Tall Stories

Tall Stories

The Omethi river is a pretty big river which over time has cut a gorge so deep that an ancient and mammoth bridge was necessary to cross over it. Stonebridge, as it is known, is 200ft across and carries the Great Stone Road 100ft above the water, a drop that is also reported as being five stories deep.(note. The shape of the bridge itself needs further investigation.) Playing about with these numbers a bit might just reveal exactly how tall a story Kvothe is actually telling here. He tells us that from the crest of Stonebridge he can, for the first time, spy the top of the archives building to the West, rising up above the trees like some immense greystone.

‘Featureless, grey and square as a block. Larger than four granaries stacked together. No windows, no decorations, and only one set of great stone doors.

Now, having such a monolith as it’s obvious target and having crossed the world to get this far, one would naturally expect that the great stone roadwould run straight up to these great stone doors which would therefore open outwards in welcome towards this line of stone that is approaching it from the East… but they don’t. When Kvothe did finally arrive at the terminus of the long road from Tinuë he found a wall standing before him and he still had to circle around the block in order to find the way (stone) inn, and so whether he circled around to the North or to the South, is rather irrelevant as this circling action means that the doors to the archives are going to be found on the far side and will therefore face West. Whilst this might seem a strange design there is probably a good reason for it. It would, for example, be an offense splitting obstacle towards anyone or thing dangerous that might come storming up to cause trouble… such as the worthy locals of Imre if they ever decided to come up to the castle one night with their flaming torches and their pitchforks to play a game of ‘burn the arcanist at the stake’! Whatever the reason was behind the architects thinking, this is the correct orientation of the archives. The building itself has a square footprint, and a very large square at that. We aren’t told the size of the square edge exactly, but we are told something about the buildings height from looking at it’s insides.

‘I found stairwells leading down as well as up. The archives was six stories tall but I hadn’t know it extended underground as well. How deep did it go?’

Ignoring that question for now, we can use the information given here to make an estimate at a height since Kvothe had already measured the drop for us at Stonebridge as being100ft above the river and he later gives us a very useful comparison yardstick by also calling this height five stories, and 100ft/5 = 20ft each which should make our six storied archives120ft tall. Kvothe also compares the building to a giant greystone which are actually much taller than they are wide, but this building has also described as being ‘square as a block’, which means that it is actually going to be a cube! and since we now know it’s height, we should know all of it’s other dimensions, too, giving us a working archive size of 120 x 120 x 120 cubic ft which is enough room for an awful lot of books.


We can check this by examining Kvothe’s use of a granary as a scale when judging the size of things. Whilst his revelations are likely true, they are rather unhelpful since we don’t have any context to compare it with like we would have with some our commonly visualised units of earthly measuring units for the height or length of things such as an Eiffel tower, or a double-decker bus. However Kvothe does know exactly how big a standard Temerant granary is and he actually uses this as a unit of measurement for us twice.

The inside of the Artifishery is also described as being as big as the insides of a granary and the height of the Fishery will therefore be found to be one quarter the height of the archives which we were earlier told is ‘as big as four granaries stacked together.’

If you look up from the floor of the large open work space we can see Master Kilvin’s ever burning lamps hanging high in the rafters, lamps which we can access from an iron walkway which is measured at about 25 ft high. So if we add enough room to stand up we can agree that the ceiling itself will be about 30ft high, and through knowing the height of our granary we can now simply multiply that by four which gives us the same 120ft answer to tally up nicely enough with the estimate we arrived at from our earlier bridgework.

That’s probably enough trigonometry now since whilst such numbers are good enough to visualise things when making maps or models they aren’t really among the important things to have to know. It’s location is slightly more important in the grand scheme of things but the most important thing to know about the archives is that such an impressively designed feat of engineering actually exists at all.

First Glimpses

So now we can begin to put pencil to paper by drawing a large square base incorporating a factor of 12 units to an edge and leaving a largeish gap on the Western edge for the pair ‘massive stone doors.’ This opening, which is possibly a match for the unknown thickness of the walls themselves, leads into a small ante-room where a more normal sized pair of wooden doors grant access to the front desk which is itself positioned in front of a single door marked Scriv’s Only.

Twice we get to go behind this door, the second time is when Kvothe goes to see Lorren in order to buy back his book Wilem tells us that his office is the door at the end, implying that there are others along the sides, but there must also be a down staircase around here, too because on the other occasion, Master Lorren leads us through the same scriv’s door and then down one flight before showing us into a private reading room in which they can discuss the Order Amyr in secret, as is only right and proper.

Since we haven’t turned any corners, we are now passing towards/through the very centre of the grey block and it would seem rather likely that the Master Archivist’s office is going to be situated at the exact centrepoint of the ground floor. It would also seem to me that if he so desired, he could order all the doors before him to be thrown open and so he could watch the sun set along the passageway from the comfort of his own half-moon shaped desk.

Two other sets of double doors lead away from the front desk. The entrances to Tomes and Stacks.

‘Using both hands, she tugged one of the heavy wooden doors open, revealing a large, high-ceilinged room filled with long tables.

This is the main reading room and the dark stone is well lit by sympathy lamps and at least one wall is covered with ‘all the necessary tomes used for the most basic classes’…such as the mating habits of the common draccus! There is also the requests desk where the scrivs operate from and since we know that the scriv’s only corridor has other doors than that of Master Lorren’s office we can assume that one of them will give access from there to here. Not much else to say about it really except that the high ceilings that are described are in keeping with our guess at 20ft to a story.

Tomes is just one room but Stacks is a bigger puzzle to solve which may require us to read Corridors: Their Form and Function and that is therefore a study for another time. A small peek through this door, though, reveals the start of the bookshelves proper, but given that we have used up a lot of our allocated ground floor space already on our explorations through the other doors then we are clearly going to need to find some staircases in order to access the other levels. When caught with a candle by the 4-plate door it is mentioned that he was ‘found by the south-east stairwell.’ which indicates the presence of others, perhaps there will be some similar stairwells in the other four corners?

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