Wed
Nov 30 2011 3:00pm
Ages to Come, Ages Long Past: The Wheel of Time Roundtable, Week 3

Welcome back to the Wheel of Time Roundtable! In this weekly mini-series from Tor.com, we’ll be asking a panel of Wheel of Time experts a number of questions that look at the upcoming final volume in this long-running fantasy series: A Memory of Light.

The questions will range from the specific, to the silly, to the broad, eventually encompassing the Wheel of Time’s legacy itself.

Each week (unless it’s Thanksgiving and we are turkey-bound) a different question will be posed to our panelists, then you, the commenters, will be invited to join in.

We’ve looked at the threat of the Shadow and the threat of everybody else to figure out just what still awaits us in A Memory of Light. Now we turn past the events of the final book, to ponder the layout of The Fourth Age and beyond.

 

This week’s question was:

The Dragon Reborn’s battle against the Shadow heralds the end of the Wheel of Time’s Third Age. We’ve gotten hints of what the Fourth Age may entail in Towers of Midnight and a scattering of prophecies, but what else might lay in store? Is there anything you’d like to see extrapolate from the events of the series? Is there anything you wouldn’t like to see extrapolate from the events of the series, but feel pretty certain would happen anyway? Will there even be a Wheel once this is through, or will the Pattern become linear? And where are we located? Will the world suffer another Breaking, or a loss of the One Power, before our own Age comes about?

 

Matt Hatch: The Fourth Age has never been an obsession of mine, but that’s not to say I don’t have a few opinions about what will happen. First, in the Fourth Age there will be a Wheel and time will remain cyclical; while the discussion is a fun one to have and one that will continue to be had over the coming decades of new readers, Jordan did not intend for this to be the moment for the cyclical nature of time to come to an end. Yes, it would be cool. No, it’s not going to happen.

Leigh Butler: None of this “time goes linear” nonsense. There will always be a Wheel in the WOTverse, what, are you mad? It’s like proposing Star Wars without Wookies! Sheesh.

Unless I’m wrong, of course, in which case I was kidding. Yup.

Matt Hatch: Second, the One Power will continue into the Fourth Age; while the ability to access the One Power will be lost at some point in the future/past, channelers and channeling will persist in the coming Age. Although, I do enjoy the idea of a cataclysm of a future Age based on some event or events that bring about the end of channeling ushering in our own Age.

Leigh Butler: It’s been a long-standing speculation among the fans that the end of the Third Age will be demarcated by the end of humanity’s access to the One Power. After all, we know the WOT version of magic has to get “lost” at some point, since our own decidedly magic-free Age is part of the cycle, and I seem to recall that it was implied somewhere that the Age of Legends was defined by the rediscovery of that magic (though that could just be fan speculation as well, I can’t remember for sure).

This idea, while a tad depressing, always made a certain elegant sense in my opinion, because it seems to me that the loss of the ability to channel would be one of the few things that might be a sufficient price to pay in order to seal Mr. Ultimate Evil back in his can. It’s not like anyone can reasonably expect saving the world to come cheap, after all. Another Breaking would suck, sure, but the loss of magic, now that’s a sacrifice.

Aviendha’s visions in ToM seemed to put the kibosh on that speculation, true, but again it’s worth pointing out that the future she saw is still only a possible one, that may yet be averted. So the possibility is still up in the air as far as I am concerned. I don’t like it, exactly, but it makes sense, both in a plot sense and in a meta sense, if that makes any, er, sense.

Jason Denzel: I generally remain pretty conservative when it comes to crazy WoT theories, but I admit I’m fond of the one that states the One Power will be lost. The way I see it, the world is heading into a series of Ages that are all about industry and technology. I’ve always thought of the 7th and final Age as being the one where technology had advanced so much that humanity loses sight of the One Power. It’s then up to the Dragon to re-discover channeling altogether.

So I think the 4th Age will be the beginning of that decline. Perhaps we’ll see an aggressive turn in the metaphysics of the world: maybe the whole world becomes a stedding: a place where people can sense the True Source, but cannot touch it. Maybe that’s the cost of winning the Last Battle?

Jennifer Liang: Well, it’s safe to say that SOMETHING survives, otherwise we wouldn’t have all those nifty epigrams from the Fourth Age scattered about. However, those are just vague hints that confirm nothing but the survival of humanity. We’re far more interested in the fates of our favorite characters.

Two weeks ago I said that the Pattern was throwing Rand’s friends into positions of power and authority as much to prepare the world for what comes next as it is to assist Rand with whatever he has to do at Shayol Ghul. We start to see the shape of what might come next in the moves Elayne and Egwene start making in Towers of Midnight. Not only does Elayne cement her rule in Andor, but she makes the play for Cairhien and starts a formal alliance with the remnants of the Kin.

