If you want to go to the very first post on the Atlas of Ice and Fire, click here.
Some other useful links:
If you want to go to the very first post on the Atlas of Ice and Fire, click here.
Some other useful links:
One of the more interesting recent, long, completed epic fantasy series Shadows of the Apt, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Published in ten volumes between 2008 and 2014, the series is set in a world where different types of human have been affected by an ancient magical merging with strains of insect, resulting in the methodical, industrial beetle-kinden and the aggressive, expansionist wasp-kinden, among many others.
The series features an unusually high level of technology for an epic fantasy, incorporating steampunk elements and the development of mechanical aircraft. This results in a series of conflicts which are wide-ranging and fast-moving, with hundreds of miles covered by military vehicles in rapid advances. Over the course of the series, the conflict which begins with the Wasp Empire invading the loose alliance of Lowlands city-states widens to span an entire continent and numerous other factions.
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.
In the aftermath of the Trolloc Wars numerous new kingdoms arose to replace those that had fallen before. These countries were smaller than the Ten Nations which had fallen before them, but cumulatively were almost as populous, once the depredations of the Trolloc Wars had been recovered from. To celebrate the freedom from the Trolloc threat, Tiam of Gazar created a new calendar, celebrating the years as Free Years.
Twenty-nine new kingdoms arose after the wars. Unlike the relatively straightforward expansion of the Ten Nations, these new kingdoms arose out of border skirmishes and conflicts. Some large nations formed only to shatter apart into three or four lesser ones. But by FY 100 the twenty-nine nations had formed and remained relatively stable.
In the north Basharande, Elsalam and Rhamdashar bordered the Great Blight. During the Trolloc Wars the sickness and corruption of the Blight had extended southwards into and through the Mountains of Dhoom. A small strip of similarly corrupted land now ran along the southern feet of the mountains. This small area was simply called the Blight, and watchtowers were erected to watch over it for signs of Shadowspawn.
Along the west coast lay the nations of Abayan, Darmovan, Elan Dapor and Balasun, whilst bordering the south coast were Kharendor, Shiota, Fergansea and Moreina. In the east, along the Spine of the World, were Hamarea, Tova, Khodomar and Talmour. Along the Mountains of Mist lay the nations of Indrahar, Oman Dashar, Farashelle and Dhowlan.
Many more nations lay in the interior. Of these the most important and powerful were Aldeshar, north of Shiota and east of Farashelle and Dhowlan, and Caembarin, to the east of Aldeshar. Ileande lay in Kinslayer’s Dagger and the lands immediately north and south, squeezed between Hamarea, Rhamdashar, Tova and the territory held by Tar Valon. Shandalle lay south of Tar Valon, bordered by Tova in the east and Caembarin in the west. Esandara lay north of Fergansea, south of Shandalle, east of Shiota and west of Khodomar and Talmour. Nerevan lay south of Caembarin, north of Shiota, east of Aldeshar and west of Esandara. Dal Calain lay north of Aldeshar and west of Caembarin. Masenashar lay north of Dal Calain and east of Oman Dashar. Oburun lay south of Basharande, west of Elsalam, north of Masenashar and east of Indrahar. Finally, Roemalle lay west of Tar Valon, south of Elsalam, north of Caembarin and Dal Calain and east of Oburun and Masenashar.
Unlike the Ten Nations, these countries did little to distinguish themselves from one another and some of them are only known as names on maps and as minor references in ancient history books. We know that Darmovan was a powerful sea-faring nation, had almost open borders for trade and had a remarkably tolerant nobility. Shiota was a mighty military kingdom. Tova, interestingly, seems to have experimented with using a council, the Conclave, to rule the whole country rather than a king. Shandalle was a small nation with an enviable position, squeezed as it was between the profitable trade routes of the River Erinin and the River Alguenya, yet its skilled army held invaders at bay. Rhamdashar, and to a lesser extent Elsalam and Basharande, were obsessed with defending the nations from the Blight and had little interest in the affairs of the other countries (despite their watchfulness, the term “Borderlands” we currently use for the nations along the Blight did not come into use until the time of Artur Hawkwing). Aldeshar was a proud and just kingdom. Of all the nations Aldeshar appears to have been the one most closely allied with the Aes Sedai.
All of the nations built up huge armies to defend against the Trolloc threat, but a second Trolloc invasion never came. These huge armies came to be used against one another in constant border skirmishes. At separate times it seems that both Tova and Khodomar attempted to seize territory in the Aiel Waste, only to be soundly defeated by the Aiel.
