Notes on The Map of Hell
February 12th, 2012
I've loved maps since I was a kid. I remember pouring ancient kingdoms in history books. Flat colour blocks held within a rigid, unchanging outline, fluctuating with the march of history.
I read Lord of the Rings in grade six. Half the boys in class did.
There was a great colour map of Middle Earth. Might have been in the Brother Hildebrandt Middle Earth calendar my grandfather gave me, which had a particularly striking painting of Lady Eowyn versus the Witch-King. Awesome stuff. Whatever the case, I loved being able to trace the journey of the characters on the accompanying map. That was neat.
So, naturally, I had to do a map up for Hell Lost.
It had to combine aspects of Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante's Inferno. The circles of Dante were the biggest obstacle. They're just too constraining, so I changed them to ledges. Either they've opened Hell up through digging or it's always been this way and Dante was just misled. At any rate, this allows for the great empty continents and wastelands that Milton describes, filled with horrific creatures such as hydra, dragons, and basilisks.
All the traditional layers remain, starting with the vestibule, limbo, the lustful, the gluttonous, the hoarders and wasters, and so on. The four rivers Milton describes flow through them, over waterfalls, or come in from the wastelands and pour into the central Lake of Fire. The frozen lake of Cocytus lies nearby, suggesting a rather wildly inconsistent climate. I have a maelstrom of energy and lost souls that swirls above the Lake of Fire, leaving the rest of the Cocytus plain cold.
The number of cities has expanded greatly, and many will be visited over the course of the story. There are also camps for Infernal Legions and rehabilitation centres for heretics (Fountains of Illumination).
The entranceway takes from Milton, and Hell now borders on Night and Chaos, realms filled with all manner of bizarre creatures.
Who created them and where they come from is anyone's guess.