This is in addition to her “bargain” with the Seafolk. Altogether, these deals give the citizenry of Andor (and soon Cairhien) access to channelers in a way not seen since the Age of Legends. Egwene is making similar moves to ally the female channelers of the world together. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that she might eventually overcome the deeply ingrained  distrust of male channelers and create some sort of alliance with the Black Tower in the future.

They’ll need it, because the Seanchan are a problem that just won’t go away. They aren’t going home any time soon, and the occupied territories on this side of the Aryth are the most stable portions of Randland currently. Avi’s vision of a possible future makes it seem certain the Seanchan will be an issue in Randland for years.

Of course, all these alliances of channelers against enslaved channelers might be moot, if, as many have theorized, channeling itself disappears after the Last Battle. Then new technologies like Aludra’s Dragons and whatever Rand’s schools are cooking up will suddenly become much, much more important.

Jason Denzel: I don’t think we’ll actually SEE much of the Fourth Age, however. I strongly suspect that Avhienda’s visions of the future will be as forward as we get to see in this series. Based on that, it seems like we only saw several hundred years into the Age. Things may be far more different at the end of the 4th than what we saw. To give you an idea of what I mean, think of how the year 200 AB (After Breaking) is a vastly different place than the year 1001 NE (New era) where the story is currently taking place.

Matt Hatch: I think the Bore will be sealed in some way that will create a point of thinness in the Pattern, something that will go undetected for many Ages. Finally, in the Fourth Age the followers of the Dark One will dwindle and disappear almost completely thanks to a concerted effort to eradicate followers of the Dark One from every corner of the world and the lack of his direct influence on the world.

Leigh Butler: Our Age, by the way, is not the Fourth Age, I’m pretty sure. In fact I seem to recall Jordan stated that outright at some point, but I could be just losing my mind. Assuming I’m right, I don’t know where we would fall in the cycle exactly, but my completely wild-assed and based-on-vague-and-possibly-insane-aesthetic-values guess would be that we would fall as equidistant from the Second through the Fourth Ages as possible. So, Sixth or Seventh Age. And after tossing a coin careful consideration, the Sixth Age is my hanging-chad-laden vote. Go Sixers!

Jason Denzel: In the end, I think it’s part of Robert Jordan’s vision for us to all imagine what the other Ages are. He’s laid the groundwork for us to each craft in our imaginations a vision of what the future...and distant past... look like.  Also, on that note, I wonder what the NEXT instance of the 3rd Age will be like?  Assuming, of course, that the world survives past the Last Battle....

 

We’ll close on that note this week. (Love the idea of Andor locking down channeling AND technology. Elayne has never been more hardcore.) Chime in below with your own speculation as to post (and eventually pre-) Memory of Light events.

Check back with us next week as we talk about scenes we’d really like to see in the final book.


Leigh Butler writes this very site’s long-running and deep-cutting Wheel of Time Reread. (And the Song of Ice and Fire Read.)

Jason Denzel heads the internet’s premiere comprehensive Wheel of Time fansite: Dragonmount.

Matt Hatch heads the Wheel of Time online think tank: Theoryland.

Jennifer Liang work with Dragonmount, is the chair for JordanCon, and the director of Wheel of Time content at DragonCon. She also hosts the Wheel of Time Tor.com Facebook and Twitter portals, both of which aggregate Wheel of Time content across the web.

39 comments
Lsana
1. Lsana
I posted this in the re-read thread, but I'll say it again: we're reminded at the start of every book that this story takes place in "an age yet to come, an age long past." That certainly suggests to me that the Wheel isn't going anywhere.

As far as channeling in the next age, I think it will be there, but it won't be a repeat of the Age of Legends. My theory is that the White Tower and Black Tower will stay separate entities, with an uneasy cooperation between them at best and outright war between them at worst. Channeling will disappear at the end of the Fourth Age, and by that time, most of the world will be so fed up with both towers that they'll actually be happy to see it go. (And before anyone says anything about it, yes, I know that's a horrible thing to happen, but there are enough horrible things in the past/future of the WoT world that I don't think it's out of the question.)
Nathanael Schaffer
2. N_Schaffer
I completely agree that the Wheel will (and should) keep turning.. its part of the series, and the cyclical nature of time is something everyone has to learn to deal with (as Rand did in the end of tGS).

Which leads to a favorite idea of mine.. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has thought it, though. I think there is a good chance the series will end on a variation of the 'wind' line that opens each book... the wind will die down, but we will be reminded that..

"The wind was not the ending. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was an ending."
Erik Amundsen
3. Bigerich
It has always seemed to make perfect sense to me that our own Age won't come after this Age, but that our own is supposed to be the First Age. Or has Jordan said otherwise?

