‘The Wheel of Time’ traces the epic, millennia-long struggle against the Dark One and his attempts to take over reality. The winding story introduces a bewildering variety of powerful players in its saga, each driven by their own motives and loyalties.
The season 1 finale, after all its decisive standoffs, throws one last curveball in the end by introducing a mysterious host of seafaring magic channelers that carry out a devastating attack on a seemingly unfortified beach. Who are these heavily armored warriors, and what are they fighting for? Let’s take a closer look at the closing moments of ‘The Wheel of Time’ season 1 and see if we can crack the cliffhanger. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Who are the Magic Channelers on the Ships?
Once the frantic battles at Fal Dara and the Eye of the World wrap up in the season finale, we are taken to a distant, unnamed coast where a solitary girl walks down the beach. She soon notices a host of ominous-looking ships on the horizon, each heavily armored and carrying a group of magicians wearing golden mouthpieces. The channelers from each of the many ships attack in unison, and the closing scene depicts the enormous tidal wave created by them bearing down on the beach.
Since the ship’s sails do not feature a specific emblem, we can only guess as to the loyalties of the attackers. However, fans of Robert Jordan’s book series on which the series is based will likely recognize the powerful fleet of ships as belonging to the Seanchan empire. Located in the continent to the west, the empire’s rulers have long planned an invasion of the Westlands to reclaim what they see as rightfully theirs. This is because the ancestors of the rulers seemingly hailed from the Westlands.
The invasion that we see at the end of the season 1 finale, according to the books, has been in the making for at least twenty years. During this time, the Seanchan have built ships to carry them to the Westlands and rallied troops and magic channelers to help in the effort. Their mission to reclaim the Westlands is referred to as the “Return.”
According to ‘The Great Hunt,’ which is the second book in ‘The Wheel of Time’ series and the sourcebook that season 2 of the show will heavily draw from, the Children of the Light take on the Seanchan invasion and attempt to hold them at bay. However, some of the central characters, including Nynaeve and Egwene, get caught in the crossfire between the Children of the Light and the Seanchan.
Thus, the seafaring magic channelers seen at the end of season 1 form a new angle in the narrative and introduce viewers to an as yet unseen part of the world of ‘The Wheel of Time.’ In case you are curious, the invasion is ultimately withdrawn when the Seanchan Empress agrees to assist the Dragon Reborn in the fight against the Dark One. However, the attack by the Seanchan has far-reaching effects on the conflicts already underway in the Westlands.