Ar is the greatest city on Gor and the most detailed city within the novels.
Ar is the setting or focal point for many of the books,
from Tarnsman of Gor to Magicians of Gor. It stands as
a symbol for the ideal Gorean city, a model for other cities to emulate.
Only Turia, in the southern hemisphere, comes close at matching the size
and grandeur of Ar.
Ar is also a city with a turbulent history, a place that has
even attracted the specific attention of the mysterious Priest-Kings.
The ultimate fate of Ar stands in question at the end of Magicians of Gor,
the 25th book, due to the unfortunate cessation of the series.
Hopefully, additional novels will be published
to resolve this matter and answer the questions
we have concerning the future of Ar, Marlenus,
Talena and many others.
Ar is situated in the northern hemisphere of Gor, in the lower
temperate latitudes. Temperate means essentially that it has
a mild climate. Thus, in the winter it will only have occasional
snows and more often cold rains. The summer heat will generally not
run to extremes either. The spring and fall will seem to be longer
seasons than the summer and winter due to the mild weather.
On the northern border of Ar is a swamp forest, the home of the
Swamp Spiders, also known as the Spider People.
These are large, intelligent spiders who inhabit enormous,
complex webs that stretch across the terrain.
They are generally a peaceful race who refuse to harm other
rational creatures, even in self-defense.
Unfortunately for the Spider People, the people of Ar have
no such compunctions. They hunt and slay the Spider People to
obtain Cur-lon Fiber, apparently derived from their web material,
similar to spider silk. The Fiber is used in the mills of Ar though
its actual uses are not described.
This is also one of the only
areas that was left untouched when Marlenus created his
Margin of Desolation.
Further north of Ar, after three days ride by tarn,
forming its northern border, is the mighty Vosk River.
The Sardar Mountains are a five day ride by tarn from Ar.
The Vosk River, about forty pasangs wide, is one of the
largest rivers on Gor. You must cross the Vosk to travel
to the northern cities such as Thentis and Ko-ro-ba.
Most of the river towns are located on the northern bank
because of Ar's Margin of Desolation.
Nearly all of the river towns on the Vosk have recently
declared their independence and formed the Vosk League.
For a long time, Ar and Cos battled for control of the
Vosk and its towns. The formation of the Vosk League
has significantly lessened the control of both Ar and Cos.
Around 10114 C.A., Ar established a trading station on the southern
bank of the Vosk River, Ar's Station. Ar's Station was considered an
outpost of Ar and not an official colony.
This meant that it did not have a Home Stone of its own and shared
the Home Stone of Ar. Ar did not permit Ar's Station to join the
Vosk League. Ar feared losing their control on the Vosk if Ar's
Station joined the League. The later conquest of Ar's Station by Cos,
and Ar's failure to aid them, has soured most of the town against Ar.
In addition, the traitors within Ar accused Ar's Station of collaborating
with Cos and willingly surrendering their city to Cos.
It seems certain that in the future Ar's Station will sever its ties to Ar.
Northeast of Ar, a few pasangs away, are the Fulvian Hills,
foot hills of the Voltai Range. This is also the location of
the villa districts of Ar, the site of many small, white-washed villas.
A number of small roads wind through the hills connecting the often
isolated villas. To the northeast and the east of Ar are the
Voltai Mountains. The lights and tallest cylinders of Ar
are visible from certain locations within the Voltai.
Men from Ar journey to the Voltai to hunt larls.
The Voltai is also the location of Ar's enemy, Treve.
Southeast of Ar will eventually lead below the Voltai Mountain range
but it is not a direction that men commonly travel as it leads
into the desert regions of the Tahari.
The southern border of Ar is delineated by the Cartius River,
a river that derives its name from the direction it lies from Ar,
using the Gorean compass. The Cartius flows west by northwest and
was once though to be a tributary of the Vosk though it is not.
The tarnsmen patrols of Ar do not venture south of the Cartius.
South of the Cartius leads to the lands of the southern hemisphere
like Turia and the Plains of the Wagon Peoples. Southwest of Ar are
a number of sul fields. The agriculturist Appanius,
who once owned the seduction slave Milo, possesses fields here.
West of Ar you will eventually reach Thassa though it is over
one thousand pasangs away. Ar is a landlocked city and that is
partially why they consider the Vosk River to be so important.
Ar was once surrounded by a large, barren region called the Margin
of Desolation. When Marlenus first became Ubar of Ar,
he devastated a large region surrounding Ar out to about
three hundred pasangs, about 210 miles. Nearly all of the vegetation
was cut down, wells were filled in, and fertile land was salted.
