When Rand and Mat enter Rhuidean in WoT Book 4, it's described as a city with broad paved streets and towering skyscraper-like buildings.

Huge buildings flanked the streets, odd flat-sided palaces of marble and crystal and cut glass, ascending hundreds of feet in steps or sheer walls. There was not a small building to be seen, nothing that might have been a simple tavern or an inn or a stable. Only immense palaces, with gleaming columns fifty feet thick climbing a hundred paces in red or white or blue, and grand towers, fluted and spiraled, some piercing the glowing clouds above.

Later we find out that the city was built by

the original Aiel - refugees from the War of Power who built the city primarily as a place to protect their cargo of angreal and other artifacts of the Age of Legends that the Aes Sedai entrusted to them.

This has caused me to wonder if "The Wheel of Time" is indeed based on a concept like that of "The Shannara Chronicles", where the fantasy world is actually

a future version of Earth.

Has Robert Jordan or anyone else involved commented on the similarities between this architecture style and modern buildings?

  • 4
    ObRef: Real-world references in the Wheel of Time; that our Earth was an earlier revolution in the Wheel of Time is a common fan theory. Would love to see answers narrowly addressing "RJ or anyone else involved commented."
    – gowenfawr
    Jun 6, 2018 at 19:38
  • The same description could be applied to Tar Valon.
    – Radhil
    Jun 6, 2018 at 19:49
  • @Radhil - not necessarily. Tar Valon is obviously a WoT city at first glance, albeit with Ogier architecture interspersed throughout. The passage I quoted and others makes Rhuidean seem alien to the WoT characters, and it's all tall, straight glass buildings that are multiple stories tall.
    – Omegacron
    Jun 7, 2018 at 13:30
  • In the few flash backs we have to the age of legends, its clear they were living in a technologically advanced world, and the buildings were described similarly, skyscrapers, cars, planes, all powered via one power. So this is more a reference to how the age of legends looks as opposed to mirror the "real world"
    – Himarm
    Jun 7, 2018 at 15:21
  • @gowenfawr RJ specifically said that "Randland" is our earth, and we are both its past and its future.
    – Himarm
    Jun 7, 2018 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


Rhuidean was built based on memories of the Age of Legends.

Charn made his way down the side of the wide, crowded street beneath the spreading chora trees, their trefoil leaves spreading peace and contentment in the shadows of silvery buildings that touched the sky... above the blue and silver domes of the Collam Daan. - Flashback vision during Age of legends, - The Shadow Rising

Now is "Randland" earth? Yes


Is our earth a future or past turn of the wheel?


Both. The characters in the books are the source of many of our myths and legends and we are the source of many of theirs. You can look two ways along a wheel. - Theoryland

Did Jordan base his writing on real world things? Yes

From a large interview found here (4) by team Jordan. FYI Team Jordan is Robert Jordan and his editors, and finally Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson and the team of editors worked together to finish the final 3 books, as well as release the wheel of time compendium that came out recently.

ANDREW GELOS I've recently been in a course in Restoration Literature, and in the historical studies there, I noted that there seem to be connections between Cairhien and London around the time of the mid-to-early 1600s... and I just was sort of wondering if there is actually any of historical London in Cairhien, and if there is, is there any more anywhere else in the major cities?

ALAN ROMANCZUK Yes, yes. One thing you have to remember about Jim is he never did a single reference in any of his descriptions, whether it's a military uniform, a city, a character—everything seemed to draw from multiple sources. So yes, Cairhien was most likely in part based on London, but you look at the map of it, and you can see it's very different as well.

ALAN ROMANCZUK Yeah, another interesting point: anyone remember what the name Cairhien means in the Old Tongue?

ANDREW GELOS Hill of the Golden Dawn.

ALAN ROMANCZUK Hill of the Golden Dawn. The Order of the Golden Dawn was an occult society in London back before the beginning of the 20th Century.

FOOTNOTE This particular society was Kabbalistic, and their hierarchy is based on the Tree of Life. Many other parallels can be drawn.

VIRGINIA Yeah, that's right. I'd forgotten that.

ALAN ROMANCZUK Which I just bring out as, you know, yet another thing that Jim latched on to and threw into the mix.

JENNIFER LIANG Most people think 'the hill of the golden dawn' is like, 'Oh, the land of the rising sun!' which would be Japan, because there's a heavy Japanese influence in just the style of the buildings and things like that seem very Japanese.

ALAN ROMANCZUK Sure. And the Sun King of France.

JENNIFER LIANG Yeah. It's kind of like he just pulled everything that was related to the sun and just kind of melded it together to make Cairhien.

Looking at how Jordan took real world cities, objects, and history and incorporated it into his storys, its pretty clear the Age of Legends was meant to remind us of modern cities, skyscrapers made of steel and glass, or perhaps power strengthened stone and glass. So Rhuidean built by people who had access to memories and stories of the age of legends would also bare a resemblance to a more real world modern city.

  • Good answer - would be helpful if you could briefly cover who "Team Jordan" is; even though it's probably evident from the link (which I can't follow at the moment). I had to dig back in the circuits to remember that RJ == James (Jim).
    – gowenfawr
    Jun 7, 2018 at 16:36
  • Interesting answer, I haven't seen either of those interviews. I'm a little confused by Jennifer Liang equating Cairhien with Japanese culture, though - Cairhien makes me think more of France or Spain. Now, the Seanchan - that definitely strikes me as a Japanese-like culture.
    – Omegacron
    Jun 7, 2018 at 19:36
  • 1
    @Omegacron the cairhien flags the soldier have attached to their backs is historically Japanese. Sashimono
    – Himarm
    Jun 7, 2018 at 19:43
  • Yeah, I always saw Cairhien as a blend of Japanese and French. Tear seems more medieval Spain to me. Though it seems intentional that there are no perfect analogs.
    – Paul
    Sep 10, 2018 at 12:01

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