From Tar Valon Library
The Great Blight, commonly referred to as the Blight, is a region in the north that is entirely corrupted by the Dark One, inhabited by Shadowspawn. It stretches on either side of the Mountains of Dhoom, from World's End in the west to Shara in the east. The Blight also exists in Seanchan, where it is called the Lesser Great Blight, since not as many dangerous creatures of the Dark thrive there (TWoRJTWoT).
Entering the Blight is dangerous, even for experienced campaigners - moving at night even more so (TEotW, Ch. 48) - as the smallest things like insect bites mean death there (NS, Ch. 15). "Flowers can kill, and leaves maim," says Lan, who has been to the Blight countless times (TEotW, Ch. 48). Even wood found there can be dangerous to burn (TEotW, Ch. 45).
The Blight is extending southward at a fairly quick rate (TGS, Ch. 22).
The opening of the Bore at the end of the Age of Legends allowed the Dark One to touch and corrupt the world. The slowly decaying land began to grow southward, even after the Bore was sealed again (TWoRJTWoT).
During the Compact of Ten Nations, the northern borders of Jaramide and Aramaelle, the then-Borderlands, reached into the Mountains of Dhoom. After the Trolloc Wars, the Blight began spreading out form the mountains (TWoRJTWoT).
Ever since the Trolloc Wars, the Borderlands tried to hold back the Blight and prevent the Shadowspawn from invading the Westlands again (TWoRJTWoT). Despite their efforts, the Blight advances year after year (TGH, Ch. 43). In 998 NE, Lord Agelmar Jagad says the Blight "stirs" (TEotW, Ch. 46). After Rand uses up the Eye of the World, however (TEotW, Ch. 52), Moiraine says they struck a great blow against the Dark One. The Blight is very still (TEotW, Ch. 53) and has retreated two miles all along the Borderlands (TSR, Ch. 17).
In 953 NE, Malkier fell to the Blight. It was overrun by Trollocs in the autumn of 955 NE, and covered by the Blight in 957 NE (TWoRJTWoT). Ever since Lan was old enough to carry a sword, he has prepared for his one-man war to avenge Malkier (TEotW, Ch. 47).
The air in the Blight is unnaturally humid, despite lying in the north. It smells of decay and tastes like rotten meat. The deeper one penetrates into the Blight, the warmer and damper it will get. Hills become steeper, the land slopes slowly toward the Mountains of Dhoom and a few ponds and streams can be seen (TEotW, Ch. 48).
Every plant is infected with sickly yellow and black flecks or stained livid red streaks "like blood poisoning" at the fringe. Leaves seem bloated and rotting, "ready to burst at a touch," and are stained in "virulent rainbow hues" (TEotW, Ch. 48; Ch. 53). Waxen flowers hang from twisted trees, "sickly pale and pulpy" (TEotW, Ch. 48).
Further into the Blight, the corruption becomes more evident. "Where a leaf had been spotted black and mottled yellow before, now foliage fell wetly while [Rand] watched, breaking apart from the weight of its own corruption. The trees themselves were tortured, crippled things, twisted branches clawing at the sky as if begging mercy from some power that refused to hear. Ooze slid like pus from bark cracked and split" (TEotW, Ch. 49).
The sun looks like a red ball in a cloudless sky (TEotW, Ch. 48).
Broken remnants of Malkier can still be found in the form of seven jagged towers and a Shadow-infested necklace of lakes (TEotW, Ch. 48).
The Blight in Seanchan is corrupted in a similar fashion to the one in the Westlands, though in a less virulent and dangerous form. Trollocs and Myrddraal were wiped out during the first millenium after the Breaking. Although the Seanchan claim to have extinguished all Shadowspawn, some creatures like Draghkar can still be found there (TWoRJTWoT).
The Mountains of Dhoom
The Mountains of Dhoom rise from the Dead Sea in the east and run through the entire continent, including the Aiel Waste and Shara, all the way to the Morenal Ocean in the west. It is suspected that they continue beneath the water and rise again in Seanchan to encircle the whole planet (TWoRJTWoT).
The mountains are looming black shapes, lifeless and jagged (TEotW, Ch. 49). One path that leads into the Blight is Tarwin's Gap, a broad mountain pass "surrounded by jagged black peaks like the teeth of the Dark One" (TEotW, Ch. 51), another is a twisting pathway, "like an axe blow cleaving into the black stone" (TEotW, Ch. 49).
