Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Study of Master Roidelle : Mapping the Wheel of Time

For many years, I have loved cartography, especially from the Renaissance, Age of Discovery and Baroque eras. Creating maps of the Wheel of Time universe is for me a natural extension of my fascination with Robert Jordan's series.

Over the years, I have worked in different media. A very great deal is done purely as computer graphic imagery - a natural medium for me as it's been the stuff my professional life is made of since the late 1980s. Other maps have been painted in watercolours or acrylics, or done in charcoal or china ink, with or without CGI enhancements or treatment.

Within the 'The Study of Master Roidelle - Mapping the Wheel of Time' series (Master Roidelle is the mapmaker of Shen al Calhar, for those not completely up to date on WoT trivia), I will be adding to the Thirteenth Depository's Reference Library some of my favourite maps. Some have been done long ago, some are quite new, and many are in-progress. In the next couple of months, much of my the efforts will be focussed on finishing the maps that are meant to complement Linda's various articles; illustrations being a major improvement we are very excited to be able to offer, and something we had long wanted at the old FAQ section at Wotmania. On an irregular basis, I will also add maps from my personal collection and show you some of the ongoing projects. I am, of course, very much looking forward to documenting cartographically some of the events of A Memory of Light.

The maps will be collected over time to form a virtual Wheel of Time Atlas - the 'Study of Master Roidelle' section, where I will often add more information and comments, pointing book sources and various guesses and problems. Several maps will also be found in the articles in the Library.

You can expect soon the first two maps, documenting the Siege of Caemlyn during the Succession (that didn't dare speak its name) and the events in and around the city on the day of Arymilla's last attack that brought her final defeat. These maps will complement Linda's first wholly new article written specially for our new site: a great essay on the early History of Andor and a study of the known Noble Houses and their members. The article to be published later this week will also be augmented with family trees, and renditions of the Andoran Houses' sigils.

I hope you'll enjoy this feature of the Blog, and I'm looking forward to your comments.


Larry said...

Dom, that's very cool! I said it in Linda's post, but just in case I'll repeat it here: Tor's already linking here on their Twitter feed and I'm going to add a permanent link when I get home (already have a post on it on the OF Blog to help spread the word outside of the wotmania family). These maps look great and I am happy to see that you and Linda have figured out ways of making the FAQ even more interactive and visual for casual readers like myself.

Keep up the good work!

Neth said...

more maps please - those are awesome Dom!

Dominic said...

Thanks Ken: There will be three of them soon - probably tomorrow - though one is more a chart sort of thing. The 'real' maps will be much bigger than those 'teasers' (the full version of those will be published eventually too, but the first ones will be of the area around Caemlyn, and one of the south-east neighbourhood of the city)

Larry: Thanks for the comments! It seems Tor found us through your Blog announcement. I didn't even get the chance to finish my letter to them first :)

Larry said...

Cool! If I had known it would have gone live when it did, I would have mentioned/linked it in my email to one of Tor's publicists yesterday (was inquiring about a related matter, but no response yet, although that may be due to the nature of the question asked), as this is certainly something that will be of great value to all sorts of people.

And as Ken said over at wotmania, do contact Irene Gallo and see if she might be interested in using your maps for WoT-related matters, if that's feasible.

Anonymous said...

I will be holding out for a map detailing military forces in position to each other.

Dominic said...

Hmmm... no promises about that. New_Name at Wotmania made one which is well-liked and which has this information for the post-KOD situation.

A great deal of the armies' locations are speculative, and it's likely to be different already when AMOL opens - so it's a bit late in the game for such a project. I'm more likely to focus on battles in AMOL or that have already happened in the series, like the maps of the siege of Caemlyn that will be published in a few hours.

Linda said...

I agree, Dominic, the positions in actual battles will be a lot more worthwhile.

Rurouni Kenshin said...

Awesome, I've always liked that map of Tear, though IIRC, the Stone of Tear should be on the south of the city.

Dominic said...

Eh, nice to see you around RK.

The map of Tear is one of the first I did a few years back and it's indeed based on the layout by Mitchell for the RPG book (at that size it's even hard to tell the 2 maps apart, though mine is a combo of acrylic painting for the land with CGI for the city itself). No the first time I've seen this comment about Mitchell's layout being wrong and I've long meant to investigate that further during a re read, but I never got to it.

Those maps in the RPG are very nice, but I've always wondered a lot how accurate they are (if such a thing can be said about maps of fictitious cities, anyway). The maps in the novels, like the chapter icons, were commissioned by RJ himself, and we can assume the layouts, as simplified as they are, were at least satisfactory to him, but the RPG maps were done for WoC and for Role-Playing, not for Jordan. Not quite sure how much input, if any, he had in those. The layout for Caemlyn in the RPG was rather different from the one the same artist did for the novels, adding gates to the Inner City etc. For the Caemlyn maps, I decided not to follow those and started with the layout shown in the novels, even though the RPG one seemed more realistic. From there I interpreted with the information from the novels, notably having Lower Caemlyn spread all around the city, not just at the gates as Mitchell did in the RPG.

A few have suggested the Tear map in the RPG was mistakingly painted and finalized up side down by Mitchell, from a sketch RJ sent her or something in that vein. That wouldn't be the only mistake - some of the roses of winds on the RPG maps are in contradiction with those of the BW maps Ellisa Mitchell did for the novels (the orientation of TV was radically changed, notably, IRRC).

SSJPabs said...

Ah but the New_Name map is ugly as sin.

Adam Whitehead said...

I'm not sure about the map being completely wrong. In TDR Team Moiraine arrive in the city 'from the west', which indicates the city is west of the river, and in TSR Rand leads the Aiel out of the city eastwards without touching water. So that often-claimed error (based on a reference earlier in TDR to the docks being on the west bank) seems to be erroneous.

After hunting through Encyclopedia WoT and WoT Wiki, there seems to be no reference to the Stone being on the north or south side of the city. I must admit I always assumed it was the north long before I saw the map, but I'm not sure what I based that on.

Dominic said...

Thanks for the pointers Adam. I noted all these references down and will check that out when I reach TDR in my reread, in a few weeks.

I don't remember either any specific mention of the location of the Stone within the city (beside the fact it has direct access to the Erinin and its own docks). If there's anything, it probably has to be deduced logically using scattered clues (but often RJ avoided giving any - especially in the earlier books - keeping his options open to further develop his cities later, I guess).

North always made more sense to me, as the narrow channels of 'The Fingers', requiring Tairen pilots to navigate safely, are a defense system in themselves, making an attack from the sea somewhat unlikely - the invaders would be sitting ducks in those channels. Given that, it doesn't make much sense to me that the city would have spread north from the Stone. In case of siege or attack, the city and harbours would automatically be occupied/burned/pillaged to reach the Stone. It makes more sense for the city to have spread between the relative safety of the Stone in the North, and the Fingers of the Dragon in the South. To the east, there's small roads and farming country. But that's just my reasonning.

It's been too long since I've read TDR last, but forcibly there would be fairly elaborate docks on the west bank as well (and no doubt outposts and at least a village : all the land trade from the west and the outgoing trade going west by roads, would need to use huge barges or cargo boats to go to and from the Stone's or Tairen docks. I know the notion that Tear is on the western bank also arose from the fact the road from the west ends there, but Cairhien is in the same situation: the road from the north ends at the river, without reaching the city which is on the other bank. As for the argument that it doesn't work because no major road would connect Tear to the north and west if it's on the east bank, it doesn't hold water much... The High Lords don't want the country side, their granary (and lately, the Westlands's), to trade with the outside or interact much with foreigners. They don't let cities or even towns develop either - merely villages controlled by the Lords' manorial domains. Everything has to be traded with the outside from Tear itself - even the Lords of the lands need go through the economical system of the High Lords. There would be country roads, for carts and such, and otherwise Tairen farmers aren't encouraged to travel much (it's fairly similar to medieval Japan in that sense).