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    Literature in the Flanaess: The Travels of Layene Poole
    Posted on Tue, March 22, 2005 by Dongul
    gvdammerung writes "This entry in the Greyhawk Bibliographica series looks at the travelogues of the itinerant scholar Layene Poole. All have immediate adventure hooks and can serve as a way to introduce books into a game as something players and PCs should be interested in. Seven titles are presented: Travels in Further Keoland; The Lost Burrows; The Lost Goblin Mine; Forgotten Elberen; The Silent Halls of Ammarindour; The Ruins of Xitkalba; and The Valley of Hutaakanka.

    Literature in the Flanaess: The Travels of Layene Poole
    By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    If Marck Polstar’s sensational travelogues represent the most famous, if most questionable, sort of documents, the travelogues written by Layene Poole stand at the opposite end of the spectrum. Historians praise Layene Poole for his keen sense of history and his amazing eye for recording telling detail. The complete works of Layene Poole are almost sufficient to constitute a general history, or a petit history failing that, were it not for the author’s utter lack of such intention and highly idiosyncratic style.

    That Layene Poole is highly regarded does not mean his work is without critics or immune from criticism. Certainly, as he grew older, his later works were not equal to his earliest writings. Still, even his harshest critics agree that the history of the Flanaess is better understood for the written accounts of his travels.

    The works below comprise all known Layene Poole texts.

    Travels in Further Keoland
    by Layene Poole (1 Volume)
    1st Edition - 226 CY

    Note - The first edition was published in quarto with watercolor illustrations marking each signature. While copies of the 1st edition may found, many of the illustrations are destroyed in copies exposed to moisture.

    Layene Poole is arguably the finest author of travelogues and certainly the most prolific. An itinerant scholar, Poole’s talent was for capturing specific places and peoples in their everyday routines. Susceptible to characterization as overly sentimental or even picaresque, Layene Poole’s travelogues, in capturing his subjects like flies in amber, are invaluable to scholars. While no great wars or upheavals are recorded, in the fine details of life and place, Layene Poole places historic events in an immediate context of the lives of those caught up in such events.

    Travels in Further Keoland is a record of Layene Poole’s roaming among the most rural, some would say backward or even primitive, areas of Keoland. In small villages and hamlets, the author captures not just a slice of life but also the purest survivals of those Suel who first migrated to the Sheldomar Valley, and their customs. Some of the latter have proven horrifying and embarrassing to those Suel apologists who would have Keoland a happy land, unfamiliar with the more general Suel reputation for cruelty and base acts. Layene Poole’s work in Travels in Further Keoland has done much to keep the debate about the precise character of the Suel in the Sheldomar Valley well and alive, lest we forget.

    The Lost Burrows
    by Layene Poole (1 Volume)
    1st Edition - 229 CY

    Note - In 250 CY, a 100th Anniversary Edition (5th Edition overall) of Trollkin’s Short History was published as a two volume set with The Lost Burrows comprising the second volume (2nd Edition overall). This Anniversary Edition in Imperial quarto is particularly sought by collectors.

    Traveling in the Ulek States, Layene Poole stays among the halfling people almost exclusively. He records their lives, customs and legends. Most notable among the last is fabled Esmerin, of which substantial details are given. Some speculate that the author must have visited that city, but he makes no such claim. Other lost halfling communities are also mentioned, although most were then thriving.

    The Lost Burrows is interesting to compare to Trollkin’s Short History. None of the latter’s sense of self-deprecating swagger effects the former. The contrast is striking. Layene Poole’s halflings are modest, kind, self-effacing and given to going out of doors with caution. Only the strength of character of the halfling people shines through to give one confidence that the two works speak of the same stalwart people. Halflings in their everyday affairs, as recorded by Layene Poole, do not appear half as clever as Trollkin describes. When taken together, however, halflings appear as a fascinating people of great contrasts.

    The Lost Goblin Mine
    by Layene Poole (1 Volume)
    1st Edition - 232 CY

    Note - The 1st edition was published with a jeweled cover. All of the gems are semi-precious varieties quartz but against a rich brown leather, the effect is striking. Few 1st editions are seen with all of the inset jewels still intact.

    For a time, Layene Poole wandered among the Lortmils, where he dodged humanoids and explored various caves and caverns. To his credit, the author’s signature style does not change when his subjects are goblins, orcs and the like. He fearlessly records the facts of their existence without prejudice. That some claim this as a failing and that Layene Poole “ennobles an ignoble race” is more reflective of their prejudice than anything else. Layene Poole records after his style, simply and effectively.

    The Lost Goblin Mine is a treasure hunter’s dream. It is the most exact surviving record of the locations of goblin and orc strongholds in the Lortmils and Kron Hills that existed prior to the Hateful Wars. In that conflict, much was destroyed, lost or only accounted for anecdotally. If the elves of Celene have better records, they are not sharing them. Thus, The Lost Goblin Mine becomes the best source for those researching, or seeking to uncover, humanoid habitations in the Lortmils or Kron Hills that date from before the time of the Hateful Wars.

    Forgotten Elberen, Tree City of the Elves
    by Layene Poole (1 Volume)
    1st Edition - 235 CY

    Note - Copies of the first edition are extremely rare. The spine of the first edition was made of wood allegedly gathered by the author in Elberen. The number of copies of the 1st Edition was therefore very small. The wood is also said to retain something of the spirit of Elberen, a comment not elaborated on by known collectors.

