Thousands of years before the events of the novels, when Amonwelle was still young, the world was ruled by the guardians, servants of the Ancients that first brought humanity to the planet. They remained in power through their control of the Wire, described by Amonwelle as "an intangible conduit of incredible power that both nourished and dominated us".
After a long and bloody war, humanity found itself free of its rulers. They were still able to control the Wire, but were no longer forced to obey far-off masters. Some of the rebels decided to become the new guardians and protectors, and called themselves Wielders. The power of the Wire allowed them to alter their minds and bodies, lengthening their lifespans and letting them bring forth children with incredible abilities.
Some of them chose to become closer to their instruments, becoming part machine themselves, and no longer fully human. One of these was Dubiel, who was called the Shadowmith after he decided to wage a secret war against the other Wielders to increase his power. They banded together and drove him back, and he fled south to hide and gather his strength.
The other wielders grew apart from one another, concerned with their own private goals, leaving humanity to fend for itself. When Dubiel returned, the surviving Wielders reunited to try to fight him off again.
The following Wielders appear in the novels:
- The Dreamwright - a sort of oracle that rested in the crystal palace and answered questions for visitors. Technically, the Dreamwright is more of a title than a character, and several people played the role through the ages.
- Amonwelle - known as the Protector of the North, and one of the most powerful beings in the world. She is the mother of Diligence and most of the Dreamwrights.
- Dubiel the Shadowsmith - an evil being that waged war against his fellows to increase his own portion of the Wire.
- Truven Brightsword - one of the Wielders that answered Amonwelle's summons to defend the crystal palace against Dubiel.
- Omin Soth of the Frozen Glades - one of the Wielders that answered Amonwelle's summons to defend the crystal palace against Dubiel.
- Dark Ardent - one of the Wielders that answered Amonwelle's summons to defend the crystal palace against Dubiel.
- Issoch of the Eastern Lights - one of the Wielders that answered Amonwelle's summons to defend the crystal palace against Dubiel.