Some Quick Links


If you want to go to the very first post on the Atlas of Ice and Fire, click here.

Some other useful links:

How big is the world anyway?

The Size and Extent of Westeros and The Size and Extent of Essos, Sothoryos and Ulthos.

A Political Map of the Known World.

Terra Incognita: Beyond the Known World.

The Population of the Seven Kingdoms and The Population of the Free Cities.

Unreliable Timelines and Confused Dates.

Wonders Made by Man and The Seven Natural Wonders of the Known World.

Historical Map 1: The Dawn of Days and other Historical Maps.

Geographic Map 1: The Known World and other Geographic Maps.

Malazan Book of the Fallen Atlas.

Wheel of Time Atlas.


The Wheel of Time Atlas: The Eye of the World – Part 3

Narrative Atlas 3: The Eye of the World – From to Caemlyn to Tarwin’s Gap

These maps cover the third part of our heroes’ journey in The Eye of the World (Book 1 of The Wheel of Time). For a detailed summary of The Eye of the Worldplease follow this link.

This part of the narrative atlas covers our heroes’ journey from Caemlyn to Tarwin’s Gap, via Fal Dara. Note that the dates are taken from Steven Cooper’s excellent Wheel of Time Chronology.

03 - Caemlyn

A map showing character movements in Caemlyn. Please click for a larger version.


As recounted previously, Mat and Rand reach Caemlyn on Day 40, passing through the Whitebridge Gate. After gawping at the city for several hours, they find their way to the Queen’s Blessing Inn and meet the innkeeper, Basel Gill, and the Ogier, Loial, for the first time. Rand takes Loial into his confidence. They stay in the inn for three days.

On Day 43, the false Dragon Logain is due to be paraded through the city. Mat is feeling unwell, so Rand heads into the city by himself to observe the event. Unable to find a place in the plaza in front of the Royal Palace, he heads down streets behind the structure. At one point he spots Padan Fain, now resembling a crazed beggar, and hides from him. Eventually, Rand finds a desolate spot near the palace wall, and can even climb the wall to observe from the top. He watches Logain parade through the streets, but at one point he seems to make eye contact with Rand, startling him. A woman’s voice further discombobulates Rand and he falls into the palace grounds, where he meets Elayne Trakand, Daughter-Heir of Andor, and her brother Gawyn and half-brother Galad. Galad is unimpressed by this event and has Rand taken into custody by Tallanvor, one of the Queen’s Guard. He is taken before Queen Morgase, her Aes Sedai advisor Elaida do’Avriny a’Roihan and Gareth Bryne, Captain-General of Andor’s armies, who are waiting to receive Logain’s escort. Elaida has the Foretelling that Rand will play a role in major events to come and urges Morgase to take Rand into custody and put him to the question, but Morgase rules that Rand has committed no crime and as a citizen of Andor has a right to his liberty.

Rand is released and he makes his way back to the Queen’s Blessing, where he is reunited with Moiraine, Lan, Perrin, Egwene and Nynaeve. Moiraine realises that Mat is poisoned due to the dagger he stole from Shadar Logoth, which is cursed. Moiraine uses the Power to stabilise Mat’s condition but advises he can only be cured in Tar Valon. Aware that Elaida’s agents will be looking for Rand, Moiraine decides they must leave. Much to her surprise, in discussions with Rand, Perrin, Egwene and Loial she hears the phrase “Eye of the World” come up several times. Rand and Perrin (and Mat) have had dreams of a figure mentioning it and the name also made its way to the Ogier via a dying Aiel. Feeling this is a weaving of the Pattern, Moiraine decides they should use the ancient Waygate in Caemlyn to travel to the corresponding Waygate in Shienar, in the Borderlands. Although the Ways have become dark and foreboding recently, Loial agrees to guide them. They set out in the evening of Day 43 and early in the morning of Day 44, locate the Waygate under a building in the Inner City. They enter the Ways and, after a close encounter with Machin Shin, the Black Wind, they reach Shienar a day later.

Fal Dara

An approximate map of Fal Dara, in Shienar. Please click for a larger version.

Fal Dara

The party emerge from the Waygate a few miles to the south-west of Fal Dara on Day 45. They make their way to the city and are received by Lord Agelmar Jagad. They discover that a large Trolloc army is marching into Tarwin’s Gap and Agelmar is leading the army of Shienar forth to confront them in battle. Agelmar asks Moiraine and Lan to join them, knowing the worth of even one Aes Sedai on the field of battle, whilst the presence of the Uncrowned King of fallen Malkier will bolster his troops morale. Moiraine refuses, believing the threat to the Eye of the World is more pressing. The party departs Fal Dara shortly after dawn on Day 46.

Fal Dara is described as a small but extremely well-defended city, with thick outer walls and a strong central keep, also protected by thick walls (with four gatehouses) and a dry moat. The city, like many in the Borderlands, is made up of wide avenues and long roads affording excellent visibility and fields of fire in the event of a Trolloc incursion. The streets are also lit by lamps at all times, minimising the dark spaces where a Myrddraal can travel. Fal Dara is built on the ruins of Mafal Dadaranelle, the ancient capital of Aramaelle that was destroyed in the Trolloc Wars, but that city was considerably larger, extending many miles to the south and west (as the Waygate used to be within the city).

03 - Fal Dara to Tarwin's Gap

A map showing the journey from Fal Dara to the Eye of the World. Please click for a larger version.



Fal Dara to the Eye of the World

The party travel north and east from Fal Dara, crossing the Blightborder not long after leaving the city. They see the ruined Seven Towers, the capital of fallen Malkier, in the distance and learn more of the ruin of that kingdom and of Lan’s history.

On Day 47 they locate the Eye of the World in the foothills of the Mountains of Dhoom, and meet the Green Man (later revealed to be Someshta, last of the Nym). The Green Man is the guardian of the Eye of the World, an untainted gathering of saidin, the male half of the One Power. They also find the banner of the Dragon, from the Age of Legends, and a golden horn that can only by the Horn of Valere of legend. The party are attacked by two of the Forsaken, Aginor and Balthamel, who have escaped from their prison at Shayol Ghul. The Green Man kills Balthamel but sacrifices his own life to do so. Rand, to his horror, finds himself drawing on the One Power and is able to kill Aginor. Drawing on the Eye of the World, he is able to travel instantaneously to Tarwin’s Gap and collapse part of the surrounding mountains on the Trolloc horde, allowing the army of Shienar to win a great victory.

The party return to Fal Dara on Day 49 and Moiraine advises Lord Agelmar that a party will have to take the Horn back to Illian. Some days later, whilst eavesdropping on Rand’s conversation with Egwene and Nynaeve where he admits he can channel, Moiraine whispers that the Dragon is Reborn.

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

Mapping the Riftwar Cycle

One of the most popular fantasy novels ever published is Raymond E. Feist’s Magician. Originally published in 1982, the novel has sold over 10 million copies by itself to become individually one of the biggest-selling fantasy novels of all time. Between 1985 and 2013, Feist published no less than twenty-eight sequel novels (six of them in collaboration) in nine distinct sub-series. Altogether, The Riftwar Cycle has sold over 30 million copies to date.


A map of the continent of Triagia, the principle setting for the events of Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle. Please click for a (much) larger version.


The origins of the Riftwar Cycle go back to the mid-1970s, when Stephan Abrams founded a roleplaying group at the University of San Diego. Meeting on Thursday and Friday nights, the group started playing Dungeons and Dragons but very quickly found the rules not to their taste and developed a new set of house rules to game with. Rather than just the Dungeon Master of the moment, the entire group was involved in the creation of a collaborative world, which came to be known as Midkemia. In 1977 one of the group, Raymond Elias Feist, requested and received permission to adapt the history of the world as a series of novels. This resulted in the novel Magician, published in 1982.

