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The Wheel of Time

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This article is about The Wheel of Time, a fantasy series by Robert Jordan. For the philosophical and religious concept, see wheel of time.

The Wheel of Time (abbreviated tWoT or more commonly, WoT) is a bestselling fantasy book series written by Robert Jordan, notable for the extreme density of its plotting, the intricate detail of its imaginary world, its generally pessimistic tone, and the lifelike complexity of relationships and interactions between characters, both individually and collectively. Consisting of many volumes written over decades, books 8, 9, and 10 of the series each reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and many of the books have been on the list. The series has spawned two game adaptations, one video game, released by Atari for the personal computer and one tabletop role-playing game, released by Wizards of the Coast and based on d20 rules.

Robert Jordan has indicated that the main sequence will conclude with the yet-to-be-named twelfth book, though he plans to write two other prequel novels in addition to the recently-published New Spring. This was confirmed most recently in an e-mail newsletter distributed by his overseas publisher, Orbit, in early November of 2004.

Contents

The premise

In the beginning, the Creator made the Wheel of Time, which spins the Pattern of the Ages using the lives of men as its threads. The Wheel has seven spokes, each representing an age, and it is rotated by the One Power, a source of magic. The One Power is divided into male and female halves, saidin and saidar, which work in opposition and in unison to drive the Wheel; those who can use this power are known as channelers.

The Creator imprisoned the Dark One (known as Shai'tan), a powerful, evil being, at the moment of creation, sealing him away from the Wheel. At some point, however, the Dark One was given purchase in the world through the machinations of well-meaning people and began his efforts to conquer the world, creation, even the Wheel itself. To counter this threat, the Wheel caused the Dragon, the champion of the Light and a channeler of immense power, to be born.

Due to the cyclical nature of the Wheel of Time, there can be no definitive victory for the forces of the Light; the war has been fought innumerable times since the dawn of Creation. The Dragon would defeat Shai'tan and seal him from the Wheel, only to have his work undone millenia later, necessitating his occasional rebirth to counter the continuing threat.

Robert Jordan's novels concern themselves with one incarnation of the Dragon in particular. Three thousand years have passed since the last war between Shai'tan and the Light (which was around five thousand years after the end of our world), which the Dragon (known as Lews Therin Telamon in that life) ended by patching the hole in the Dark One's prison with the help of a group of other male channelers known as the Hundred Companions. Unfortunately, the Dark One managed to taint saidin, the male half of the One Power, with a counterstroke which brought madness and a wasting sickness to any man who channeled it. The taint quickly overcame Lews Therin and his companions and eventually drove every male channeler to insanity, with catastrophic results that changed the face of the world.

The rebirth of the Dragon, then, is viewed with hope and fear. On the one hand, the Dragon Reborn will be a channeler of saidin, vulnerable to the taint which 'broke the world' once before, and the prophecies promise that his rebirth will bring similar upheavals. On the other hand, he is the only one capable of defeating Shai'tan, who is once again reaching beyond his prison.

Other notes

When creating names in the series, Jordan used names and words of foreign languages, religions, mythologies, and even English, such as with Shai'tan (the prime evil force of the series, also known as the Dark One), and especially visible in names of Trolloc clans (Dha'vol, Kho'bol, etc).

The intended impression is that the world in which the series is set might be our own world at some different point on the Wheel of Time. Perhaps the most obvious borrowing is the Aes Sedai symbol, which is a modified Yin-Yang solid white on one side, black on the other. The name Aes Sedai is suggestive of the Irish Aes Sidhe; Sa'angreal is clearly borrowed from Sangreal, the Holy Grail, etc. Robtert Jordan himself once said, "The characters in the books are the source of many of our myths and legends, and we are the source of many of theirs. You can look two ways along a wheel." [America Online chat, June 28, 1996]

Books in series

The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World is the first book in the series, published 1990-01-15. ISBN 0812511816 (paperback)Introduces the world and many of the major characters.