The first major threat to arise in this era was that of yet another false Dragon, this time a man called Davian. He was captured in battle in FY 351 and taken to Tar Valon for gentling. This reinforced the prestige of the Aes Sedai. One thing that had been transferred intact from before the Trolloc Wars was a deep and profound respect for the Aes Sedai from the various nations. As in the years prior to the wars, some rulers were Aes Sedai, though this was less common than before. Interestingly, the strict discipline and hierarchy of the Aes Sedai was demonstrated fully in FY 450 when Princess Sulmara of Masenashar, not long raised to Aes Sedai, left the Tower without permission. She refused to let other Aes Sedai give her counsel and even, most shockingly, refused a direct summons from the Amyrlin Seat herself! The Aes Sedai declared her a renegade and less than a week after her coronation seized her by force and returned her to Tar Valon, where she spent the rest of her life mucking out the White Tower’s stables. This example of the Tower’s immense power made sure that the remaining nations continued to treat the Aes Sedai well. However, the Aes Sedai numbers were also starting a slow decline.
Despite there being far more border wars and clashes than in the time of the Ten Nations, the Free Years were also relatively chaos-free. Trade which enriched all was the main concern of this time and continent-wide wars were avoided for a while.
But then, early in the 10th Century of the Free Years, something unusual happened. For the first time since the War of the Shadow, if not before, a ta’veren was born who would change the entire history of the world on its head.
The War of the Second Dragon & the Rise of Artur Hawkwing
In FY 912 Prince Artur Paendrag Tanreall was born. His parents were Myrdin Paendrag Maregore and Mailinde Paendrag Lyndhal, the King and Queen of the small Kingdom of Shandalle. Shandalle lay between the River Erinin and the River Alguenya, two great trade routes in the east of the subcontinent, and as such was a wealthy land, living off taxes imposed on trade along the rivers. The histories are unclear and contradictory, but some believe that its capital city was Jennshain, originally the second city of Almoren before it was mostly razed in the Trolloc Wars.
Shandalle was surrounded by larger, more powerful nations. In particular Tova to the east desired a port on the River Erinin. Tova attempted to gain this portage by diplomacy and, when that failed, war. Shandalle resisted the invasion and threw back the Tovan forces across the border. Shandalle’s army was small, but trained to a very high and professional standard. By the age of sixteen Artur was already an accomplished swordsman and by twenty was a skilled leader of troops, impressing his father immensely.
Two years after Artur’s birth, Guaire Amalasan was born in Darmovan. He was the son of a noble family which claimed to trace its ancestry back to the rulers of Safer before the Trolloc Wars, but the family was now almost destitute, living only off its good name and the generosity of the other noble families. Guaire was a highly intelligent young man, with an immensely charismatic presence and keen mind. He was a canny student of human nature and once said that he could foresee how the masses would respond to any piece of news. As he grew older, he became more contemptuous of his supposed peers, the sons of other, richer noble families who were only interested in gambling and women. Guaire genuinely believed that he could rule his country a lot better than the King. With a keen grasp of politics and tactics, he would probably have succeeded in his goal anyway, apart from something that would ensure his success would be even greater: as he discovered at the age of twenty-three, he could channel the One Power.
The same year, in FY 937, the Black Fever suddenly erupted across the Westlands. Apparently, it began in Shara and was spread to our land by merchants. Certainly, the way it spread from east to west supports this supposition. It struck Shandalle early on, claiming the lives of both King Myrdin and Queen Mailinde. At the age of twenty-five Artur Paendrag Tanreall suddenly found himself King of Shandalle.
The Fever reached Darmovan two years later, in the early months of FY 939. Guaire Amalasan used his knowledge of human nature to win over the common people, using what little money he had to set up basic medical facilities and soup kitchens to feed the poor and the infected. He borrowed money from friends to continue his good works, and soon he was the talk of his home city. Then, in a startling move, he Healed someone close to death from the Black Fever. Those who witnessed the incident were awe-struck and declared him to be the Dragon Reborn.
Within six months Darmovan was his. The nation fell not by military might, though many soldiers flocked to his banner, but by political wrangling. Very few died as the power was transferred to his grasp. The only slightly sinister event in this time was the inexplicable disappearance of the King’s Aes Sedai advisor. With the country in his hands, Amalasan decided to spread his justice to other lands and bring all of the Westlands into the Light (under his leadership, of course). The small nation of Elan Dapor to the south was in all accounts in chaos due to the Fever. Amalasan led his troops in to restore order and peace. The capital city, Tanchico, apparently fell without a single death.
At the start of FY 940 the Aes Sedai denounced Guaire Amalasan as a false Dragon and demanded that the nations unite to bring him to heel, as they had done against Raolin Darksbane, Yurian Stonebow and Davian. But most nations were still suffering from the Black Fever epidemic, with as much as a fifth of the entire population of the subcontinent either dead or seriously ill. In cramped conditions, say in barracks, the Fever spread fastest and most virulently, so most countries’ armed forces were particularly badly hit.