    Forgotten Elberen might be thought of as an extended elegy. The tree city of Elberen was an elven city destroyed by humanoids from the Lortmils. During his travels through Celene, Layene Poole stayed in the city for an extended period of time, occasionally visited by elven friends or sages of his acquaintance. The resulting text is the story of Elberen, its fall and how the elves dealt with the loss. The text is best described as haunting, at times almost painful to read.

    Unfortunately, some have seen in Forgotten Elberen, Tree City of the Elves, a companion volume to the Lost Goblin Mine, in the sense that Forgotten Elberen could be used as a guidebook to find treasure. Whether or not this is actually true is beside the point. Elberen has a significance to the elves of Celene, who would later prosecute The Hateful Wars, out of all other proportion. While a fitting tribute to the city, the book has regrettably fostered more than one attempt to disturb the dead.

    The Silent Halls of Ammarindour
    by Layene Poole (1 Volume)
    1st Edition - 240 CY

    Note - The Silent Halls of Ammarindour was the first Layene Poole title to be published in the City of Greyhawk, as all of Layene Poole’s subsequent books were published there. This event coincides with and contributes to Greyhawk’s emergence as a center for scholarly publications.

    The titular Silent Halls is a reference to the abandonment of the dwarven city of Ammarindour. Visiting the ruin in the company of dwarven acquaintances, Layene Poole has what comes closest to an actual adventure. Ammarindour was abandoned after being overcome from within by what may be translated from the dwarven as an elder elemental demon. As Layene Poole and his companions discover, the demon is still in residence. This does not prevent the author, however, from presenting a fine accounting of the fallen dwarven citadel and dwarven life within a hold.

    Unique among Layene Poole’s travelogues, the author does not identify the location of Ammarindour. Perhaps a lesson is learned from the accounting of Elberen’s tale. Scholarly debate has been animated, attempting to locate Ammarindour on the map. Dwarven scholars have proven of no help by maintaining what must be accounted a studied silence on the subject.

    The Ruins of Xitkalba
    by Layene Poole (1 Volume)
    1st Edition - 245 CY

    Note - In a poor decision, the 1st edition was bound with cover inserts made of the bark of the southern Yarpick, which grows in the Wild Coast. Mites within the bark have destroyed or heavily damaged all known 1st editions.

    In the Suss Forest, Layene Poole comes upon a ruined city he identifies as Xitkalba. The city, it is claimed, was the work of the Olman people of the Amedio, being a northern outpost of a once grand empire. This claim is immediately controversial and marks a departure for the author, whose other works are readily acknowledged and accepted as the most factual sort. Indeed, in all other respects, this book is typical of Layene Poole, being a close account of the Wild Coast as it becomes the Suss.

    Some claim that Xitkalba is the fabled Lost City of the Suss. However, Layene Poole makes no mention of the Jewel River, raising immediate suspicions. All attempts, and there have been several known, to locate and explore Xitkalba have failed. Today, The Ruins of Xitkalba is little known or regarded, the Wild Coast having undergone such drastic changes as to make this work practically obsolete. The book is more a historic curiosity than anything else.

    The Vale of the Hutaakanka
    by Layene Poole (1 Volume)
    1st Edition - 254 CY

    Note - This is Layene Poole’s last known work. It was posthumously published in the City of Greyhawk.

    Traveling in the Tangles, the author comes upon an isolated group of Flan. Living in the manner of the Rovers of the Barrens, they call themselves the Hutaakanka. Layene Poole stays with these people for nearly three years. The book is then a record of the woodland Rovers and their interactions with their plains dwelling kin. More interesting, perhaps, are the oral traditions of the Hutaakanka which claim a relationship with Tostenhca and speak of a mountainous Valley of the Sun where the gods of the Flan once lived.

    With The Ruins of Xitkalba, The Vale of the Hutaakanka must be considered among Layene Poole’s lesser works. The Vale, however, has a value Xitkalba does not, in the former’s preservation of woodland, and plains, Flan culture before the decline of the Rovers of the Barrens. Both books, however, benefit by and exhibit Layene Poole’s unique style. Each remains a unique view of an unusual time and place.

    Author’s End Note - The adventure hooks present in the foregoing descriptions are more obvious than those in books earlier described in the Greyhawk Bibliographica series. This is intentional. Book descriptions serve the purpose of piquing and satisfying players' curiosity but also can spur adventures. However, not every player will immediately gravitate toward books in the game. Layene Poole’s books then serve as perhaps an easy means to interest such players and introduce books as something PCs should take a lively interest in.

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    Re: Literature in the Flanaess: The Travels of Layene Poole (Score: 1)
    by cwslyclgh on Tue, March 22, 2005
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    awesome GVD... I would be interested to see what if anything Layene Poole had to say about Grot-Ugrat in his work "The Lost Goblin Mine"... he must have known it as a thriving city of hobgoblins rather then as the shadow huanted ruin it became following the hateful wars :)

    Re: Literature in the Flanaess: The Travels of Layene Poole (Score: 1)
    by Skech on Tue, March 22, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    I don't usually do more than lurk, but I felt compelled to say something.

    Don't stop; I want more.
    I'm putting this series in my Greyhawk binder.

    Only other query: where are the prices?

    Re: Literature in the Flanaess: The Travels of Layene Poole (Score: 1)
    by Tedra ( on Wed, March 23, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message | Journal)
    Excellent article once again GVD! I am also in agreement with Skech. GVD, your articles are being placed in our specialized Canonfire binder. ;)

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