Balefire has the power to burn threads from the Pattern, effectively removing something from time for a period proportional to the amount of power used to summon the balefire.

If you used a powerful blast of balefire to kill someone, with that individual's thread being burned back to a point before you battle, would you retain any knowledge of the act? What if you burned that individual's thread back to their birth?

I suppose this is a question of how the thread/time altering element of balefire works.

2 Answers 2


Yes, knowledge of events whose existence has been wiped out by Balefire remains; that dissonance is the most significant danger Balefire presents. From Moiraine's explanation to Rand in The Fires of Heaven (emphasis mine):

Fragments of manuscripts remaining from the War of Power say several entire cities were destroyed with balefire before both sides realized the dangers. Hundreds of thousands of threads pulled from the pattern, gone for days already past; whatever those people had done, now no longer had been done, and neither had what others had done because of their actions. The memories remained, but not the actions. The ripples were incalculable. The Pattern itself nearly unraveled. It could have been the destruction of everything. World, time, Creation itself.

(page 120 in the hardcover). As I read that, it was the actual mismatch between the memories held by those threads still in the Pattern, referencing threads no longer in the Pattern, that threatened the Pattern's ability to hold together.

The previous page has an example of the memory existing after the action has been excised:

You begin to see the problems, the dangers? Mat remembers seeing one of the Darkhounds chew through the door, but there is no opening, now.

  • Yup. The mechanics are mentioned in the books, either explicitly or demonstrably, as you've shown.
    – user31178
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 4:12
  • Good answer! It's been a long time since I've read the books and I had no memory of this bit. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 8:08

The Wheel of Time wiki gives some information on balefire and states that

All events that could have been said to have "happened" before the destruction of an individual's thread are remembered by any other individual, though the physical reality of the situation is now changed; anyone that was witness or party to the "reversal" of time will still remember all the events that were undone as if they had actually happened even if the effects themselves no longer exist.

Also mentioned here is the scene from Fires of Heaven (iirc) where Mat is attacked by a Darkhound. Rand uses balefire to kill the beast, and in the process the effects of the Darkhound drooling over Mat's arm is reduced from fatal to less dangerous. Both Rand and Mat however, fully remember the attack, despite the physical evidence not being there/lessened by the balefire.

There is also a mention of the use of Balefire during the War of the Shadow, where whole cities were burnt from the pattern, before both sides realised the effect this was happening. This was more to do with the near destruction of the pattern itself though.

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