When Amalasan rolled across the border into Balasun, he met some resistance but overcame it easily to conquer the entire kingdom. Kharendor and Dhowlan fell almost as easily. But when he reached Shiota he found himself facing a better prepared enemy.
Shiota was one of the most powerful nations of this era. In addition, the capital city of Ebou Dar was home to the Kin, the most skilled group of healers outside of Tar Valon. Its army, which was primarily located in barracks and fortresses around the capital, had lost very few to the Fever, which by now had burned itself out in Shiota. The rulers of Shiota were canny and well-organised, and the war against Amalasan lasted months.
During this bitter war the Black Fever finally died out in the rest of the continent and fresh levies were raised and trained. Aes Sedai arrived in eastern Shiota, bolstered by troops from Nerevan, Esandara and Fergansea. The largest and most powerful nations in the land – Basharande, Elsalam, Rhamdashar, Hamarea, Caembarin and Aldeshar – united their armies in Aldeshar and headed south to confront Amalasan. Yet, despite all of this, Amalasan won the day. Shiota’s armies were shattered and Ebou Dar fell into his hands. The rest of the nation fell just as quickly. Six Aes Sedai tried to subdue Amalasan, but he killed one and stilled two more. Then he took his enlarged force north and defeated the allied forces brought against him. Within weeks he had crossed the border into Nerevan and within a few months more had seized that nation and Esandara.
It was at this point – mid to late FY 941 – that Artur Paendrag Tanreall began to note Amalasan’s progress and realised that Shandalle itself could be threatened within a year. He arranged a temporary alliance with Shandalle’s old adversary, Tova, and along with troops from Ileande, Khodomar and Talmour, formed an expeditionary force. This force met Amalasan in Esandara, before he could invade Fergansea. For well over a year Amalasan was kept on his toes, with the expeditionary force from the eastern nations almost dancing rings around his troops. The other generals gladly surrendered command to Artur Paendrag Tanreall, who by now had gained the nickname “Hawkwing” for the sheer speed with which he could move his troops. But eventually they became tired and had to retreat for reinforcements and resupply. Amalasan, free to move at last, took both Fergansea and most of Moreina in short order.
This was the situation as FY 943 dawned. Moreina was in a state of chaos. Amalasan had taken all of the country bar the capital, Tear. Tear took months to fall and, when it did, the nobles and the army retreated into the Stone of Tear. Curiously, it seems that as many as thirty Aes Sedai were also in the Stone, making it impossible for Amalasan capture. Amalasan became bitterly frustrated, because his claim to be the Dragon Reborn hinged on him taking the Stone and claiming Callandor, thus fulfilling the Prophecies.
Meanwhile, though the Stone had not yet fallen, most thought it a matter of time and rebellions had begun in Masenashar, Dal Calain and even parts of Aldeshar as people swore loyalty to “the Second Dragon”. Amalasan realised that if he kept the pressure up, the rest of the subcontinent could fall to him with only a few more nations taken. He led his army north into Talmour, leaving a force to continue besieging the Stone.
Hawkwing, meanwhile, had mustered a new army. Before he left Shandalle, a complement of Aes Sedai arrived from Tar Valon. Hawkwing marched south from Shandalle, through Tova, towards Amalasan’s line of advance.
Amalasan continued his invasion of Talmour but, one night, his army suddenly vanished. The Talmouran government were mystified, though relieved. What had happened was that, in the dead of night, Amalasan’s forces crossed the Erinin into Esandara. Linking up with reinforcements, Amalasan marched north, crossed the Erinin again, and attacked Khodomar. Also, without completing the conquest of that land, Amalasan then marched north on the border with Tova. Amalasan apparently believed that if Tova fell, Khodomar and Talmour, suddenly outflanked, would surrender without any more need for fighting, and he was probably right.
Along the border between Tova and Khodomar, and the current southern border of Cairhien as well, stretches a line of peaks known as the Maraside Mountains, a spur of the Spine of the World. The only major pass through this range is the Jolvaine, the southern end of which was located close to the town of Endersole (believed destroyed in the later War of the Hundred Years). Artur Hawkwing’s army crossed the mountains by this pass, emerging no more than twenty miles due north of Guaire Amalasan’s advancing forces. Hawkwing’s scouts and skirmishers quickly came into contact with Amalasan’s, and both found themselves readying for battle much sooner than either had anticipated.
Hawkwing’s forces were numbered at 23,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry, with several Aes Sedai in support (some reports suggest as many as twenty). Amalasan possessed 41,000 foot and 26,000 horse, and of course himself, the most powerful male channeller of the One Power the Aes Sedai had faced in centuries, if not ever. The countryside they fought in was forested and hilly, with steep rises and unexpected river-valleys. Cavalry found it very difficult to fight effectively and it seems that both sides unseated most of their riders, using them as footmen instead.