First Age - Homo sapiens?
Second Age - Channeling discovered, Dark One encountered?
Third Age - This one
Fourth - Channeling goes away?
Fifth Age - Cataclysmic event
Sixth Age - Life begins again
Seventh - Dinosaurs come and go

You could obviously swap some of the ages around (Life beginning again in First, Second starting with humans and ending with confronting the DO, etc.)
Brian Medema
4. cleansweep
@Lsana, I really don't see how the Black and White Towers can remain seperate, especially after a couple generations. It won't be too long before daughters who can channel are born into the Black Tower (some Asha'man have families, even if the Aes Sedai currently abstain), and men can't teach women how the channel any more than "a bird can teach a fish to fly". At the very least, there will be strong blood ties between the Towers within 5 generations, and I would suspect complete integration would come along pretty quick. After all, there are plenty of references to the greatest works of the Age of Legends being the result of men and women working together, and ambitious channelers of both genders will want to pursue great accomplishments.
Lsana
5. Jonellin Stonebreaker
@ cleansweep:

The two towers entering into some form of alliance has already been foreshadowed by the relationships of the Asha'man bonded by Aes Sedai
and of Logain and his two Aes Sedai. This also only makes sense for so many reasons.

One of the main reasons that Aes Sedai generally do not marry is that they can see the man they loved, and all of the children coming from that union growing old and dying while they still retain the appearance of youth. This is partially mitigated in the case of Warders due to the gift of extended vitality given by the bond, but only partially.

Asha'man are potentially as long-lived as Aes Sedai, now that Saidin is clean, (longer-lived even... they don't have that silly custom of binding themselves as though they were criminals).
The many prospective marriages and the birth of so many children with channeling genes on both sides, in fact, leads me to believe that the Fourth Age will surpass the Age of Legends in the scope and scale of works able to be done with the One Power.
Lsana
6. InTheory
My personal preference on the fate of the wheel is that I am hoping that it continues turning....but the damage of sealing/getting rid of the dark one makes it jump the tracks. (After all if the Dark One is literally killed at the Last Battle, it wouldn't make sense for him to come back in some later time period and have the cycle repeat itself again verbatim.)

But that seems pretty out there as an idea, though it is what I hope for.
Thomas Jeffries
7. thomstel
My personal theory on the end of the Third Age is that we'll see channeling come to an end and the One Power become inaccessible, but that's primarily due to my desire to have the afterstory not be overwhelmed by the Seanchan-Randland cultural clash that's been brewing all series.

The Seanchan would be in a VERY different position in regards to how to integrate (or not) with the current Randland population if they have to contend with both Seandar being in ruin AND the lynchpin of their military might (damane) having been pulled.

Obviously I'm also a fan of Aviendha's vision being a "could be" rather than a "will be".
Lsana
8. St.Rukos
The 4th Age will start with the fallout of the Last Battle. Both towers have already been shown, through visions, as fallen. The Wheel can not go away or stop, it is the very nature of reality to have it. If there is another age, the Wheel keeps going. I don't believe there is ever talk of destroying the Dark one, only containing him. If the Creator couldn't do it, Rand and friends surely can not. Aviendhas' vision shows her 4 kids channeling in the 4th age, war with the Seanchan and the dissolution of the Aiel. An age is a long time, perhaps several thousand years. Look at our own history over a few thousand years. How much has changed since 10,000 ships sailed for Troy or Herodotus wrote about The Persian War.
I would sepeculate that in order to get to another Age of Legends:
-channeling has to be forgotten, in order to be rediscovered
-the 3rd age has to be forgotten, except in myth and legend
-the world has to be broken a few more times
(the Ogier as Neanderthals, would explain how and why they vanished in prehistorical times (4th Age) )
T C
9. Freelancer
Jason Denzel: In the end, I think it’s part of Robert Jordan’s vision for us to all imagine what the other Ages are.
Hey Jason. Lose any good M/tG games lately? So, I don't disagree with your statement here, but I believe it was ever more prominent in Jordan's mind that his readers consider the totality of the lessons which can be learned from the story, than any linear or non-linear speculations regarding timeframes which the story does not directly address.

First among these, of course, is the impact which forthright communication has on difficult circumstances. Every single time that significant characters choose to stop withholding information from each other, something wonderful happens. That is the easiest of these lessons to consider and demonstrate, but there are literally dozens scattered throughout the text, and for my money, they were a substantial portion of the impetus for Jordan composing the story as he did.
Jonah Feldman
10. relogical
It's a longshot, but has anyone checked the names of the writers of the 4th Age snippets we have so far against any names dropped in Aviendha's vision?

