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A Theory of Seven Ages

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On the topic of Ages, some random guesses :biggrin:



First Age: The Age of Discovery


Humanity starts with nothing, but gradually rediscovers farming, forging and rudimentary technology. Eventually, the rise of science leads to the development of a very complex society with aircraft, electronics, nuclear weapons etc (our own time). As humanity progresses, eventually scientists discover the driving force behind physics-the One Power. Tamyrlin, the first channeler, and many others begin research into this incredible new source of abilities. Yet all things can be used for destruction as well as creation, and the horror of Power-based war leads to a much stronger emphasis on unity between nations and the creation of a Covenant sworn to global peace and prosperity. The Ones Dedicated to Peace (Da'shain Aiel in the language of the time) help assist the newly-formed order of Servants of All.



Second Age: The Age of Legends


With the One Power, technology and prosperity increase to the point that poverty is literally forgotten. As material causes of conflict vanish, and global ideology becomes increasingly bent on harmony (due largely to the efforts of the Da'shain Aiel and Aes Sedai, who know humanity is now powerful enough to wipe itself out should war ever again arise), unrest becomes increasingly rare. The world becomes an amazing place, filled with ever-increasing wonders as new works of the Power are created, such as the Nym. When ancient Portal Stones are discovered, even parallel worlds and mirror worlds are accessed, bringing the Ogier to Earth. Things are nearly perfect-but the divided nature of saidin and saidar force men and women to work together, something that is not always convenient. An experiment funded by the University of Collam Daan manages to locate a new source of power, and drills a small bore through the pattern to access it. There's only one catch-this new source is the Dark One, and the Bore just gave him room to affect the world once more. Greed and hatred are inflamed in a world which had all but overcome such things, and eventually enough of humanity is convinced that the Shadow will reward them in a world in which it is triumphant that a new war begins: The War of the Shadow, between Darkfriends and the forces of the Light. Eventually the war is halted by the Dragon Lews Therin Telamon's resealing of the Dark One's prison with saidin, but the backlash from the sealing taints the male half of the Power, driving all male channelers insane and causing them to do what Tamyrlin had originally feared: break the world.



Third Age: The Age of Prophecy


All but wiped out by the Breaking, humanity struggles to rebuild. While some of the relics of the Age of Legends have survived (notably printing presses, gunpowder and angreal), most of the knowledge has been lost. The seal on the Bore is enough to prevent a full-scale Shadow assault on what remains, but it is imperfect, and the Blight is still a threat. Weakened by the constant struggle against the Dark One's forces, humanity seeks to hold on, but is slowly slipping. When the Dragon is reborn, however, Rand al'Thor forges an alliance across nations and cultures to face the Shadow. He himself faces Shai'tan's avatar in the Pit of Doom, and Sheathes the Sword to destroy both of them. The Bore is unmade using the Light itself, and the forces of the Shadow are gradually swept away into the dust of time.



Fourth Age: The Age of the Sun


The Shadow is gone, the Morning has come. Freed from the Dark One’s relentless attacks and bolstered by some ta'veren-fueled discoveries, humanity progresses much more quickly as the Fourth Age dawns. Firearms come into common use almost immediately after the rediscovery of "Dragon" artillery at the end of the Third Age, while electricity is brought into common use shortly thereafter. The situation might be rather like that of the First Age, with the Dark One gone and humankind free to advance, but matters are both better and worse. The legacy of the Light, with the Dragon’s Peace and remaining knowledge of Power and science and wisdom paves the way for a much more advanced society in many ways. The aftermath of the Shadow, however, has sown chaos deep into humankind. In this Age, all things are a double-edged sword. Mankind has learned to unify, but tyranny abuses this new-found cooperation in the creation of vast despotic empires. Information is prized above all, as the Dragon’s memories were what saved the world at the close of the last Age, but criminals have easy access to incredible secrets. Inevitably, conflict arises, and non-channelers have almost as much power as their True Source wielding counterparts. The hierarchical structure that characterized the Age of Legends was completely changed by the Shadow’s plots at the close of the Age of Prophecy; now more and more of mankind seeks to gain dominance. This leads to decreased emphasis on the One Power, as most people cannot wield it, and seek to strengthen themselves in other ways. This is an advanced Age in many ways, but the vastly different priorities mean that much that would have been impossible in the Age of Legends is commonplace, while much that could have been done before is disregarded and lost.



