We draw the distinction between real-world references and real-world parallels by saying that the real-world references look back from the Third Age to a previous Age (which is our present), while the real-world parallels are elements that project forward from a previous Age (usually the Third) and are remembered in our present. Real-world references can be of people that are living or lived in our own world, objects from our time or various religious figures.
In contrast, an example of a parallel would be Perrin's parallels with the Slavic god Perun. Perrin isn't meant to be Perun in the series - as Brandon Sanderson says, "Perrin is not a god" - but the memory/myth/legend of Perrin led to the development of some aspects of Perun in that religion as it is known in our time. In fact, Perrin has many parallels, none of which are him as he was written by Jordan.
These references occur seldomly, and subject to interpretation. Where applicable, links to confirmation by Robert Jordan (or another of his team) are given. All other statements can be seen as speculative.
References by book and chapter
- "Elsbet, the Queen of All" - Queen Elizabeth II, who has been sovereign/head of state over 32 independent nations over the course of her reign. These nations extend over all of the inhabited continents.
- "Mosk the Giant, with his Lance of fire that could reach around the world" - Moscow, Russia, a country that owns missiles which can be fired all the way around the world.
- "Jaem the Giant-Slayer", a reference to Jack up the Beanstalk, a popular fairytale.
- "Anla the Wise Counselor - Ann Landers, the pen-name used in an advice column "Ask Ann Landers" run by several newspapers in the US and which ran for 56 years.
- "Materese the Healer, Mother of the Wondrous Ind" - Mother Teresa of Calcutta (a city in India), Catholic nun and winner of the 1979 Nobel Peace prize for "work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress".
- Lenn, Salya - Egwene asks Thom for tales of them: "Tell us about Lenn...How he flew to the moon in the belly of an eagle made of fire. Tell about his daughter Salya walking among the stars." John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, the Apollo Lunar Module, also known as the "Eagle" and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Salyut has also been suggested for an interpretation of Salya, but Sally Ride was the one given by Robert Jordan himself. John Glenn never went to the moon, although later Apollo missions would.
When the Heroes of the Horn appear: "But he heard a hundred different names when he looked at each face, some so different he did not recognize them as names at all, though he knew they were. Michael instead of Mikel. Patrick instead of Paedrig. Oscar instead of Otarin." -The names used for heroes in the novel could be their adaptations for the names we use in our time.
- Mikel of the Pure Heart - Commonly believed to be Saint Michael the Archangel, although may also be a reference to Mikhail Gorbachev who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1990 for his part in ending the Cold War. This is the year that The Great Hunt was published.
- Paedrig the Peacemaker - Usually assumed to be Saint Patrick.
- Otarin - Possibly Saint Óscar Romero
- Amaresu - Amaterasu, the Japanese goddess of the sun and one of the key figures in the Shinto religion. Amaresu also carries the Sword of the Sun. Robert Jordan has reportedly said that Amaresu is the female counterpart to the Dragon that can be woven out when the Wheel requires a female world-saviour.[verify]
- Buad of Albhain - Queen Boudica, a famous warrior queen in British history who led an uprising against the Roman forces of the time. Albhain is a reference to the use of Albion as an alternative name for Britain.
- Calian the Chooser - The goddess Kali
- Shivan the Hunter - Shiva the Destroyer
- "A silvery thing in another cabinet, like a three-pointed star inside a circle, was made of no substance she knew; it was softer than metal, scratched and gouged, yet even older than any of the ancient bones. From ten paces she could sense pride and vanity." - Mercedes-Benz logo.
- "...and opposite it on the other side were the bones of some slender four-footed beast with a neck so long the skull was half as high as the ceiling" - Giraffe skeleton
- "Did Mosk and Merk really fight with spears of fire, and were they even giants?" - Moscow, America, ICBMs
- "Ghoetam under The Tree of Life" - Gautama Buddha
In Towers of Midnight
- Chapter 51, A Testing
- "The enclave of the Incastar- those afraid of progress, afraid of wonder. Turns out they had a right to be afraid. How I wish I had listened to Gilgame..." - This was initially theorized to be a mention of the Epic of Gilgamesh, although Brandon Sanderson corrected this by saying that the word was Gilgame and had not been interrupted.
In A Memory of Light
- Chapter 39, Those Who Fight
- Hend the Striker - The African American folk hero John Henry and steel-driver who went up against a steam-powered device in a battle of man against machine. In the legend, Henry wins the contest, but dies afterwards of exhaustion.