If channeling proceeds into the 4th Age without interruption, there is no way it can't become the Age of Legends all over again. They already have the making of ter'angreal, strong orders of near-immortal channelers of both sexes, and without the taint, the sexes won't have much reason to fight each other (though in Randland, they'll find a reason) and will work together. Once they rediscover standing weaves, the mundanes will have no reason to fear channelers, since everyone would be able to reap the benefits of a Power-using society.

If there has to be a cost to Rand's victory, could it be the loss of
male-female circles? That would certainly get in the way of Age of
Legends 2: Electric Boogaloo. But it doesn't feel right to me. After all
the strides toward male-female cooperation in the series, that wouldn't
be a fitting end, so I doubt it will happen that way.

So that leaves absolutely nothing in the way of a new Age of Legends. Except, the bloody Seanchan, burn them! And, of course, the Wheel. From what we know of the Wheel and the Pattern, the Wheel divides time into Ages for a reason. So by Pattern logic, the Fourth Age will not be like the Age of Legends, because that would be too repetitive. Narrative Causality for the win!
Jonathan Levy
11. JonathanLevy
Aviendha's vision shows that channeling exists in the beginning of the fourth age. It doesn't show that it continues throughout the entirety of the fourth age.

The loss of channeling could come as a cataclysmic event, like the Dark One's counterstroke. It could also be a long, drawn-out process like the Breaking (300 years or so). I think the following scenario is perfectly consistent with what we know (though of course, it is not the only such scenario):

After the Last Battle, no more channelers are born, except for the Children of the Dragon (who also channel in a way unknown beforehand, constantly holding the True Source). Over the next 300 years, the remaining channelers slowly die off and are not replaced; technology becomes more sophisticated and becomes a replacement for channeling in society.
Damon Garner
12. IrishOmalley
Hmm. I believe that Robert Jordan spent a little too much time setting up the relationship between the White and Black Towers with male and female bonding to destroy the one power completely.

I think the 4th age will be much like LOTR, where all other races and not magic, disapear.
Roger Powell
13. forkroot
Bigerich@3
It has always seemed to make perfect sense to me that our own Age won't come after this Age, but that our own is supposed to be the First Age. Or has Jordan said otherwise?
The problem is the Portal stones. Verin states that they come from an Age that predates the Age of Legends.

So for "our" Age to be the First Age, either we are going to create the Portal stones later in this Age (since we obviously don't have them yet) or Verin could be wrong.

Although RJ is quite happy to have characters be wrong about things, it's usually something more germane to the story. This sort of "backstory" item doesn't fit that mold. It seems unlikely that RJ would have Verin be wrong about that point.
Lsana
14. Jexral
@4 and 5 - On the subject of the towers uniting - it was awfully nice of Elaida to build the Asha'Man a tower, wasn't it?

For speculation as to where we fall in the cycle of the ages... I think this is the first age, with the Age of Legends on the horizon. Either that, or the time of the greeks and romans was the Age of Legends, and we are in the Third Age, just a pretty different incarnation than there's was. Although @13, that is a good point about the portal stones.... Still, not entirely conclusive one way or the other.

And, as for speculation on how the whole thing ends.... Rand kills the Dark One. That definitely happens. Then he seals Padan Fain away. Jordan himself said that Fain was a new kind of evil, and honestly he has done nothing but get scarier as the series has progressed. Fain is the new epicenter of evil. And I think he will do something to seal away the one power as he is being sealed away, though I couldn't tell you what it will be.

@11 - It seems to me that you are taking Avhienda's visions at the guarenteed future, which they are certainly not. They are, at this point, the most likely future, I would guess. However, Avhienda is going to avert it. Becauase it made me too damn sad for it to happen. That scene definitely made me cry. (Just to state for the record - that is mostly tongue in cheek. I know it can still happen, even if it makes me sad. I don't think it will, though. Avhienda is badass enough.)
James Dorwart
15. St.Rukos
Perhaps, it is too easy to fall into the Western way of thinking of the Dark One. Perhaps he is greater than the sum of his percieved personality. If he is in every reality, 'killing' him seems doesn't seem to be the appropiate verb. Perhaps his personafication as an individual is a throwback to the Age of Legends and isn't accurate at all. The concept of Evil can not be killed. What was sealed away by the Creator (another concept for a different time) (though that could simply be a myth of a previous battle with the Dragon, in a different long mythologized age)might have been an individual so evil, so corrupt that he came to embody (what is called) the Dark One. In this Age, that individual will be destroyed, though replaced with Fain. Perhaps it is cutting hairs to say that the Dark One is only an individual from an age before the Age of Legends, though if this particular one is destroyed, perhaps the power he has given (Forsaken, dark friends, etc) will be removed and Fain will be the sole inheritor of the elemental Shadow...
I am probably wrong, though Evil incarnate that can be destroyed seems too simple for Jordan's world...
Lsana
16. InTheory
What do you suppose would happen if Rand used Balefire on the DarkOne?
James Dorwart
17. St.Rukos
Balefire on the Dark One.. a very interesting idea... It would be as though he hadn't existed, though the memory of those wiped out of the pattern by BF doesn't vanish, so they continue in some fashion.... The Dark One's immediate influence would vanish (power given to Forsaken or Darkfriends ??), the strength of the BF determines how long reaching the effect stretches back in time (I seem to recall reading that somewhere)... Could be a way to vacate the hole for Fain...
T C
18. Freelancer
Considering that the True Power is considered by the author to be "the essence of the Dark One", I rather imagine that even balefire is inadequate to touch him. I reject the notion that he is simply an ultra-evil person. No, he is not from within the Pattern, as the Creator is not. Fain is not going to "ascend" to the position of the Dark One in a future turning. The dark one's abilities are so far beyond any individual mortal as to render the idea ludicrous. Recall the visits the forsaken have made to Shayol Ghul, and the power exhibited there even from within his weakening prison.

