The Wheel of Time Atlas: Tarabon & the Shadow Coast

Tarabon is a large and powerful nation located along the Aryth Ocean in the south-west of the Westlands. Extending inland to the Mountains of Mist and extending from Almoth Plain to the hills and mountains of the Shadow Coast, the nation is noted for its location on the major trade routes leading from Arad Doman and the western Sea Folk islands to the wealthier nations of the east, such as Illian and Tear. It is also known for its strategically precarious position, faced with opposition from both Arad Doman to the north (with whom it frequently skirmishes for control of Almoth Plain) and Amadicia to the east, which is eager for any sign of weakness allowing it to snatch up more of Tarabon’s territory.

Taraboners refer to themselves and their ancestors as being part of the “Tree of Man” and claim to have once held a sapling of Avendesora, the Tree of Life, although if true it has long since been lost. This is reflected by the Tarabon banner, showing a golden tree with spreading branches on a field vertically stripped red and white.

Tarabon Final

A map of Tarabon. Please click for a larger version.

History

After the Breaking of the World, the southern half of the region currently controlled by Tarabon was claimed by Aelgar, one of the Ten Nations that signed the Covenant. Its capital was Ancohima (location unknown) and its other major cities included Mainelle (on the current site of Tanchico), Condaris and Shar Honelle. The northern half and more (including all of Almoth Plain and the southern half of Arad Doman) was claimed by Safer, whose capital of Iman was located on the site of modern Katar. Aelgar was bordered by Eharon to the east and Manetheren to the north-east. Aelgar was known for its military prowess and ambitions which sometimes defied the Covenant; King Maecine of Eharon defended his nation against Aelgar between the sixth and seventh centuries After the Breaking. It was also known for its beautiful cities (Ancohima and Condaris, at least, were Ogier-built and possessed Waygates) and its wealth, partially mined from the mountains of southern Amadicia. Aelgar survived the Trolloc Wars but collapsed almost immediately afterwards, breaking apart into the smaller nations of Balasun and Kharendor.

Both Balasun and Kharendor were conquered early in the War of the Second Dragon (FY 939-943) by the false Dragon Guaire Amalasan. With Amalasan’s gentling at the end of the war, both kingdoms descended into chaos before being saved by Artur Paendrag Tanreall, the Hawkwing, who unified the two nations into a single province.

In FY 1006, twelve years into the War of the Hundred Years that followed Hawkwing’s death, Lord Haren Maseed, Laddy Tazenia Nerenhald and Lord Boral Amadia seized control of Tanchico, fortifying it against attack and gradually expanding to conquer most of the province. Lord Boral was murdered, so Lord Haren was named King of Tarabon and Lady Tazenia became Panarch. The new government system was designed to give balance between the King, the Panarch and the Assembly of Lords.

Tarabon reached its current size, more or less, at the end of the War of the Hundred Years and has endured ever since. It has tried to remain aloof from the conflicts of other nations, not sending troops to the aid of the other nations at the Battle of the Shining Walls and not intervening in the Whitecloak War despite Amadicia apparently being left under-defended during the conflict.

 

Geography

Tarabon is located on the Aryth Ocean in the south-west of the Westlands. It extends inland to the Mountains of Mist, which forms most of its eastern border. However, the border extends south past the end of the mountains into open countryside. The border with Amadicia is located in this area and has moved back and forth over the centuries due to border skirmishes. The kingdom measures some 770 miles from west to east and 630 miles from north to south at its widest.

The capital city, Tanchico, is located on three peninsulas (the Calpene, Maseta and Verana) overlooking a wide bay at the mouth of the River Andahar, the longest and most impressive river in the kingdom. The Andahar flows out of Lake Somal some 900 miles to the north-east (formed in turn by meltwater from the Mountains of Mist) and is the primary river artery of the kingdom, with numerous towns and villages on its banks (including Alcruna near the northern border).

Tanchico is a very large city (about six miles wide) and also a very old one, with some claiming that the Panarch’s Palace was built from stone blocks that somehow survived the Breaking of the World. Certainly some of the stones in the palace show friezes of scenes that appear to date from the Age of Legends. The city is also noted for its museum with artifacts from the Breaking and the Age of Legends (and some say, even before). This suggests that either Tanchico – or Mainelle as it was originally called – was built before the Breaking was even done, or fairly soon afterwards, possibly challenging Tear, Tar Valon and even Rhuidean’s claim to be the oldest city on the continent. However, others have suggested that Mainelle was built much later the artifacts from the Age of Legends were abandoned in the city by refugees and travellers. The truth remains unknown.

The coasts of Tarabon are mountainous, especially in the south where the border gives way to the more jumbled landscape of the Shadow Coast, with Tanchico the only good large harbour on the coast.

The interior is a mixture of flat, rolling countryside, rolling hills and taller highlands, some of them extensive. The northern border region gives way to the much flatter and more fertile landscape of Almoth Plain, whilst in the east the border regions with Amadicia are likewise flatter and fertile, with numerous smaller villages and towns located in this vicinity. Well-maintained trade roads link Tanchico with Bandar Eban and Falme to the north and Amador, Ebou Dar and other cities to the east.

