The World of Dreams has entered the chat, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The Wheel of Time TV adaptation of the book series of the same name by Robert Jordan has already highlighted how important the realm, known as Tel’aran’rhiod, can be. We’ve seen the Forsaken use the World of Dreams repeatedly in season two of the show. Lanfear is a master of moving through Tel’aran’rhiod. Ishamael is skilled too, but his appearance glitches, betraying himself as a dreamwalker to the dreamer he’s visiting. We’ll continue to see how events in Tel’aran’rhiod affect the story, but for now, here’s what you should know about the World of Dreams with context from The Wheel of Time books, but no plot spoilers.

What Is the World of Dreams in The Wheel of Time?

Lanfear looks at Rand in the World of Dreams, a.k.a. Tel'aran'rhiod, in The Wheel of Time
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Tel’aran’rhiod is a sort of parallel world. The books basically describe the World of Dreams as an inconstant mirror of the waking world. So when Lanfear tells Rand he can travel and see the world in Tel’aran’rhiod, he can do so. He could visit the White Tower, for example, in the World of Dreams and longstanding buildings will be there. Anything fixed in the waking world is likely to be fixed in the World of Dreams. But objects that do not have permanent locations will flicker in and out. For example, letters on a desk may appear and disappear moment-to-moment in the World of Dreams, while the desk stays put. Dreamwalkers like Lanfear have the ability to change what Tel’aran’rhiod looks like.

Aside from traveling to particular locations, those who know the World of Dreams well can visit a specific person’s dreams—as Lanfear and Ishamael do with Rand (Lanfear is able to kick Ishamael out of Rand’s dreams) and as Lanfear does with both Liandrin and Egwene. It’s how she takes Rand to “see” Egwene in her dreams and why Egwene wakes thinking she’d just heard Rand. Remember the bad dreams the Two Rivers ta’veren had in season one? That was Ishamael. Dreamers remember those who visit their dreams, even if they remain unaware it was because the visitor was dreamwalking.

Can Anyone Enter Tel’aran’rhiod?

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Like Perrin’s wolfbrother ability, entering Tel’aran’rhiod does not require use of the One Power. Some can access the World of Dreams at will, some may use a ter’angreal designed for the purpose, and others might stumble into the World of Dreams accidentally. Just falling asleep and dreaming does not a dreamwalker make. One has to enter the realm consciously while being asleep. It was common practice in the Age of Legends, but in contemporary times, Aes Sedai rarely possess the ability.

What Happens to the Dreamwalker’s Body?

While a dreamwalker enters Tel’aran’rhiod, their body remains asleep. If someone is unpracticed in the World of Dreams, they will usually have someone stay awake at their side to pull them out. If a dreamer knows they are at risk of a dreamwalker visiting their dreams, like Rand with Lanfear, they also may have a minder on hand. Moiraine watched over Rand for signs of distress when Lanfear visited his dreams. A body belonging to someone visiting Tel’aran’rhiod does not get as much rest as it would from actual sleep.

Can People Die in Tel’aran’rhiod?

The World of Dreams is dangerous, especially for those new to the realm. Injuries sustained in Tel’aran’rhiod happen to the dream in the waking world. This can include death.

This only scratches the surface of Tel’aran’rhiod’s role in The Wheel of Time. As the series go on, we’ll undoubtedly see how powerful the realm is and we’ll return to dig in further.

New episodes of The Wheel of Time premiere on Fridays on Prime Video.