Also, recall the lessons that Perrin and Egwene have learned about T'a'R. When either of them speaks of this information to Min, she will unlock the big secret.
Lsana
19. Wortmauer
InTheory@6: I am hoping that it continues turning....but the damage of sealing/getting rid of the dark one makes it jump the tracks.
Hmmmmmmmmm. I was going to make an off-hand comment about Rand being one of Robin Hobb's Catalysts. (Your "history on a track" imagery is very similar to how Hobb describes the history of her world.) But then it got me thinking: her Catalyst is, in a way, the exact opposite of a ta'veren, in that a ta'veren expresses the will of the Pattern, and a Catalyst is defined by the unique ability to subvert the Pattern.

By which I mean, I don't think Rand and his two ta'veren pals can knock history off its track; if it can be done at all, it would seem to be a job for some sort of anti-ta'veren (i.e., Hobb Catalyst). A lord of chaos, as it were.

(Add in that Rand is the Dragon Reborn, and the Hobb parallel just gets weird.)
Birgit
20. birgit
Portal Stones could exist in our world, we just don't know what they are because we can't channel.
Stefan Mitev
21. Bergmaniac
Channelling disappearing immediately after the LB means most of the WoT main cast and an awful lot of the supporting characters would'be dead in a few years. No access to the Source means the channellers losing the will to live and dying soon. I just don't see Jordan planning this, given his extreme reluctance in killing off any important character over so many volumes.
Eigor Maldonado
22. e-mann
All of this talk about what is yet to come in the 4thAge has me thinking, what if we are being shown an age that is even more distant than the 4th All of these 4thAge musings are being shown to us through this distant, mysterious Age. This thought has inspired me to come up with my own way to end a AMoL with an epilogue that follows this rough idea below:

We are introduced to a world that looks like modern day society, to a young man who is being chased. Chased by a malignant (person/group/force?), and has been for years. They have finally caught up to him, he is cornered; nowhere else to hid or run. Faced with fact that he will now be the clutches of this (person/group/force?) for all time, he desperately seeks for a way to free himself. A feeling, a feeling akin to trying to control chaos, suddenly overwhelms him and suddenly as if the forces of nature were aiding him, he dispatches his pursuers. The young man is left feeling numb, the world suddenly seeming duller than before. What had just happened, was he safe? What had he just done? It was almost like magic, but wait magic is fake, an illusion to trick the masses. It can’t be real, can it?

I would like to know what the fandom thinks of this.
Jonathan Levy
23. JonathanLevy
16. InTheory
Balefire burns back a thread in the pattern. However, the Dark One is outside the pattern, and therefore has no thread to burn. In an early book (tEotW, I think) Moiraine even expresses the hope that the wheel might weave the DO into the pattern, thereby rendering him (relatively) harmless.

21. Bergmaniac
Not in the way I've described it @11. Channelers keep channeling, just new ones aren't born.
Lsana
24. Syrenmuse
Speaking as a spinner and weaver, the one thing that has always bothered me about the series is the the phrase: "the wheel weaves as the wheel Wills."
Any spinner or weaver can tell you wheels don't weave. Wheels make thread, threads are woven into cloth on looms. It's always been a bit of a sticking point...

As far as the fourth age goes, I think that if we go in cycles, it is clear to me that we begin with knowing little of the power, an evil force wanting to control the power, and growing more and more in our knowledge of this power. This is fantasy, I don't connect it in any way with the real world. It is clear to me that the cycle continues through each age in whatever form the age begins with and ends with the shutting off of the people to the source.