Battle was met and proceeded pretty much as you might expect. Outnumbered two-to-one, with his back to mountains, Hawkwing found himself swiftly outflanked. He redeployed his troops to great effect and by nightfall his army was still intact, though badly blooded. Basic military doctrine would have told Hawkwing to retreat to the pass and initially it looked like he did this. Amalasan’s scouts reported Hawkwing’s retreat and Amalasan was satisfied. He was reluctant to pursue, however, because Hawkwing now had the higher ground and even outnumbered he had still inflicted great losses on Amalasan’s force. Amalasan’s instinct was to wait for reinforcements from Esandara, or until Hawkwing had cleared the pass, so he did not pursue. Also, he wished to rest his troops after the battle.
But Hawkwing did not retreat through the pass. He fell back just far enough to make Amalasan think he was on the run, but then halted. Daringly, stupidly as some of his junior officers muttered, he divided his already decimated force in four, sending two mixed forces of infantry and cavalry to the east and west and the bulk of his cavalry in a huge loop all the way round to the rear of Amalasan’s force, a night-time ride of fifty miles. Morning came, but even before Amalasan could strike camp Hawkwing struck, his army assaulting Amalasan’s force from all sides.
Panic gripped Amalasan’s army and it nearly broke, but he held it together. He even managed to regain some semblance of order and may, eventually, have turned the battle round. But Hawkwing gave him no time. Whilst the flanks and rear reeled from the attack, Hawkwing dove for the centre. He cut his way through the thinly-stretched front lines and surrounded Amalasan with his troops and also with his Aes Sedai. They shielded Amalasan from the Power and imprisoned him. Then, his prize taken, Hawkwing retreated from the battlefield. Deprived of their leader, Amalasan’s force broke and scattered. Hawkwing regrouped at the mouth of the Jolvaine Pass and then headed north as fast as possible across Tova.
Amalasan’s officers managed to partially regroup and word was sent to Amalasan’s two senior commanders. Elinde Motheneos, a famed siege commander, was campaigning against rebels across the river in Esandara and immediately rendezvoused with the remnants of Amalasan’s force, bolstering them with around 60,000 of her own troops. She regrouped Amalasan’s forces and began a desperate pursuit of Hawkwing’s troops. Sawyn Maculhene, a skilled cavalry leader, was just a day behind her, leading 50,000 troops from Khodomar.
Hawkwing’s smaller force was considerably more mobile, however, and rapidly crossed Tova, where some reports suggest he gained fresh troops. He came to Tar Valon a mere twenty-five days after taking Amalasan, a journey most would be hard pressed to make in thirty-five. At this time the Amyrlin Seat was Bonwhin Meraighdin, raised from the Red Ajah and possessing a hatred of men far exceeding that of even a normal Red. Tower law held that an army could only enter Tar Valon’s territory only at the direct invitation of the White Tower. Whether or not the Aes Sedai who accompanied Hawkwing and held Amalasan prisoner had actually made that invitation is unclear, though Hawkwing later insisted they had. Interestingly, after being given a heroes’ welcome, those Aes Sedai sisters suddenly vanished from public office and found themselves working on a penance farm twenty miles outside the city for a period of several years. Whatever the truth of the matter, Bonwhin gave Hawkwing just five days to rest his army before leaving.
Hawkwing’s army, around 40,000 strong at this point (presumably reinforced from Tova and Shandalle to more than make up for his losses at the Battle of the Jolvaine Pass), camped not far from the banks of the Osendrelle Erinin (the northern arm of the river as it curves around the island of Tar Valon), certainly within sight of the Shining Walls. Hawkwing could have left immediately, but it seems he was determined to see Amalasan neutralised once and for all. Whilst Hawkwing was not invited to the ceremony, Amalasan was tried, found guilty, and gentled, cut off from the One Power forever. He was to spend the rest of his life (only a few years before he committed suicide) in the custody of the Aes Sedai.
On the same day Amalasan was gentled, the army led by Maculhene and Motheneos launched its attack. Over 130,000 troops strong and attacking by night, with almost no warning, this force shattered all three of the gates on the Alindrelle Erinin (the southern arm) side of the city, invading the city itself. The Aes Sedai held them at bay for a time, along with the Tower Guard, but Amalasan’s army massively outnumbered the defenders. Hawkwing observed the assault and led his troops into Tar Valon, engaging in bloody hand-to-hand street-fighting not seen since the fourth attack on Tar Valon during the Trolloc Wars. Amalasan’s would-be rescuers reached the White Tower itself before being turned back. They found that, once again, Hawkwing had divided his troops, sending a large number across the Erinin south of the city to burn the supply lines and siege engines and cut off the retreat. Maculhene died in combat and Motheneos surrendered to Hawkwing (this in particular enraged Bonwhin; the surrender of someone who had dared strike at Tar Valon should have been given to her as the Amyrlin Seat). She was tried and executed some days later. The bulk of Amalasan’s relief army was allowed to slip away unmolested.
No thanks or sign of appreciation was given to Hawkwing. He was simply told to leave. This he did, angered by the lack of recognition but not totally surprised. He returned to Shandalle to rule in peace, but the thought of the chaos now spreading in the leaderless west and the south did trouble him.
With Amalasan gone, his surviving generals attempted to wrest control of the nations they had taken, whilst loyalists of the former rulers attempted to return control to the rightful leaders. Within weeks of Amalasan’s death, Darmovan, Elan Dapor, Balasun, Kharendor, Shiota, Dhowlan, Nerevan, Esandara and Fergansea were in states of civil war. Moreina, Talmour and Khodomar, which had not completely fallen, managed to return to their former states of order. Aes Sedai mediators attempted to quell the chaos, but now they found an unusual new factor had entered the equation. Whereas before the name of Amalasan was cried in adoration, now the name of Hawkwing was similarly being cried. He had beaten their leader, and thus had to be an even greater man, a man even worthier of being their king. Even in lands completely untouched by Amalasan, people suggested that Hawkwing might make a great ruler.
Bonwhin’s hatred of Hawkwing now reached even deadlier levels. At her instigation (as revealed many decades later), Tova, Caembarin and Khodomar sent armies against Shandalle in an attempt to slay Hawkwing. Hawkwing, who had already begun disbanding his army, defeated all three of them, despite being outnumbered and pressed from three different sides. Enraged, he struck back and by the beginning of winter in FY 943 he held the western half of Tova (including the capital at Cairhien), parts of northern Khodomar and the entire west bank of the Erinin in Caembarin. Thousands from all three nations flocked to his banner. The following year Ileande, Talmour and Aldeshar entered the war, sending reinforcements to the three beleaguered nations. But, by the end of FY 944, Hawkwing had seized the rest of Tova, Khodomar and Caembarin and forged them into one whole with Shandalle.
Bonwhin could only watch, amazed, as she forced more nations into warfare against Hawkwing and then saw them crumble before him. Sometimes a year to fourteen months would pass without any fighting, then two or three nations would attack Hawkwing, but he would always defeat them and, afterwards, add them to his growing empire. Only one nation, Moreina (where the governor of the Stone of Tear surrendered the fortress to him with no demands being made), joined him voluntarily. The rest had to be forced into submission.
One summer morning in FY 963 King Joal Ramedar of Aldeshar surrendered to Artur Paendrag Tanreall, the Hawkwing. Twenty years of warfare, the Consolidation Wars, had delivered the subcontinent of the Westlands to him. The whole land, from the Aryth Ocean to the Spine of the World and from the Mountains of Dhoom to the Sea of Storms, bar only the city-state of Tar Valon, was his. Not once in that time had he lost a single battle. He was the High King, the ruler of one land at peace, and he was not yet fifty-one years old.
Some might say that was enough. He was the ruler of millions of square miles of territory and the High King of over a hundred million souls. He led over a million men under arms. He had the love of the common people and the respect of most of the nobles. He even intimidated the Aes Sedai. He had enough for one man.
But he had barely begun his accomplishments. Before he was done his name would be hated and loved in equal measure, and known in every part of the world.
Notes on the Map
The map is based on the map of the Free Years provided in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. This map is very small and lacking in detail, so a few judgement calls had to be made on where to place the borders.
Cities are only placed where we know their exact location or can infer them from information in the text.
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.
China Miéville is one of the UK’s most respected fantasists, with his novels ranging from the urban noir thriller of The City and The City (recently adapted for television) to the linguistic SF novel Embassytown to the YA fantastical thrillers Un Lun Dun and Railsea.
His most popular work, arguably, remains the very loose trilogy of novels set in the fully-realised secondary world of Bas-Lag. The first of these, Perdido Street Station (2000), was Miéville’s breakout work; the second, The Scar (2002) is oft-cited as Miéville’s strongest single novel; and the third, Iron Council (2004) won a slew of awards and garnered significant critical praise. Miéville has also written a short story set in Bas-Lag, “Jack,! which can be found in Looking for Jake and Other Stories (2005).
