The Fourth Ta'veren - The Breaking of the World
One of the biggest events to happen within the Wheel of Time book series, and not fully explained, would be “The Breaking of the World”, often referred to as: The Breaking. The Breaking was the event that started the beginning of the Third Age (third turning of the wheel), just as the sealing of the Bore, which led to The Breaking, ended the Second Age (Age of Legends, second turning of the Wheel). To fully understand The Breaking we also must touch on a major event that occurred just before The Breaking began… The sealing of the Bore.
The sealing of the Bore ended the Second Age and this action is directly linked to the cause of The Breaking. The War of the Shadow was near an end and the forces of Light were most definitely losing. Some of the greatest generals had abandoned the Light and gone to the Shadow in hopes of great power for themselves. Lews Therin Telamon, The Dragon, was the great leader for the Light, and possibly the only reason the Light still stood. In order to end the war he devised a plan to lead a strike force against Shayol Ghul to seal the bore, a hole in our world linking directly to the Dark One (Shai’tan). It was his hope that by doing so, the Dark One’s influence would be gone thus allowing a return to peace and the Age of Legends. There was a great debate if this plan would ultimately succeed. Lews Therin was convinced that by using seven cuendillar as seals they could use them as patches and close the Bore for good. To his surprise, he was met with surprising opposition when every female Aes’ Sedai made a pact to refuse to help him. Eventually, Lews Therin abandoned reasoning with the female Aes’ Sedai and led an attack on Shayol Ghul with 113 male Aes’ Sedai (known as ‘The Companions’) as well as roughly 10,000 soldiers. The attack was successful in that these companions were able to seal the Bore and, as a surprising bonus, sealed the 13 most powerful Forsaken as well.
This moment ended the Second Age, and the Third Age immediately began with The Breaking. Right as Lews Therin and The Companions sealed the bore, the Dark One released a counter stroke. This counter stroke tainted Saidin, the male half of the One Power. Nobody knows the details of the taint but it can be described as leaving an oily sludge within the flow of Saidin. This would lead to a slow madness for any male Aes Sedai that continued to use the One Power. Such madness included: seeing shadows moving on the edge of vision, hallucinations, and a disconnect from all reality. The only defense against the madness would be for the men to never touch the Source again. This was found to be impossible. Unfortunately for Lews Therin, and the 68 surviving Companions, they never had the chance at a slow madness. They went mad on the spot. It is said that they may not have ever been aware that their assault succeeded. We know, from the prologue of book one that Lews Therin killed his family, as well as his wife, and had no idea he had committed such a crime. He earned the name of Kinslayer for those terrible deeds. Dragonmount was created at the last moment of sanity he had in an effort to destroy himself for the crimes he had committed.
The rest of the world was not so lucky for such a quick and decisive ending. As men started going mad they destroyed thousands of structures, and killed thousands of innocents. Latra Posae, a leader among the women Aes’ Sedai, and the woman that led the opposition against Lews Therin to attack Shayol Ghul, rose to great prominence at this time in her fight against these men. The destruction was so terrible that the remaining forces of The Dark One, and the forces of Light, were forced to concentrate their efforts in survival and stopping the male Aes’ Sedai. This ultimately ended the War of the Shadow. The Breaking lasted anywhere from 239-344 years. Nobody is certain, as only fragmented records remained, the destruction was that compete. This would also suggest that no Aes’ Sedai that was living before the end of the second age survived The Breaking. Ogier were left wandering. Man was reduced to basically the stone age, and the remaining female Aes’ Sedai became factions of women hoping to assist those they could. Hundreds of years would pass before man would be able to create cities and Nations again. The seven Cuendillar that sealed the dark one were eventually lost during this time with the onset of The Trolloc Wars.
** Should you want to know more about The Breaking we suggest taking a look at the book “The World of Robert Jordans’s The Wheel of Time” by Robert Jordan & Teresa Patterson. All the information contained in the short article can be attributed to that book.