The Eye of the World
The Eye was a pool of pure, concentrated saidin, made in the first days of the Breaking of the World, possibly the last act that was performed by male and female Aes Sedai together. Before the hundred involved died during the act, they charged Someshta, a Nym, with looking after it, which he did up to his death in 998 NE (TEotW, Ch. 49). No one living knows how or why it was made, only that it was meant for mankind's greatest time of need (TEotW, Ch. 50).
Moiraine says the Power in the Eye is enough to undo the Dark One's prison and they must prevent it from falling to the Shadow (TEotW, Ch. 43). Even in the Age of Legends, few could have wielded the amount of One Power stored there unaided (TEotW, Ch. 52).
Very few people have ever found the Eye of the World and never twice; no one ever does unless the Green Man wants them to. According to Agelmar Jagad only one person from all of the Borderlands has done so in five years. Need and intention are all-important, and if someone seeks glory, the Green Man will not show himself (TEotW, Ch. 46). The Green Man and the Eye of the World a[re mentioned in books, but according to Loial no Ogier has found them in quite some while (TEotW, Ch. 43). It can never be found on exactly the same spot, and according to the Green Man, the place "is alway where it is. All that changes is where those who need it are." (TEotW, Ch. 46) When Moiraine found it the first time it was beyond the high passes of the Mountains of Dhoom, as it was according to all of the Ogier Loial heard about who had found it. (TEotW, Ch. 48) Rand and company, however, find it in the foothills. (TEotW, Ch. 49)
A simple tall white stone arch, with a circle split by a sinuous line on the keystone, one half rough, the other smooth, leads to an arched corridor, high enough for the Green Man to go through, that winds gently downward. The floor is smooth and slick-looking and the seamless, white walls glitter "with uncounted flecks in untold colors, giving a low, soft light." The corridor opens to a vast domed space with an oval pool underneath a ceiling of "rough, living rock (...) dotted with clumps of glowing crystals." The surface of the eye-shaped pool is clear and smooth as glass, but no bottom is visible. The area between the edge of the pool and the five-pace wide walkway is lined with low, flat crystals glowing "with a duller, yet fiercer, light than those above." Not all of the crystals, supposedly glowbulbs, shine with the same intensity; if they did, the cavern would be as bright as noonday (TEotW, Ch. 50). Inside the pool, with the essence of saidin gone, is a crystal column and steps to reach it; three things can be found there (TEotW, Ch. 52):
- A "large gold chest, ornately worked and chased with silver" with the Horn of Valere inside.
- A broken cuendillar seal on the Dark One's prison.
- A long, white banner depicturing a "figure like a serpent, scaled in scarlet and gold, [running] the entire length, [with] scaled legs, and feet with five long, golden claws on each, and a great head with a golden mane and eyes like the sun." It is the Dragon Banner, under which Lews Therin Telamon led the forces of the Light.
The land around the Eye was protected by the Green Man, who kept the Blight away. Nothing Shadow-corrupted could enter. The ground is covered with grass and wildflowers, butterflies and bees fly through the air and birds sing in the trees (TEotW, Ch. 49). It is a soothing, peaceful place with a variety of flowers, such as pink wildrose, yellowbell or white morningstar as well as apple trees and a sweetberry bush beside the arch (TEotW, Ch. 50). After the Green Man's death, the Blight slowly begins to swallow the previously protected space (TEotW, Ch. 52), with the exception of an oak that marks his grave. Loial sung to it, so that it will not fall to the Blight (TEotW, Ch. 53).
The Blasted Lands
"All around Shayol Ghul and north of the Blight extends the waste known as the Blasted Lands. Devoid of life, this desolation is even shunned by the foul creatures of the Blight. Historians believe that the area bore the brunt of the War of Power, which rendered it completely barren. Its proximity to Shayol Ghul and the corrupting influence of the Shadow no doubt keep it so" (TWoRJTWoT)
A few hundred leagues north from Shayol Ghul, the land is pure ice (LoC, Prologue) of the northern ocean, and no one knows if there is anything other than that (TWoRJTWoT).
The Blasted Lands have expanded southward during the Breaking of the World (TSR, Ch. 26).