Fifth Age: The Age of Exploration

As the One Power is gradually forgotten, mankind begins to turn to other sources of power more easily acquired. Too little knowledge remains for sparkers to learn to control their gifts, so a genetic alteration program is implemented to wipe channeling out entirely. A wide variety of technologies arise, fueled by nuclear energy, etheric forces, psionic effects and many others. The traditions of cooperation and unity from the Fourth Age are being swept away as technology becomes increasingly individualized, and every person becomes a force in their own right. With global organization lost, there is nothing to prevent Earth from becoming far too crowded, and there is now strong pressure to expand to other worlds. Space travel, newly rediscovered, allows humanity to spread across the galaxy. Empires rise and fall, humans meet aliens and fight and trade and learn and explore. And Earth, damaged and scarred from a forgotten cataclysm, is repaired by immense terraforming. The Breaking is at last undone.



Sixth Age: The Age of Harmony

Eventually, the cosmos is explored. There are always new worlds, but they fall ever into known categories. Always new species, but none are strange anymore. There is enough space for everyone, and space travel begins to seem unnecessary. More and more, humanity begins to settle down on its countless worlds, away from the endless conflicts between interstellar hegemonies. At first this seems little more than a small cultural shift, but when heads of state or great generals seek to command the isolated worlds, local resentment is kindled. The discovery of the Deflector Shield allows worlds to cordon themselves off, unreachable by any starship, and more and more worlds choose the Shield, hoping at last for peace. Technology becomes anathema, for it was by technology that the ancient wars between the stars were fought, technology that burned whole worlds to ashes. Humanity reverts to a simpler way of life, and soon the Shield is the only piece of advanced engineering known. Then even it is forgotten, save as legends and myths, some of which have persisted into our own time. While mechanical knowledge is lost, however, humankind becomes increasingly in tune with nature, learning to speak with eagles, ravens and wolves. This is an age in which cities are forgotten, and mankind roams as brother to the animals. There is much hardship, but peace is finally established.



