WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR A MEMORY OF LIGHT
A form of prophecy in The Wheel of Time is Foretelling - the Talent that allows its owner to see a part of the future. Unlike Dreamwalking, this Talent is restricted to channellers only. Foretellings are always mystic and usually very hard to comprehend until the event has come to pass, after which the meaning is obvious. The Talent of Foretelling cannot be summoned at will, and comes randomly. Some have only two or three Foretellings in their entire lifetimes. It is a rare Talent: only two present-day characters possess it: Elaida do'Avriny a'Roihan and Nicola Treehill. Before Nicola, Elaida was the only Foreteller since Gitara Moroso (who Foretold the Dragon's Rebirth.) Some damane can interpret fortunes on demand; Tuon’s damane Lidya for instance. Their words are as cryptic as true Foretellings. Here we try to interpret the Foretellings mentioned in the books.
She [Elaida] had read everything she could find concerning the Last Battle, even studies and Foretellings so old they had never been translated out of the Old Tongue and had lain covered in dust in the darkest corners of the library. The al'Thor boy had been a harbinger, but now it seemed that Tarmon Gai'don would come sooner than anyone had thought. Several of those ancient Foretellings, from the earliest days of the Tower, said the dead appearing was the first sign, a thinning of reality as the Dark One gathered himself. There would be worse before long.Obviously Rand had to be reborn for the Last Battle to occur. One of the reasons for his existence is to fight the Dark One. Since Crossroads of Twilight, the dead have been appearing and in Knife of Dreams, there have been ripples in reality (probably as an effect of huge balefirings) and weird and nasty occurrences.
- Knife of Dreams,The Dark One’s Touch
Elaida is convinced she is the only one to have found such crucial information, and true to her egotistical style has kept them to herself, but considering her penchant for getting hold of the wrong end of the stick, perhaps she is not the only one to have investigated these ancient Foretellings. Cadsuane, for instance, has taken note of them.
Other ancient Foretellings mentioned in the series are those of the Aes Sedai Deindre, at the beginning of the Breaking of the World. Deindre was involved with the team of Aes Sedai who made the Eye of the World and hid Lews Therin's banner and the Horn of Valere there, following the instructions of her Foretelling. She seemingly had Foretellings concerning the sa'angreal Callandor as well. These Foretellings were apparently not recorded except in the ancestral memories evoked in the glass column ter'angreal now in Rhuidean. Deindre's Foretellings contradict Mesaana’s opinion that even in the Age of Legends Foretelling were too vague to be of any use before the events they foretold happened and everything became clear. Not only were Deindre's Foretellings decipherable, but they resulted in very concrete actions that still impacted the Pattern 3000 years later.
More discussion of ancient Foretellings can be found in the Prophecies of the Dragon, Shadowy Prophecy and Off-shore Prophecy articles.
House Nachiman Aes Sedai Advisor
"It was given by an Aes Sedai of my own family line," Paitar continued. The squarefaced man sipped a small cup of tea. "My ancestor, Reo Myershi, was the only one who heard it. He ordered the words preserved, passed from monarch to monarch, for this day."The Borderlander rulers agreed that the prophecy said they would test Rand by striking him to see if he could be trusted to go to the Last Battle. They chose to do so inside Far Madding’s guardian to prevent Rand from attacking them with the One Power, but Rand thinks he could have used True Power balefire on them. Rand interprets “he will break what he must break” as confirmation that he should break the remaining Seals.
"Speak them to me," Rand said. "Please."
"I see him before you!" Paitar quoted. "Him, the one who lives many lives, the one who gives deaths, the one who raises mountains. He will break what he must break, but first he stands here, before our king. You will bloody him! Measure his restraint. He speaks! How was the fallen slain? Tellindal Tirraso, murdered by his hand, the darkness that came the day after the light. You must ask, and you must know your fate. If he cannot answer . . ."
He trailed off, falling silent.
"What?" Min asked.
"If he cannot answer," Paitar said, "then you will be lost. You will bring his end swiftly, so that the final days may have their storm. So that Light may not be consumed by he who was to have preserved it. I see him. And I weep."
- Towers of Midnight, A Testing
Gossip said Gitara had had more than one Foretelling in the last few months. Some claimed that the reason the armies outside the city had been in place when the Aiel came was one of Gitara’s Foretellings.Moiraine speculates that Gitara Foretold something important happening on the third day of the battle, since Gitara and Tamra are uneasy on this day, whereas they had been confident before (New Spring, A Wish Fulfilled).
- New Spring, A Wish Fulfilled
“He is born again!” Gitara cried. “I feel him! The Dragon takes his first breath on the slope of Dragonmount! He is coming! He is coming! Light help us! He lies in the snow and cries like the thunder! He burns like the sun!”Fulfilled. This one was Foretold only moments before (or even while) it happened.