- Main article: Shayol Ghul
Beyond the Blasted Lands, the black, volcanic mountain of Shayol Ghul, the site of the Dark One's prison, rises from the barren land. In the Age of Legends, it was an idyllic island in a cool sea (TWoRJTWoT).
Roiling gray clouds, streaked with lightning and accompanied by thunder, hide the sky and the peak of the mountain, against which they crash sluggishly. Steam and smoke rises from scattered vents in the slopes, some "as small as a man’s hand and some large enough to swallow ten men." There is one opening, wide enough for two men abreast, which neither steam nor smoke rises from. It is the opening sloping down into the Pit of Doom (LoC, Prologue).
The tunnel floor is worn "smooth as polished tiles" and filled by pale light that rises from the stone. Overhead, jagged spikes jut from the ceiling, like stony teeth ready to snap shut and crush traitors. The Pit of Doom itself is a wide ledge "overlooking a lake of molten stone, red mottled with black, where man-high flames danced, died and rose again". The presence of the Dark One is strongest there. Instead of a roof, there is a hole looking out into a sky of "wildly striated clouds streaking by as though driven by the greatest winds the world had ever seen" (LoC, Prologue).
In the valley below the slopes of Shayol Ghul, Thakan'dar is dry as a desert, though bitter cold. Shadow-forgers work Myrddraal blades in gray-roofed forges made of rough stone. At first, those blades are pale as moonlit snow, but the metal turns dead black when it is dipped into one of the inky rivulets that ooze down the rocky slope. Once a human soul is bound to the blade, it is complete (LoC, Prologue).
No two creatures in the Blight look exactly the same, but most seem to have a massive amount of teeth and claws. Some creatures seen there are as big as bears, with stiff hair like long bristles, fingerlong claws, too many legs that join the body at odd angles and "one eye in a head that seems mostly mouth and teeth" (TEotW, Ch. 49). These creatures are likely remnants of the of the first experiments Dreadlords made with human and animal genes.
There are also things called Sticks that hide where the leaves are thickest, looking like their namesakes and waiting for something to touch them. They will bite only when touched. The juice oozing from them is not poisonous, but it starts to digest a Stick's prey for it. The only way to save someone from being digested alive is to cut off the part that was bitten (TEotW, Ch. 48).
In one of the lakes that were once part of Malkier, a very long and man-thick phosphorescing shape thrives. It has a five-span long tail, topped by a point like a wasp's stinger. It also has many fat, writhing, tentacles with hands on them all along the length of it (TEotW, Ch. 48).
Some things in the Blight hunt by sound, and most attack directly (TEotW, Ch. 48). Even trees want to snatch at whatever they can and the creatures compete against each other for their prey. Their blood seems to be acid-like, dissolving a piece of cloth to nothing and making even a Power-wrought weapon steam (TEotW, Ch. 49).
Apparently, the more dangerous Shadowspawn live beyond the high passes of the Mountains of Dhoom. Few creatures from the fringe will go there (TEotW, Ch. 48). Even Worms, or Jumara, are afraid of what lives there, just as the other denizens flee from them when they get the chance (TEotW, Ch. 49).
In the valley of Thakan'dar, shadow-forgers make the deadly, Shadow-tainted blades Myrddraal use. They are thick, man-shaped animated beings, aparently hacked from the mountain stone, that move slowly and perform their work with great skill. They are not truly alive and will turn to stone or dust if they are carried away from Shayol Ghul (TWoRJTWoT).
Shadowspawn inhabiting the Blight:
Trolloc raids occur often along the Blight. To be able to fight them off as soon as possible, the Borderlanders have erected signal towers at half-mile intervals along the Blightborder. By day they use huge mirrors to send out signals, either for soldiers to come and drive the invaders back, or to warn the population to find a place of safety; by night, fires are used for this purpose (TWoRJTWoT).
Close to the Blight, people often blame Shadowspawn when they have no other explanation, "whether for a sudden death or for unexpected crop failure" (NS, Ch. 15). Borderlanders are often heard saying "Strange things happen this close to the Blight" (TGH, Ch. 1).
Because Myrddraal can step out of shadows not too far away from the Blight, no one is out at night, except for the Night Watchmen and Lamplighters, who make sure there are few shadows for a Myrddraal to use (NS, Ch. 19). Furthermore, no one may enter with their faces hidden (TEotW, Ch. 46).