Feist went on to detail the history of the world through five Riftwars, battles fought via sorcerous portals in the fabric of time and space. Wars were fought on Midkemia and in other worlds, and between worlds. The First Riftwar, as depicted in Magician, pits the Kingdom of the Isles on Midkemia against the Empire of Tsuranuanni on the planet Kelewan.

At the same time, Abrams and his collaborators worked on expanding the setting through roleplaying products put out by Midkemia Press: CitiesThe City of CarseJonril: Gateway to the Sunken LandsTulan of the IslesHeart of the Sunken LandsThe Black Tower and Towns of the Outlands. However, several plans to convert the entire world of Midkemia into a roleplaying setting fell through. It wasn’t until 2013 that the companion book Midkemia: The Chronicles of Pug was published, featuring extensive maps depicting the world of Midkemia. However, the Elvandar website had carried maps and background material during the preceding years.


Note on the Map

Maps for the Riftwar Cycle novels were generally simplified from those originally created for the roleplaying game, which were extremely detailed. This resulted in some continuity errors (such as the misplacement of Highcastle far too far to the east, which made following the action in A Darkness at Sethanon somewhat complicated). In later years the Elvandar website carried better and more detailed maps, and finally, more complete maps were finally published in the companion volume Midkemia: The Chronicles of Pug.

To create the map for this page, I consulted Elvandar, The Chronicles of Pug and the maps in the novels to try to put together the most complete map to date of the continent of Triagia on the planet Midkemia, the location of the Kingdom of the Isles and Empire of Great Kesh. However, complexities still set in as the shape of Triagia changes significantly as a result of the events of the final Riftwar novel, Magician’s End. It appears that some of the maps provided for the books and various websitse may have come from after this period, resulting in some minor discontinuities around coastlines. For the most part, these are negligible issues.

The map broadly shows the Kingdom after the events of the Serpentwar Saga, with the founding of Port Vykor, the establishment of the Duchy of the Southern Marches and the annexing of Shamata by the Kingdom of the Isles, to the dismay of the Empire of Great Kesh.

This map is also the first (I believe) to also depict the Sunset Islands, located to the west of Triagia. The map of the Sunset archipelago was adapted from the rough map provided in The Chronicles of Pug.


Books of the Riftwar Cycle

  1. Magician (1982)
  2. Silverthorn (1985)
  3. A Darkness at Sethanon (1986)
  4. Daughter of the Empire (1987, with Janny Wurts)
  5. Prince of the Blood (1989)
  6. Servant of the Empire (1990, with Janny Wurts)
  7. The King’s Buccaneer (1992)
  8. Mistress of the Empire (1992, with Janny Wurts)
  9. Shadow of a Dark Queen (1994)
  10. Rise of a Merchant Prince (1995)
  11. Rage of a Demon King (1997)
  12. Shards of a Broken Crown (1998)
  13. Krondor: The Betrayal (1998)
  14. Krondor: The Assassins (1999)
  15. Krondor: Tear of the Gods (2000)
  16. Honoured Enemy (2001, with William Forstchen)
  17. Murder in LaMut (2002), with Joel Rosenberg)
  18. Talon of the Silver Hawk (2002)
  19. Jimmy the Hand (2003, with S.M. Stirling)
  20. King of Foxes (2003)
  21. Exile’s Return (2004)
  22. Flight of the Nighthawks (2005)
  23. Into a Dark Realm (2006)
  24. Wrath of a Mad God (2008)
  25. Rides a Dread Legion (2009)
  26. At the Gates of Darkness (2010)
  27. A Kingdom Besieged (2011)
  28. A Crown Imperilled (2012)
  29. Magician’s End (2013)


Supplementary Material

  • Profit and the Grey Assassin (1982, short story)
  • Betrayal at Krondor (1993, video game)
  • Return to Krondor (1998, video game)
  • The Wood Boy (1998, short story)
  • The Messenger (2003, short story)
  • Jimmy and the Crawler (2013, novella)
  • Midkemia: The Chronicles of Pug (2013, with Stephen Abrams, companion book)




Midkemia Press

Raymond E. Feist’s website


Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

Mapping the Sword of Shadows

One of the very finest epic fantasy series of the last twenty years – although it tends to be underrated as it is as yet incomplete – is the Sword of Shadows series by J.V. Jones, itself a sequel to the earlier Book of Words trilogy. Six years ago I created a very rough map which combined the maps of the two series, the Known Lands of the Book of Words and the Northern Territories of Sword of Shadows (which lie immediately to the north; the city of Bren and the huge Northern/Southern Ranges are present on both maps). With the experience gained since then, I thought it’d be fun to revisit the project.

Sword of Shadows Map

Please click for a larger version.

There haven’t been any new books published since then (the fourth book, Speaker for the Dead, was released in 2010), so this was just a question of redrawing the map at a larger scale, putting in the mountains and cleaning up the Clanholds detail box.

As people are hopefully now aware, J.V. Jones had to put the fifth Sword of Shadows book, Endlords, on hold for several years due to a series of unfortunate events in her personal life. However, in 2017 she restarted work on the novel and it is now in the “six figures” of word count, with the author hoping to complete the book this year for publication in 2020. Jones continues to provide updates via her Patreon page and Twitter.

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

A Map of The Witcher Series

Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher series has become one of the most popular fantasy series of modern times, thanks to the immense success of the video game trilogy from CD Projekt Red. The arrival of a Netflix series based on the books later this year will no doubt increase the success of the books even further.

The Witcher Map

A map of the Witcher continent. Please click for a larger version.


The cartography of the Witcher series is interesting. Sapkowski did not originally include maps in the books, despite the action unfolding over detailed descriptions of terrain. The first map did not appear until the Czech translation of the series was published, when translator Stanislav Komárek created a map based on Sapkowski’s work. It is unclear to what degree that Sapkowski considered the map accurate or canonical (given that the Komárek map has some notable features missing, such as the Kestrel Mountains).

Witcher Original Polish Map

The first Witcher map, created by Stanislav Komárek for the Czech editions of the books. Please click for a larger version.

In 2007, for the release of the video game The Witcher, CD Projekt Red created their own map. They consulted with Sapkowski on the map, which clearly has taken the Komárek map as a starting point, but made the map clearer and more concise, and addressed some missing features from the former map. This map was re-used for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings in 2011 and seems to have formed the basis for almost all Witcher maps published since then. However, this map also has significant errors, such as placing the Nilfgaardian province of Gemmera, noted for its long sea coast, inland.

Witcher 2 Video Game Map

CDProjekt Red’s map of The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Please click for a larger version.

In 2018, whilst working on the Witcher TV series for Netflix, executive producer and showrunner Lauren Hissrich tweeted an intriguing picture, suggesting that Netflix had commissioned a new map for the series. This map is only partially visible, but seems to have returned to the Komárek map and started again, ignoring the CD Projekt material (probably a necessity of them not having the licence or rights to use video game material in the TV series). It does seem to have repeated some of the omissions of the Komárek map, but also extends the map considerably far to the south and incorporated fresh mistakes by ignoring details from the books (such as Bremervoord being the western point of the continental mainland and the continent curving south-westwards rather than south-east). It does at least put Gemmera in the right place, however.

The Witcher

The map tweeted by Lauren Hissrich and apparently to be used whilst working on the Witcher TV series for Netflix. Please click for a larger version.

In 2015 DeviantArt user MartynasB published an excellent map of The Witcher continent, easily the most detailed and attractive made to date. I used this map as the basis for my own; however, there are some issues with the map, particularly the placement of Sodden, Toussaint and the Amell Mountains, that I was unable to fully fix. Other issues from his map, such as the incorrect location of Gemmera, I fixed on my version.

