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The World of the Wheel of Time


The Wheel of Time (abbreviated WoT or less commonly, tWoT) is a bestselling fantasy book series written by Robert Jordan. It is known for the extreme density of its plot, the intricate detail of its imaginary world — known as Randland by fans — and lifelike complexity of relationships and interactions between characters, both individually and collectively. There are 11 books in the series so far. Books 8-11 have each reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and many of the books have been on the list at one time or another. The online game "The Wheel of Time MUD" WoTMUD is the oldest authorized game based on the series (started 1993), and various commercial game adaptations have also been spawned, including a video game, released by Atari for the personal computer, and a tabletop role-playing game, released by Wizards of the Coast and based on d20 rules.

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 or the True Source, 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 Shai'tan, known as 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 millennia 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.

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