Tough Traveling – Ancient Engineering Projects

Tough Traveling jpegEach Thursday, our copy of ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

Today’s tour topic is… Ancient Engineering Projects

Ancient Engineering Projects tend to litter the landscape in some parts of the continent.  Most of them are quite mysterious, and all of them are made of some substance not known to the present inhabitants, often of a greenish colour, or matte black, though white is not unknown.  They will be gigantic.  Most of them will be pillars that touch the clouds, but ROADS and broken BRIDGES are common too.  It is unknown quite what challenge caused earlier people to make things that were so very large.  Most of them are no use to anyone.

I came up with examples stupidly fast, and forced myself to stop at five.  Lets go!

Pantomime (Pantomime, #1)1.  PenglassPantomime by Laura Lam-  The most recent example I have read of this phenomenon.  No one knows what these indestructible and often very large objects are for, but they litter the landscape.  Are they dwellings?  Weopons?  Decorations?    One of the few examples on this stop that is starting to have its mystery unveiled, we may actually learn some secrets about this stuff by the end of the series.  Micah, protagonist of the story, seems to have an affinity for the mysterious stuff; indeed his very touch seems to affect it.  I wonder if this will prove to be important as the story moves on?

2. The Dragon’s RoadsDagger and Coin by Daniel Abraham- Rome built a might empire The Dragon's Path (The Dagger and the Coin, #1)and many would argue that its true strength came from its infrastructure, specifically its roads.  With a well-designed road system throughout its land the Romans were able to better facilitate trade, tax collection, and yes, the movement of their mighty army.

Imagine then if instead of common men it was the dragons themselves who laid these down.  No more roads in disrepair, no fear of sabotage.  These roads have lasted long after the dragons left the land, still in use by all the races of men.  God help us if a certain tyrant figures out how important these roads could be…

The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)3. The House of The MakerThe First Law by Joe Abercrombie-  Really The Maker has more than one impressive examples of architecture scattered throughout the land, but is The House of The Maker that really catches the eye.  Sitting in the middle of the capital as it is, casting its shadow down.  It has an obvious entrance but that is about it.

Then something amazing happens!  We are given the chance to enter this amazing building.  Finally answers!  Or, perhaps not.  Instead we learn space isn’t a constant, those who enter still don’t know anything about it, and some doors are best left unopened.  Let’s go look at that bridge The Maker made instead…

4. Elderglass TowersThe Lies of Locke Lomora by Scott Lynch – Five towers from a different time, reaching for the skies.  Unlike some of our locations these are still useable; in fact they have been taken by the aristocracy as the ultimate status symbols.  Unfortunately for the aristocracy, nothing seems to work in them anymore, leaving them as giant awkward towers that require lots of shoddy engineering to moves tuff around within them.

5. The TowerAll the Paths of Shadow by Frank Tuttle –Ya, towers are a theme.  A basic, All the Paths of Shadow (Paths of Shadow, #1)fantasy, wizard’s tower.  This one just happens to be the entire reason for the story.  You see, being a very large tower it casts a very large shadow.  And a very large shadow would put a damper on the King’s Commencement.  So this is one we shall keep an eye on, because who doesn’t want to see a very large tower one it is stripped of its shadow?


That’s it, that’s all I got, though I am sure others could expand this list exponentially.  After all, most of these are recent examples.    Join as next week as we look through….

Assassins, Guild of… – The second most frequent guild after the Thieves Guild.  Indeed, it is possible that these are the only two, and that in Fantasyland crime is the sole organized activity.  They are said to be very good at their job, which is of course killing people for money, and to proceed on all occasions with strict regard for laws and protocol.

Oh boy, what fun!

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