Witcher Megamap

MartynasB’s map of the Witcher world from 2015. A much higher-definition version can be found via the prior DeviantArt link.

I am planning a full read-through of the books later this year, so may revise the map based on a closer reading of the books at that time.

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

A Map of Helliconia

One of the most celebrated feats in SF worldbuilding is Helliconia. The creation of Brian W. Aldiss, helped by numerous experts from Oxford University in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Helliconia is the star of the Helliconia TrilogyHelliconia Spring (1982), Helliconia Summer (1983) and Helliconia Winter (1985).

Helliconia System

A map of the Helliconia star system. Please click for a larger version.

Astronomical Data

Helliconia is located in the Freyr system. The Freyr system is located approximately 1,000 light-years from Sol, in the direction of the constellation of Ophiuchus. Freyr is not visible from Earth, due to intervening dust clouds located about 700 light-years from Earth and 300 from Freyr.

The system contains two stars: Freyr, a blue supergiant, and Batalix, an orange dwarf slightly smaller and cooler than Sol. Freyr is between 10 and 11 million years old; Batalix is more than 5 billion years old. Batalix was caught by the larger star’s gravity during a close encounter approximately 8 million years ago and has been in an elliptical orbit around Freyr ever since. The system also contains four planets, all in orbit around Batalix.

Batalix is a G4 orange dwarf with a radius 0.94 that of Sol and a luminosity approximately 0.8 that of Sol.

Freyr is an A-class blue supergiant with a radius of 65 Sols and a luminosity 60,000 times that of Sol.

Batalix orbits Freyr once every 2,592 Earth years. One of these orbits is known as a “Great Year”. Batalix’s orbit is highly elliptical, ranging from 710 AU at apastron to 236 AU at periastron.

Batalix is circled by four planets, including Helliconia and Aganip, which is the innermost planet closest to Helliconia. Helliconia takes 480 local days (which are 13.6% longer than Earth’s) to orbit Batalix once, at a distance of approximately 0.9 AU. This is the so-called “small year”, with small seasonal variations. However, it is the “Great Year” which has a far greater impact on the planet.

Helliconia World Map

A map of the world of Helliconia. Please click for a larger version.


Helliconia formed in orbit around the star Batalix and spent almost all of its existence as a relatively cool world circling a cool star. Helliconia’s pronounced axial tilt (35°, compared to Earth’s 23.5°) makes the world even colder, with large ice caps at the poles.

These conditions resulted in the evolution of a species equipped to deal with permanent cold weather: the ancipitals (colloquially, “phagors”). A biped species covered in thick fur, the ancipitals developed rudimentary language and a hunter-gatherer lifestyle by the time of the event known as the Catastrophe.

Approximately eight million years ago, Batalix’s galactic orbit took it too close to the supergiant star Freyr and it was captured by the larger, younger star. During this event, Helliconia lost its moon (T’Senh-Hrr in the ancipital language) and at least one other planet in the Batalix system (possibly a gas giant which had helped clear the inner system of comets and asteroids) was ejected. Freyr also lost a binary star companion in the encounter.

Once the encounter was complete Batalix was locked into its current orbit. The ancipitals found their existence varying from their preferred freezing conditions at apastron to unbearably hot conditions at periastron. However, other species on the planet found the new arrangements more pleasing. One race of hominids, formerly trapped in the narrow equatorial band which remained ice-free all year round, was able to spread itself across the planet and thrived in the Great Summers, only to retreat during the Great Winters. Over the next eight million years, this species evolved into a race almost completely indistinguishable from humans.

The Freyr system was first detected by Earth in the year 3145 AD, when a joint US-Chinese fleet entered the intervening dust cloud region and saw Freyr for the first time, 300 light-years beyond. They detected the presence of Batalix and possible planets in orbit, which was unusual given Freyr’s young age. One planet, located in Batalix’s life zone, was highly promising and given the designation G4PBX/4582-4-3.

They dispatched a robotic exploration craft to the system, equipped with self-replicating systems and over 500 human zygotes in storage. This craft entered the Freyr system in 3600 AD and landed on Aganip, the next planet from Helliconia towards Batalix. This craft then constructed a space habitat, the Avernus, and populated it with 512 humans birthed from artificial wombs. The crew of the Avernus was directed to study Helliconia from an orbit 1,500 miles above the planet and beam relevant information back to Earth, even though it would take a millennia to arrive.

Helliconia North Pole

A view of the north pole of Helliconia. Please click for a larger version.


At 1.28 Earth masses, Helliconia is somewhat larger than Earth. The planet possesses three continents: the northern polar landmass of Sibornal, the southern polar landmass of Hespagorat and the tropical central continent of Campannlat. Campannlat is joined to Sibornal via the isthmus of Chalce; it was also once joined the Hespagorat via the Straits of Cadmer, but the land-bridge in that region collapsed some aeons ago.

The planet’s northern icecap is enormous, extending south to the northern tropic. Sibornal is mostly uninhabitable due to the icecap, aside from several coastal regions where favourable local geography allows warmer regions to flourish. The Helliconian nations of Carcampan, Bribahr, Shivenink, Loraj, Uskutoshk, Upper Hazziz and Kuj-Juvec lie on Sibornal. The massive Shivenink Mountains are the most notable geographical feature of the northern continent.

Campannlat is the most populous continent of Helliconia. Its nations include the mighty theocratic power of Pannoval, trade-focused Oldorando and coastal Borlien. Other powers include Kace, Randonan, Ponipot, Vallgos, Brasterl and Findowel. Major geographic features include the central Quzint Mountains, the Western Barrier peaks, the Madura Desert (the largest desert on the planet) and the tongue-twisting landmass of Nyktryhk: a colossal region of shield volcanoes, mountains and plateaus rising 49,200 feet. This region is uninhabitable by humans, who mostly avoid the high places where free ancipitals still dwell. During the winters, the ancipitals descend from Nyktryhk in great numbers and try to reassert control of Helliconia from their humanoid rivals, with mixed results.

The southern polar continent is Hespagorat, although it is less dominated by ice than Sibornal. Nations of Hespagorat include Pegovin, Hespateh, Throssa, Iskahandt and Dimariam. There are huge mountain ranges in Pegovin and Throssa, but otherwise little of geographic interest in this region.

The planet’s largest ocean is the Climent, which lies west of Campannlat. Marginal seas of this ocean include the Pannoval Sea, Kowass Sea and Sibornal Sea. East of Campannlat lies the Ardent Sea, which meets the Climent Ocean north of Pegovin. Marginal seas of the Ardent include the Gulf of Chace and Scimitar Sea. The Sea of Eagles and Narmosset Sea divide Campannlat from Hespagorat; the Cadmer Straits link the Climent Ocean to the Narmosset Sea.

Please follow this link for a globe view of Helliconia.

Helliconia South Pole

A view of the south pole of Helliconia. Please click for a larger version.


The seasons on Helliconia last for centuries, as Batalix takes 2,592 (Earth) years to complete one revolution around Freyr. At the time of closest approach, Freyr becomes 30% brighter than Batalix in the sky and bombards the planet with greater heat, until the equatorial band becomes uncomfortably hot. At the time of greatest separation, Freyr becomes merely the brightest star in the sky and the icecaps advance south and north into the central continental region.

During summers, the Helliconian humanoids are the dominant species on the planet, but during the winters the ancipitals or phagors become dominant once again.

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

Malazan Maps of the Fallen: Climate & Ice

One question that invariably arises when new maps of the Malazan world appear is how the climate works, since it clearly isn’t like our world. Deserts are present at unlikely latitudes and vast ice fields at even more unlikely latitudes.

Malazan World Map 2019 Deserts and Ice

A map of the Malazan world with deserts and forest areas highlighted. Please click for a larger version.


In the deep prehistory of the Malazan world, a mighty war was fought between a race of proto-humans known as the Imass and an Elder race known as the Jaghut. The Jaghut were masters of ice and cold magic, drawn from the Elder Warren of Omtose Phellack. During the war, which lasted hundreds of thousands of years, the Jaghut repeatedly created vast ice fields to throw the Imass off their hunt, creating huge icy redoubts where they could survive for millennia. However, the Imass chose to simply wait them out, undergoing the Ritual of Tellann to become the undead warriors known as the T’lan Imass.

Eventually most of the Jaghut were killed and the Imass disappeared, either destroyed or becoming dormant until summoned back to life by the rediscovery of the First Throne. But the immense ice fields left behind by the Jaghut remained, and these fields seem to have contributed to the strange climate of the Malazan world.

The largest ice fields are located in equatorial regions, on either side of the island-continent of Jacuruku, making travel to that landmass difficult and dangerous, and also sprawling across the north-western end of the Letherii continent. This last ice field is the most powerful, created by the Jaghut arch-sorcerer Gothos in the aftermath of a magical conflagration between the Tiste Edur and Tiste Andii, and seems to have had dramatic side-effects across the entire continent, disrupting at least the perception of time (so the records of the Kingdom of Lether show that 7,000 years have passed since the continent’s colonisation, rather than over 70,000 years) and freezing in place the use of the Holds as the primary form of human sorcery rather than the Paths (the younger Warrens).

A significant ice field is also located on Quon Tali, separating the main body of the continental landmass from the subcontinent of Falar to the north. A further field sprawls across the southern frontier of Korelri, just north of the Aurgatt Range, separating the subcontinents of Korelri and Stratem from one another. Further ice fields are located south of Seven Cities and west of Quon Tali (discouraging explorations of south-western Seven Cities from Quon Tali, which is probably a good thing due to the presence of the fiercely isolationist Shal-Morzinn Empire). These are, of course, only the major ice fields left behind by the Jaghut. Much smaller ice fields, often indistinguishable from mundane glaciers, are located right across the globe, from Assail to northern Genabackis.

The ice fields are one part of the equation. The other oddity is the presence of large deserts – the Bandiko and Otataral – at a very northern latitude on Otataral Island, and the presence of numerous areas of scrubland, border-desert and wastelands, collectively known as odhans, sprawling across eastern Seven Cities, also much further north than you’d expect (especially given Seven Cities’ numerous inland seas, lakes and lengthy rivers). The answer seems to lie in a number of mysterious, gigantic statues built of an unknown jade-coloured material. These Jade Statues arrived on Otataral Island tens of thousands of years ago and seem to have turned the island dead, destroying the natural wildlife and creating the magic-deadening ore also called otataral. The disruptions to the climate seem to have spread across neighbouring Seven Cities, which in the days of the First Empire seemed to be much greener and more verdant, the home to vast, sprawling cities and a tranquil inland sea. After the climate disruptions the land became blasted and sere, and the inland sea dried up to become Raraku, the so-called Holy Desert.

The Malazan world is thus still afflicted by the ruins of conflicts that raged three hundred thousand and more years ago. To the people of the world, these oddities are the norm and not worthy of much investigation. The question does arise, however, should the Jaghut rituals fail and the ice start melting, what will happen to the low-lying areas of the planet?

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

The New & Improved Malazan World Map

One of the most constant projects I’ve been working on for the past decade is the refining and improvement of a world map for Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont’s Malazan series of epic fantasy novels. This led to the Malazan Maps of the Fallen series I ran in early 2018.

Malazan World Map 2019

The new, improved Malazan world map. Please click for a larger version.

I wasn’t expecting to revisit the Malazan setting so soon, but a few months ago Steven Erikson released his original Malazan world map from the 1980s on his Facebook page. Although many of the details of the map have changed since Erikson created the original (as seen in the maps in the books), the general shape of the world and landmasses remains the same. As such as, I was able to revisit the prior world map (created by D’Rek on the Malazanempire forum, although I moved and resized some of the landmasses and added new labels) and revise it. I also took this opportunity to redraw the entire map, as the previous one was not at high enough a level of resolution to mark in all the details required.

Steven Erikson’s original, hand-drawn map follows:

Original Malazan World Map

Steven Erikson’s original, 1980s Malazan world map

I made a fresh copy of this map for clarity. Again, it should be emphasised that Erikson drew this map in the 1980s, a clear decade and more before he published Gardens of the Moon, and it represents the world of Malaz at an earlier stage in its conception, hence “Leathers” instead of “Lether” and so forth.

Original Malazan World Map

A cleaned-up and clarified version of Erikson’s original map.

I then combined this map with the prior world map. Several judgement calls had to be made here, most notably because Erikson was using a rough, square base for his world map whilst I have been using a rectangle meant to reflect the dimensions of a spherical world. This mean some re-placement of landmasses to make more sense in a more realistic context.

Korelri/Stratem I left unchanged from the previous map. Erikson himself notes that the original conception of Korelri/Stratem had changed anyway (presumably as he’d passed it over to Esslemont to develop further) so it was in error on his original map. This means that we still don’t have a canonical map for Stratem (which remains the biggest anomaly in Malazan cartography), but a whole host of other problems were resolved, including canonical information on the shape of Bael, the western extent of Seven Cities and the location of Genostel and Umryg.

Some additional finessing was required: Lether is clearly larger and more stretched on an east-west axis in the book than on the original map, so I mostly retained the prior world map appearance. I did adjust the entire east coast of Lether (in the area of Estonbase and Kolanse) because the original was clearly incorrect. I also increased the size of Jacuruku. It is possible that Korelri/Stratem remains too large on the new map and should be taken down in size, but I await further information to see if that is warranted. One of the most interesting bits of new information was the existence of a southern polar continent, with a northwards extension between Assail and Lether.

For now, this is the most up-to-date and semi-canonical Malazan world map that exists. I await more information emerging from future books to see if it can be updated any further.

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Atlas of the Imperium: Star Maps

Overview of the Imperium

The Imperium is the name given to the cluster of worlds inhabited by humanity at the time of the Dune novels. The six novels of the Dune Chronicles cover a period of approximately five thousand years, during which time the definition of the Imperium changes dramatically. These maps show the Imperium as it is at the start of the Dune Chronicles, in the Year of the Guild 10,191, almost 22,000 years into the future.

Dune Table of Planets

A Brief History of the Imperium

The Imperium can trace its ancestry back to when humans first managed to successfully leave their homeworld and start exploring the Sol system. This took place approximately 11,000 years (one hundred and ten centuries) before the founding of the Spacing Guild (BG, Before Guild). Humanity initially left their home system in slower-than-light sleeper ships, and later developed a primitive FTL system that allowed them to traverse the stars in a reasonable timeframe, but still achingly slow. It was during this period that the stars within 50 light-years or so of Old Earth were explored and settled. Giedi Prime, Ecaz, Caladan, Harmonthep, Richese, Ix and Atar were likely colonised in this initial period of exploration and settlement.

Exploration beyond this initial cluster of worlds was difficult and slow, due to the crippling low speed of FTL travel. Scientists bent all their efforts to discovering ways of travelling faster, or of even “folding space” through artificial wormholes to travel instantaneously from one point in the universe to another. The latter was theoretically doable, but science alone could not find a way of achieving this.

Despite the slow pace of colonisation and expansion, it nevertheless continued until thousands of worlds had been settled. By 2000 BG the Landsraad League had been founded, an alliance of the thousands of worlds useful for trade and diplomacy.