Seventh Age: The Age of Perfection

Universal brotherhood has been the rule from time immemorial, but life is not easy. The primitive existence passed down from generation to generation is a fit life for the Hawksisters and Wolfbrothers, yet it chafes on many others. Legends proclaim technology to be an evil, but Promeatha, a rebellious young woman, disregards the old teachings and begins a movement to expand mankind’s power through artifice. At first she meets great resistance, but when her new medicines save a Ravenbrother named Azusala from liver cancer, her tribe becomes convinced of her wisdom. Promeatha’s people rediscover more effective ways of building shelter and hunting, but their greatest accomplishment is fire. The new discoveries remain isolated for many years, but eventually they spread to a neighboring tribe, whose leader Etherakel helps to publish them more widely. He also attempts to take credit for the discovery of fire, leading to his being called Etherakel Firethief. Gradually humanity turns away from its traditions of simplicity and enters an Age of power and knowledge unsurpassed. In the Seventh Age, the One Power is rediscovered from the memories of the Dreamscape, and the ability to channel is rekindled by use of the Dream’s power. Every single person is given the ability to touch the True Source, allowing for a world where the seemingly miraculous is considered a universal birthright. Eventually, a unified worldwide society forms, more advanced than ever before seen in this turning of the Wheel. The changes that the Power makes to a human body are at last fully understood, allowing virtual immortality. The Age-old separation between saidin and saidar is about the only limitation, and ancient memories from the Dreamscape warn against any attempt to circumvent this fact. While tragedies can happen, such as Aenik’s annihilation by accidentally overdrawing on the Power, the world becomes the safest and happiest it has ever been within this turning. The Portal Stones are created, and travel to other worlds becomes a source of wonder and prosperity, and the Dreamscape itself is explored and as fully understood as any mortal can understand it. Even those who die can be recalled to some degree, though the process is difficult and only three people in the Age were ever considered masters of it: Nekara, Lasal and Valere. Earth become populated with many kinds of beings from many different worlds—the Ogier return first, as their world is the nearest to our own, but many other beings follow. In the towering cities and vast gardens of the world, humans live in peace alongside wisps and dwarves and ketan and dragons. Yet nothing can last forever while the Wheel turns. Eventually, mankind’s exploration of parallel words brings Earth in contact with allies of an ancient and terrible being known as Shai’tan. The Lord of Night, as he is known, has been trying to break free on countless worlds—now, the Night’s Children spread into this one. They move in secret at first, but increasingly openly, until war is kindled once more. Though it had been entirely forgotten by the people of the Seventh Age, war quickly becomes a devastating science honed to perfection. At first humankind tries to fight the Night’s Children directly, but while the servants of Shai’tan are outnumbered, they move in secret, weakening humanity’s will to fight. A series of assassinations and sabotage devastate the Light’s forces until it becomes clear that victory cannot be achieved by conventional means. Emergency research programs go into operation across the world, but the most promising is led by Evangelion of Edyne. She plans to turn the very Earth against the Lord of Night, using her skills as a Leafsister and geneticist to create biological weapons that will affect only those sworn to Shai’tan. Initial tests of the weapons indicate that they can indeed distinguish between good and evil forces, but before they can go into large-scale production Edyne falls to the Shadow. This becomes a disastrous turning point in the war, as the very laboratories that had served the Light are now used to brutal effect, altering food crops to develop as thorns instead, inflicting massive sterility, even crippling large portions of the population to the point where they lose the use of their legs. Yet an even worse threat looms: the Night’s Children are taught by their master a way to damage and destroy the very Pattern itself. If they can breach Shai’tan’s prison, they will be able to receive direct support from the Shadow, rather than relying on what can be brought in by the Portal Stones. Confident of victory, the Night’s Children advance on Atalante itself, the largest city in the world. Located in the center of humanity’s network of cities and constructs, the fall of Atalante would mean almost certain destruction at the hands of the Lord of Night. Defended by the Light’s best, the great city is impregnable to the existing Shadow forces, but opening a breach in the Prison outside the gates will allow the Lord of Night to break the defense of Atalante himself. This plan is foiled, barely, by the work of Pandar Dragonrider, who leads a strike force of the noble lizards in a desperate attempt to keep evil sealed away. Humanity is saved, but the Night’s Children simply fall back to Bar’abel, an idyllic island in a cool sea far to the north, deep within Shadow-controlled territory. There, they begin to weaken the Pattern in an abomination that strikes at the heart of reality itself. Knowing that mankind is lost if the Bar’abel project succeeds, the Light’s agents seek to sow confusion amidst the Shadow’s forces, but it only slows them down. On the brink of losing everything, the Light’s leaders meet in Atalante to discuss plans for ending the war. Three plans are proposed. Valere suggests recalling the greatest warriors from all time for a broad counterattack, Pandar offers to lead a quick strike at Bar’abel to take out the Shadow’s leadership and Evangelion warns that if all else fails and the Night’s Children cannot be defeated by force of arms, the only way to preserve Creation might be to destabilize the Environmental Control Towers of Atalante. Long used to maintain a gentle climate and forestall natural disasters, the Towers could also be used to plunge the world into chaos. The destruction would be almost total, and the glories of the Age of Perfection would become nothing more than memory. It would be the ultimate sacrifice, yet even a world covered in ice would be better than one annihilated by Shai’tan. And so, at the end, humanity makes its final stand. The Battle Horn of the Dreamscape is created by Valere to recall the greatest Heroes who had ever lived and keyed to Pandar and his Dragon Legion. The final attempt is made to push the Night’s Children out of Bar’abel, and it fails. And so another turning of the Wheel of Time comes to a close, as Evangelion calls storm and plague and ruin on the world, willingly laying down her life and the Age of Perfection rather than let the Shadow triumph. The world is plunged into the ice age, and the cycle begins anew.

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It's an interesting write-up for one turning of the Wheel. Remember, of course, that it's completely different with each turning. There might be some similarities, but your suggestion that the Fifth Age humans would use terraforming to heal the Breaking of the World and return it to its old form leads me to think that you're assuming that it's the same earth and the same story every time. It's not, though. If you look at two similar tapestries from a distance, they look similar - but when you get close, you realize they're completely different. That's how RJ explained the difference between one turning's Third Age and another's.

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EDIT: Oops, misread it.


Anyways, I see the War of Power and the war being fought now as the 'beginning' and 'ending'. It's the story of all the old mythologies, and at the same time it's the 'end times' stories found in mythologies. This is the old Norse legends we're reading, and the old war in Heaven. Yet it's also Ragnarok, and also the apocalypse.


I don't see another war with Shai'tan happening until the end of the next Age of Legends.

Edited by Agitel
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