Bas-Lag is a strange world, with nary an elf or centaur in sight. Instead, it is a world where regions have become existentially unstable, becoming “torque zones” where reality has collapsed and other dimensions intrude. Humans are the dominant species, but other major races include the avian garuda, the spiky cactacae and the disturbing khepri, who have the bodies of humans but the heads of scarab beetles. Much of the action in Perdido Street Station takes place in the great city-state of New Crobuzon, a fantastically twisted version of Victorian London. The Scar moves the action out to sea, particularly the floating, mobile metropolis of Armada. Iron Council explores the lands south and west of New Crobuzon, along a great railway line linking the city to distant trading partners.
Miéville created maps of Bas-Lag for his own reference, but chose not to publish them, instead supplying only a city map of New Crobuzon for Perdido Street Station. However, Miéville was asked for a map to be published in Dragon Magazine, who wanted to turn Bas-Lag into a Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting. A keen player of D&D in his youth, Miéville acquiesced and the first canon maps of Bas-Lag appeared in issue #352 of Dragon Magazine, published in February 2007. It was from this article that the main map was drawn. Miéville published his original rough map in a convention guide in 2012.
Notes on the Map
The main map above is a combination of the Dragon Magazine map, Miéville’s original sketch map and the geographic information provided in the text of The Scar.
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.
Narrative Atlas 4: The Great Hunt – From Fal Dara to Falme
These maps cover the third part of our heroes’ journey in The Great Hunt (Book 2 of The Wheel of Time). For a detailed summary of The Great Hunt, please 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, with the exception of the journey between the Erinin and Cairhien, which has been adjusted to provide more plausible dates and travel times. I have removed this time from the Portal Stone jump from Cairhien to Toman Head, so the dates realign with Cooper’s after that point.
Leaving Fal Dara
As previously related, the armies of Shienar defeated the Trollocs at Tarwin’s Gap whilst Moiraine Damodred and the companions from the Two Rivers located the Eye of the World, an uncorrupted source of saidin, the male half of the True Source. Rand al’Thor, discovering he use the One Power, used the Eye of the World to destroy the Forsaken Aginor and then halt the invading Trolloc forces at Tarwin’s Gap.
The events of The Great Hunt begin around Day 77 (since Rand and his friends left the Two Rivers), when a group of Darkfriends meet and make plans to capture or kill the Dragon Reborn and neutralise his influence. The Darkfriends are given different plans and objectives, which none of the others know.
On Day 78, about thirty-one days after the battle at the Eye of the World, the Amyrlin Seat (the leader of the Aes Sedai) arrives at Fal Dara with a large retinue. Trolloc forces attack the city at night, freeing the imprisoned Padan Fain (who had somehow followed the party all the way from Emond’s Field, even through Shadar Logoth and the Waygate in Caemlyn) and stealing both the cursed dagger from Shadar Logoth and the Horn of Valere. Mat Cauthon’s life depends on proximity to the dagger (at least until he can be healed of his link to it), so its recovery becomes imperative. Before this happens, Rand is summoned before the Amyrlin Seat, Siuan Sanche, who tells him he is the Dragon Reborn. Rand refuses to believe it.
On Day 79, the travellers from the Two Rivers depart the city. Nynaeve al’Meara and Egwene al’Vere are to travel to Tar Valon to learn to become Aes Sedai. They travel with Moiraine, Lan and the Amyrlin’s party westwards towards Medo, Shienar’s major port on the River Mora. Rand, Perrin, Mat and Loial join a Shienaran hunting party led by Ingtar, one of Lord Agelmar’s best soldiers. Also in the party is Masema, a soldier from the Aiel border who seems to dislike Rand for his Aiel-like looks, and Hurin, a “sniffer” with the talent to sense and follow trails of darkness (an innate ability not linked to the One Power, like Perrin’s ability to speak to wolves and Min’s viewings). Hurin discerns that Fain and the Trollocs are headed south.
On the 83rd day, Moiraine and Lan leave the Amyrlin’s party, increasing their speed and making south for the main bridge over the Mora (which carries the main highway from Fal Moran to Shol Arbela, and marks the border between Shienar and Arafel). Another Aes Sedai in the group, Verin Mathwin of the Brown Ajah, also leaves clandestinely. Two days later the rest of the group arrive at Medo and board the ships that will take them to Tar Valon. With speed of the essence, the Amyrlin orders that the Aes Sedai sisters take turns to use the One Power to speed their passage.
On the same day, Ingtar’s group reaches the Erinin, having travelled approximately 250 miles (almost the clear north-south distance of the kingdom) in six days, or approximately 41.5 miles per day. Mounted and on good roads, with clear weather, this is (just about) possible. Rand and his friends cross the river and find a village ransacked by Fain’s forces. Rand gets caught in a “bubble of evil” but manages to break out of it using the One Power. At night he finds the Dragon Banner in his belongings.
