Update: Tasmakat

Okay! We are heading out of the borderlands toward the king’s city of Avaras.

Ryo thinks it’s hot and is resigned to allowing people to work cantrips to help him cope. He’s shortly going to (a) have more trouble with the heat, and (b) encounter a more powerful magician, someone who can use real incantations, including something pretty powerful.

We didn’t meet Aras’ family in the borderlands after all. I moved them back to Gaur because there was enough stuff cluttering up the borderlands part, but not enough to do on the way to Avaras. We’re going to visit Gaur for sure and probably the Peacock Desert. Stuff can happen in those two places — I have vague ideas — and then I may write something like, “fourteen days later, we arrived in Avaras.” I mean, not quite that abrupt. But close-ish.

You realize I’ve referred to the grand architecture of the Lau several times in various books. I am going to have to describe that architecture shortly. I may seek inspiration from reading bits from other authors’ work. Who does really good grand architecture? I can think of two authors offhand:

(a) Martha Wells, in practically everything she writes. Huge ruins everywhere! Also, remember that city built on a turntable? No explanation, as I recall. Just a city slowly rotating on a giant turntable in the mountains. That’s in The Cloud Roads. But there’s plenty of grand architecture in her other books as well.

(b) Victoria Goddard, in The Hands of the Emperor. The Emperor’s palace is exceedingly grand.

Does anybody else spring to mind for any of you?

You know what, I should also look at images of real-world actual no-kidding grand architecture. Anybody have suggestions for must-see examples?

Anyway, I have only vague ideas about what’s going to happen before we get to Avaras. That will probably slow me down a bit. I have extremely clear scenes in my head for what happens IN Avaras, so that should be both fun and fast. I don’t intend to jump forward and write those scenes next and let the journey wait, but you know, that is not actually impossible, so we’ll see.

Then we’ll cross into the country of fire, the country of sand, the land of two Suns. We will have a good reason for doing that, but after we are well into the country of sand — too far to easily turn back — things will get much more fraught in a hurry.]

I just passed 120,000 words, by the way. A normal-sized book would be finished. But to be fair, if I were aiming to write a book that would be about 120,000 words in the final draft, I would fully expect the first draft to go to at least 150,000 words. Plus I always knew Tasmakat was going to go long no matter what. Even if I’d shown nothing of the journey back across the winter country, it would still have gone long. I therefore decline to worry about length, especially length of the first draft.

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18 thoughts on “Update: Tasmakat”

  1. Here I am greedily hoping that Tasmakat will be at LEAST as long as The Hands of the Emperor…

    Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium is the first book that comes to mind for architecture, since the protagonist is a mosaicist going to (fictional) Byzantium—I remember a description of the Hagia Sophia that was quite simply breathtaking. (But I haven’t reread it in years and may very well be wrong.) Maybe it’s just that you can do a lot of mental image conjuring by using words like “marble” and “porphyry”.

  2. Yucutan. These cities are well preserved, with no modern cities built on top. And without the arch, the Mayans tended to build massively rather than gracefully.

  3. Victoria Goddard for sure! Portrait of a Wide Seas Islander and the lost city bit of The Return of Fitzroy Angursell both spring to mind, if you want something a little shorter than The Hands of the Emperor to look through.

    I feel like I also have a pretty clear mental image of the architecture in Katherine Addison’s Goblin Emperor and the two related books that follow.

    I wonder if in addition to looking at real life photos, illustrations/graphic novels might be helpful, because someone has already simplified it a little and made decisions about what to emphasize? Evan Dahm’s Vattu and Harrowing of Hell come to mind.

  4. Illustrations are a good idea! I’ll throw in Dinotopia & its sequels, which have some really gorgeous grand architecture behind all the dinosaurs…

  5. Is there a particular part of the world it’s supposed to resemble? I’m just thinking sunny places I’ve been, so maybe Alhambra or the cathedral in Cordoba? Dinotopia is a good thought too.

  6. SarahZ, I’m happy to steal from anywhere, but most of the summer country presents architects with a hot, dry climate, so that’s bound to have an effect. I hadn’t thought of Dinotopia; what a great place to look.

    Elise, yes, of course! The Goblin Emperor has wonderful descriptions of architecture. Great suggestion!

    I’ve never seen anything by Dahm, but sounds like a good thing to look at.

    Pete, thanks, I’ll take a look.

    Mary Beth, good, I’ve got Sailing to Sarantium here but I’ve never read it; maybe this is a good time. Porphyry is SUCH a great word, I know I’ve definitely used it before when describing buildings.

  7. I seem to remember that Angel Mage by Garth Nix has some really Byzantine-style architecture. Also the manga Magus of the Library, especially which honestly just has really good art period – but the establishing shots of the Library city are especially impressive. I second Dinotopia.
    If you’re looking for architecture that would work well in a hot or desert climate, try looking up Middle Eastern or Indian buildings, especially palaces. There are reasons they build as they do – unlike our culture that is obsessed with climate control, people in extreme environments often try to build to suit the climate instead.