- New Spring, A Wish Fulfilled
Gitara Sedai had the Foretelling sometimes. She was old, her hair as white as the snow outside, but when she had the Foretelling, it was strong. The morning light through the windows was strengthening as I handed her a cup of tea. The Amyrlin Seat asked me what news there was from the field of battle. And Gitara Sedai started up out of her chair, her arms and legs rigid, trembling, her face as if she looked into the Pit of Doom at Shayol Ghul, and she cried out, 'He is born again! I feel him! The Dragon takes his first breath on the slope of Dragonmount! He is coming! He is coming! Light help us! Light help the world! He lies in the snow and cries like the thunder! He burns like the sun!' And she fell forward into my arms, dead."
- The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn
”Adelorna said Gitara had a Foretelling that Tarmon Gai’don will come during the lifetimes of sisters now breathing.”If a Foretelling, it was correct.
- New Spring, Shreds of Serenity
An Aes Sedai called Gitara Moroso, who had the Foretelling, had told her that disaster would befall her land and her people, perhaps the world, unless she went to dwell among the Maidens of the Spear, telling no one of her going. She must become a Maiden, and she could not return to her own land until the Maidens had gone to Tar Valon.Fulfilled. In fact, Tigraine never lived to return to either the Waste or to Andor, which if she had known, might have given her reason to pause in going.
- The Shadow Rising, He Who Comes With the Dawn
After Luc rode north, never to return, whispers said Gitara had convinced him that his fame lay in the Blight, or his fate.Well she was right, Luc/Isam are notorious, though their fame was not widespread. It was Luc’s fate to fight Isam in the Blight and for their two souls to be combined in one body to enable him/them to enter and leave Tel’aran’rhiod physically. Luc believed that:
- Lord of Chaos, Tellings of the Wheel
”he'll be important to the Last Battle. That's why we're here. We'll kill you; then we'll kill al'Thor. “Slayer’s role was to train Perrin in Dreamwalking so he could enter and leave in the flesh, best Lanfear, and also show Egwene not to rely on channelling in Tel’aran’rhiod. Again a positive spin in the Foretelling made it more likely Luc would go, whereas “Go to the Blight where you will be defeated by a Darkfriend and placed in the same body as him to serve as the Shadow’s assassin in the World of Dreams and obsess over killing things before being killed by someone whose skills you honed” might not have been well received by Luc.
A Memory of Light, Tendrils of Mist
"This I Foretell and swear under the Light that I can say no clearer. From this day Andor marches toward pain and division. The Shadow has yet to darken to its blackest, and I cannot see if the Light will come after. Where the world has wept one tear, it will weep thousands. This I Foretell." (In a whisper, to Rand al'Thor) "This, too, I Foretell. Pain and division come to the whole world, and this man stands at the heart of it."This Foretelling is not much of a mystery. Andor is divided by conflict for the Lion Throne, the Shadow is gaining power and it is uncertain if the Light will win. Certainly a lot of people are weeping. And Rand, as the Dragon Reborn and instigator or reason for most of the problems surely stands at the heart of it.
- The Eye of the World, The Web Tightens
The very first thing Elaida had ever Foretold, while still an Accepted - and had known enough even then to keep to herself - was that the Royal line of Andor would be the key to defeating the Dark One in the Last Battle. She had attached herself to Morgase as soon as it was clear Morgase would succeed to the throne...This Foretelling is an interesting one, as it can be interpreted two ways. Elaida's interpretation is that a member of House Trakand - i.e. Elayne (and/or her children), Gawyn, or Morgase is the key to winning Tarmon Gai'don.That is why she attached herself to Morgase - she wanted to control the key. But, Elaida's interpretation is probably the wrong one. We know her Foretelling was made when she was an Accepted and we also know from New Spring: The Novel that she was an Accepted from 972-975 NE (see Ages of Characters article). The Royal House of Andor was House Mantear until 972 NE: Mordrellen, Luc, and Tigraine. The Succession lasted from 972 to 974 NE. Elaida assumed that the Foretelling referred to the Trakands, because as far as she knew all the Mantears were dead and gone - Mordrellen dead, Luc vanished in the Blight, Tigraine just…vanished. But we know that Tigraine survived to become Far Dareis Mai, and give birth to a son. Rand, the Dragon Reborn. Son of the Daughter-Heir when Elaida made her Foretelling. It is typical of Elaida to make the wrong interpretation due to not considering the wording of the Foretelling or thinking of other possibilities. Rand is the key to the Last Battle.
- The Shadow Rising, Seeds of Shadow
Elaida had the Foretelling sometimes, a Talent many thought lost before her, and long ago she had Foretold that the Royal House of Andor held the key to winning the Last Battle.
-A Crown of Swords, Prologue: Lightnings
In a more general sense, the Foretelling is accurate as it stands; the Royal line of Andor (both Trakands and Mantears, and even their important liege men, such as Gareth Bryne and Thom) are all playing an important part in defeating the Dark One. Galad leads the Whitecloaks to the Last Battle, Gawyn saved Egwene’s life, Elayne united Andor, Cairhien, the Two Rivers, Ghealdan... etc. But Rand is definitely the key.
