeeded; and furthermore the attempt to re-seal the prison might simply rip it open instead. Consequently, a woman named Latra Posae Decume started a pact with the other female Aes Sedai that none would assist Lews Therin. This "Fateful Concord," as it was later called, essentially sunk his existing plans, which relied on male-female cooperation.

Work on the "sa'angreal" surged ahead, but as the access keys were completed, armies commanded by Sammael overran the place where they were held. Plans were made to retrieve the keys, but never succeeded, and they were not seen again for three thousand years. In the meanwhile, other offensives by the Shadow pushed the Light to the wall, as massive armies struck commanded by the Forsaken, and other armies caused heavy fighting everywhere. Barely able to contain them with the forces he had, it became clear to Lews Therin that if they could not end the war within a half-year or so, they would lose the war, and the Dark One would win.

With any women powerful enough signed up to the Fateful Concord, and even women too weak signing up as well, Lews Therin took matters into his own hands. By this point, he had enough power and loyalty to secretly gather a guard of ten thousand soldiers and The Hundred Companions (though in actuality they numbered 113) in secret, and set off to strike at Shayol Ghul.

Details are sketchy, since every man of the ten thousand died, and the few male Aes Sedai that survived went mad instantly, but about forty of the Hundred were thought to have been killed, but the re-sealing was accomplished perfectly, despite the hindrance of having no female Aes Sedai on hand; by chance, thirteen of the remaining Forsaken were at Shayol Ghul on unrelated business, and were sealed in as well during the Strike.

Despite this apparent defeat, it was the Dark One's counter stroke that truly decided the day: he placed a taint upon "saidin", plunging Lews Therin and his Sixty-Eight Companions into instant madness, immediately going on the rampage across the world, spreading chaos and destruction outwards from Shayol Ghul.

Even with this, efforts were made by the remaining Aes Sedai to restore society, to bring the world back to some semblance of peace. But there were still many remaining bands of Trollocs and Darkfriend armies, and the true extent of the counter stroke was becoming clear, as other male Aes Sedai soon began to gradually succumb to the same fate, and society truly fell apart. These male channelers wandered the world, re-scuplting as they saw fit. This event was called the Breaking of the World, where humankind barely survived the destruction wrought by the insane male Aes Sedai.

The Breaking of the World

In what is also known as the Time of Madness, male Aes Sedai changed the world. In their insanity they used the One Power to cause great earthquakes, destroying mountains and raising new ones. They lifted dry land where seas had been and made the ocean rush in where dry land had been. Cities were wiped out and civilization completely failed to exist during this time, only re-establishing itself in primitive form after the last of the male Aes Sedai were dead. Depending on whether you chose the founding of Cairhien or the first Aiel chiefs entering Rhuidean as the end of the Breaking, it lasted between 7 and 12 generations, or about 150-300 years.

Some Male Aes Sedai hid away in Stedding -- homes of the Ogier, where the One Power can not be touched and channeling is impossible. Whether this prolonged the breaking or spread it out so it was survivable is hotly debated, but eventually all Male Aes Sedai had passed away.

Much of the world was completely changed, and most of the world's population died in the upheaval. This destruction is remembered in stories, legends, and history as the Breaking of the World.

It is revealed that the Aes Sedai of the time undertook a series of great works, seemingly to set up 'tools' for Rand and others to use three thousand years later, after a Female Aes Sedai had a Foretelling (discussion of the Foretelling is seen by Rand in Rhuidean). For example, the construction of the Stone of Tear; there was not really a need to build such a huge fortress except insofar as it relates to the eventual fulfillment of the Karaethon Cycle. There are several others, linked together: the Eye of the World was created by male and female channelers, foreseeing the world's greatest need and thus creating a reservoir of "saidin" to deal with it. The Horn of Valere, Lews Therin Telamon's banner, and a seal on Shayol Ghul were closed in a chest and placed there. Someshta, or the Green Man, was sent there to guard it for Rand's eventual arrival, as we can assume from The Shadow Rising, and finally, the "Sa’angreal" sword Callandor was placed in the Stone of Tear and heavily warded so that only The Dragon Reborn would be able to retract it. Apparently the Aes Sedai had the ability to foresee the Dragon's Rebirth, or else they would not have undertaken such complicated and dangerous works (the creation of the Eye of the World killed all those involved).