Plot synopsis

Three young men (Rand al'Thor, Perrin Aybara, and Mat Cauthon) in an isolated rural community find themselves hunted by the Dark One. Unwillingly, they flee their home in the company of an Aes Sedai (a powerful female mage) as the Dark One's evil armies pursue. While a series of life-threatening encounters keep them constantly on the move, they are visited by terrible dreams that hint that they play some central part in the Dark One's conflict with the Light, for which the Dark One is desperate to stop them.

For more detail, see Concise summaries of each chapter (www.dragonmount.com) (http://www.dragonmount.com/Books/Eye_of_the_World/summary.aspx)

The Great Hunt

The Great Hunt is the second book in the series. It was published 1990-12-15. (ISBN 0812517725 (paperback)). In it, Rand al'Thor, the main character, struggles with the danger of what he is; a male channeler, while attempting to retrieve the Horn of Valere from Darkfriends.


The Dragon Reborn

The Dragon Reborn is the third book in the series. It was published 1991-11-15.

Rand al'Thor has proclaimed himself the Dragon Reborn, and flees Almoth Plain, heading for Tear, where Callandor, an artifact that can prove him as the Dragon, is kept.

The book is unique as it is hardly at all from Rand's POV, but rather his friends and allies as they race to catch him or help him. Throughout the course of the book, much is revealed about ta'veren and their effects, and just how strong of a ta'veren Rand is.

The Shadow Rising

The Shadow Rising is the fourth book in the series. It was published 1992-09-15.

Rand al'Thor has taken the Stone of Tear, and follows the People of the Dragon, the Aiel, into their home, the Aiel Waste, as the Car'a'carn. The book chronicles the Aiel when Rand al'Thor enters the ter'angreal at Rhuidean. At the same time, Perrin Aybara returns home to the Two Rivers after hearing rumors of a Whitecloak invasion of his homeland, and must make the choice between the hammer and the axe, symbolic of peace and war. The book ends on a cliffhanger, with the division of the Aiel over the knowledge of their past, and the capture of the Forsaken known as Asmodean by al'Thor.

The Fires of Heaven

The Fires of Heaven is the fifth book in the series. It was published 1993-09-15.

Rand al'Thor prepares himself with for battles in Cairhein and Andor, while women he knows hunt down the Black Ajah and the Forsaken.

Lord of Chaos

Lord of Chaos is the sixth book in the series. It was published 1994-09-15.

In this book Demandred has a meeting with the Dark One. The rebel Aes Sedai in Salidar prepare to send an embassy to Caemlyn, where they shall meet Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn. In Emond's Field, Perrin Aybara feels Rand pulling at him and prepares to head to Caemlyn. Morgase Trakand finds the Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light, Pedron Niall, awaiting her in Amadicia. To the south, Sammael still holds Illian in his grasp.

The Battle of Dumai's Wells occurs in Chapter 55 of this book. See Events in the Wheel of Time series for more detail on the battle.

A Crown of Swords

A Crown of Swords is the seventh book in the series. It was published 1996-04-15.

ISBN 0312857675 (Hardcover)
ISBN 0812550285 (Paperback)

Rand prepares his forces to move against Sammael in Illian, while the Salidar rebels prepare to move on the White Tower, and an expedition to Ebou Dar attempts to find an artifact that will help break the Dark One's unnatural summer.

For more detail, see concise summaries at Dragonmount.com (http://www.dragonmount.com/Books/Crown_of_Swords/summary.aspx)

The Path of Daggers

The Path of Daggers is the eighth book in the series. It was published 1998-09-20.

Elayne, Aviendha, Nynaeve and their coalition of channelers fix the weather, and then escape a Seanchan invasion by heading to Andor. Rand al'Thor meets them with his Asha'man and new Illianer followers and turns them back, but teeters dangerously close to insanity in doing so. Perrin moves into Ghealdan to stop the Prophet of the Dragon. And Egwene al'Vere, Amyrlin Seat of the Salidar rebels, finally asserts control over her followers.

It is notable for not including main character Matrim Cauthon, who is absent due to injuries sustained in the previous book. Jordan has done this before, with Perrin in The Fires of Heaven.

