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Location of Gundobad

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The Location of Gundobad has proven a thorny question for Fighting Fantasy scholars.

IntroductionEdit

In 1986, Fighting Fantasy produced its first, and only, two-player, two-volume gamebook, Clash of the Princes (referred to as "CotP" herein), by Andrew Chapman and Martin Allen. These two volumes, The Warlock's Way and The Warrior's Way, introduced us to the previously unknown city-state of Gundobad and its surrounding lands. Although these volumes contain a beautifully drawn colour map of the area, the area doesn't appear to correspond to anywhere in the known Titan world, nor does anything in the text of these volumes hint at a connection between the lands of Gundobad and the lands of Titan.[1] Indeed, the geography and politics of CotP don't seem to resemble anything we know about Titan from other sources. In addition to the map, the following statement from the background section of the two volumes illustrates:

The city-state of Gundobad, though lying in the centre of the great empire of the Pasha Vulfolaic the Vicious - an exceptionally rapacious emperor - still selects its own rulers by means of the ancient methods handed down through the aeons. Tradition has it that the first ruler of Gundobad, King Ossil the harmful, had an enormous crown forged of iron and studded with a thousands blue gems, which were stolen for him from the Plain of Ice in the Third Hell by his Faerie wife.[2]

Nevertheless, Fighting Fantasy fans have always, it appears, felt that the atmospheric lands depicted in CotP are sufficiently Titan-esque for them to be included somewhere in the world of Titan. This feeling was confirmed by one of the authors of CotP, Andrew Chapman, in an email correspondence with Daniel Williams, erstwhile moderator of the original Rebuilding_Titan Yahoo group. The post reads as follows:

From: Daniel Williams

Date: Sun Jan 21, 2001 4:55 pm
Subject: [RT] Re: Return of the High Priest (again)

Whilst I remember, here is Andrew Chapman's reply to the email I sent him:

> I don't think I was even aware of Titan when I wrote Clash of the Princes
> and was certainly never consulted by anyone about it. I have no
> problem with Gundobad being situated in Titan and you may place it there
> with my blessing.[3]

This statement makes it clear that at least one of the authors of CotP considered it possible that Gundobad was in Titan. Despite this, it appears that the exact location of Gundobad is still as big a mystery as ever (although of course we do not know what Martin Allen or Dave Andrews thought about its location, if anything). In the remainder of this article, the pros and cons of a number of theories which might explain the location of Gundobad are examined.

Theories Concerning the Location of GundobadEdit

Although various interpretations are possible, the following four theories concerning the location of Gundobad seem the most likely:

1) Gundobad is not in Titan - this idea idea is not discussed here, since Andrew Chapman suggested that it could be, and it appears that the general feeling amongst Fighting Fantasy fans is that it should be.
2) Gundobad is somewhere in the known lands of Titan (Allansia, the Old World or Khul), but doesn't appear on the Titan maps, in the same way that other lands introduced after the publication of Titan do not (e.g. Kazan, Mortvania).[4]
3) Gundobad is somewhere else on Titan (i.e. not in Allansia, the Old World or Khul).
4) Gundobad is on Titan, but at a different time period than other Fighting Fantasy books. This theory can be combined with either (2) or (3) above.

In what follows, the pros and cons of options (2), (3) and (4) are discussed in turn.

2) Gundobad is somewhere in the known lands of Titan (Allansia, the Old World or Khul)

At first sight, the geography and politics of Gundobad do not seem to fit anywhere in Allansia, the Old World or Khul. However, similarities between the geography and nomenclature of CotP and an area of northern Khul around the town/city of Kalagar have frequently been pointed out. If we are to locate Gundobad anywhere in the known Titan lands, this area seems the only likely candidate.

Perhaps the most immediate similarity between this area of Khul and the lands of CotP is the similarity between the names "Kalagar" (in Khul) and "Kalamdar" (in CotP). Although the two names are not identical, they are probably close enough for an explanation of the difference to be straightforward.

The second factor which might lead us to identify the lands of CotP with this part of northern Khul is geographical similarity between the maps of the two areas - see Maps 1 and 2 in this article.

Gundobad

Map 1: The map from Clash of the Princes

Ne khul1

Map 2: North-east Khul[5]

At first sight, these two maps, although vaguely similar, do not strikingly correspond. It might be possible, for example, to equate Kalagar with Kalamdar, and Gundobad with Kabesh, or, perhaps more extremely, the Lake of Death (the unnamed lake on the CotP map)[6] with Lake Nekros. Such suggestions would require us to invoke theory (4) above (that CotP is set at some earlier time in the history of Titan), and still suffer from a considerable mismatch between the geography of the two maps.

It might also be possible that the lands in CotP correspond to a much smaller area around Kalagar in the map from Titan. If a smaller part of the Titan map is compared with the map from CotP, there is a much better match between the geography of the two areas - see Map 3 in this article.