"The White Tower will be whole again, except for remnants cast out and scorned, whole and stronger than ever. Rand al'Thor will face the Amyrlin Seat and know her anger. The Black Tower will be rent in blood and fire, and sisters will walk its grounds. This I Foretell."Elaida, rather typically, interpreted this to mean that she would defeat the rebels, face down Rand, and destroy the Black Tower. However Egwene united the Tower, and purged the Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah and Mesaana. In the Hall Egwene was annoyed at Rand for announcing he was going to break the Seals and wanted the support of Aes Sedai and then turning away (Towers of Midnight, The Amyrlin’s Anger). Sisters from the Tower and the rebels walked the grounds of the Black Tower while waiting to Bond Asha’man and after. Logain’s faction attacked Taim’s faction to free Logain and drove the Darkfriends out of the Black Tower.
-A Crown of Swords, Prologue: Lightnings
"The lion sword, the dedicated spear, she who sees beyond. Three on the boat, and he who is dead yet lives. The great battle done, but the world not done with battle. The land divided by the return, and the guardians balance the servants. The future teeters on the edge of a blade."’The lion sword’, ‘the dedicated spear’ and ‘she who sees beyond’ refer to Elayne, Aviendha and Min respectively. They are “on the boat” with Rand ("he who is dead yet lives"). It is probably connected to the Aiel dreamwalkers' dream of Rand in a boat with three women. I had heard conflicting reports about the three on the boat foretelling: that it is an example of an unreliable narrator and referred to Rand’s funeral where the three women stood alone around Rand’s pyre, or that it is yet to happen.
-Lord of Chaos, Dreams and Nightmares
"The great battle" done is the Last Battle. "The land divided by the return" obviously refers to the treaty Rand made with the Empress, recognising Seanchan norders in return for aid at the Last battle. "The guardians balance the servants" means that the Asha'man, guardians, will (or do) match the Aes Sedai (servants of all) in numbers as well as abilities or strength. It also could mean that the Asha'man balance what the Aes Sedai do, and that they will often work together. "The future teeters on the edge of a blade" means that everything is poised until the last moment, the danger is great, and lots of things could go either way (no kidding...)
Nicola and Areina claim in Crossroads of Twilight that Nicola is now Foretelling frequently.
Ever since we found out she has the Foretelling, she’s been Foretelling two or three times a day, to hear tell of it. Or rather, to hear Areina tell it. Nicola is smart enough to know everyone is aware she can’t remember what she says when she Foretells, but Areina always seems to be there to hear and remember, and help her interpret. Some are the sort of thing anyone in the camp with half a brain and a credulous nature might think of – battles with the Seanchan or the Asha’man, an Amyrlin imprisoned, the Dragon Reborn doing nine impossible things, visions that might be Tarmon Gai’don or a bilious stomach – and the rest all just happen to indicate that Nicola ought to be allowed to go faster with her lessons.While these are presented as worthless, on closer inspection they are worth considering. The Seanchan raided the Tower and battled Mat in Altara. The Asha’man fought each other and also in the Last Battle. The Dragon Reborn has cleansed saidin, one thing considered impossible, and destroyed Shadar Logoth and its evil at the same time, which may well be another, and broke free of the cuendillar Domination Band while shielded by channelling the True Power through his link to Moridin, which are two other impossible things. He made an orchard re-fruit (with Singing), destroyed a huge Shadowspawn army at Maradon seemingly unaided, made grass and Great Trees grow (with Singing), defeated the Dark One and swapped to Moridin’s body thereby dying and continuing to live. So Rand has probably done nine impossible things. He is arguably now no longer the Dragon Reborn, so anything else impossible that he does in future doesn’t really count.
- Crossroads of Twilight, Secrets
Nicola also apparently described horrors to come and the Last Battle was full of horrors. As far as Nicola going faster with her lessons, Foretelling or not, if she had been allowed to go faster, she might not have run off. She would have been too busy or exhausted to for a start. So in that sense, Nicola was quite right. She died because of her impatience.
In Knife of Dreams, Prologue we see that Nicola has made Foretellings in the Tower and that these are troubling in some way.
The damane Lidya can tell fortunes. She did so for Tuon in Winter’s Heart.
"I asked Lidya to tell mine just before I landed at Ebou Dar. This is what she said. 'Beware the fox that makes the ravens fly, for he will marry you and carry you away. Beware the man who remembers Hawkwing's face, for he will marry you and set you free. Beware the man of the red hand, for him you will marry and none other.'This has been fulfilled. The Band of the Red Hand is Mat’s army. Mat is the fox that makes the ravens (the Seanchan) fly – as his ring shows. When Mat carried away Tuon, they chased after him for some time and finally met up with him at the end of Knife of Dreams. He also insisted that the Seanchan participate in the Last Battle, including aerial troops. Mat actually has seen Hawkwing’s face – at Falme – and he has memories of men who also saw it. He set Tuon free so she could return to Ebou Dar. This was the action which convinced her to complete their marriage vows (Knife of Dreams, Under an Oak).
- Knife of Dreams, Under an Oak
Written by Linda, November 2005 and updated June 2013