Chapter: A Stranger in Paradise

Information relevant to A Stranger in Paradise, the 2nd chapter of The Chosen

the Valley of the Gate
a map of the Valley of the Gate

This is a map of the Valley of the Gate—not only the largest coomb in the Sacred Wall, but also the mouth of the Canyon of the Three Gates as it opens into the crater of Osrakum

On the left, the throat of the valley is closed by the Black Gate. The valley itself is filled with hexagonal columns of black basalt. The Valley of the Gate connects to the Isle by means of the Great Causeway. To either side of this, the Valley descends to the Skymere by two flights of Turtle Steps

Sapients of the Wise
a Sapient mask
a Sapient mask

The Wise are the third Power of the Great Balance. It is they who administer the Commonwealth as well as enforcing the statutes of the Law-that-must-be-obeyed

the Kharon and their bone boats
a Kharon ferryman

The Kharon are a specialized caste in Osrakum, living in family units in boathouses on the outer slopes of the Ydenrim, as well as the shores of the cone that walls in the Plain of Thrones. These family units vary in size. The smallest may have but a single boat, the largest many. The kharon mate exclusively among themselves

A Kharon child has its right eye plucked out at birth

A Kharon mask is made of ivory or bone. These masks show a face in right-profile. Reading this as one would a glyph gives the impression that the steersman is gazing into the future

The first drawing depicts a steersman wearing the characteristic headdress: a nest of bone fragments at the heart of which is located a turtle shell—a symbol for the sky

Kharon bone boats

The second diagram shows rough sketches of the bone boats with which the Kharon ferry people back and forth across the Skymere. A galley with extremely tall prow and stern posts, a bone boat is propelled by oarsmen—more Kharon rowing beneath the deck. A bone boat is constructed and maintained from the bones of the dead of the family that operate it. Kharon are bound to their ancestral vessels in life and death

as imagined by Mark Harrison
US edition of The Chosen ©Mark Harrison
cover of the US edition of The Chosen ©Mark Harrison

This is Carnelian and Jaspar on the kharon bone boat as imagined by Mark Harrison for the US edition of The Chosen with the twin peaks of the Pillar of Heaven rising in the background

Chosen coombs
formation of coombs in the Sacred Wall

Coombs are valleys eroded into the inner face of the Sacred Wall. These are the many indentations that can be seen in the model of Osrakum. The diagrams above show cross-sections of the Sacred Wall showing coombs and how they interact with the water of the Skymere

The Great and the Lesser Chosen have their palaces and gardens built into these coombs. Only the highest Houses of the Great possess a whole coomb to themselves

Coomb Suth
a map of Coomb Suth

Coomb Suth is Carnelian’s ancestral home. The map shows the palaces set into the floor of the coomb. Carved high into the Sacred Wall above the floor of the coomb are the upper palaces or Eyries where the Suth escape the summer heat

The lower palaces of House Suth are built on a curl of land forming the floor of a semi-circular coomb or valley that is open to the Skymere along its south-eastern edge. An idea of how large is this domain can be gleaned by comparing it with the ‘nose’ like structure, shown in the bottom right hand corner—the Hold drawn to the same scale

Much of the available land in the coomb is built upon. The greater part is taken up by an intricate complex of halls and courts organized to provide interlocking spaces that become increasingly more private as one moves towards their centre. There are also public spaces and those dedicated to each of the various lineages as marked. Also shown is the Forbidden House where the women of House Suth are sequestered

The coomb is reached by means of either the Visitor’s Quay, the Private Quay—used exclusively by the Chosen members of the House—and another quay that is used by members of the household, and to receive goods and materials

The north-eastern part of the coomb is taken up with buildings given over to the household and the many artisans required to run and maintain so many structures. A barracks for the tyadra is located beside the court through which the palace complex is entered. Also shown is the beginning of the stairs that lead up to the Eyries

The carved pebble beach—where Carnelian comes ashore in The Chosen—is shown, as well as the garden he crosses to enter the palaces