Who Are the Forsaken in ‘The Wheel of Time’ Season 2?

Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for Season 2 of The Wheel of Time.

The Big Picture

  • The Forsaken in The Wheel of Time are powerful and feared villains, known for their cruelty and destructive abilities.
  • They were once powerful channelers who served the Dark One during the War of Power and pledged their loyalty to gain more power and immortality.
  • The Forsaken, including leaders Ishamael and Lanfear, are reentering the world, causing chaos and posing a difficult challenge for the heroes to overcome.

In the sprawling world of The Wheel of Time, the battle between light and dark is only beginning. In fact, few of the villains have revealed themselves. Season 1 saw Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) searching for the Dragon Reborn to defeat the threat before it emerged, but her mission failed. Now, Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski) has revealed himself as the Dragon, but the conflict is only growing. As the ancient war reignites, old foes break free of their imprisonment. Ishamael (Fares Fares), the Dark One’s lieutenant, works in the shadows to further the cause, recruiting secret allies and hoping to turn Rand to his side. Another powerful foe, Lanfear (Natasha O’Keeffe), has made her own play for Rand’s loyalty. But as the heroes try to identify their enemies, the list is only growing.

Both Ishamael and Lanfear incite fear — not by what they’ve done in the show, but by their reputation. These two are some of the Forsaken, powerful channelers who served the Dark One during the War of Power. Among the many enemies, the Forsaken are often referenced but haven’t been explored in detail. Though known by many names, they refer to themselves as “Those Chosen To Rule The World Forever,” or more simply, the Chosen. They have also been called the shadowsouled. Each of these names paints an image, and none of them is very flattering, but it is well-earned. Originally, there were many more Forsaken, but as the ages passed, the term was used to reference only the most infamous servants of the Shadow, resulting in thirteen who now hold the title: Ishamael, Lanfear, Sammael, Moghedien, Be’lal, Mesaana, Aginor, Asmodean, Demandred, Rahvin, Semirhage, Balthamel, and Graendal.

RELATED: ‘The Wheel of Time’s Ajahs Explained, From Blue to Black

How Did the Forsaken Earn Their Title in ‘The Wheel of Time’?

Selene (Natasha O'Keeffe) watching the Hunt begin
Image via Prime Video

The ancient Aes Sedai were more powerful than the ones alive in the story, and those sworn to the Dark One were more powerful still. Each of the thirteen had different skills and used those to serve the side of the Shadow. Despite the common saying, “The Dark One and all the Forsaken are bound in Shayol Ghul, bound by the Creator at the moment of Creation, bound until the end of time,” the Forsaken were born in the Age of Legends. Their cruelty stood in stark contrast to others with the One Power. The idyllic Age of Legends ended when Mierin Eronaile, later known as Lanfear, found a suspicious energy source unrelated to the One Power. Drilling a bore in the Pattern and through the Dark One’s prison released his power on the world and destroyed the utopia of the Age of Legends.

Then, Lanfear and the other Forsaken slowly sided with the Dark One, pledging their loyalty in return for more power and immortality. Swearing their oaths directly to the Dark One at his seat of power in Shayol Ghul, the thirteen Forsaken rose in the ranks of other Darkfriends because of their ability to channel and willingness to commit violence. The Dark One granted the Forsaken access to the True Power, which is much like the One Power but not divided and more chaotic. They led the War of Power, mercilessly destroying those who opposed them or anyone who didn’t fight beside them. Each used their own talents to destroy the world. As the most powerful of the Forsaken, Ishamael became their leader and earned the title Betrayer of Hope.

Most Forsaken distinguished themselves for their military prowess or skill in leading and manipulating. However, several had more unique contributions. After freeing the Dark One, Lanfear became known as the Daughter of the Night and used her mastery of the dream realm, Tel’aran’rhiod, to torment people. Aginor gave the Dark One an army by creating Trollocs, Draghkar, Gholam, and Myrddraal. Semirhage became known as the Lady of Pain for her torture methods, and Moghedien exhibited a talent for spying and sabotaging the Light. At the end of the war, Lews Therin Telamon defeated them, imprisoning the thirteen Forsaken along with the Dark One and earning his place as their bitter rival. Yet Moiraine has discovered several of the Seven Seals, which hold them back, have been broken, meaning the Forsaken are reentering the world.

What Are the Forsaken Doing in ‘The Wheel of Time’?

Ishamael (Fares Fares) facing Rand (Josha Stradowski) and Moiraine (Rosamund Pike) at the Eye of the World
Image via Prime Video

The show quickly introduced Ishamael and Lanfear, who are still working for the Dark One, though their exact missions are somewhat mysterious. Yet the others are on their way. Ishamael escaped his imprisonment in Season 1 when he confronted Rand at the Eye of the Word. He is later seen gathering allies and meeting with Darkfriends in the Season 2 premiere. In the second season’s fourth episode, “Daughter of the Night,” Ishamael is also shown freeing Lanfear, who goes on to target Rand herself, disguised as the woman Selene. It seems the Ishamael will continue to free the other eleven, if he hasn’t already, possibly with help from Lanfear now that her true identity has been uncovered. But while the others have yet to reveal themselves, none are idle.

The Forsaken all joined the Dark One for their own reasons, but each one was selfish (with the slight exception of Ishamael, who saw no way for the Light to win without the ability to kill the Dark One and chose the winning side). But their selfish ways didn’t stop there. Each long to be raised above the others to the position of Nae’blis, the ruler under the Dark One himself. They may all fight on the same side, but “allies” is a generous way of describing them. Their tenuous relationships are subject to constant fighting as each tries to prove himself better than the others or eliminate competition when necessary. Their lack of unity may be an asset to the heroes, yet the Forsaken are much better trained and more experienced. Along with their dedication to the Dark One, their tendency to be several steps ahead makes them a difficult enemy to fight. But of more concern is their ability to conceal their identity. Rand spent plenty of time with Lanfear before learning who she was, meaning other Forsaken could be lurking around any corner. As they reappear and take up their old ways of destruction, manipulation, and torment, the Forsaken will cause more chaos than the heroes are prepared to handle, but after all, that is their goal. The only remaining question is: as the Dragon Reborn, will Rand be powerful enough to stop them?

New episodes of The Wheel of Time Season 2 premiere every Friday on Prime Video.

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