From the foreword of the short piece, Robert Jordan explains:
—Robert Jordan on The Strike at Shayol Ghul.
Nevertheless, a version of this also appears in the illustrated guide, The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time in the chapters entitled "The Fall into Shadow" and "The Breaking of the World." If you already have this, you have probably already read it.
Differences and additional facts
The two versions have a few differences. Since the first version is no longer available, here is a small summary of what is or is not included in the original Strike at Shayol Ghul:
The author is listed as:
Royal Historian to the Court of
Her Most Illuminated Majesty, Ethenielle Kirukon Materasu,
By the Blessing of the Light,
Queen of Kandor,
Protector of the Land,
Shield of the North,
High Seat of House Materasu.
Jorille Mondevin is almost certainly a Cairhienin name – later she is described as "Mistress Jorille Mondevin." It has been commented on that the Guide is written from the point of view of a Westlands scholar of the time, so it may be speculated that Mistress Jorille is the author (or one if a collection of authors) of the Guide too.
The Queen of Kandor is currently called Ethenielle, but she is named in the Guide as Queen Ethenielle Cosaru Noramaga. The name Ethenielle Kirukon Materasu is also given as the name of the current Queen in The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game. Which is correct is unknown as it has not been verified in the series.
The origin of the documents
In the original version, the first 500 words are an introduction detailing on how the manuscript was found and a description of the fragmentary documents it was found with - 'of the two hundred and twelve surviving pages, the largest number of consecutive pages number six, and nowhere else more than two.'
It is also described as:
On the Collapse
—TWORJTWOT, Chapter 3
Thus it would appear that some elements of The Strike at Shayol Ghul were revised before going into the Guide, for whatever reason. The "document" the account is meant to have been based on was a copy of an original written just after the end of the Breaking, so it would be feasible that someone who was alive during the Collapse, or who at least was only one generation away from it, would have written it. Given the supposed accuracy of the rest of the story, such a large margin of error in the length of the Collapse may have been corrected by Jordan.
After the introductory sections of The Strike at Shayol Ghul, both versions run almost exactly word for word, describing the opposing plans of Lews Therin Telamon using seven female and six male channelers to place cuendillar seals on the Dark One's prison and Latra Posae Decume's plan of using the Choedan Kal to stop the Dark One.
Efficacy of a barricade
The Strike at Shayol Ghul does, however, describe reason why people disagreed with the erection of a barrier around Shayol Ghul:
Detractors pointed out that the Bore had enlarged since it was first drilled, and behind the barricade erected by the sa'angreal it would continue to grow, so that eventually the Dark One might free himself within the barrier. The barrier might well contain the Dark One when all he could do was reach through the relatively small Bore, but could it hold back the Dark One let loose?"
The reasons why a barrier around the Bore might not work is not discussed at all in the Guide.
The Strike at Shayol Ghul contains footnotes written by the author. Some of these are woven into the text of the relevant section of the Guide. Summarized, they are:
- If there had been no Fateful Concord and women had gone to seal the Dark One along with men, then might saidar also have been tainted?
- The agents that Latra Posae sent in to smuggle the access ter'angreal from territory held by the Shadow were all caught, though they did not betray the location of the ter'angreal. This text is added to the main body in the Guide. Presumably they had been hidden, because it is mentioned that they became scattered throughout territories taken by the Shadow when the attempt failed.
- Some notes on the waxing and waning of the "peace faction" that existed during the War of the Shadow. It also mentions that some of those that went to petition Forsaken ended up carrying out activities that aided the Shadow, sometimes without them even knowing they had carried these acts out. They had clearly been Compelled. This text is added to the main body in the Guide.
- A note on Latra Posae's role during the Breaking and of her nickname: "Shadar Nor" means "Cutter of the Shadow" or "Slicer of the Shadow" in the Old Tongue. This information is given in the section on the Breaking of the World in the Guide.
The last few paragraphs are almost completely different, but yet almost exactly the same, in both versions. It recounts, in different words, the aftereffects of what happened when Lews Therin, the Hundred Companions and the non-channeling soldiers struck at Shayol Ghul and placed the Seals on the Dark One's prison successfully. It also describes how the Forsaken were trapped, the Dark One's backlash in the form of the Taint on saidin and the start of the Breaking of the world. The Strike at Shayol Ghul contains the addition that none of the non-channeling men or women that were part of the Strike lived to tell the tale. Presumably they were killed by the portion of male channelers that went insane instantly. The Strike at Shayol Ghul also ends with the lines: