The Gazetteer (10/11/09)

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Stage one of the gazetteer is complete, which is to say that all the content has been written, re-written at immense effort, proofed at great expense and mushed up with great glee into a single monolithic .pdf. There are 180 pages and a little over 150 entries (all in alphabetical order), and you can download it here.

The plan, eventually, is to put it on-line with hyper links between the entries. The chances of this being done by the end of the year are, frankly, remote, and it might have to wait until I mysteriously break both my ankles and end up bed-ridden for a solid month. But hey, you never know. If the response to this vast effort is tumble weed rolling across the comment-book of this here web-site, why then I just might not bother at all. I figure if you’re a die-hard fan, you probably download the whole thing anyway, right? So – honestly, readers – would it actually be useful to have on-line as linked entries?

As an example, here’s one of the longer entries, the Palace of Paths, the fortress overlooking the city of Evenspire, home of King Valgar and Queen Almiri that gets a little more than a mention in The King of the Crags.

The Palace of Paths

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The Palace of Paths is built on a flat-topped hill in the centre of the Blackwind Dales, overlooking both the Ashdale River to the north and the Blackwind River to the south. Unlike other fortresses and palaces across the realms, the Palace of Paths did not grow up around an existing system of caves or tunnels, and neither was it built to rule an existing settlement. Indeed, when construction first began, the Blackwind Dales were largely an empty wilderness – a land nominally divided between the lords of Outwatch and Gardin’s Rock, but to all intents and purposes ignored by both. The Palace of Paths was intended as a purpose-built eyrie and fortress that would act as a buffer between the populous realms south of the Purple Spur and the powerful (in terms of dragons) but sparse threat from the northern blood-mage realms. Some historians allege that the fortress was never even meant to be built; that just the beginnings of it were expected to draw the blood-mages out of the desert eyries, precipitating a war that would unite the increasingly discordant voices of the southern realms and eradicate the blood-mage menace once and for all. It is not possible to say whether this is truth or speculation – but if it is the truth, it would be hard to find from anywhere else in history a stratagem that backfired more completely and spectacularly.

The Palace of Paths was begun in the year 84, forty years before the crowning of Narammed as the first Speaker of the Realms. Thousands of men travelled in great convoys along what is now the Evenspire Road escorted by hundreds of dragons. An area of roughly three acres was levelled some fifty strides below the original peak of the hill. Massive trenches were dug and filled with stone and rubble to form the footings of the cascading curtain walls that ultimately gave the Palace of Paths its name. A fifteen kilometre tamped-earth ramp was built to transport marble and materials to the construction site from the valley of the Blackwind River, while harnessed dragons pulled the blocks used for the walls on specially constructed wagons and raised the blocks into their desired positions. Water was drawn from both the Blackwind and Ashdale rivers by a series of rope and bucket mechanisms and piped into three vast cisterns at the top of the hill, from where it was then piped around the complex (these pumps and cisterns still exist and operate today). Laid end to end, the layered curtain walls would stretch for around a dozen miles, and eventually took roughly twelve years to complete.

The remaining parts of the palace (the central fortified palace, barracks, eyrie and gatehouses) took an additional decade, while the tunnel complex dug deep into the hills (believed to reach as low as the level of the Blackwind, the higher of the two nearby rivers) took another decade still. Since the Palace of Paths was built in stages, discrepancies exist in completion dates due to differing opinions on ‘completion’. For example, the fortress, barracks and eyrie were essentially complete by 101, and were a permanent home to a hundred dragons and a thousand soldiers even while work continued on the rest of the complex. These soldiers were modelled on the palace guards of the Pinnacles but were armoured in dragon-scale and trained specifically in techniques for fighting against dragons. It is very likely that these soldiers formed the nucleus of Narammed’s Adamantine Men, and certainly of Vishmir’s later re-casting of them (although the Adamantine Men do not acknowledge this).

The palace was a great success in one respect; it is certainly the largest and most impressive fortification anywhere within the realms. However, construction of the fortress was disastrous for the Order of the Dragon in two ways. The first was the sheer scale of the enterprise: estimates of the cost of construction vary, but the total cost of building the Palace of Paths has been estimated to be equivalent to the current entire annual revenue of Furymouth, the Silver City and the City of Dragons combined. Given the smaller scale of the realms prior to the time of the speakers and the substantially lower population available for taxation, the costs of building the greatest fortress on earth were surely crippling, and this is borne out in the records of the time. However, even this pales beside Prince Jahan’s defection from the Order of the Dragon, complete with fortress, army and an eyrie full of dragons. By declaring Evenspire as a new and independent realm (doubtless heavily encouraged and supported by the very northern realms against whom he was supposed to guard), Prince Jahan precipitated the crisis that led to Narammed, the first speakers, the formation of the Adamantine Men and the separation of the Order of the Scales and the Order of the Dragon. It could also be argued that by doing this, he sowed the seeds of the War of Thorns and the complete collapse of the Order of the Dragon itself.

