Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Eye of the World Read-Through #10 - Whitebridge Map

The Study of Master Roidelle: A map inspired from re reading The Eye of the World

by Dom

As we progress with the Read-Through of the series, I've decided it would be fun (for me, and hopefully for you) to make a new original map for each book, picking a location (or an event, like a battle or siege) with a decent amount of description in the book. This was somewhat arduous for The Eye of the World, but I finally settled on the town of Whitebridge.

Comments and observations are welcome - for some of the future books I will even provide an early sketch of the map for comments and input and I will then complete it to publish the final version toward the end of the Read-through.

The Town of Whitebridge

Small town in Western Andor. It is located on the main west-east road, on the eastern shore of the river Arinelle. It gets its name from its towering white bridge, a modern feat of engineering made of white glass-looking material most likely dating back from before the Breaking of the World. The white bridge is fabled, being known to the Emond's Fielders from songs, stories and tales told by peddlers. Some readers have suggested that its peculiar surface may have been conceived specifically for the use of jo-cars.

Rand said Whitebridge is "much bigger" than Emond's Field, and about as big as Baerlon. As he saw for the first time part of the western and northern walls of Caemlyn and the part of Low Caemlyn sprawling in front of them, Rand commented that Whitebridge could have fitted twenty times over in there. Low Caemlyn extends but for a few miles around Caemlyn, indicating Whitebridge is fairly small to fit twenty times in the portion of Low Caemlyn Rand could see from his spot, close to the Whitebridge Gate.

The white bridge is the northernmost crossing of the wide waters of the river Arinelle, short of Maradon in Saldaea. As such, Whitebridge is an important location for Andoran trade, exporting Andorans goods to Saldaea, the Borderlands and Illian in the south, and importing their goods, such as furs and ice peppers, into Andor. It may be involved in the commerce of goods from Bandar Eban transiting though Maradon as well, as the mountain passes in the Mountains of Mist west of Baerlon are said to be difficult. The relatively small size of the town may be explained in part by the fact its value as a trade location is entirely seasonal: both the mountain passes in the West and the river Arinelle up North are closed all winter and Spray was the first ship from Maradon reaching Whitebridge that spring (admittedly late, because of the unnatural winter).

While probably involved as well in the trade to and from the Mountains of Mist and Baerlon, it seems that most of it is rather handled in Four Kings, from where the goods transit south to Lugard and beyond. Based on Rand's description of the town, it seems that its life and blood are big merchant houses with large facilities and warehouses, the multitude of commerces and services serving these merchants, their workers, the no doubt considerable number of traders in transit or in town to buy or sell to the merchant houses, and a fairly large community of fishermen – probably too many for the local market, so it's quite possible Whitebridge is also a provider of fresh or preserved fish. The town has a considerable number of inns, some likely for a upper scale clientele of merchants, and some shabbier ones, more akin to taverns, for sailors and the like. Like Baerlon the town is walled, likely in wood like its gates, based on Rand's awe for the stone walls of Caemlyn later.

The town has a governor, like Baerlon and Aringill and possibly other Andoran towns. This likely indicates that Andoran towns are placed under direct royal authority and aren't part of any House's domains (as this would, of course, give those Houses a considerable control over Andoran trade and diminish accordingly the royal power of taxation). Whitebridge has a rather shabby Watch, dressed the same way as Caemlyn Guards, but in uniforms of much poorer make.

Gawyn Trakand owns domains south of Whitebridge. They include a small vineyard.

No much is known of Whitebridge's pre-Andoran history. This location was on the border of Coremanda and Aridhol pre-Trolloc Wars, and most likely a city existed there. The location of the cities of Shaemal, Nailine and Samfara are unknown (Braem and Hai Caemlyn can be located). The ruins of the carved statues up north, the prestigious white bridge and the strategical location even put the site of Whitebridge as a serious contender for having been the location of the capital, Shaemal (another one is the site of Aringill). It is even possible the white bridge dates from the Second Covenant (like for instance Far Madding's Guardian), not from the Age of Legends.

During the Free Years, the Arinelle marked the border of Aldeshar and Farashelle. Aldeshar was the nation Queen Ishara'd family came from, and while it incorporated a portion of today's western Andor (between Whitebridge and Four Kings), most of the territory covered land now in Murandy. No city from Farashelle or Aldeshar are known, though again it is most likely a town of some importance stood at the location of Whitebridge in the Free Years, and was possibly destroyed in the War of Hundred Years.

Known locations:

- The docks
- The central square
- Numerous Inns, including The Wayfarer's Rest, owner: Bartim

Characters from Whitebridge:

- Howal Gode, darkfriend and, while he still lived anyway, owner of a merchant house established in Whitebridge
- Mili Skane (aka 'Lady Shiaine), darkfriend, was born in a small village around Whitebridge.

About the Map of Whitebridge

The layout of the town and its surroundings is directly inspired by the descriptions in The Eye of the World, not following a layout established by one of the 'official' artists hired by Robert Jordan to produce maps for the books.

Below I describe the source material that inspired the map, and the creative leaps I made.

