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