I've never really liked the storyline of those from another age coming into the current one but if that is part of the cycle, what if the ones suspended in time were those of this age that were "good" in the next cycle?

Those are my speculations
Lsana
25. Layne
Whichever number it is, our age predated the age of legends.

When Thom Merrilin first appears in Emmond's Field early in tEotW he alluds to the stories of "Mosk" and "Merk" (Moscow and America) who fight with spears of fire (missles?), and about "Lenn" who rode an eagle to the moon (John Glenn, and the whole Eagle has landed thing...). Thom refers to these as being among the oldest of his stories. Mosk and Merk get mentioned again in SR on the way out of the Stone.
Lsana
26. Tree Brother
Freinds and fellow fans our hero has passed on.Thanks to Brandon we finaly get to read the end of our series.Do we really want to see Avienda's vision to come true? Do we really want the seachan to take over the world with aes sedai chained? I for one would think that it would be far better if the dark one was sealed away with the one power. Maybe with callandor shoved in the rocks of shayol ghul like excaliber for some future generation to exploit. But here in this age we have been given a great gift in Brandon Sanderson and TOR for seeing the importaince of finishing this story.If he finishes the storys that Robert Jordan has started it will be a mighty book indeed(Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight are the largest books of all) A Memory of Light is setting up to be a mighty read and I'm sure a challange to write.To finish the story I believe that the one power has to be taken away.That makes the playing feild even between the seanchan and the other nations except for Andor who has gunpowder and cannons plus under Elaine the discoverys at the school in Cairhien.That will even the feild againced the seanchan and their animals. No fighting over missing wise ones no chained aes sedai no male aes sedai:just good ol fasioned blood and guts fighting.The ex channelers will probibly even be set free.For what it's worth, thats my opinion and I'm sticking to it!
Alice Arneson
27. Wetlandernw
For what little it's worth, count me in the camp of those who think the One Power will eventually somehow become unknown (duh!) but that it will not come at the end of the Third Age. It's possible that Jonathan Levy has the answer, with the OP still there but no more channelers being born for some reason. (Something like a radiation effect that only affects the channeling gene, making it inoperable for anyone who has not already begun using it.) In any case, I don't expect a sudden disappearance of the OP to mark the transition from Third to Fourth Age.
Lsana
28. Valandhir
I think the end of channeling is heralded in Aviendha's vision. How?

The Seanchan are very very good at culling any potential channeler and anyone who can be taught from the populace. But they do not breed damane, meaning all culled Damane have no children. And Sul'dam don't seem to marry very often. In essence, once the Seanchan will reach total control of most lands, their system will see to it that less and less people with the ability will be born. (We always know the bred apart agrument from the Aes Sedai, but the Seanchan are more thorough.) And it will go until the gene is so recessive, that it will take long centuries for a potential channeler to be born again.

Thus the system will be dispersed and eventually be forgotten. Technology will develop and eventually people will view the whole Damane thing like we do the Witch Hunts- cruel, barbaric and entirely pointless. And even further down the road, in the seventh age, the genetic potential will slowly have recovered to the point that channeling is discovered again.
Alice Arneson
29. Wetlandernw
Huh. This could go either way. With Egwene's increased recruiting to the WT and/or the Seanchan thoroughness in finding both sparkers and learners, they could pull the gene out pretty thoroughly. If the BT survives and follows the same approach, it would be fairly complete. On the other hand, if the BT and WT develop good relations, there's the possibility of an informal "breeding program" effect in which the chanelling gene is concentrated and magnified. Interesting alternatives.
Bethany Pratt
30. LiC
I hate, hate, hate, hate Aviendha's vision of her super-children. Wtf? quadruplets who can channel at birth?
Drown those demon spawn!

I know Min saw that Avi would have quads, and "there would be something odd" with them, but c'mon... I prefer to think she raises Elayne's twins and Rand picks up two others and drops them on her to raise.
Chris R
31. up2stuff
Valandhir @ 28, Im not so sure I agree with your view of culling Sul'dam. I agree that Damane are culled due to Sparking and are discovered mostly because they cant help giving themselves away, but there are stated to be said to be MANY more Sul'dam than Damane. So, Im not sure WHATS going on there, but its an interesting notion. The other thing that I find curios is that all girls are tested much like the Aiel to see if they can learn to channel, or in this case be Sul'dam, but do we know if they are REQUIRED to become Sul'dam at that point? I forget.

