Revisiting the Wheel of Time: “The Strike at Shayol Ghul”

As soon as I’m fed and dressed, I’ll be wandering down to the bookstore to pick up A Memory of Light, whereupon I will finish what I started in the summer of 1995: the story of the Wheel of Time.

It will take me a few days to read and post about the book, but to mark the occasion itself, I figured I would step back and talk briefly about “The Strike at Shayol Ghul”.

This is a piece of in-world nonfiction Jordan wrote to lay out a relatively clear account of what happened to trigger the Breaking of the World. (An edited version of it is in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, but I didn’t specifically discuss it then, so it gets its own post.) The conceit of it being written by a Kandori historian is nice, but for a woman working from such a fragmentary manuscript, she manages to give a remarkably clear account, with no major holes. 😉

The introduction given on that page makes it clear why Jordan wrote it, but I suspect there are also reasons. The Breaking, or rather the lead-up to it, has been almost entirely forgotten by the people of the “modern” day; it would be difficult to bring that information in plausibly. (About the best you could manage would be for Rand, post-epiphany, to infodump on everybody, out of his memories from that time.) Given that Jordan had presumably worked out the details for his own use, I can understand wanting to share them.

It might go further than that, though. Pure speculation on my part, but the widely-known version of events speaks only of Lews Therin Telamon and the Hundred Companions — all of whom are men. But Randland in the Age of Legends was supposed to have been a world where men and women, especially among the Aes Sedai, worked together to do great things. So where are the women in that story? “The Strike at Shayol Ghul” answers that question by introducing Latra Posae Decume (who many readers have speculated is reincarnated in Egwene) and her role in the sa’angreal plan. Of course, that’s a little problematic, since it’s easy to read Latra Posae as being the one to blame for everything going wrong. But the historian does specifically call that out in a footnote: we don’t know whether the original mixed-circle plan would have worked, or if it would have made things even worse. Maybe Latra Posae’s refusal saved the world from complete destruction.

Has that question been answered today? We’ll see. I suspect the conclusion to the series won’t involve a rehash of the plan with the seals, but rather something different. And now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m off to pick up my book!

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