The Trolloc Wars

A thousand years after the Breaking, society had finally stabilized somewhat. The Ten Nations were prosperous, and humanity was once again advancing both in industry, science, and in philosophical & mental pursuits. The Trolloc Wars shattered this time of peace and prosperity.

The Trolloc Wars refers to a series of sustained wars between humanity and Shadowspawn (hence 'The Trolloc Wars') campaigning out of the Blight with a ferocity otherwise unseen since the War of Power. Ishamael (leader of the Forsaken) was free for 40 years during this period, and it is presumed he led the Dreadlords, channelers (primarily female, but with a fair number of males) devoted to the Dark One who led the Trolloc and Darkfriend armies. These armies's attacks on the Ten Nations damaged them severely. No nation was untouched during this time, and so it marks a cultural and historical landmark. Many nations were destroyed, and those that were spared ultimate destruction still fell to political and social upheaval. In particular, the Trolloc Wars marked the end of the Compact of Ten Nations, which had defined the political landscape from soon after the Breaking.

Artur Hawkwing and the War of the Hundred Years

Artur Paendrag Tanreall was king of the minor nation of Shandalle when the False Dragon, Guaire Amalasan, rose and began conquering the lands of the west. Artur Paendrag was among those who led forces against him. Quickly proving himself a master tactician and general, he was instrumental in defeating Amalasan. The speed at which he could move his forces earned Artur the name Hawkwing.

In returning to his homeland, Hawkwing inflicted a perceived slight to the Amyrlin Seat, the infamous Bonwhin, which resulted in the concerted invasion of Shandalle by several neighbours. Moving quickly to blunt the attacks, Hawkwing soon found himself conquering his neighbours. A war of consolidation followed as he gained power, eventually conquering all the lands spanning from the Dragonwall to the Aryth ocean. Hawkwing failed only to take Tar Valon itself, despite besieging it for 20 years.

It is presumed that the most powerful of the Forsaken, Ishamael, was free for 40 years at this point, and that he may have influenced Hawkwing into his insane hatred of Aes Sedai. He also claims to have induced Hawkwing into sending ships into Seanchan and Shara. The ships under Hawkwing's son, Luthair, took over the constantly fluctuating Seanchan and established an empire there. The fate of the second fleet is unknown, although some stories indicate it was destroyed by the Sharan Empire. Ishamael also altered the Seanchan's Karaethon Cycle, changing it from He shall bind the nine moons to serve him to He shall bow to the Crystal Throne. (The Crystal Throne is the throne of the Seanchan Empire, and is an immense ter'angreal which makes all nearby in awe of the one sitting on it.) Ishamael's efforts also helped ensure that after Hawking's death, no one leader would have the strength to hold/reunite the lands Hawking had conquered.

Unfortunately, on Hawkwing's death, his empire disintegrated under the weight of the rival bids for supreme power. The empire was torn apart in a series of wars now collectively referred to as the War of the Hundred Years, and the modern nations of the land were formed in the ashes of these conflicts. The War of the Hundred Years forms a cultural and historical landmark because it provides a point of reference for Hawkwing's effects on the world and, like the Trolloc Wars, because it forms a decisive breakpoint in history for social and cultural development: so many nations changed and social development was set back significantly, to the point where an entirely new calendar was designed by one of the Atha'an Miere, starting over with 1 NE (New Era). While there may be inaccuracies, 1 NE is believed to be the same as FY 1135 of the previous system.

The Aiel War

The Aiel War occurred when King Laman of Cairhien cut down "Avendoraldera", a gift from the Aiel. Four clans crossed the Dragonwall to punish him for this slight. They defeated any army sent against them, following Laman wherever he went. They took and burned Cairhien, and fought the Armies of Andor and Tear trying to punish Laman. The other nations united to fight back the Aiel Invaders, not realizing the Aiel were only there to punish Laman.

Again the Aiel defeated every army sent against them, due to their superior fighting abilities and tactics. They drove the united armies back to Tar Valon, where the Battle of the Shining Walls, or more simply called Blood Snow, took place. For 3 days the two armies clashed, when on the fourth the Aiel suddenly withdrew. The united armies pursued them thinking they had won, meaning to drive them back into the Waste. In reality, the war ended when Laman was killed, at the Battle of the Shining Walls. The Aiel then returned to the Waste, not to return again until the coming of the "Car'a'carn".