The size of the river Arinelle was set arbitrarily at about half a mile (1/8 League). Rand describes the river as 'wide waters'. The bend in the river up north comes from this passage:

"Rand's attention was all for what lay ahead, coming plainly into sight (ie: the white bridge) as they rounded a slight bend of the Arinelle." (The Eye of the World, Whitebridge)

I placed the bridge at an angle on a whim, to denote the fact it wasn't built specifically for this location.

There are many docks, small for fishing boats and larger for trade ships :
"wooden docks like thin fingers sticking out into the river."
Spray docked at the first bigger dock, north of the bridge. From there Rand, Mat and Thom walked to the big square.

The town "sprawled about its (the bridge's) foot on the east bank".

"Where the White Bridge came down in the center of the town was a big square, paved with stones worn by generations of feet and wagon wheels. Inns surrounded the square, and shops, and tall, red brick houses with signs out front bearing the same names Rand had seen on the carriages at the dock." (Eye of the World, Whitebridge)

There would be paved streets large enough on the waterfront to let the merchants' carriage reach the docks. Warehouses etc. would also likely be in these areas. I arbitrarily placed a smaller market in the southern part – in the south-east part, I placed something that could be the governor's house, or buildings used by the city's magistrates.

The main square is surrounded by big Inns and Trade Houses. In the center of the square I put market stalls.

The Wayfarer's Rest, where Rand, Mat and Thom were, would be close to the corner of the main street leading to the main Gates to the Caemlyn Road. I put the Gates just a few blocks away. Rand mentioned passing streets as they fled from the Square to the Gates, but the distance isn't so great he couldn't still see part of the square from there.

I placed a few secondary gates south and north, to locations in the countryside, farms and eventually villages. Rand and Thom mentions gates, plural, and Moiraine told Nynaeve that Rand and Mat could have left the city to go north, south or west.

In the countryside, I placed a few fishing villages and farms, somewhat sparsely as Rand will note further east that the number of farms increases significantly. Mili Skane was born in one of those villages :P


- You're welcome to leave comments about this post below, or to use The Eye of the World Round-Table open thread to leave a commentary of your own about any aspect of the book.

- Got any nagging question about a topic from The Eye of the World? Send them to 'Ask Zemaille' and the librarians will do their best to answer it.


Linda said...

"probably too many for the local market, so it's quite possible Whitebridge is also a provider of fresh or preserved fish."

Which we never see anyone eat, particularly preserved fish, yet it was a staple until not that long ago in the Western diet in the northern hemisphere. Only those exotic southerners eat fish, and in KOD Elayne ate trout once.

Dominic said...

We don't see much fish eaten at Inns in the north (ie: away from the sea). We see plenty of river fishermen, however - meaning there's plenty of fish eaten 'off-screen'. In EOTW Rand said that for all the fishing boats on the Arinelle, the fishmongers had very poor fare to offer in town - it sounds like the weather has affected the fish.

There are plenty of references to fish and fishing even up north (fishing boats at Whitebridge, fishing boats at Cairhien, and in and around Tar Valon, etc.) - it would certainly be common fare in summer in the Two Rivers, for e.g. RJ just didn't put fish on the table on-screen very often, except in cities near the sea.

Linda said...

Off screen is right. It's hardly the food of heroes, or food of choice for heroes, apparently.

Dominic said...

Except Mat, for whom it's exactly that! :) Mat eats fish on screen and he loves fish, and he had a few fishing references (latest was that scene when Noal talked of making a fish stew from Shara)

It fits some of his parallels perfectly, notably Fion. IRRC, RJ also had once Mat drink from a fountain with women and fish statues. Not exactly subtle - especially not with the Tree of Life nearby, and all the Hangman and 'bruidhean' references.

Another story line with quite a few fish references is Perrin and Moiraine following Rand in TDR. Siuan's reference, and that scene of Moiraine fishing are some of the few instances where RJ merged his own one power/Aes Sedai/rivers symbolism with one of its sources: the association between the Aes Sidhe, rivers and the Fairy underworld. In Rhuidean he inverted the imagery: instead of a bruidhean hidden under a lake or river, he had a lake hidden undera bruidhean (ie: a 'Fairy Fortress/Castle' )

Dominic said...

Hmmm... Perrin eats fish too a few times... Faile hates fish, which is funny considering silver fish are the emblem of Saldaea and oil fish the main trade good of Mayene :)

It's Rand I can't recall eating fish - ironic considering his association to the Fisher.

Dominic said...

though the imagery is more of a Fisher that uses the Pattern as a net to fish souls, not really a fisher-fisher

Linda said...

The Fisher King in the Arthur myth was called that because due to his wounds he couldn't hunt, a pretty energetic activity, only fish.

edlihs said...

Isn't Rand a Jesus parallel? The sign of Jesus is a "Ichthys", fish in Greek

Macster said...

I always thought the "Fisher King" came from a mistranslation, since the French word for fisher is identical (save for an accent) with the word for sinner. Of course since Jesus was called the fisher of men and the fish was his symbol, that was likely a French pun. Point is, it seems to me that the idea of the Fisher King being an actual fisherman was an explanation for the name added on later by someone who didn't get the French pun.