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Given the idea that the Wheel of Time is cyclical and all that is happening has happened before, does that mean the events of the breaking and the birth of the Dragon Reborn happened before? Does this mean that Rand's actions at the final battle will eventually lead to another breaking or has he broken the cycle?

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    My head cannon based on the wordings in the book was that it is an endless cycle; and that even the events in the series would take place again. That said; it's not clear if that's what was meant, or if the intention was to say that everything is cyclic, but the cycle is never the same. Interested to see if there's an cannon answer or good support one way or the other. – JMac Jun 19 '18 at 19:08
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    Min and the researcher in Cairhien, speculated that its happened many times before, an age of peace with the dark one outside of the world, discovery of the dark one, creation of the bore, seal the dark one away (patch), finally dragon reborn to completly remove the dark one from the world again, long age of peace, the cycle continues. – Himarm Jun 19 '18 at 19:25
  • See for instance the answer to this question – Giuseppe Nov 29 '18 at 18:44
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It should be noted that The Wheel Of Time having 7 spokes for seven ages (time without end) is an in-universe cosmology. For the 'reality' of what is happening, I only really consume what Robert Jordan has said, and the opening narration from each book, which is presented as omniscient. Every other source is presented as fallible or untrustworthy (e.g. The Dark One)

What we 'know':

  • Robert Jordan had stated at various times that Wheel Of Time takes place on Earth of the future and of the past. He had never (to my understanding) indicated how far in the future or how far in the past.
  • It is never stated what mechanism can refresh the world between turnings of the wheel, or to what extent it does.
  • It is stated that the One Power is not always known to humanity in all ages or turnings, but the One Power appears to be a prerequisite for opening the Dark One's prison (the Bore) and sealing it.
  • The Ogier are not native to Earth. It is unknown if they always arrive and always leave, or if it was a one-time event
  • We have no idea what the shape or state of the world is before the breaking. Only that the world is 'much changed'. The Two Rivers sits on land that used to be the western coast of some land-mass. Some mountains existed from prior to the Breaking, and others are new (The Mountains of Mist are new, The Mountains of Dhoom are new, and it is implied that so is much of The Spine Of The World). The land around Tar Valon survived roughly intact before and after the breaking.
  • Many of the Seanchan beasts were brought to the prime world via Portal Stone. They are not akin to any earth biology.
  • Tel'Aran'Rhiod exists everywhere and every time. It binds all possible worlds together.
  • The only source who could know the truth in-universe is The Dark One. If it is to be believed, then this happens over and over again, not exactly, but as variations on a theme. Ishamael states something similar to this, but he has no way of knowing, and it is implied by The Dark One itself that what Ishamael thinks he knows is incorrect.

The conflict with The Dark One isn't really the doing of The Dark One. People cause it. Is that inevitable as the wheel turns? It's unclear. Are the effects the same every time? Who knows.

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It's cyclical but not that cyclical. Things don't happen in exactly the same way in every turning of the wheel. The general pattern of civilization rising and falling is what keeps repeating. For example they mention a myth from antiquity of a previous catastrophe described as a battle between giants that is clearly a vague memory of the destruction of our own age in a war between the United States and the Soviet Union. That would have been another turning of the wheel.

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