The Wheel of Time: Shadar Logoth Is a City That Eats People

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Wheel of Time Episode 2, "Shadow's Waiting," streaming now on Prime Video.

After fleeing the Two Rivers, The Wheel of Time's party of main characters faces Trollocs, a Fade, the Aes Sedai-hating Whitecloaks, more Trollocs and some repulsive shared nightmares that somehow result in dead bats scattered around the campsite in the morning. It's almost impressive that the place where they take shelter manages to be even worse.

What exactly is so bad about Shadar Logoth? Moiraine refuses to travel through it, insisting that it's too dangerous even if it means losing the Trollocs that have been on their trail. Her Warder Lan only changes the plan because she's unconscious and they're caught between the army of monsters and a gap in the walls of Shadar Logoth. Lan, usually the most laconic character, provides a whole monologue about the abandoned city once they're in there: "It means 'Shadow's Waiting.' During the Trolloc Wars, it was the richest, most powerful city in the world. But when the world needed them most, they built their wall with no gate, locked themselves inside and let the other nations of man burn. It was the people of this city who promised Manetheren aid, and they were the ones who let them die."

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The interesting part of this exposition is the way that the selfishness of Aridhol's people manifested into something quite literal, without any apparent human design to it. "When the Trolloc Wars ended, the survivors came here to find food, shelter," Lan says. "When they knocked, no one answered. When they finally broke through the wall, there was no one inside. It is said that evil itself grew from the city's heart and consumed everyone and everything that lived. Ever since, the city has been abandoned. Not even Trollocs will step foot behind these walls."

In The Eye of the World, the first book in the Wheel of Time series, more time is spent in Shadar Logoth and more details are revealed about its history. Rand, Mat and Perrin decide to go exploring the city and encounter a man called Mordeth, who shows them a room full of treasure and attempts to trick them into leading him outside of the walls. Before they get far, his disguise slips and he undergoes a monstrous transformation, sending the boys running back to their camp to tell Moiraine what happened.

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In the version of the tale that she gives them, Mordeth was the central figure in the corruption of Aridhol, and was consequently caught there forever after everyone else had died. "Suspicion and hate had given birth to something that fed on that which created it, something locked in the bedrock on which the city stood. Mashadar waits still, hungering." The reason that Trollocs are afraid to enter the city, Moiraine says, is that an army of them once entered the place after it was abandoned, and all of them were consumed by Mashadar -- which is also the source of the name "Shadow's Waiting."

This living hatred appears in the books as a silver fog that must not be touched. It doesn't pursue the travelers, but they're separated when it cuts off their paths, unable to find each other for a long time afterward. Another lasting effect of Shadar Logoth, in both the books and the adaptation, is the ruby-hilted dagger that Mat finds there and chooses to keep without telling anyone else about it.

While the show doesn't fill in as much detail about Shadar Logoth, it still delivers a heart-pounding climax. Rather than a fog, Mashadar is portrayed as a darkness that grows over every surface like mold. When the party hears a commotion and rushes to investigate, they see one of the horses being taken by the black growth, fully disintegrating within seconds. From there it's a race to escape the same fate by running in any direction they can, and three pairs of protagonists end up lost and stranded outside the city -- victims of the hatred of a long-dead people.

The first three episodes of The Wheel of Time made it out of Shadar Logoth and are currently streaming on Prime Video, with new episodes airing every Friday.

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Mira Jacobs was bitten by a radioactive Oxford comma which transformed her into a writer and junior news editor for CBR. She lives in Colorado with a man and a dog and a cat and a bird and a miniature void with eyes. You can drop her a note at [email protected] or find her on Twitter.

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