The next morning (Day 86), Rand, Hurin and Loial awaken to find themselves in a “different” version of reality, one of the shadow weavings of the Wheel accessed by Portal Stone. Discomforted, they decide to head south to find a way back to the real world and try to link up with Ingtar’s party.
The same day, Verin catches up with Ingtar’s party, having made even better time, approximately 230 miles in 3 days! At 76 days per day, we must assume that Verin used the One Power to significantly speed the exertions of her horse.
From Shienar to Cairhien
It should be noted that the distances and travel time for this part of the journey is highly debatable. From the spot where Rand and Ingtar cross the Erinin, it is a mighty 865 miles (give or take) to the city of Cairhien. Both parties are mounted and the weather holds well for most of the trip which is across open countryside, perhaps speeded in places by paths and roads left over from the fallen kingdom of Hardan and perhaps some trader tracks still in use. However, the latter part of the journey is through the forbidding mountains of Kinslayer’s Dagger.
Despite these obstacles, which means that the parties cannot travel in a straight line, Ingtar, Verin, Perrin, Mat, Masema, Hurin and the rest of their party reach Cairhien a mere 14 days after crossing the Erinin by Cooper’s timeline. This requires them to travel about 62 miles per day. Even with Verin using the One Power to increase the stamina of their horses (which is not noted in the text), this pushes credulity. As a result I have adjusted the timeline by doubling the travel time for Ingtar and his party to 28 days (just under 31 miles per day)
By river it is approximately 900 miles from Medo to Tar Valon, which the Aes Sedai accomplish in four days by Cooper’s timeline (224 miles per day!). I have doubled this to eight days to be more realistic (112 miles per day), even with Aes Sedai intervention.
Rand, Hurin and Loial awaken in the Portal Stone world on Day 86. They travel south and cover enormous distances (a result of the differing laws of reality) and the following day reach the Field of Talidar, where they meet Selene and rescue her from a pack of grolm. They head south and reach Kinsayer’s Dagger before returning to the real world via another Portal Stone in the evening of Day 87. Realising they’ve massively jumped ahead of Fain, the head west along the mountains and set a trap.
Deviating from the Cooper timeline, I have adjusted it so that Team Rand spend 16 days in Kinslayer’s Dagger waiting for Padan Fain to turn up rather than four. This feels a little long, but it is necessary for Fain and Ingtar to cover the vast distance by normal means that Rand’s group covered in a couple of days thanks to the Portal Stone (Cooper’s timeline has Fain reaching Kinslayer’s Dagger five days after crossing the Erinin, which is not physically possible). So Rand recovers the Horn of Valere and Mat’s dagger on Day 103. After a frenzied flight through the mountains, they reach Tremonsien two days later and find the Choedan Kal statue from the Age of Legends (Rand won’t learn this name for some time, of course) and make the acquaintance of a Cairhienin patrol, who escort them to Cairhien city. Cooper has the patrol reach Cairhien just a day after leaving Tremonsien, but given the 100-odd mile distance, I’ve adjusted that to three days. Thus Rand and his group reach the city of Cairhien on Day 108.
On Day 104, Ingtar’s group crosses the border of Cairhien and meets Urien of the Aiel, who tells them the Aiel are searching for He Who Comes With the Dawn. Ingtar’s group has to hide their weapons and armour and proceed much more slowly to Cairhien city, explaining why they arrive several days after Rand’s party, despite only being about one to two days behind them at this point.
Around Day 97, Nynaeve passes the Testing to become an Accepted in Tar Valon, whilst Egwene is reunited with Min and meets Elayne, Galad and Gawyn for the first time. Also around this day, Moiraine and Lan visit with Adeleas and Vandene in Tifan’s Well. They are attacked by a Draghkar and Moiraine determines that she and Lan should ride for Toman Head immediately.
Arriving in the capital on Day 108, Rand, Hurin and Loial take rooms at the Defender of the Dragonwall. Rand then finds Thom Merrilin in the Bunch of Grapes Inn in Foregate. Rand, Hurin and Loial attempt to return to the Defender, but are trapped by celebrations and realise that Fain’s Trollocs are closing in. They take refuge near the Illuminators’ chapter house outside the city (which is damaged in the affray) and then manage to flee into the city.
Rand and his party spend several days at the inn, with Rand being courted by different noble houses. He burns each letter, until invitations arrive from Lord Barthanes Damodred and King Galldrian Riatin. On Day 114 the Horn and the dagger are stolen back by Fain, who then uses the Waygate in the Damodred palace grounds to escape. Ingtar’s party reaches Cairhien and everyone is reunited.