Over the next two thousand years, a schism appeared in humanity, one that gradually grew more pronounced. Many humans believed in the primacy of human spirituality and the soul (such as the Zensunni sect, founded in 1381 BG), but others had gradually supplanted themselves with technology and the pursuit of artificial intelligence, AI, the “thinking machines” of legend. Gradually the two sides grew further apart and more fearful of the other, until the only result could be war. The Great Revolt, the Butlerian Jihad, erupted in 201 BG and concluded in 108 BG with the epic Battle of the Bridge of Hrethgir (where a general of House Atreides had a Harkonnen banished for cowardice, beginning ten thousand years of enmity). Billions died, entire worlds were put to the flame, but at the end of it the spiritualists and humanists stood triumphant. The machine cults were overthrown and the development of AI was halted everywhere. Only on Ix and Richese was technological development permitted to continue, and this under strict restrictions. In the wake of the victory, the 13,333 worlds then in the Landsraad League agreed to come together to create a new spiritual imperative for mankind, resulting in the writing of the controversial Orange Catholic Bible.

What happened in the succeeding century is a matter of conjecture. It is known that the Battle of Corrin, fought in 88 BG near Sigma Draconis, established a new primacy, with the noble House Corrino rising to rule over the entire Landsraad League from Salusa Secundus. It is also known that several of the companies and corporations engaged in interstellar travel suddenly and abruptly discovered a new form of space travel, the much-vaunted method of “folding space” instantly. How this was accomplished was, at the time, unknown, save that it heralded an explosion of exploration and colonisation. 88 years after the Battle of Corrin, the corporations who knew this secret amalgamated into the Spacing Guild. The coalescence of the Guild and the rise of House Corrino and the beginning of the reign of the Padishah Emperors happened near enough simultaneously for them to both be credited with establishing the founding of the Imperium.

For ten thousand years, the Imperium swept through the galaxy, colonising thousands upon thousands of worlds. Dozens and then hundreds of Houses Minor arose to join the Landsraad, but the real power remained concentrated in the Major Houses, the old houses which had survived the Great Revolt: Corrino, Atreides, Harkonnen and maybe a few dozen others. Supreme was House Corrino, from where the line of Emperors was derived. Several times, attempts were launched to unseat House Corrino, but all came to nothing. One incident reportedly rendered Salusa Secundus too hostile to comfortably inhabit (the records are vague), but the Imperial Court simply removed itself to another holding, Kaitain, and had Salusa Secundus redesignated as the Imperial Prison Planet.

At some point, it became known that the Spacing Guild had achieved its ability to fold space through the use of a drug, melange, a spice. Its origins were unclear, and jealously guarded, until the truth was revealed: the drug was native to Arrakis, a small desert planet circling Canopus. Emperor Shakkad Corrino assigned the Imperial Chemist to investigate the drug in full. Yanshup Ashkoko’s report confirmed the geriatric properties of spice, allowing those who ingested it to extend their lifespan by decades and improve their health during that longer lifespan. The mysterious sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit, who had used various poisons and chemicals to improve their bodies and gain prescient powers, also found that the spice worked far better than any of their normal chemicals, giving them tremendous powers. Thus, humanity entered a new golden age of living longer, travelling further and seeing more than it ever had before…but also faced decadence, a crushing apathy brought about by the oppressive power of the factions of the Imperium: the Emperor, the Landsraad, the Guild and the Bene Gesserit.

For thousands of years the wheel turned and humanity went about its business. House Atreides took possession of the verdant garden world Caladan and prospered for twenty-six generations, its riches and fortunes improving until it could even rival that of House Corrino. But elsewhere, there was great oppression. Old Earth became uninhabitable and was abandoned. The Zensunni people were persecuted, forced to flee from world to world. They were enslaved on Poritrin and forced to colonise and work on Bela Tegeuse and Salusa Secundus, and from there to Thurgrod, Rossak and Harmonthep. Harmonthep was destroyed for reasons still unknown, and the Zensunni thence fled to Arrakis. There they disappeared into the desert, becoming the rumoured and rare “Free Men”; the Fremen of Dune.

In 10,111 the Emperor ordered the Harkonnens to take possession of Arrakis to mine the spice. The Harkonnen way was brutal, sadistic and cruel. Under their stewardship, spice production first rose but then fell. The Fremen declared the Harkonnens their enemies and scarcely could any Harkonnen soldier leave his barracks alone without being killed. The Landsraad grew unhappy with the situation, and eighty years later, in 10,191 the Emperor, Shaddam IV, was forced to remove the Harkonnens and replace them with the Atreides. This was a dangerous move, for Duke Leto Atreides had become a great leader, a wise humanitarian, canny politician and formidable general, the darling of the Landsraad. Shaddam saw in Duke Leto an enemy that he had to crush. Thus was set in motion a chain of events that would change the fate of the galaxy.

Old Earth Star Cluster

A map of the stars surrounding Old Earth. Please click for a larger version.

Map 1: The Old Earth Cluster

This map shows the old core of the Imperium. Sol, location of Old Earth, is shown near the centre, although the abandonment of Old Earth has rendered it more or less irrelevant to modern galactic affairs. The Spacing Guild’s ability to fold space and travel from any point in the universe to any other instantly has rendered the physical distances between stars moot (although some believe the difficulty of such jumps increases with range; the Guild Navigators are silent on this), but this map reflects the pre-Guild expansion of humanity through near space, using ancient sleeper ships and then a more primitive form of FTL travel which still required physical movement through space.

Shown are the ancient names for the stars, some of which were later changed. 40 Eridani A, the star of Richese (the fourth planet) and Ix (the ninth), is more colloquially known just as “Eridani A,” for example.

Imperial Space Core Worlds

A map of the Core Worlds of the Imperium. Please click for a larger version.

Map 2: Core Worlds of the Imperium

This map shows many of the more familiar worlds of humanity. They represent something of the extent of known travel using pre-Guild space travel methods (although with almost thirteen and a half thousand settled planets by the time of the Guild’s founding, the majority are not shown on this map). Settled later than the Old Earth Cluster, these stars have moved even further from their original names. Gamma Waiping, the star of storied Salusa Secundus, is a corruption of Gamma Wae Ping, itself a fusion of Greek and Chinese nomenclature for the constellation of Pisces. Thus Gamma Waiping would be known to the ancients as Gamma Piscium.

Imperial Space Full

A large-scale view of the Imperium. Please click for a larger version.

Map 3: A Large-Scale View of the Imperium

This map shows a large-scale view of the Imperium, including its most far-flung stars (at least during the early years of the Imperium), Alpha Leporis (the star of Bela Tegeuse) and Deneb (Al Dhanab). On this scale the longest axis of the Imperium is 3,336.58 light-years. Many, many thousands of other settled stars and planets exist in this volume as well.

During more recent millennia, Spacing Guild Navigators have carried the flag of the Imperium clears across the galaxy, and in some cases to neighbouring satellite galaxies. With absolutely no sign of intelligent life arising elsewhere in the universe, the limits of human expansion appear boundless.


Notes on the Maps

These maps show stars and planets directly mentioned by Frank Herbert in the six canonical volumes of the Dune Chronicles: Dune (1965), Dune Messiah (1969), Children of Dune (1976), God-Emperor of Dune (1981), Heretics of Dune (1984) and Chapterhouse: Dune (1986). Neither The Dune Encyclopedia by Willis E. McNelly nor the authorised tie-in work by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert (both of dubious canonicity) have been used in the preparation of these maps.

The Stars and Planets of Frank Herbert’s Dune: A Gazetteer (1999) by Joseph M. Daniels proved a supreme reference whilst researching these maps. However, the gazetteer does draw a lot on The Dune Encyclopedia for its information. Given Frank Herbert’s declaration that the Encyclopedia was non-canon (if fun), I had to drop several star locations that relied solely on the Encyclopedia as a primary source. However, his arguments for many other star locations and designations were often highly convincing.