See concise summaries at Dragonmount.com (http://www.dragonmount.com/Books/Path_of_Daggers/summary.aspx) for more detail.

Winter's Heart

Winter's Heart is the nineth book in the series. It was published 2000-11-09. Snow: The Prologue to Winter's Heart was published separately as an e-book in September of 2000.

ISBN 0312864256 (Hardcover)

Perrin's camp is attacked by Shaido Aiel, and several of his followers, including his wife Faile, are captured; he and his give immediate pursuit. Elayne Trakand, having reached Andor, attempts to win the Lion Throne. Mat, under the Seanchan occpuation of Tarabon, plans his escape, though he occasionally falls afoul of a Seanchen noblewoman named Tuon. And Rand makes plans to permanently cleanse saidin.

See concise summaries at Dragonmount.com (http://www.dragonmount.com/Books/Winters_Heart/summary.aspx) for more detail.

Crossroads of Twilight

Crossroads of Twilight is the tenth book in the series. It was published 2003-01-07. Glimmers: The Prologue to Crossroads of Twilight was published separately as an e-book in July of 2002.

Egwene maintains the siege of the White Tower; Perrin Aybara continues trying to rescue Faile; Mat Cauthon's escape plan proceeds apace, though complicated by his acquisition of Tuon, heir to the Seanchan throne and--according to prophecy--his wife-to-be; Elayne Trakand deals with obstacles in her quest for the throne of Andor; and Rand al'Thor rests after the ordeal of cleansing the One Power.

Perrin is approached with the suggestion of alliance with the Seanchan, at least on a temporary basis, to defeat the Shaido. It is revealed that, by some Seanchan customs, Mat has actually claimed Tuon as his wife already. Finally, it is also pointed out that Tuon, as a potential sul'dam, can be taught to channel.

Knife of Dreams

Knife of Dreams is to be the eleventh book in the series. The book has not yet been released; the projected release date is 2005-10-11. This volume of The Wheel of Time is expected to tie up some minor and major loose ends exposed during the course of the series, including Mat's journey through the door ter'angreal, and the beginning of Tarmon Gai'don. Jordan has stated that a previous event in the series will have detrimental effects in this book. Jordan also says that there will be a total of twelve books, possibly thirteen, in the main series. If this prediction is accurate, Knife of Dreams will have one, possibly two, sequels. (Jordan's previous statements of the length of the series have proved inaccurate.) After this, Jordan will finish with two more prequels in addition to the already published New Spring.

The prologue to Knife of Dreams, entitled "Embers Falling on Dry Grass", is going to be published in an ebook. Part of the prologue is available in the paperback edition of New Spring, and deals with a confrontation between Galadedrid Damodred, a well-known character, and Eamon Valda, the Lord Captain Commander of the Whitecloaks.

External links

New Spring

There is a prequel novella, "New Spring" in the Legends anthology edited by Robert Silverberg. The novella was expanded into a standalone novel-length version, New Spring, that was published in January 2004. ISBN 0-765-30629-8 (hardcover)

New Spring describes events which took place twenty years before the first book Jordan wrote in the series, The Eye of the World. Significantly shorter than Jordan's other Wheel of Time novels, New Spring focuses mainly on Suian Sanche and Moiraine Damodred, two Aes Sedai new to the sisterhood, and how Moiraine met her warder, Lan Mandragoran. The novel also explains Moiraine and Siuan's link to Rand al'Thor and the Prophecy of the Dragon. Jordan is expected to write two other prequels after finishing the main series.

Repackaging

In 2002 the first book, Eye of the World, was repackaged as two volumes with new illustrations for younger readers: From the Two Rivers, including an extra chapter before the existing prologue, and To the Blight with an expanded glossary. In 2004 the same was done with The Great Hunt, with the two parts being the Hunt Begins and New Threads in the Pattern.

Short works

There is a short story available on the web, "The Strike at Shayol Ghul (http://www.tor.com/shayol.html)", which predates the main series by several thousand years. That story is also found in The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time (ISBN 0-312-86219-9), an official hardcover guide to the Wheel of Time published in November 1998.

External links

Template:Wikiquote

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