Edit to add, If not there could be scads of potential sul'dam runnning round Seandar, just a-fornicating away replenishing the pool of channellers.
Lsana
32. DMcCunney
I fear I have a mixed feeling about some aspects of WOT. On a philosophical level, Jordan is dealing with what is known in theology as "the problem of pain". If God is just, loving, and merciful, why does he permit the horrors humanity has endured in recorded history? In an early volume of WOT, Moraine says "The Creator is good", leaving you wondering a bit what definition she applies to the word, when we have an apparently endless cycle of rebirth and some poor souls condemned to perform the same roles over and over and over. There will be variations each time, but the role will remain and opting out isn't an option. If Rand Al Thor survives stuffing the Dark Lord back into his cosmic hole and is permitted to die a normal death later, do you suppose a statement on his part "Next turn, I don't want to be the Dragon Reborn again. I want a rest and a normal, peaceful life!" would be heeded?

In the last book, Rand talks about planning to slay the Dark Lord and end the cycles. Obviously, he thinks he has a notion of how it might be done, but whether it's possible is another matter. Balefire won't do it: that's been established as operating on things in the Pattern, but Shaitan isn't. What Shaitan is is not clear. We know the Creator locked him into a cosmic prison at the beginning of Time, but we don't know anything about his nature save that he is immortal and contains a mystic power called the True Power equivalent to the One Power generated by the Wheel. He's apparently not as powerful as the Creator, or he wouldn't have been successfully locked away, but he's the second most powerful entity in creation. You have to wonder what might happen if he were slain, and the resulting effect on creation. At a guess, not good.

(You also wonder why the Forsaken never stopped to wonder what might be the result if the Dark Lord _did_ succeed in breaking free and remaking creation to his liking. Would there _be_ a world like the one they lived in that they could rule forever? Rand's converation with Ishamael/Moridin in the last book says no.)

I don't see our Age being the next one. There were hints in earlier volumes that our Age actually preceeded the Age of Legends, with fragmentary legends about the nations of Merk and Mosc dueling with lances of fire. The concept of the One Power being rediscovered and civilization rebuilding based on it after a nuclear apocalypse is a possible answer, especially if mutations caused by radiation included the ability to sense and channel the One Power to begin with. (If no one can detect and channel it, the One Power might as well not exist.)

The Age of Legends was an age of high technology that used the One Power as a power source, and there are hints that man traveled of Earth and visited other places, too, before the Bore and the resulting descent into chaos. One of the things Rand has been doing is encouraging the development of power sources _other_ than the One Power. There are places like Ogier steddings and Far Madding whhere the One Power cannot be felt. It occurred to me that one elegant solution for various problems might be if Rand could extend that to the entire world. "Okay. No _nobody_ can channel! You'll have to find other sources of power for what you want to do, and other attributes to make you superior to those around you."

That would break the world beyond the worst nightmares of the Aes Sedai.
Alice Arneson
33. Wetlandernw
DMcCunney - "If God is loving..., why does he permit the horrors humanity has endured in recorded history?" Because He is just. If He is just, how can anyone be allowed to live? Because He is merciful. How can He be both merciful and just? By providing a means of justification dependent only on Himself and not on the merits of the individual. Why would he do that? Because he is loving. The fact that the Creator is good encompasses all of that; his attributes define Good.

Who/what is Shaitan? We don't really know, except that he is NOT equal & opposite to the Creator; as you say, he is lesser or he would not be imprisoned. Therefore, it's not entirely logical to assume that the True Power is equal and opposite to the One Power. We don't know that the One Power is the essence of the Creator as the True Power is the essence of Shaitan; in fact, I think it is not, but that it flows from the Creator, sustaining the Wheel and all of Creation. Without the TP, there would be no DO (and vice versa), but IMO without the OP there would still be a Creator. As to the relative strength of the two Powers, we simply don't know. People make assumptions based on their own understanding of how it all works, but so far we haven't been given any solid evidence. In-story, even the characters make assumptions based on their own beliefs, so the statements of one or another aren't entirely... reliable.

Incidentally, I fully agree that (as the world of WoT is designed) the OP is always there; there are simply ages where the ability to access it is not.
Lsana
34. DRP
We know, as stated by RJ, that balefire cannot be used against the Dark One. However, I agree with the theory that the Dark One CAN be destroyed. I do in fact think that Padan Fain will be sealed in the bore and the TP will no longer be able to be used.
Joel Schware
35. jms1969
As a few others have already posted, I've always felt the the WOT series was supposed to occur in our future, not our past. Thom's stories, remaining artifacts, etc. all seem to point to a extremely hazy, warped remembrance of our days. This leads to the theory that our age occurred, then the age of Legends, then the events of the 3rd age.

After thinking about this a little more, however, I'd probably argue that our time (or its equivalent) is both the past and the future to the WOT world. While we exist in a world of technology, not magic, the world of the WOT is far behind us technologically, but taking steps ahead (as shown by the development of gunpowder) , and in a waning time for magic.