Old Earth Star Cluster

All of the stars and planets on this map are drawn from Dune’s appendix. The exception is Atar, a world mentioned in Dune Messiah as being a low-gravity world visited by the Fremen jihad. The name, to me, is a clear corruption of Altair. Given Altair’s proximity to Earth and its brightness, it is a logical candidate for settlement.

Joseph Daniels’ Stars and Planets of Dune article makes a persuasive argument for “Eridani A” being actually 40 Eridani A. Ix and Richese being in the same system is an assumption based on the fact that, throughout the Chronicles, it is rare to hear one planet being mentioned without the other and the two worlds seem linked at almost all times, which would be odd without physical proximity. Epsilon Eridani may have been a preferred candidate due to being much better-known and a common star used in science fiction (as the location of the titular space station in Babylon 5, for example), but it is not part of a multi-star system (thus the “A” is meaningless). Recent observations have also shown that the star is in the early stages of planetary formation and doesn’t yet have any planets circling it, which also makes it a less appealing candidate (for the most part I have ignored post-1965 astronomical discoveries since Frank Herbert would of course have been unaware of these).


Core Worlds of the Imperium

All of the stars and planets on this map are drawn from Dune’s appendix. The naming conventions are argued for strongly by Daniels and I have in most cases agreed, although several conclusions of his were drawn from The Dune Encyclopedia alone and these stars (including Rossak and Wallach IX) have thus been omitted for a lack of hard information.


A Large-Scale View of the Imperium

This incorporates the previous map and expands outwards to include Alpha Leporis, the star of Bela Tegeuse. Daniels’ argument for placing Bela Tegeuse’s star (named “Kuentsing” in the appendix) in Lepus is strong and Arneb/Alpha Leporis is one of the more notable choices. However, at the time that Daniels wrote his article, no proper distance measurement to Alpha Leporis had been made. More recent observations have confirmed that Alpha Leporis is more than twice the distance first thought.

Some observers have suggested that Bela Tegeuse may be a corruption of “Betelgeuse” and that star might serve as a superior choice for Kuentsing. However, Betelgeuse is on the verge of going supernova (which might have in fact already happened and we have not observed the light of the event yet), and certainly should have taken place by 22,000 years in the future, making it a highly improbable candidate for colonisation (the equivalent of building a house inside the caldera of an active and unstable volcano).

All of the stars are mentioned in Dune and its appendix, apart from Al Dhanab, a clear corruption of “Deneb”, which is mentioned in Heretics of Dune as the site of a Bene Gesserit stronghold.


Book Timeline

10,191-10,193 – Dune

10,205 – Dune Messiah (twelve years after Dune)

10,214 – Children of Dunes (nine years after Messiah)

13,723 – God-Emperor of Dune (3,509 years after Children)

c. 15,223 – Heretics of DuneChapterhouse: Dune (c. 1,500 years after God-Emperor)


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Atlas of the Imperium: Arrakis

Assessment of the planet Arrakis (Canopus III; “Dune”) in 10,191 AG

The planet Arrakis is the source of the most important resource in the entire galaxy: the spice melange. The spice extends life and expands consciousness, permitting the folding of space by Guild Navigators and grating prescient powers to the Sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit. The spice binds the Imperium together. This makes Arrakis (colloquially “Dune”) the most vital and strategically important planet in the Imperium.

Arrakis Latitude

A map of the northern polar region of Arrakis. Please click for a larger version.

Arrakis is the third planet of the star Canopus, located 313.74 ly from the Imperial Capital on Kaitain (310 ly from Old Earth). Canopus is an ancient star, a white giant, having already completed its hydrogen burning phase. It is possible to likely that Canopus once had more than the planets currently visible, but the rest were swallowed up by the star’s previous expansion phases and effectively destroyed. Arrakis may have been a satellite of a larger body before being catapulted into its current orbit by the same expansion event.

Arrakis is an unusually small planet, matching almost exactly in size the dimensions of Old Earth’s moon, Luna (diameter: 3,474.2 km, circumference: 10,921 km). The planet’s density is considerable, however, meaning that its mass is greater than is normal for a body of its size, giving it a gravitational field only slightly weaker than Galactic Standard at 0.9g.



Arrakis is mostly covered in desert terrain similar to the Sahara of Old Earth. The open, flat desert, known as the Great Flat, runs from approx. 60°N to 70°S and consists almost entirely of sand dunes, with very rare rock outcroppings. The sand dunes are about 100m thick, sitting on the bedrock beneath (known as the Great Bled, which forms “sea level” on Arrakis). The Great Flat is scoured by the massive coriolis storms which rage across the open desert. These storms can engulf huge parts of the planet for days or weeks at a time, making any suborbital travel impossible.

The planet’s polar regions are considered habitable. A vast rock formation (varying from 4,500m to 4,600m in height, apart from the Rimwall region which rises to 6,240m) known as the “Shield Wall” wraps itself around the northern polar region. The rock itself and the basins in its surface are densely populated with towns and villages, including the only two cities on Arrakis: Carthag (seat of the Harkonnen government for the past eighty years) and Arrakeen (the more traditional, long-term seat of planetary government).

The highest point on Arrakis is Observatory Mount, located in the Broken Land of the Shield Wall. Observatory Mount is 8,110m (26,607.61 feet tall). The Prime Meridian of Arrakis (0° longitude) passes through Observatory Mount, as per ancient tradition. The lowest region is the northern polar sink, which drops to 500m below the Bled level.

Other regions of interest include the rock formations known as the False Walls, which are located close to the Shield Wall and have been known to confuse travellers; the Sihaya and Habbanaya ridges, the Cielago Depression (200m below Bled level), and the Minor Erg, a small region of open desert locked between the Shield Wall and eastern and southern False Walls. Also of note are the Hagga and Imperial basins, the most heavily-populated parts of the planet.

The southern polar region is less well-charted than the northern. There are few corresponding rock regions which are open to habitation. Some believe smugglers may use what rock formations there are in the south to land goods away from imperial sensors before sneaking them in under the orbital trackers.



The sand temperature on Arrakis is 345° to 350°K (72-77°C), dropping by 25° above the sand ground level and by 55° underground. Shade reduces the temperature by approximately 18°. Survival on the surface of Arrakis is borderline impossible on the open desert without the use of a stillsuit, a special survival mechanism which reduces body temperature to survivable levels and includes a near-perfect water recycling system.

Finding food in the open desert is highly improbable, but there is some extremely isolated tuber growth in cooler crevasses and canyons outside of the direct sunlight. There are also some native lifeforms, such as the kangaroo mouse, desert bat and other animals which are edible if they can be hunted, which is not an easy task.

Even for a human well-supplied with food and a well-maintained stillsuit, travelling between the 60°N and 70°S line is ill-advised for the violence of the coriolis storms, vast storm systems which build up across thousands of kilometres of open desert and can cover entire hemispheres for weeks at a time. The Shield Wall and other features of the northern desert help break up the storms in inhabited regions, but on the open desert they are lethal, with winds so fast throwing up sand particles to such velocity they can shed skin from bone.



The most famous feature of Arrakis, apart from the spice, is the native lifeform known as the sandworms, also Shai-hulud or “Maker”. Sandworms are immense worm-like creatures with no eyes but keen movement-sensing organs. They travel under the sand, between the surface and the Great Bled, but can be drawn to the surface by rhythmic movements, such as footsteps, explosions, mining equipment or the use of special devices such as “thumpers”. The Holtzmann field generated by shields sends them into a special frenzy, and they will attack any site protected by a Holtzmann field immediately.

Sandworms are immense in size; the specimens observed in the northern mining fields range from 50m to 200m in length, but even larger monsters exceeding 400m in length have been seen in the deep desert. Destroying or even injuring a sandworm is regarded as impossible with anything less than field atomics, so instead people are directed to avoid them at all costs.

