Alestron's Image

originally posted by Mark Stephen Kominski

Beautiful work on the Alestron painting as depicted on the web site, Janny. Referring to the one where it's still intact. Am I accurate in thinking that the entire foreground is part of the area that Lysaer slagged in Stormed Fortress?

(Always like to tune my mental imagery where I can…!)

CAUTION - spoilers!!!

Mark - The upper portion of the inner citadel, yes, is still pristine. The sea gate and sea quarter, and of course, the shipyard cavern, the harbor winch keeps, and the outlying signal towers would show varying degrees of damage. The outer citadel, up to the Wyntok Gate, (which shows the twin towers in the picture) took anything from mild to severe damage. Parts of that would lie in ruins, with some bits of wall intact in places.

originally posted by Mark Stephen Kominski

****More spoilers, although if you're reading this topic without reading the book AND expecting not to encounter spoilers, well, you should expect something different!*****

Thanks Janny. (Meant to reply to this before, but got interrupted and never got back to it until now!)

It must be cool to be able to bring your stories to life not only thru words, but also thru images.

Regarding the shipyard cavern, I have a nagging thought in my head that the S'Brydion would never have left themselves so exposed. If the backfired hulk rigged by Cattrick, Ivel, Fionn Areth and the rest of the shipwrights did so much damage, what was to stop an enemy who defeated Parrien's fleet from doing the same thing, and so gain access to the lower city? Did the S'Brydion always hold that part of Alestron so lightly? Never seemed that way before, although we hardly visited that part of Alestron before this book…

Hi Mark - this is a good question, but not if you realize how the citadel was constructed, and, understand the fact the compact prevented evolution of major explosives.

First, the upper cavern was HUGE, and deep, when flooded - the shipyard within probably could accommodate vessels drawing 15 feet or more, so the depth of the upper cavern, when filled, would be 18 feet or more.

The shaft leading down to the lower lock exit would be huge, too - as the water raising and lowering the ships had to accommodate hulls the size of Evenstar.

Therefore, the lowergate doors were not readily stormed by ram - the weight of the water pressure would jam them, and any breach would release a massive flood of water into a terribly narrow channel - effectively suicide. IF you stormed the doors when the lock was empty - now you had a sheer loch (picture a vertical rock shaft, probably three stories or more in height - and a second set of watertight, pressured by water, gates at the top…you'd have a nasty mechanical disadvantage to ram them, narrow space below, massive gates overhead, three stories, and again, a suicidal flood of water out of the cavern system if you breached - your crew would all drown.

The narrow cut, leading into the lock system was gated, and had guarding keeps that could create murderous crossfire, also, fire could be brought to bear from the citadel above.

Weak explosives (like black powder, or flour) cannot work in open spaces - they don't have enough ooomph. Research into our earth past shows to blow up a bridge with black powder - in the open - took TONS of the stuff…what makes it concussive is enclosed spaces. Flour, the same…it's an incendiary type explosive.

Therefore, to be effective, the attack has to happen INSIDE the loch shaft (at the outer side of the paravian defenses, which only protected the UPPER CITADEL). And INSIDE a tightly sealed hull - which Evenstar's hulk provided. Koriathain literally twisted the crew to their whim - so expect the flour was dispersed and lit off precisely so as to create as much damage as possible.

The explosion cracked the gates, the top one shut tight, the lower one, not yet open as the sluice was lowering the last bit of water…with the shaft sealed, all that had to happen, now, was a MINOR breach, top and bottom - with no flood of water from the emptied loch left to sweep out the cut, and the top gate's water let down, trammeled by wreckage, the swell through the channel would not have been as horrifically devastating, - AND the citadel at that moment was grossly undermanned (with the seagate under heavy attack by ship mounted siege towers) At night, in the noise and mess, the cut to the shipyard would have been, in that instant, vulnerable to a concerted assault. No one topside expected the area to be vulnerable, and communication in the citadel would have been slowed in the confusion.

The very narrow entry to the sewers - could have been shut at the shipyard end - but - the water outflowing, and only Cattrick and Fionn Areth, too little manpower to push the doors against the current…Further up the shaft, at the mid gate, was where the invasion was stopped. This gate was defensible, and the one topside, at the sewer entry - but the hydrology of the sewers themselves and the sluices and underground sea reservoirs engineered to flood the yard and lock - those cut rock channels were where the sappers could work…and were beginning to work…still faced by a daunting problem and tight defenses as the citadel held out above them. The water cisterns became the target, no actual breach of the upper defenses happened…as you saw.

At this point, I wish I'd done a more complete diagram map of Alestron's defenses…it's quite an interesting arrangement…too much to have described on so much depth at that pitch of action, in the story. Something to think on should I ever get a crack at doing a Preferred Edition!

originally posted by Meredith Lee Gray

That is fascinating Janny! Thanks so much for the explanation. I had puzzled over that whole sequence as well, because I couldn't wrap my head around the layout of the citadel. A map would have helped the entire book tremendously, just because so much of it takes place in and around Alestron itself (obviously).

If you ever have free time (ha!) you should definitely think about scratching out a little map. It would still be a great aid to re-reading. Also a full-size color painting or triptych of the siege in progress at any number of critical scenes would be a great boon as well. :wink:


Mer - well, there is the Paravia sketchbook for this sort of stuff – I Have To get about scanning the several dozen images that are in the book, but not on site…

originally posted by Mark Stephen Kominski

Thanks Janny. I've got it now. Somehow, the locks didn't stay with me the first time, but I see the difficulty in breaching Alestron this way now. I appreciate you taking so much time away from other things (ahem!!) to 'splain, and sorry to be so dense!

originally posted by Meredith Lee Gray

Believe me Janny, I've stared at those drawings until my eyes hurt! If they were a real sketchbook, the pages would be all rubbed raw and falling out of the spine. I love them very much! I'm just incredibly greedy when it comes to accompanying artwork. ():-}


Mark - it's OK, the pages in question were rather emotionally riveting, I should have hoped!!!

And questions like this help let me know what (if we get to do this again!!!) I should work up to put in to another edition…I'd like to add that map, if the opportunity arises.

Meredith - that's incentive to scan that stuff!

If I can just cram the time in…FL T storms do limit computer use in the summers…what time I have power on, I've been using for writing.