Battle of Dumai's Wells

The Battle of Dumai's Wells occurred in Chapter 55 of Lord of Chaos, the sixth book in the series. Elaida a'Roihan, Amyrlin Seat of the White Tower, sent an emissary of Aes Sedai led by the Red Sisters to Rand al'Thor under the guise of giving him an escort to the White Tower. However, once they realized Rand did not intend to go to the White Tower, the sisters kidnapped and imprisoned him inside a large chest.

During the journey, Rand learned that Min Farshaw had also been kidnapped. In a rage he escaped his prison and attempted to reach her. Although unsuccessful, he managed to kill two Warders during the attempt, one with his bare hands and the other injured so badly with a stolen sword he died in the healing, all this in the few moments it took the Aes Sedai shielding him to bind him. He was recaptured and subsequently beaten with the Power on a daily basis for several weeks as punishment.

The Sisters intended to use the Shaido Aiel as a distraction. The Shaido were to attack Cairhein, distracting the Aiel from any rescue attempt, but were secretly planning to betray the Aes Sedai and take Rand from them.

The battle began when the Shaido attacked the Aes Sedai wagon train at Dumai's Wells. The conflict escalated when Perrin Aybara arrived leading Rand's forces in a rescue effort, accompanied by the Salidar Aes Sedai from the Caemlyn Embassy. Mazrim Taim, acting independently, arrived with the Asha'man via gateways. They were responsible for breaking the ranks of the Shaido Aiel, using the One Power to devastating effect in an extremely violent, bloody battle.

At the conclusion of the battle, Rand changed the world when, in a ta'veren twisting of chance, the first Aes Sedai swore fealty to the Dragon Reborn.

Armies

For the Dragon Reborn

Commanded by Perrin Aybara
* Approximately 6,000 Aiel, led by Tardaad Aiel Clan Chief Rhuarc
**Approximately 5,000 "siswai'aman"
**Approximately 1,000 "Far Dareis Mai"
* Approximately 1,000 wolves called by Perrin
* 500 Cairhienin men, led by Dobraine Taborwin
* 300 Two Rivers men, led by Perrin
* 200 Mayene Winged Guards, led by Havien Nurelle
* 94 Aiel Wise Ones, led by Sorilea
* 9 Salidar Aes Sedai and their Warders

Commanded by Mazrim Taim
* 200 Asha'man

Against the Dragon Reborn

For the White TowerCommanded by Galina Casban Sedai
* 582 Younglings, led by Gawyn Trakand
* 39 Aes Sedai, led by Galina
* Warders

For the Shaido Aiel

Commanded by Sevanna
* Approximately 40,000 Shaido

The Battle

Initially, the pro-Rand armies are situated on a ridge around Dumai's Wells. The Shaido surround a group of wagons on which the Aes Sedai are situated, and unsuccessfully try to overwhelm its defenders. The Two Rivers men, Cairhienin, Aiel and Winged Guards are to charge down into the valley after an attack of wolves, with Perrin at their head. The Salidar Aes Sedai and Wise Ones are to stay up on the ridge. However, when fighting, Perrin sees some Salidar Aes Sedai fighting. The Aes Sedai reasoning for this is that all Aes Sedai are required to have taken vows to 'Never use the One Power as a weapon, except against Shadowspawn (Darkfriends also qualify), or to save her own life, or her Warder's, or the life of another sister'. As the Shaido have not been proven to be Darkfriends, the Aes Sedai must place themselves in danger before they can attack the Shaido. But it is also believed that they wished to reach Rand first.

Despite driving deeply into the Shaido, they are simply too few to reach Rand, and end up isolated amongst the Shaido, fighting desperately to survive as they are overwhelmed.

In the thick of battle, about 200 "Asha'man" led by Mazrim Taim Travel to Dumai's Wells and are instrumental in turning the tide of the battle, pouring in through gateways and killing anyone who came near.

In the meantime, Rand breaks out of the chest he was trapped in as three of the six Aes Sedai shielding him are called to the battle. One of the remaining (Tower) Aes Sedai was killed, the other two guards being stilled as he breaks through their shield. He then finds Min, initially believing her killed by his escape, but is relieved to find her alive. Rand continues shielding more Tower Aes Sedai from within their lines. As was using "Saidin", he is largely undetectable to them. Gawyn rides up, and wants to take Min away, but she refuses.