There remained only a few isolated groups of trees on the borders of Ar
and the swamp forest. This desolate region became an "invisible wall"
to protect Ar from attack. It created a barren zone that would
prevent invading armies from using the land to resupply themselves.
Armies would need to bring their own supplies which would add to the
difficulty of any attack. As the average daily march of an army is about
forty pasangs, it would mean an invading army had to march for over
seven days through this barren area.
But sometime after the events of Assassin of Gor, when Marlenus was
once again Ubar of Ar, he decided to eliminate the Margin of Desolation.
The lands were made fertile once again, new wells were dug, animals
were transplanted to populate this region, and Peasants were allowed
to take up residence. Despite this rebirth, the region still retains
The elimination of this barren region was a cause for concern for a
number of northern cities. They felt it signaled that Marlenus intended
to expand his empire northward. This fear, in part, led to the
eventual formation of the Salerian Confederation.
The primary road that leads out from Ar is the Viktel Aria,
a name that translates into "Ar's Triumph" or "The Triumph of Ar.
" It is also known as the Vosk Road because it is the most direct
route from Ar to the Vosk River. The road ends at Ar's Station on
the Vosk. The Viktel Aria is a well-built military road,
with close-fitting stones.
It is wide enough to allow wagons and tharlarions to travel down it.
It is also marked with pasang stones so that one can ascertain their
position on the road and the distance to certain cities,
villages or crossroads. Deep ditches line most of the sides of the
Viktel Aria, except where other roads intersect.
These ditches are a defense against invaders, preventing them
from easily bringing supply wagons onto the road.
Ar is very cognizant of the fact that an effective army requires
adequate supplies to function well.
There are a number of roads that intersect the Vosk Road.
The Holmesk Road leads from the Vosk Road to Holmesk,
the winter camp of the army of Ar. The Eastern Way, also
called the Treasure Road, may also link up to the Vosk Road.
The Eastern Way links the western cities with Ar and the
city of Torcodino is located on this road. The Argentum Road
leads from the city of Argentum and travels east to the Vosk Road.
You must then turn south to Ar. There are other roads that intersect
the Vosk Road but they are not named or described in the books.
There are a number of hurt ranches situated outside of Ar though
no description of their actual location is given. These are large,
fenced ranches where hurts are raised for their wool. The hurts
are commonly herded by trained sleen and sheared by kajiri.
The Ka-la-na orchards of Ar, located outside the city,
are famous for producing excellent fruit. Boleto is a well-known
vintner and is famous for the production of several good,
medium-grade Ka-la-nas. His "Nectar of the Public Slave Gardens"
is a popular brand of Ka-la-na served in Ar's public slave gardens.
There are several Dar-Kosis pits located outside the city.
These pits are meant to house the contagious victims of the
dreaded Dar-Kosis. The pits are built like wells though they
are quite large, about 100 feet deep and 200 feet wide.
There are caves dug into the walls of the pits, the living areas of
the infected, and usually a cistern in the center of each pit to
provide water. One of these pits contains a secret passage into Ar,
a passage that proceeds under the city walls. In this pit, there is a
valve hidden in the cistern that opens a passage one of the walls.
There is another valve on the other side of the wall so that it can
be closed behind you. The tunnel leads to a tarn cot and then to
stairs leading into the Central Cylinder of Ar. This may be only
one of several secret passageways into Ar.
There are an unknown number of cities and villages located outside
Ar that are under the hegemony of Ar. Most of these places though
are not specifically named, described or located.
These include the Twelve Tributary Cities. One named village under
the control of Ar is called Minus. Most of the major settlements are
likely located past the Margin of Desolation, at least three hundred
pasangs from Ar. But, since the Margin has been allowed to be resettled,
there are at least a few villages located within that zone.
Ar is the most populous city on Gor though there are not fully accurate
figures for its exact population. An accurate census of its population
does not seem to be a concern. A reasonable estimate of its free
citizens is thought to be about two and three million.
There is also approximately another quarter of a million non-citizens
who reside in the city. In addition, there is also approximately a
quarter of a million slaves, primarily women. This means that roughly 15%
of the female population of Ar are slaves, a percentage much greater than
the Gorean norm of 2% to 3%. Please remember that these figures reflect
only the population of the city itself and does not include the population
of all of the lands under the control of Ar.
Ar is far more than a simple city. It is a small empire in its own right,
a central city that controls twelve other cities,
the Twelve Tributary Cities. These cities came under the hegemony of Ar
during the early reigning years of Marlenus. Some of these cities
are located north of Ar but no description, name or location is
given for these twelve cities. The Home Stones of these cities are kept
in the Central Cylinder of Ar. Some of these cities aided Master Assassin
Pa-Kur when he besieged Ar, hoping to gain their independence.
They failed and remain under the hegemony of Ar.