The second city of Tarabon is Elmora, located roughly halfway from Tanchico to Amador. The city is a major site for trade between the two capitals.

The known cities and settlements of Tarabon are: Tanchico, Elmora, Alcruna, Maracru, Nassad and Serana.

 

Government

Tarabon has an unusual tripartite governmental system. The country’s nobility is represented in the Assembly of Lords. The Lords elect a spokesperson and representative, the Panarch, who represents their views and provides a conduit to deal with the King. The Panarch is also responsible for collecting taxes, customs and duties. The King, who rules from the Throne of Light in the King’s Palace in Tanchico, is a hereditary position and determines how taxes are spent. The Panarch has authority over the Civil Watch and the Panarch’s Legion, whilst the King commands the Tarabon Army. The Panarch is also in charge of all the courts, apart from the High Court of the King.

Typically, the King is male and Panarch is female but on occasion the roles are reversed. The three-stage government provides a system of checks and balances that is meant to inspire consensus and compromise; more frequently it creates a logjam in government that prevents much from getting done. The current King is Andric and the current Panarch is Amathera Aelfdene Casmir Lounault.

 

Military and Population

Like most nations, Tarabon maintains several elite, professional and permanent military formations which form the core of a larger levy force when necessary. The most notable military forces in Tarabon are the King’s Life Guard, the Panarch’s Legion and the Civil Watch of Tanchico.

We have insufficient information to determine either the size of Tarabon’s military potential or its population. However, given that Tarabon is capable of both skirmishing with Arad Doman and holding off adventurers from Amadicia simultaneously, plus the fact that it is a (somewhat) larger country and appears to have more major settlements than Arad Doman, the population likely somewhat exceeds that of its northern rival, and may be in the region of 10-12 million.

 

Economy

Tarabon is a great trading nation which sees a huge amount of merchant traffic by both foot and sea. Taraboners occasionally learn the ways of the sea, but are more content to allow the Sea Folk to transport goods for them; this arrangement may be down the close proximity of the Sea Folk archipelago known as the Aile Jafar, which lies just 200 miles or so offshore, near Tanchico. Fringed rugs, olive oil, dyes and porcelain are among Tarabon’s primary exports.

 

Culture

Taraboners are a polite people but also a somewhat reticent one. They were veils over their faces which are kept on at all times unless eating or drinking. If discretion is to be emphasised, they put on a veil which masks the entire face. Taraboner men also tend to sport mustaches and dark cylindrical caps on their head. Men tend to wear baggy white trousers and coats, whilst women tend to wear clinging gowns which sometimes rival those of the Domani.

 

The Guild of Illuminators

Tarabon’s most interesting guild is that of the Illuminators. These are men and women who have discovered how to create illuminations in the sky, formed by exploding rockets. The makeup of these rockets and how they produce their effects are unknown. The Guild ruthlessly protects its secrets, even unto death. The Guild maintains two chapter houses at opposite ends of the continent, one in Tanchico and one in Cairhien. Attempts to found other houses have met with suspicion and reluctance, due to rumours that the Illuminators’ powders and devices can, in some circumstances, explode with tremendous force, injuring and killing bystanders.

Shadow Coast Final

A map of the Shadow Coast. Please click for a larger version.

The Shadow Coast

Lying to the south of both Tarabon and Amadicia is a vast area of unclaimed wilderness, a land of towering mountains, dreary hill chains and steep cliffs that plunge abruptly into the roaring morass of the ocean.

This stretch of land is known as the Shadow Coast and is vast, extending for almost exactly a thousand miles from the borders of Tarabon to those of Altara. The region is lightly inhabited and the reasons are clear: the land is rocky and hard to farm, and the coast is an absolute nightmare of jagged rocks and treacherous reefs that can tear out the bottom of even a large ship without warning. The most notable landmark on the coast is Windbiter’s Finger, a semi-submerged peninsula that extends out from the shore for around 250 miles. The Finger denotes the place where the Aryth Ocean meets the Sea of Storms.

The entire coast is given a wide berth by seafarers, with even the Sea Folk making sure their vessels stay far out at sea. The region also extends for around 350 miles inland, an area dominated by mountains and hills.

This area was once claimed by Aelgar and later Balasun and Kharendor, but today is unclaimed by any nation (although the occasional ruin from earlier eras can be found). Tarabon and Amadicia simply don’t have the manpower to try to claim this difficult landscape in the present day, especially as the mountains lacks mineral resources and there is no good harbour on the coast all the way from Tanchico in the north-west to Ebou Dar in the south-east.

The Shadow Coast isn’t entirely uninhabited. Occasional, hardy folk (who enjoy isolation and hard living) might be found dwelling here. There are also two Ogier stedding located in the wilderness: Shadoon and Mardoon. The River Sharia rises in the region before flowing east along the southern border of Amadicia to its confluence with the Eldar.

 

Notes on the Map

This map draws on the colour endpaper map from the novels used from Lord of Chaos onwards, which is generally accepted as the most accurate map created for the books during Robert Jordan’s lifetime.

There weren’t too many changes to the map, aside from the addition to the map of the Taraboner and Amadician towns and villages mentioned in the book. Such settlements have only been added where clear geographic indications are given to their location.

 

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