  8. On second thought, ancient Persia is better than Yucatan for hot and dry architecture. And it is seriously monumental.

  9. Kathryn McConaughy

    Persepolis, Meroe, Napata, Thebes, Petra, Tel Dan, Kerma – all ancient cities in hot climates with amazing architecture!

  10. Fantastic excuse for some travel browsing – Morocco; Central Asian mosques and palaces; Istanbul, hill forts and palaces of rajasthan, the ruins of Hampi in south India, Timbuctou.

  11. The chepelli architecture in the Jaran series is stunning , and of course Piranesi, both the book and the lithographs.

  12. This is definitely a great excuse for “travel browsing,” no question about that.

    Thanks, Alison, it’s been ages since I read the Jaran series and I’d completely forgotten about the chepelli architecture.

  13. I tried to find an article about a modern grand architecture new tower building, I think it was in Dubai/Qatar, that used an interior waterfall to cool the air (evaporative cooling, also from the planting watered by the spray & water channels, + creating airflow), thereby creating more water from the air (condensation) as well as harnessing the power of rising hot air (they needed to let in hot air from outside to extract moisture by cooling it down) & solar panels (and maybe regain some from the falling water as well, I forget) to power lifting the water up again. It wasn’t this one, but this sure looks like a modern fantastic building too: https://inhabitat.com/sou-fujimotos-outlook-tower-in-qatar-stays-cool-with-indoor-waterfalls-and-cooling-mist/sou-fujimoto-outlook-tower-doha-qatar/
    (The article I was looking for talked about the techniques incorporated in that building and was very interesting; this is just some artist’s impressions of a proposed design.)
    It created a relatively cool and moist interior with self-sustaining waterflow, watering the indoor gardens and cooling the air without the need for fossil fuel/electricity/water costs or anything like that beyond the initial installation. I couldn’t find the article I was looking for, but did find some other interesting articles about condensing water from thin air, dependent on the difference between nighttime and daytime temperatures, so suitable in dry desert-bordering climates and not just to harvest fog in the Atacama desert. Warka water tower: https://youtu.be/THJVuinPbc0 or dew-collecting ‘greenhouse’ tents: https://youtu.be/1-dpSZlt_jw

    I also found information about grand desert architecture – lots of domes and colonnades historically, and/or very thick walls. Domes are easier to cool, with ventilation ‘chimneys’ at the highest point, or wind channels/breezeways right through a house in the direction of the prevailing wind. Deep overhangs creating shade, often with openwork gaps at the tops of the walls, under the eaves for airflow; few or no windows on the sunny and hot outside, but instead looking out on shaded courtyards (often covered with a vine lattice, or a screen, or shaded by trees) with reflecting pools, maybe with shaded colonnaded walkways around them.
    A modern adaptation is using a dark wall fronted with glass, with an airspace between, to absorb the heat during the day and release it at night, in order to even out the dramatic temperature shifts that come with being in the desert – this can protect tender plants from frostbite, as well as making it unnecessary to provide other heating at night.
    Building underground, or with very thick walls, is a very old adaptation. Building with wind-permeable but sun-screening light screens instead of walls or windows. Building domed dwellings to withstand high winds and sandstorms. Indian temples to Shiva where the columns are tuned so they can be played like a musical instrument: https://youtu.be/UOFoQ70m6Z8

    There are both ancient and modern architectural wonders in the middle east and north Africa, if you’re looking at a really desert-type environment, and many more in other cultures if it’s tropical heat and monsoon rains they need to cope with.

    Searching for images with the words sumerian architecture gives some very ancient heavy blockish style monument. Other words to combine architecture with for some good photograpic images of other styles: assyrian, egyptian, arabian, iranian, moroccan, libya(n), iraq(i), syria(n), qatar(i), kuweiti; sahara architecture and sahara ruins, and zimbabwe ruins.

    Other countries give different results, just looking at images from Indian to Inca, Mayan to Malaisian architecture might be inspiring.

  14. I posted a really long answer with about 5 links here, and it looked as if it was posted, but now it’s gone. Did it get sent to moderation?

  15. Oh, my word, I had never seen Dinotopia before! Thank you, Mary Beth! (Don’t know how I missed these books.) There’s a great behind-the-scenes video on his website showing the extensive research and work that went into those gorgeous realistic paintings. https://jamesgurney.com/

    The Getty museum has a fun virtual tour of reconstructed Persepolis: https://persepolis.getty.edu/

    I always enjoy the architecture in Andrea Höst’s books, particularly the Touchstone trilogy.

  16. Kim, highly recommend Dinotopia – I love that artwork, and so does my 6yo :)
    There are some illustrated sequels too.

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