Arrakis Planet

Arrakis as seen from space, art by Christopher Doll.


The long-term history of Arrakis is unclear; Canopus is an ancient star which has already undergone its yellow dwarf and red giant stages and is now burning helium in a white giant phase, as well as being an active source of x-rays. It is currently radiating at 10,000 standard solar luminii and is expected to dissipate over the next several tens of millions of years into a planetary nebula, leaving behind a smaller white dwarf (Canopus has insufficient mass to ever go supernova). At present, Canopus is the brightest star in the core of Imperial space.

Because of the challenging nature of the Canopus system, Arrakis is extremely fortunate to remain habitable. Theories have ranged from Arrakis being a satellite ejected from further in towards the star before its expansion stages, to it being captured from the so-called “Canopus B”, a star estimated to have made a close pass of the Canopus system several tens of millions of years ago and may now be gravitationally trapped by the core star at a distance of 6.2 light-years. Either way, the planet is fortunate to have found itself in Canopus’s new “life zone” and flourished…relatively. It is known that Arrakis was once much wetter than it is now, with samples taken from the Great Bled (underneath the sand) suggesting that Arrakis’ surface temperature was, for a very long time, in the absolute range of 254-332°K (-19° to 59°C) with a growing season of around 284-302°K (11-29°C), and the desertification of Arrakis is a relatively recent phenomenon, perhaps only on the order of twenty to fifty thousand years. The reasons for the desertification remain unclear, although some ecologists have tied the phenomenon to the presence of the sandworms.

It is also unknown when Arrakis was discovered. Eleven thousand years – one hundred and ten centuries – passed between the first fumbling attempts towards the stars by humanity and the chaotic insanity of the Great Revolt (the Butlerian Jihad), the inter-religious war raged between disparate branches of humanity over the use of AI, “thinking machines”. At the end of the war, which lasted ninety-three years, the machine-worshipping cults of humanity had been purged and the old religions of faith and spiritualism (in some cases allied with the always-resilient forces of secularism) had prevailed. These forces came together in the Commission of Ecumenical Translators to create the Orange Catholic Bible, which became the new religious textbook for the spiritual enlightenment of humankind. The work permeated through the 13,333 worlds of the Landsraad League, the body which for two thousand years had united the disparate worlds of humanity in a very loose confederation of trade and diplomacy. Several decades later, the Spacing Guild was founded as we know it, bridging the worlds by folding space, allowing ships to travel from one world to another instantly rather than taking the weeks or months required by standard FTL drive. This was done through the use of the spice melange, which is native only to Arrakis.

Thus the discovery of melange must predate the founding of the Guild, 10,191 years ago. As the brightest star in that original cluster of worlds within 500 light-years of Old Earth, Canopus must have been a target for interstellar exploration, but perhaps a low-priority one, for its hostile environment would have made it a poor candidate to harbour inhabitable worlds. Nevertheless, Arrakis was discovered and explored early enough for the melange to be discovered and then exploited by the nascent pre-Guild organisation in the century or so leading up to their official founding.

The initial exploration and settling of Arrakis was likely done by hardy explorers and hardy miners, working the wastes to find enough of the spice to satisfy the needs of the Guild Navigators. The Navigators are known to have discovered the ability of the spice to fold space and extend prescience, but how far they let this knowledge develop is unclear; the Bene Gesserit instead used various elixirs and poisons to achieve much the same effects until the more potent properties of melange were discovered; it is also known that the ability of the spice to retard the ageing process in normal humans was not discovered until the reign of Shakkad Corrino, “the Wise”, through the research of the Imperial Chemist, Yanshup Ashkoko. Both of these events may have been some time after the formation of the Guild. As such, the importance of the spice on Arrakis may have been relatively unknown for several millennia.

What is known is that the large-scale settlement of Arrakis did not begin until the Zensunni settled there. Religious exiles and wanderers from Old Earth, the Zensunni were forced to make six migrations to other worlds. Their first stop was Poritrin, followed by Salusa Secundus (where tradition holds that they were slaves for nine generations), Bela Tegeuse, Rossak, Thurgrod and Harmonthep, in the Delta Pavonis system. The destruction of Harmonthep (by means unknown, save it had no effect on neighbouring Caladan, already then the primary Atreides stronghold) saw the Zensunni flee en masse to Arrakis. Here, on a small, dry and arid world with a valuable resource but little appetite among the Great Houses for its conquest, they found a ready home. Some of their descendants went into the basins and founded villages and towns, becoming the ancestors of the pyons class, but others went into the deep deserts, to the remote ridges and rock formations and there founded secret strongholds, sietches, and from there they took a new name, the Free Men of Arrakis, or Fremen. Over millennia, the Fremen have become legends, their numbers and strongholds unknown.

In 10,111 the rule of Arrakis was given as a fief to House Harkonnen by the Emperor. House Harkonnen’s rule of Arrakis was efficient but brutal, seeing the planet’s workforce worked almost to death in the production of spice. Due to the political manoeuvrings of the Landsraad, the Harkonnens have been stripped of their claim to Arrakis. Instead, their fiercest enemies, the Atreides of Caladan, have been given ownership of the planet on a new contract to mine spice more efficiently.


Notes on the map

The size of Arrakis is not given in any of the six canonical Dune novels written by Frank Herbert. The Dune Encyclopedia suggests that Arrakis is slightly smaller than Earth, but no evidence is presented to support this and Frank Herbert himself regarded The Dune Encyclopedia as a fun book but effectively non-canon. In lieu of other data, Dune fans in the 1990s seemed to settle on the idea of Arrakis being about the size of Mars, perhaps based on the superficial visual similarity of the two planets.

However, it is possible to work out the size of Arrakis from information provided in the original Dune novel by itself. This is because we are given one key distance in the book – the distance between the cities of Carthag and Arrakeen, which is fixed at 200 kilometres – and the provided map gives us longitude and latitude information, most importantly establishing the 60°N line on Arrakis. Using the established scale, we can measure the diameter of the 60°N line (through the north pole) at 1,800 km.

We can compare this diameter to the similar dimensions of the same latitude line on Earth, Mars and the Moon, which give us respective figures of 6,693 km, 3,551 km and 1,820 km respectively. Thus we can establish that Arrakis is the same size – perhaps even a tad smaller – than Earth’s moon.

Although helpful from some perspectives, such as the speed with which large land armies such as those of the Fremen seem to zip around on Arrakis, this does seem a tad implausible, as small, low-mass planets will have considerably weaker gravity than on Earth and this makes it less likely that the planet will have retained its atmosphere. However, it is possible that Arrakis is rich in dense metals, which in turn have made the planet considerably heavier than is normal for its size and given it a gravitational field of 0.9G, as noted in the novel.

The small size of Arrakis is supported by a discussion between Thufir Hawat and Paul Atreides early in the novel, when Thufir says the coriolis storms build up over “six or seven thousand kilometres” of the equatorial circumference band, which is actually smaller than our Moon (where the equatorial circumference extends for just over 10,000 km) but vastly smaller than Mars (20,000 km) or Earth (40,000 km).


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The Wheel of Time Atlas: The Eye of the World – Part 2

Narrative Atlas 2: The Eye of the World – From Shadar Logoth to Caemlyn

These maps cover the second part of our heroes’ journey in The Eye of the World (Book 1 of The Wheel of Time). For a detailed summary of The Eye of the Worldplease follow this link.

This part of the narrative atlas covers our heroes’ journey from the ruined city of Shadar Logoth to Caemlyn. Note that the dates are taken from Steven Cooper’s excellent Wheel of Time Chronology.

02 - Shadar Logoth to Caemlyn

A map of the journeys from Shadar Logoth to Caemlyn. Please click for a larger version.

