In Jordan's Wheel of Time saga, there are references to the changed landscape since 'the breaking of the world', but there are also a few mentions of particular items or ideas of 'the age of legends' that sound like a modern day city.

For example, buildings of glass that touch the sky, or beetle-like chariots speeding along the streets (of Caemlyn) without horse, or metal tubes with bird-like wings in the sky that should surely kill everyone inside if it fell. [not paraphrasing here, just going from memory].

And some of the forsaken have relics from before the breaking such as glow bulbs brighter than candles, music boxes with entire songs...

It sounds as if Jordan alludes to the previous age as being much more modern and technologically advanced than the present age in WoT.

Any thoughts?

  • Many of Thom's stories in TEotW allude to characters from the real world, but no I don't think he says when they happened. encyclopaedia-wot.org/books/teotw/ch4.html
    – Foole
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 3:37
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    The Age of Legends is some time in our future so it makes sense that it would be highly advanced, and that the Breaking and loss of 1/2 of the One Power would send us back into the stone age so we can eventually get back to where we are today.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 15:37

4 Answers 4


The Age of Legends is much more technologically advanced than the current time period, but it is very different from modern-day Earth. Channeling works, and is better understood than in the time of the main story. Most of the advanced technology seems to be based on the One Power - glowbulbs, ter'angreal, etc. There was also something called the "standing flows", which was probably something like the power grid, but based on the OP. This allowed non-channelers to use ter'angreal that required the OP.

WoT is based on Earth, and the idea is that time is a circle, so the characters in the books dimly remember things from our time, and we dimly remember things from their time. There are seven ages, and our time is one of them, but it isn't the AoL.

The characters in the books remember a few things from our time like Mosk and Merc (Moscow and America), Lenn travelling to the Moon (John Glenn confused with 1st Moon landing), and Alsbet the Queen of All (Queen Elizabeth). We also remember many things from their time. Memories of Artur Hawkwing and Rand have been combined into King Arthur, who took the Sword from the Stone. Perrin is behind legends of Thor and his hammer. Egwene Al'Vere(Guinevere), Gawyn, and Galad are the basis for other Arthurian legends.

There's a lot more info on this here.

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    In one museum there's also a "Stylized Three-Pointed Triangle (reeking of greed and pride)" thought to be a Mercedes Benz hood ornament. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 0:13
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    +1, but I don't think that the one power being the basis of their technology is necessarily different than Earth. It may be the basis of our technology as well, we just don't know it and have yet to figure out how to access it directly without machines.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 19:00
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    FYI that link is dead.
    – JMac
    Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 15:22

It's difficult to know exactly what it was like. It clearly was capable of fulfilling its desires and had advanced culture and magitech whose descriptions sound like technologies we ourselves invented. We only have a few snippets, but they show that their society was much more magic and nature oriented than ours, making it difficult to compare how "advanced" we and they are ... down different paths.

To further muddle things, Travelling changes all the rules. Weaving in general makes it very difficult to say who was more "advanced", because they're not constrained by the same physical laws as us in any fashion. If you can throw out Conservation of Energy, you can do unimaginably advanced things.

Further the descriptions of ancient artifacts/stories in Tanicho ("mosk and merk fighting in the sky with spears of fire"), allusions to our own recent past or future, complicate matters, because it shows how little we know about each others' capabilities. While they can open holes in the air and throw fire, we invented guns, planes, and running water. They even show technological incompatibility with the previous age, because Nynaeve is able to heal things that the great medical geniuses of the previous age couldn't, even though they had all of these marvels and medical knowledge of their own.

My personal bias is that the Age of Legends was at a "comparable" level of technology to our own Industrial Revolution, but on a completely unrelated track. Some of the accumulated arrogance of the Forsaken as to the backwardness and barbarism of the current time could be understood to be a mindset similar to ours during that period of advancement and experimentation and discovery. Or it could be that they're EEEEEEEEEEEVIL.

  • I thought it had been confirmed that "Randland" is indeed set on Earth, though far into the future?
    – Corwin01
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 15:23
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    @Corwin01 Time is a wheel; there is no future/past, only cycles. e.g. there is a strong implication that Thom Merrilin is the source of our Merlin legends while at the same time he goes around reciting the stories of Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 15:33
  • Future is subjective when time goes in a circle =) I was asking this in reference to "although there's been confirmation that this is a different world/'verse than ours" which I did not think was the case.
    – Corwin01
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 16:46
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    Ah yes. That I agree with, Jordan was quite clear about that from the beginning; see the quotes from his AOL chats here: dragonmount.com/index.php/News/theoryblog/… such as "The books are set in our future and in our past, depending on which way you look.".
    – KutuluMike
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 0:47
  • Wow, I was under the complete opposite impression on our relation to Randland. Let me fix that!
    – rsegal
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 0:59

The AoL is more advanced than modern times. I.e. I don't remember where I read it, in some interview or something, that during the AoL there was no pollution (all wastes were taken down the the atomic level and could then be used to manufacture new things)

Short description of their history: At some point in our future, the one power is discovered, the first person to successfully wield the one power is Tamyrlin (which is the source for the ring of Tamyrlin that Lewis wore). There was no breaking or war between our age and the AoL, so all of our technology/science is known during the AoL. They may not have used it (because the one power is more efficient), but they did know it.


The Wheel of Time really makes questions of past/present/future somewhat academic, but my interpretation of Rand's trip through the "ancestor" ter'angreal in Book 4 was that the AoL ended 3,000 years ago, I'm guessing Third Age (Rand's timeline) is our future, or maybe the AoL was the Roman Empire....

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