On Day 115, the group attends Lord Barthanes’ party and discover that the Waygate has been effectively sealed, with Machin Shin, the Black Wind, standing guard on the other side. Barthanes confirms that Fain will be waiting for Rand on Toman Head. On the morning of Day 116 the party leaves Cairhien and heads for nearby Stedding Tsofu to use the Waygate there. This same morning, Lord Barthanes is found dead in his manor. King Galldrian sends agents to interrogate Thom Merrilin, but make the mistake of killing his lover Denna. Thom kills the agents and then the King himself. This plunges Cairhien into civil war.
Rand’s party reaches Stedding Tsofu on Day 117. Unable to use the Waygate there, Rand is forced to use a nearby Portal Stone. Unfortunately, his inexperience causes a temporal slip and the party do not return to the real world for about 119 days, or four months.
The Seanchan Occupation
On Day 78, Lord Captain Geofram Bornhald’s legion reaches the village of Alcruna near the border between Tarabon and Almoth Plain. He is ordered to take the legion onto the plain to root out Darkfriends and start the process of bringing the Plain under the Whitecloaks’ influence. This requires him to scatter the legion across a wide swathe of Almoth Plain. By around Day 199, Bornhald realises that the Questioners are trying to manipulate him into staying away from Toman Head, where there are rumours of invaders called Seanchan. Bornhald resolves to start gathering the full strength of the legion and then march on Falme.
Around Day 99, Bayle Domon’s Spray reaches Toman Head and is captured by Seanchan forces commanded by Egeanin. Domon is taken to Falme and the High Lord Turak, who takes one of the Seven Seals on the Dark One’s prison from Domon (neither knows what it is). Domon swears the Oaths and begins (reluctantly) working for the Seanchan.
On Day 116 or so, Padan Fain reaches Falme and gives the Horn of Valere to High Lord Turak, who also takes the cursed dagger from Shadar Logoth (to Fain’s anger).
On Day 184, Liandrin of the Red Ajah (but really of the Black) tells Egwene that Rand is in great danger and she should accompany Liandrin immediately. Elayne, Nynaeve and Min tag along, to Liandrin’s irritation. They use the Waygate in Tar Valon to travel to Toman Head, arriving on Day 185. A party of Seanchan Darkfriends led by Suroth arrives and Egwene and Min are captured, with Egwene imprisoned with an a’dam. Nynaeve and Elayne escape and regroup.
Egwene spends the better part of two months as a prisoner of the Seanchan, with Nynaeve and Elayne spending the same time period trying to find a viable way of rescuing her. On Day 240 they finally find Min, who in turns introduces them to Bayle Domon. In return for Aes Sedai protection and aid, he agrees to help them flee the city.
On Day 236, Rand’s party arrives on Toman Head and they discover the huge mistake they’ve made. They head along the peninsular to Falme. The “party of five” (Rand, Mat, Perrin, Loial, Hurin and Ingtar) enter the city on Day 243. Ingtar’s betrayal is revealed, but he converts back to the Light to save the rest and dies in the process. Rand kills Turak and retakes the Horn of Valere and the cursed dagger. Nynaeve and Elayne rescue Egwene.
The Whitecloaks attack the city and meet the Seanchan in battle. Both are in turn attacked by the Heroes of the Horn, summoned when Mat blows the Horn of Valere. In the confusion the Whitecloaks are almost entirely wiped out, along with many of the Seanchan. The survivors, regrouping under Suroth, escape by ship. During the battle, Rand does battle with Ba’alzamon once more, this time the fight emblazoned across the skies above Falme.
The next morning, Egwene, Elayne, Nynaeve, Mat, Verin and Hurin depart for Tar Valon with great urgency, as Mat needs to have his bond with the dagger severed, something that can only be done by a circle of bonded Aes Sedai. Around Day 248, Moiraine and Lan arrive after their epic cross-continental trip from Tifan’s Well. Along with Rand, Mat, Perrin, Loial and the remaining Shienaran soldiers (now led by Uno, Ragan and Masema), they head east to winter in the Mountains of Mist, as Tarabon, Arad Doman and Almoth Plain fall into war and civil war.
Note on the Maps
The map of Falme is based on the one provided in the RPG companion book Prophecies of the Dragon. It has been expanded to show the whole city (the book map only shows the central part), based on the descriptions given in The Great Hunt.
The map of Cairhien is based on Ellisa Mitchell’s map from The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game, which supersedes the map in Lord of Chaos. The biggest difference between the two maps, aside from the latter one showing the Topless Towers, is that the huge sea walls which partially protect the harbour in the original map have been removed. Presumably this is because there is no such mention of the sea walls in the text of the novels themselves.
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 World, please 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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: Cities, The City of Carse, Jonril: Gateway to the Sunken Lands, Tulan of the Isles, Heart of the Sunken Lands, The 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
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Trilogy: Helliconia Spring (1982), Helliconia Summer (1983) and Helliconia Winter (1985).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?