Raids in Kandor have often struck much deeper than Canluum, but they have never made it inside the city's walls (NS, Ch. 15). Inns and many other houses have arrowslits instead of windows and serve as strong-points against Trolloc attacks (NS, Ch. 20). Raids out of the Blight are considered large when they consist of a thousand Trollocs (KoD, Ch. 20).
The worst storms in spring come from the Blight; black clouds slashed with blue-white lightning and accompanied by deafening thunder "unleash driving downpours of freezing rain mixed with hail large enough to crack a man's head" (NS, Ch. 21).
"May Peace abandon me and the Blight consume my soul" is an oath used among the Borderlanders (WH, Ch. 27).
During the Breaking of the World, an Aes Sedai named Deindre had a Foretelling concerning the chosen one who would fight against the Shadow. No one knew when he would appear, only that he would be born of the Aiel, and that he will need the Horn of Valere and the Dragon Banner. So she and ninety-nine other Aes Sedai created a pool of saidin to preserve the items, dying in the process of making it pure (TEotW, Ch. 48; TSR, Ch. 26).
"Leafblighter means to blind the Eye of the World, Lost One. He means to slay the Great Serpent. Warn the People, Lost One. Sightburner comes. Tell them to stand ready for He Who Comes With the Dawn. Tell them..." (An Aiel Maiden of the Spear, who returned injured from the Blight, to a Seeker of a band of Tuatha'an; TEotW, Ch. 25).
"Twice dawns the day when his blood is shed.
Once for mourning, once for birth.
Red on black, the Dragon's blood stains the rock of Shayol Ghul.
In the Pit of Doom shall his blood free men from the Shadow."
(Thom reciting a part of the Prophecies of the Dragon; TGH, Ch. 24)
"The blood of the Dragon Reborn on the rocks of Shayol Ghul will free mankind from the Shadow." (Part of the Karaethon Cycle; TDR, Ch. 5)
"There had been a dream of him walking down into a great hole in a black mountain, a hole filled with a reddish glare as from vast fires below, and even a dream of him confronting Seanchan." (One of Egwene's dreams about Rand; TDR, Ch. 25)
"His blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul, washing away the Shadow, sacrifice for man’s salvation." (Part of the Karaethon Cycle; TSR, Ch. 3)
"Him walking toward a burning mountain, something crunching beneath his boots. She stirred and whimpered; the crunching things were the seals on the Dark One’s prison, shattering with his every step. She knew it. She did not need to see them to know." (One of Egwene's dreams about Rand; LoC, Ch. 15)
It is likely Gitara Moroso had a Foretelling concerning the Blight and the future of the world. "After Luc rode north, never to return, whispers said Gitara had convinced him that his fame lay in the Blight, or his fate. Others said it was that he would find the Dragon Reborn there, or that the Last Battle depended on him going." (Dyelin to Rand; LoC, Ch. 16)
- The ring of Malkieri kings represents three thousand years fighting the Blight (NS, Ch. 16).
- Luc Mantear is believed to be dead in the Blight (TEotW, Ch. 34).
- The wolves think there is good hunting along the Blight (TEotW, Ch. 43).
- There was at least one known Waygate in the Blight (TEotW, Ch. 45); though with two stedding lost in the Blight, there are now at least two more besides it (LoC, Ch. 20).
"The oblivious soon became the dead, in the Blight beyond the Borderlands." (Lan; New Spring, Chapter 1)
"Only madmen entered the Blight willingly." (Moiraine; New Spring, Chapter 9)
"What dies in the Blight is gone (...) An army could die trying to defeat the Blight. Armies had died trying." (Lan; New Spring, Chapter 16)
"In the Blight, you lived or died by luck as often as by skill or lack of it." (Lan; New Spring, Chapter 20)
"The Dark One and all of the Forsaken are bound in Shayol Ghul, beyond the Great Blight, bound by the Creator at the moment of Creation, bound until the end of time. The hand of the Creator shelters the world, and the Light shines on us all." (Rand; The Eye of the World, Chapter 1)
"Humankind is being swept away everywhere. Nations fail and vanish. Darkfriends are everywhere, and none of these southlanders seem to notice or care. We fight to hold the Borderlands, to keep them safe in their houses, and every year, despite all we can do, the Blight advances. And these southlanders think Trollocs are myths, and Myrddraal a gleeman's tale." (Ingtar; The Great Hunt, Chapter 48)