The 200 Asha'man create a dome of Air around the wagons, to keep the remaining Shaido Aiel out. Some Asha'man are holding a few Tower Aes Sedai hostage. The rest of Rand's allies are outside of the dome, still fighting the Shaido, unable to reach Rand anymore.

Mazrim Taim orders the Asha'man to open the dome, and let the allies in. Next, Rand orders Mazrim Taim to use the Asha'man to 'send a message' to Sevanna.

The Asha'man then kill thousands of Shaido, who break and run in the face of the slaughter coming from the Asha'man.

After the battle, the 9 Salidar Aes Sedai come over to congratulate Rand. Rand now distrusts all Aes Sedai, and since they have more Aes Sedai than he allowed, he forces them to kneel and swear an oath of fealty to him, which they do. In the words of Mazrim Taim: "Kneel and swear to the Lord Dragon, or you will be knelt."

The Cleansing of "saidin"

In "The Path of Daggers", Rand al'Thor made an extraordinary claim: he believed he had discovered how to cleanse the Dark One's 3000-year-old taint on "saidin". He discovered how to do this upon careful questioning of the Aelfinn, as well as of Herid Fel. His preparations bore great fruit when he and Nynaeve al'Meara used the two most powerful "sa'angreal" ever made (the Choedan Kal) to funnel the taint into Shadar Logoth. Rand al'Thor did this by creating a funnel of pure "saidar" and forcing "saidin" through the funnel. The evil in Shadar Logoth, which was born out of pure hate for the Shadow and the Dark One, attracted and reacted with the taint of "saidin", and the two forces annihilated each other, removing the taint from "saidin".

In Knife of Dreams, it has been confirmed that "saidin" is clean, by both Aes Sedai and Asha'man. However, according to Jordan himself, though sane channelers no longer need to fear its destructive effects, it does not restore any already affected by it to their former selves (as far as madness is concerned, presumably the rotting sickness can now be cured).

During the cleansing, a battle took place between the forces of light and the shadow. The forces of light under Cadsuane split into several groups of Aes Sedai and Asha'man linked to be ready for the upcoming attack. The Aes Sedai Sarene and Corele linked with the Asha'man Damer Flinn, while Elza (who is secretly Black Ajah) and Merise linked with Jahar (one of Merise's warders, wielding Callandor). Nesune, Beldeine, Daigian linked with Eben Hopwil. Verin and Kumira linked with a Sea Folk Windfinder Shalon. The former Damane Alivia fought without being linked, helped by a set of Angreal and Ter'angreal presumably made for battle.

The forces of the Shadow consisted of Cyndane (formerly Lanfear), Demandred, Osan'gar (formerly Aginor, who we find out has been masquerading as Corlan Dashiva, an Asha'man), Moghedien, Graendal and Aran'gar who was formerly Balthamel and now is in a female body but still channels "saidin".

During the fight, Osan'gar was killed by Elza (ironically a Black Ajah), Eben Hopwil by Aran'gar and Kumira by Graendal. It has also resulted in the utter destruction of the female Choedan Kal and its access key, which triggered the mass suicide of Amayar along the Islands of the Sea Folk, who believed the giant statue's destruction to signal the end of their Age of Illusion.

Tarmon Gai'don

Tarmon Gai'don, or the Last Battle, is an event both feared and anticipated in the lands of the Wheel. Deriving its name from the final battlefield of Armageddon (Har-Magedon) in Christian eschatology, it will be the apocalyptic (some say final) battle between the forces of the Shadow and the forces of Light; if the Dark One wins, he plans to break the Wheel of Time itself to prevent another challenge. Even though the Dragon Reborn might prevail and thwart the Dark One, many fear that the Last Battle and its aftermath will be as bad as the Breaking, if not worse. As the series winds toward its conclusion, signs begin to point to the nearness of this final struggle.

Within the storyline, there are characters who believe that the death of Rand before Tamon Gai'don would prevent it from happening and therefore, plot his premature death; others (mainly Elaida's Aes Sedai) just believe his mere presence would ensure their victory and therefore wish to capture him and keep him "safe" until the time comes. Before his death, Pedron Niall speculated that the Creator had abandoned mankind to its own devices, and that the Last Battle would be between armies and not include a non-existent (to his thinking) Dragon Reborn. Elza Sedai of the Black Ajah believes that the Dragon Reborn must make it to Tarmon Gai'don in order for the Dark One to defeat him, and thus she has pledged to protect Rand al'Thor from anyone who tries to take his life.


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