The Imperial Circle

The Imperial Circle is the ring of Great Houses built around the Imperial Palace. It appears that both Dragaera City and Adrilankha include an Imperial Circle.

The Imperial Circle in Dragaera City (61K)

The Imperial Circle in Adrilankha (61K)

In Dragaera City

The ... Houses were built ... and doors were added to the Imperial Palace which looked out on each. Streets were laid on each side of these Houses, so that if one left the Palace by, for instance, the Athyra Door, one would pass the House of Athyra on one's left (The Phoenix Guards, Chapter 3)

The Underside ... was the district directly to the north of the Palace, and bounded on the south by the Palace's north well. It lay between the Street of the Tsalmoth and the Street of the Jhereg, with the Street of the Vallista running through the middle ... it is well known, also, that on those rare days when a north wind blew, all of the windows in the Jhereg and Vallista Wings of the Palace had to be closed, (Five Hundred Years After, Chapter 5)

These two passages taken together suggest that, as you exit the Palace by each House's door, you pass by their Wing on the left, then go through their Gate, and finally pass their Great House on the left.

The text supports the House being on the left. It is possible that the Courtyards are laid out differently, but after passing through the Gate, there is a separate guard at the entrance to each wing, from the first quote above.

The important deduction I made from the second passage is that there are three Streets radiating out from the north, but only two Wings have to close their windows when the wind blows from the north. If you apply the "House to the left rule", you can determine the east/west relationship between those Houses.

It appears that the House of Vallista is to the northwest, and the House of Jhereg to the northeast. This puts the Street of the Jhereg to the northeast, the Street of the Vallista to the north, and the Street of the Tsalmoth to the northwest, which matches the text.

There is another passage that seems to support this:

this suite, located on the east side of the Imperial Wing, featured an extension which had been grafted on above the Jhegaala Wing to provide a sort of balcony or parapet or porch where Her Majesty could sit on fine days and look down on the Dragaera River or the hills of Eastend. (Five Hundred Years After, Chapter 17)

This suggests that the Jhegaala Wing is on the eastern side of the Imperial Palace, which agrees with the above.

One possible problem with this interpretation is this passage:

a district of the city called Catchman Tower ... not, in fact, in the Underside, but rather just to the east, bounded by the Street of the Tsalmoth (Five Hundred Years After, Chapter 13)

This strongly suggests that I have the Circle backwards, and the House of the Tsalmoth on the eastern side of the Imperial Circle.

The preponderance of evidence suggests that the Circle is laid out as I have suggested. I am, of course, open to suggestions how to resolve these five passages without declaring any of them Cracks.

In Adrilankha

The House of Dragon faces the Imperial Palace, just a bit west of north (Dragon, Chapter 1)

Assuming the Streets follow the same scheme as they did in Dragaera City, this means the Street of the Dragon runs due north, and the Street of the Phoenix runs a bit west of north, just to the left of the House of Dragon.

Questions? Comments? Please contact me at dragaera [at]

Copyright © 2006 Bryan Newell, unless otherwise noted.