The Palace of Paths was constructed using materials from all over the realms, and it is estimated that over one thousand dragons were used to transport building materials, workers, foodstuff and other supplies while also providing a constant watch over its construction. Despite the grim functional nature of most of the palace, Prince Jahan’s throne room is a marvel equal to anything south of the Purple Spur (and possibly explains some of the colossal expense of the project). There is local translucent white marble, but also jasper from the Oordish Moors and jade and crystal from the Taiytakei traders of Furymouth (including an entire throne carved from a single piece of jade). There is turquoise from the Raksheh Forest, lapis lazuli from Three Rivers, sapphires from the Desert of Stone and carnelian from the Worldspine. In all, twenty eight types of precious and semi-precious stones are inlaid into the white marble of the palace royal chambers. To anyone with a knowledge of where these stones can be found, it is clear that much of this wealth was supplied from the northern realms (presumably in secret), and thus one may assume that Prince Jahan’s defection was not a moment of impulse but the result of many years of careful manipulations. Particularly magnificent is the Gallery of Glass linking the king and queen’s apartments, featuring some of the finest glass in the realms (courtesy of the Taiytakei) and later copied by speaker Ayzalmir in the Adamantine Palace.

Following the rise of Narammed, Prince Jahan continued to work on the palace until his death in 145, with construction financed primarily by the succession of his own brother Mehmeth as the second speaker following Narammed. The principle additions in this time are the two immense watchtowers, one at either end of the palace, which look out over the Blackwind River to the south and the Ashdale to the north. Following Jahan’s death, and devoid of almost any useful incomes, the later kings and queens of the Ash Throne struggled to afford the upkeep of such a vast fortress, and several parts have since fallen into disrepair. Works were begun to rectify this under Speaker Voranin before the realms were swept into the War of Thorns; now, with Iyanza as the third speaker from the Blackwind Dales, the fortress is undergoing further renovations.

Map (7/10/09)

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The map of the dragon-realms, here at last in all its glory!

Map of the Realms.

All its sideways glory.


Doubtless some way to remedy this will be found shortly and certainly by the time the rest of the gazetteer is ready. News on that is it’s going through proof-reading. Don’t know when it’ll be finished but it should easily be online by the end of the year. Those following my posts via RSS be warned, there are 161 entries to the gazetteer and they’re all going up as blog posts so that people can comment on them and laugh publicly at the typos and the names they don’t like. I’ll issue another warning when I’m about to do it  and then I’ll turn the RSS feed off. Probably.

Oh and yes, I know the cross-posting to Livejournal has stopped working and no, I don’t know why.

Status Report (1/9/09)

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Am uninspired. Witicisms and worldly insights elude me. The rewriting of The King of the Crags is a few days from finished. The first draft of the gazetteer might just about be done for Fantasycon. Still awaiting official map. Yadda yadda yadda. I am dragon-ed out. Am half moved to drop it all after this rewrite is done and go and do something else for a bit. Elf Cops: Kicking ass[1] and taking names. Pixellated wizards dealing in cut-and-shut horses. Overworked and underpaid goblin engineers building designer monsters for their arms-dealer troll masters. Something daft like that. Suggestions on a postcard, please.

Or urban fantasy. Something to do with zombies, or maybe some edgy vampire thing. Something that sells bucketloads is original. [2]

Fantasycon. Yes. I’ll be at Fantasucon. Come to Fantasycon! Everyone come to fantasycon and buy me beer so I can dazzle you with the exceptionally magnificent cover to King of the Crags and with awesome author insights like: How come zombies always seem to have all their teeth even when the rest of them has half rotted away? and If vampires are cold, how come I can see their breath?

I’ll get me coat.

[1] Don’t kick asses. They kick back and they’re much better at it.

[2] Yeah. Like dragons. Totally edge-of-the-envelope.

Maps (7/7/2009)

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OK, OK. Here’s a map dammit. When some bloke clocks you round the back of the head and says ‘nice book but where’s the map,’ when the issue of maps converges with actual physical abuse, it’s time to act. So here it is. A draft map of the dragon-realms. Now enough with the hitting me.

Actually, this is only the tip of the iceberg to keep those of you who need a map RIGHT NOW from further acts of violence. In the background, there’s a slightly nicer version of this map that I’m not going to publish just yet that’s being turned into a much nicer map courtesy of those nice folks at Gollancz who are going to pay for someone who can, y’know, actually draw and stuff.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Over the next few months, the <cue dramatic music. No, more dramatic than that. Bit more… bit more… Here we go…> Dahn dan daaaaaa…. Gazeteer Project will be going online. Over the rest of the year, an online gazetteer of the dragon-realms will be going up, with some two hundred entries. Off-line work is about half complete now and the whole project will be up by the end of the year. I’ll be putting it up in pieces, starting with the Adamatine Palace and its environs later this month. Want to know how the realms ended up the way they are? Want to know the secrets of the dragons? Read the damn books then! Ha! Because the gazetteer won’t tell you any of that. But if you want to know why, say, how the Silver City got its name, well then the gazetteer is for you (what do you mean, what Silver City? You mean you haven’t read book three yet…? Oh, that’s right, you haven’t. Ha Ha.)

Since all of this gazetteer work has happened since King of the Crags was submitted for edit, I think we can all expect the wordcount to go up a bit there too. Ho hum.

Oh, and what that means is if you’re taking an RSS feed off here is that you’re going to get shedloads of posts…

Finally a word on copyright. I mean for the gazetteer to be available under a creative commons license, which means you can use it for anything you feel like provided you a) give credit, b) it’s not for commercial purposes and c) if you modify it, you have to allow others to use what you make under the same conditions. Role-players, I’m talking to you

(The same applies to the map here. Whether it can apply to the much nicer map from Gollancz is another matter).
Creative Commons License
Gazetteer of the dragon-realms by Stephen Deas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at

And finally… I saw the first draft cover of King of the Crags to day and it is most excellent and I can’t wait to share it!