Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for Season 2 of The Wheel of Time.
The Wheel of Time Season 2 is nearing its finale this week, promising an epic conclusion to many subplots, including the possibility that Rand (Josha Stradowski) will be declared as the Dragon in a prophesied battle in the sky over Falme. But what is the prophecy of the Dragon Reborn, exactly, and how does the previous Dragon we have seen, Lews Therin Telamon (Alexander Karim), fit into the picture? The Dragon Reborn is the person who will save or break the world in this turning of the Wheel, bringing many events with just their presence in the Pattern, all foretold within this prophecy. But there is much more to the Prophecy of the Dragon than the show has delivered so far.
The First Dragon, Lews Therin Telamon, Is Revealed in ‘The Wheel of Time’ Season 1
Three thousand years prior to Rand discovering he is the Dragon Reborn, Lews Therin Telamon was the previous Dragon in the Age of Legends when men could be Aes Sedai alongside women. This is where the Forsaken known as Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe) hails from as well — she and Lews were previously lovers, and it’s why she sometimes refers to Rand “Lews.” In the Season 1 finale’s cold open, we see the then-Amyrlin (Tamyerlin) Seat, Latra Posae Decume (Katie Brayben), who is warning Lews against caging the Dark One. Caging him would be an effort to stop his influence from touching the world ever again, but would also expose the One Power to him. Latra had the foresight to see what would happen: Aes Sedai men causing the Breaking of the World because of Lews’ actions.
Still, we know Lews Therin followed through with his plan, promising a better world for his daughter to live in. It didn’t work, of course; Latra was right, the Dark One corrupted the male half of the source, causing all men who could channel to go mad. The Dragon’s other name, Lews Therin Kinslayer, comes from after the Dark One’s corruption. Lews Therin goes mad, just like any other man, and murders his entire family. After realizing the atrocities he’s committed, he draws too much of the One Power to burn himself out and causes the formation of Dragonmount, the mountain outside of Tar Valon. There has not been much in the actual show about Lews Therin other than the fact that he was the previous Dragon, and it was he who set the Breaking in motion — but last season’s finale will likely not be the last we see of him
What Is the Karaethon Cycle in ‘The Wheel of Time’?
The Karaethon Cycle is the full prophecy of the Dragon Reborn, the signs they will bring, and what they will do. (It is very long and contains a lot of spoilers for the future of the series, so be warned before you go looking it up for yourself!) But the show actually introduces the Karaethon Cycle through Rand in Season 1, Episode 5. In a Tar Valon library, Rand first meets the friendly Ogier, Loial (Hammed Animashaun), while picking up a copy of the prophecies, a clever hint of foreshadowing for the reveal of his identity later in the show. Much of the prophecy is left out of the show, simply because it is both too much exposition and a lot of foreshadowing that would borderline spoil the future of the series. It is a smart decision to reveal it in small bits at a time.
We won’t transcribe the full prophecy here, but there is already plenty of the Karaethon Cycle that has already been covered — like the Blood Snow, a battle fought during the Aiel War and seen as the cold open for Episode 7 of the first and second seasons, which also includes Rand’s birth as foretold in the Prophecies: “On the slopes of Dragonmount shall he be born, born of a maiden wedded to no man.” Tigraine Mantear (Magdalena Sittova) gives birth to Rand on the slopes of Dragonmount after fighting a battle, where Tam al’Thor (Michael McElhatton) finds her. She is an Aiel and a Maiden of the Spear, roles which become more prominent in the show throughout Season 2, especially with the early introduction of Aviendha (Ayoola Smart).
While not explicitly mentioned within the Karaethon Cycle, the Horn of Valere is also an important part of the prophecy. Not tied to the Dragon Reborn in any way, the prophecy simply states the Horn of Valere will be found in time before the Last Battle. Importantly, it does not state who will get the horn. The Horn of Valere can bring back the Great Heroes of the Pattern to fight on the side of whoever has sounded it. They will be a force to be reckoned with, a power that needs to reside on the side of the Light. In the show, the Seanchan, specifically High Lord Turak (Daniel Francis), hold the Horn of Valere for themselves.
The Dragon is Reborn, and the end of the Third Age is here. It’s important not only for the future of Rand himself, but for the fate of the entire world, and even the Pattern itself. In the most recent episode of Season 2, several people are manipulating Rand to ensure that the prophecy plays out as it should. Moiraine has a plan to get him to Falme to declare himself as the Dragon Reborn. The Amyrlin Seat, Siuan Sanche (Sophie Okonedo), has a plan to keep the Dragon caged, only carefully letting him out when they need to fulfill the Foretelling. Then the two Forsaken, Lanfear and Ishamael (Fares Fares), are also trying to get Rand to Falme — not only so he can declare himself the Dragon Reborn, but so that they can cut him down after he does so. It’s a game that Rand is in the center of.
The Karaethon Cycle is a prison for Rand. He has his whole life laid out in front of him — all that he will do and all that he will bring into the world. It is an immense pressure for him to carry, and Rand is already expressing his exhaustion from being manipulated by all those around him. What will he do when he realizes that there is no escaping his fate? This prophecy looms over his life and leaves little room for him to choose. As it says, he will be marked, and there will be a price to pay:
“Twice and twice shall he be marked,
twice to live, and twice to die.
Once the heron, to set his path.
Twice the heron, to name him true.
Once the Dragon, for remembrance lost.
Twice the Dragon, for the price he must pay”
The Season 2 finale of The Wheel of Time premieres Friday on Prime Video.
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