My feeling is that each "age" consists of starting from the ruins of the end of the previous age, with poor technology and magic totally forgotten. Some ages build based on tech, others on magic, and most feature some combination of the two. However, at some point in each age, the Dark Lord (the emobodiment of evil and chaos) does something that destroys all progress and causes the wheel to come back to it's beginning, with ruins and fading memories starting a new age from scratch.

Assuming WOT ends with a final victory for the Light, my opinion is that it will be a catyclysmic event that will reset society back to the primitive level again, as has happened repeatedly in the past. However, it will also mean that the cycle of repeated destruction has been broken, and time can transform into a linear nature. Rand's efforts to build technology show that he is already preparing for this event for the "remnant of the remnant" who will survive. It will be a horrible future, in that it will be a huge step back, but it will be a wonderful future, in that it will allow growth in the future without the inevitable destruction.
eric s
36. silverprl1
Like the last book B Sanderson will forget many of the important events that occured (Like Perrin completely forgetting that he killed whitecloaks and saved Gaul), continue to feminize Mat, to male-ify Eggy, and ruin the book in his standard attempt to reconcile his Mormon idealogy and search for god while feeling like an outcast and un-popular kid. So most will be lost, people will again sail across the ocean to a new land, find a library of missing a great knowledge, read and memorize it, just as it burns down - Thus giving a single character, with a foot in the real world and a foot in the world of dreams everlasting life, and the ability to coach a new group of people to seek a good and righteous path. Maybe they will have a chance to store it in the "real" and "not real" box - but more likely, there will have just been created a special new angreal that circles the upper arm and allows the wearer to instantly recall anything they have ever seen with their own eyes, or the eyes of any other person to have worn it.

He is not RJ. He clearly has only studied fantasy novels and not war, history, and cultures. Especially if you listen to his books, they all sound the same. The names of places, the made up words, and other attempts that seem like he feels there is a rule to make up those poorly chosen words/names/places will continue.

Mat will stumble on a thrown horse shoe, his hidden knife flying out of his sleeve, will of course kill his 100 page soon to be foe. And Rand will end up being the Dark One and the Light all in one and always has. (See the Mystborn ending for direction.) The bore is just a human trait loosed when life is stagnant to force change, and "a" Rand will be spit out full of taint and light the next time people forget to build schools and churches. Speaking of which - A new church will evolve from this all, leaving Mat and Perrin to think it ridiculous that their friend is being worshipped as some kind of god.

Sanderson will write a follow-up, Tuon and Mat's children will be the source of a new family lineage controlling the world through great Embassadors with the blind luck to always make the accidental save and prove their wisdom should be followed.

Perrin's family will be shape shifters, bringing to reality what he now only has in the world of dreams. They will be the great guardians of the righteous, but some terrible weakness will make them vulnerable just as Mat's familial Embassador line becomes tainted.

The tower will be split, but men and women (seperate characters, but necessary to write a complete human for Sanderson) will choose sides as couples, just as the magic armband knowledge library bracelet reveals forkroot + a recently discovered metal mixed together completely remove the ability to channel. They will be served this brew at the last great meeting of the Halls, which will take place where the armies of men are now gathering for their last assault, and attempt to burn the ring in the fires of the mountain of doom, and Thaine will feel the dagger/ring burn and shrivel away screaming.

The beginning. (un-edited first draft.... Sorry, I had to re-read what story I was rambling about. Almost forgot we have to melt the ring. Which is actually quite funny, as I named it precious, and as I write these final words, my cockerspanwawa - cocker spaniel chiwawa - is sitting in my lap, and her name is Precious too) RTFO
Lsana
37. worsel
In GST we see Rand use the True power to rescue Min and himself from Semis clutches. The True power will be used to seal the dark one away. Nuff said.
Logain is destined for glory. A replacement for Taim?
The best character Mat/the trickster will help Rand pull out the win of an age.
Jonathan Thor
38. Jonte
There is a lot of talk of the abillity to channel being hereditary, but I have always thought it was not, are there anyone who can tell me what I might have missed? And I think I remember reading somewhere that it was linked to the soul, or something like that...?
Alice Arneson
39. Wetlandernw
Jonte @38 - RJ indicated that it had both soul and genetic components. So, yes, to some extent it is hereditary, which is clear from his extra-textual comments and is assumed in the books. For example, there was the discussion in the WT about how they might be removing the channeling gene by the AS not having children, but since no one wanted to volunteer it didn't go anywhere. For a more concrete example, there's Lord Algarin (Crossroads of Twilight) whose brother was gentled many years ago, wants to be tested for channeling ability, and eventually goes to the Black Tower. We see him in ToM as "Emarin" in honor of his brother.

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