Kalagar

Map 3: The Kalagar area[5]

In this comparison, the coastlines of the two areas are similar, and the location of Kalagar and Kalamdar is more or less identical. The main problem is that the hills, rivers, forests, and most significantly, Gundobad itself, are missing from the original Khul map, although the fact that the original Khul map of the area which would later be identified as Kazan in Daggers of Darkness is equally lacking in detail suggests that this might not be an insurmountable problem. Many areas of Titan were left as blank templates which could later be filled as gamebooks appeared.

Despite the close geographical similarity between this area of Khul and the lands of CotP, a number of problems remain: in addition to the city-state of Gundobad not appearing on the map, the politics and history of Gundobad do not seem to fit with what little we do know about the politics and history of Khul. It is difficult to see where "the great empire of the Pasha Vulfolaic the Vicious"[2] might fit into northern Khul as it is described in Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World, Masks of Mayhem, Phantoms of Fear, Master of Chaos and Deathmoor. That said, canon information on this part of Khul is extremely limited indeed. This problem is addressed under (4) below.

Further evidence for this location comes from the fact that Vulfolaic is titled "Pasha". Pashas were high-ranking individuals in the Ottoman Empire (which originating in Turkey), and is a word of Turkic origin. This connects Vulfolaic, culturally as least, to places like the Turkic-inspired Kazan with its Vizier, and the central Khul empire of Khan Gyorgir, Khan being a Turkic and Mongolian title. This is evidence perhaps that Gundobad and its surrounding lands are in fact in Khul, and that Vulfolaic's Empire is historically connected with the Kabeshian Empire. This evidence would also fit with option 4 below.

3) Gundobad is somewhere else on Titan (i.e. not in Allansia, the Old World or Khul)

If a place can't be found for Gundobad in Allansia, the Old World or Khul, yet we still wish to locate the lands described in CotP in Titan, is it possible that Gundobad might be located in some other, unknown part of Titan? This is a theory which has been mooted by a number of Fighting Fantasy fans, with Gundobad located in the "Unknown Land" which appears at the bottom left of the world map in Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World.[7] This "Unknown Land" is certainly intriguing, lying as it does on the edge of the map and on the edge of our knowledge of Titan. Might it be possible that the Titan-esque, but slightly anomalous, Gundobad might be located there?

The advantage in placing Gundobad in the "Unknown Land" is that this allows us to locate Gundobad in Titan without any of the geographical or historical problems mentioned above. Additionally, it helps to account for the slightly unfamiliar (not typically Titan) creatures and atmosphere in CotP.

There are a number of problems with locating Gundobad in the "Unknown Land", however. Nothing is known about the "Unknown Land", as its name implies. It is not known whether it is inhabited, or by whom, nor is anything known about its geography other than the part which creeps over the edge of the Titan map. Considering its (apparent) extreme southerly location, we do not even know whether the "Unknown Land" is habitable, or whether it is Titan's equivalent to Antarctica. As a result, the location of Gundobad in the "Unknown Land" requires non-canon manipulation of the history and geography of Titan to a fairly substantial extent, whilst at the same time failing to utilise more fully the lands we already know something about.

4) Gundobad is on Titan, but at a different time than other Fighting Fantasy books

Most Fighting Fantasy books, and indeed most of the things we know about Titan, take place in or around the 9th decade of the third century AC. There are, of course, exceptions, such as The Tasks of Tantalon, which takes place in the 170sAC.[8] It is perhaps possible that CotP is set at an earlier period in the history of Titan, allowing time for the city-state of Gundobad and "the great empire of the Pasha Vulfolaic the Vicious" to have existed and disappeared, without affecting the politics and geography of Titan in more recent times.

As mentioned above, such a theory is probably necessary if we wish to equate Gundobad with Kabesh or the unnamed lake with Lake Nekros. This theory would also help to explain the more narrow equation of the lands of CotP with the lands around Kalagar, also discussed above. There are many long, unrecorded years in the history of Khul where vast empires and countless city-states could have come and gone, leaving little trace behind them. And such a scenario would also help to explain the equation of Kalamdar with Kalagar - through time, the name of the town/city has changed.

Of course, if theory (4) is considered to be possible, there is no reason why Gundobad couldn't be placed in other parts of Titan, including the known continents, the "Unknown Land", or even in Irritaria itself.

ConclusionsEdit

If Gundobad is placed in Titan, a number of options seem likely: it might be placed in northern Khul in the neighbourhood of Kalagar; it might be placed in the "Unknown Land"; or it may be placed it in some earlier period in the history of Titan. Each of these theories has its pros and cons, and it is of course up to the individual Fighting Fantasy fan to decide which theory he/she prefers (until such times as a definitive statement appears in a canon text, or the authors and map illustrator of CotP make clear their intentions, if indeed they had any).

See AlsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. The illustrator of the map is not named, but as the map is signed "DA", and the style is the same as the maps in Masks of Mayhem and Creature of Havoc , it appears to have been Dave Andrews.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Warlock's Way - The Trial of Kingship; The Warrior's Way - The Trial of Kingship
  3. Post 503 at Rebuilding Titan
  4. Daggers of Darkness - ???; Vault of the Vampire - ???;
  5. 5.0 5.1 Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World - 23/??
  6. The Warlock's Way - 13
  7. Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World - 10/??
  8. Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World - 44/??

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