Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Wheel of Time
- 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 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 in which almost anything that can go wrong eventually does, and the lifelike complexity of relationships and interactions between characters, both individually and collectively. The series has spawned one video game and tabletop role-playing game adaptations, 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.
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, 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 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.
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.
Books in series (so far)
- The Eye of the World (15 January 1990)
- The Great Hunt (15 November 1990)
- The Dragon Reborn (15 October 1991)
- The Shadow Rising (15 September 1992)
- The Fires of Heaven (15 October 1993)
- Lord of Chaos (15 October 1994)
- A Crown of Swords (15 May 1996)
- The Path of Daggers (20 October 1998)
- Snow: The Prologue to Winter's Heart (September 2000, E-Book)
- Winter's Heart (9 November 2000)
- Glimmers: The Prologue to Crossroads of Twilight (July 2002, E-Book)
- Crossroads of Twilight (7 January 2003)
- Knife of Dreams (6 October 2005 expected US publication date)
There is also 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.
In 2002 the first book, Eye of the World, has been 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.
There is a short story available on the web, "The Strike at Shayol Ghul", 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.
- Characters in the Wheel of Time series
- Places in the Wheel of Time series
- Events in the Wheel of Time series
- Concepts in the Wheel of Time series
- The White Tower - TarValon.net
- The Black Tower - Character List and Forums
- Wheel of Time FAQ
- WoT Livejournal Group
- Age of Wisdom - Nynaeve Shrine
- 900 NE: Before the Fall
- Shadar Logoth (WoT Message Board)
- Interviews of the Author (Robert Jordan)
- Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time programming track at Dragon*Con
- Encyclopaedia WoT
- The Wheel of Time RP
- WoT now?
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