Shadar Logoth

The party from the Two Rivers – Moiraine Damodred, al’Lan Mandragoran, Rand al’Thor, Mat Cauthon, Perrin Aybara, Thom Merrilin and Nynaeve al’Meara, reach the ruined city of Shadar Logoth on the evening of the 11th day after the Trolloc raid on Emond’s Field, three days after leaving Baerlon, and take shelter there. They take refuge in a ruined building, but Rand, Mat and Perrin decide to go exploring. They encounter Mordeth, the ancient, evil advisor of the King of Aridhol who helped destroy it during the Trolloc Wars. Mordeth has been given unnatural long life by his union with Mashadar, a strange, mist-like creature which prowls the ruins, killing all who enter. They escape, but unbeknown to the others, Mat steals a dagger with a ruby in the hilt, unaware it is cursed and tainted.

The trio return to the rest of the group, but quickly discover that Trollocs have entered the ruins (despite their terror of Mashadar) and are closing in. The group flees, but Mashadar and Shadowspawn intercept them and force the group to splinter apart, eventually reuniting in three groups: Perrin and Egwene; Nynaeve, Moiraine and Lan; and Rand, Thom and Mat. Each of the three groups decides to proceed onwards to Caemlyn and try to reunite there. Moiraine has given each of the Two Rivers boys a warded coin, so she can determine their direction with the One Power but not their specific location.

I did some preliminary work on assembling a map of Shadar Logoth, but insufficient geographic details are given to make such a map viable.

The distance from Shadar Logoth to Caemlyn in a straight line is approximately 1,200 miles, or (very roughly) the distance from London to Helsinki, or New York City to Baton Rouge, which is a formidable distance to walk.


Perrin & Egwene

On Day 12, Perrin and Egwene reunite on the far side of the Arinelle and decide to proceed across Caralain Grass, north of the Andoran border, and then cut south-eastwards towards Caemlyn. This path takes them mostly through uninhabited wilderness where they are less likely to be accosted by other travellers or Shadowspawn.

Three days later (Day 15), they meet Elyas Machera, a wolfbrother, a human who has a special connection with wolves. Elyas realises that Perrin has the same ability, to Perrin’s disquiet. Three days after that (Day 18), they meet a Tinker caravan and join them for the long journey across the north of Caralain Grass. Seven days later (Day 25) Perrin, Egwene and Elyas leave the Tinkers and strike out more directly south-eastwards towards Caemlyn. Five days later (Day 30), they find an abandoned stedding and the statue of Artur Hawkwing from his capital city that was planned but never built. Here they are attacked by Whitecloaks. Elyas escapes but Perrin and Egwene are taken into custody. Ten days later, on Day 40, they are rescued by Moiraine, Lan and Nynaeve and reach Caemlyn three days later.

There are problematic aspects with all three of the journeys across Andor from Shadar Logoth to Caemlyn, but arguably none more troublesome than Perrin and Egwene’s journey. Their journey is much more direct than either Team Rand or Team Moiraine, but they also lack any assistance in their journey, whilst Rand spends a chunk of the journey on boat, travelling much faster than on foot, and Moiraine’s group still have their horses. Even worse, when Perrin and Egwene meet the Tinkers their journey apparently drops to a maddening crawl, with very slow progress being made.

At the same time, Perrin and Egwene have to get from Shadar Logoth to Caemlyn in 32 days, which requires them to cover an average of 37.5 miles per day even if their journey was effectively in a straight line (which generally it wasn’t), which is challenging. If they were on horseback, even if not travelling on roads, this might be more believable, but on foot and partially in a slow-moving caravan, it becomes less plausible.

The only way to have this make sense is to have Perrin only think the Tinkers were making slow progress, but this being illusory due to the very monotonous scenery of Caralain Grass. In reality the caravan made excellent time across flat and dry countryside. After being captured by the Whitecloaks they were then marched (or forced to ride) in a more regimented fashion towards Caemlyn, making up the time they lost earlier on.

Although not a perfect solution, it’s the only one that really makes sense.


A map of the town of Whitebridge. Please click for a larger version.

Mat, Thom & Rand

Mat, Thom and Rand escape from Shadar Logoth by boat, as they happen on the river vessel Spray, commanded by Bayle Domon, just outside the city. Domon refuses to wait for their friends and high-tails it out of the area ASAP. The Spray then takes twelve days to travel from Shadar Logoth to Whitebridge, which is 500 miles from Shadar Logoth in a straight line but closer to 700 given the bends in the river. This equals about 58 miles per day, which is fairly reasonable given the size of the boat and the fact it’s travelling downriver.

On this journey they encounter some interesting sights, including a valley with statue-like figures carved into the bluffs the day after Shadar Logoth (so about 50 miles from Shadar Logoth). On Day 14 they pass by the Tower of Ghenjei (foreshadowing!) in the distance.

Arriving at Whitebridge on Day 24, they are attacked by a Trolloc and Thom is apparently killed. Mat and Rand escape and start walking along the Caemlyn Road.

From Whitebridge to Caemlyn, the distance is approximately 730 miles. Rand and Mat cover this journey in 16 days (Days 24-40), which requires them to cover 45.6 miles per day. This is challenging because at average walking speed, even for two young lads in excellent health from farm work, they would only be able to plausibly cover 30-35 miles a day. The weather apparently holds good for the whole length of their journey and they also have the benefit of a straight, flat, well-paved road for the journey, which makes things faster.

The solution is that Mat and Rand probably got lifts and helping hands from carts rather more than the chapters indicate. A hardy horse drawing a relatively light cart could plausibly travel 40-50 miles in a day, so a few days in carts can draw back the time lost when they are on foot alone. It’s all a bit of a stretch, but not impossible.

The major landmarks encountered on this journey are Arien (reached on Day 31), Four Kings (Day 35), Market Sheran (Day 36) and Carysford (Day 38). A few hours before reaching Carysford they are attacked by Mili Skane. They finally reach Caemlyn on Day 40, where they find the Queen’s Blessing Inn and meet Basel Gill and Loial for the first time.



The town of Whitebridge is located on the River Arinelle and divides the sparsely-populated western half of Andor from the more densely-populated east. It is one of Andor’s two  ports, the other one being Aringill on the Erinin. Whitebridge is a vital trade port, linking as it does Andor and its rich markets to the northern kingdom of Saldaea and the southern kingdoms of Altara, Murandy and Illian.

Aside from the Wayfarer’s Rest, an inn on the main square, Jordan doesn’t give too many details about Whitebridge, except suggesting it is at least as large as Baerlon but not as densely populated.

The map above is based on the excellent map created by the team at the Thirteenth Depository blog. I see no reason to disagree with their conclusions.


Moiraine, Nynaeve & Lan

Moiraine’s group trails Rand’s route but they have to travel by horseback along the riverbank. Despite the superior speed of river travel, Moiraine’s group reaches Whitebridge only one day behind Rand. This may be down to Moiraine’s team cutting across country (missing out the bends in the Arinelle that Spray has to navigate right around) or may be a sign that Moiraine is again using the Power to enhance the horses.

This also reinforces the idea above that Rand and Mat must have gotten lifts along the way from carts, since on horseback Team Moiraine would have overhauled Rand and Mat pretty quickly. Another possibility is that three travellers on horseback, two of them recognisable as an Aes Sedai and Warder, were too identifiable so Moiraine had them travel off  the road for most of the way, which would have been slower.

On Day 40 (possibly the day before), Moiraine’s group turns off the Caemlyn Road and finds the Whitecloak camp, where they rescue Perrin and Egwene. They arrive in Caemlyn three days later, on Day 43 which is Adar 23rd, 998 NE, roughly corresponding to May 5th in our calendar. We’ll pick up on their adventures in Caemlyn next time.

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