legolas and eowyn


Ribhadda is based on Humphrey Bogart's character, Rick, in Casablanca, and some sections of dialogue are lifted almost verbatim from the script.



The Turquoise Garden

The Turquoise Gardens are based on the Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara (which I was lucky enough to visit a couple of years ago); various pictures of Ancient Egyptian gardens, especially the temple/garden complex, Maru Aten, at Amarna; and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon (which was recreated in Oliver Stone's film Alexander).

Egyptian gardens were typically symmetrical, with a rectangular or T-shaped pond at the centre, often stocked with exotic fish. The inner flower garden was surrounded by rows of trees, the shortest species planted nearest the pond and the tallest, such as doum palms and date palms, around the outside.

The Egyptians grew about eighteen varieties of trees, the most popular being the sycamore fig, the pomegranate, nut trees and the jujube; willows, acacia and tamarisk were also planted. Flowers included daisies, cornflowers, mandrakes, roses, irises, myrtle, jasmine, mignonettes, convolvulus, celosia, narcissus, ivy, lychnis, sweet marjoram, henna, bay laurel, small yellow chrysanthemums and poppies. There were also papyrus, lotus and grapes.

The temples of the gods had gardens to supply flowers, vegetables and wine for daily offerings, and olive oil 'to light the flame' in the sanctuary.

The Maru Aten complex at Amarna included a rectangular lake, about one metre deep, measuring 120 by 60 metres. It was surrounded by a garden of trees planted in holes filled with Nile mud and enclosed with low mud walls. To the northeast of the lake, and running along its eastern side, was (probably) the Maru itself, consisting of a temple, an island kiosk, flower beds and a water court. The Maru served as a 'viewing place', where the members of the royal family might be rejuvenated by the rays of the sun god.

Here are some pictures.

An Egyptian villa with its garden:

An Egyptian Housespacer


Reconstructions of the Ishtar Gate:

The Ishtar Gatespacer

The Ishtar Gatespacer


Stills from Alexander:




The orange and black bird is a hoopoe. On my first trip to Egypt, our guide stopped the coach in the middle of nowhere and made us crawl under a bit of corrugated iron into an empty hole—the battered remains of a tomb—to show us a chunk of stone bearing a magnificent carving of a hoopoe. The birds themselves—often dusty, and nearer brown than orange—are quite common, and can be seen hopping about at the roadside.

A hoopoespacer


Legolas’ reaction to the garden was inspired by this tiny snippet from the EE ROTK showing ‘what happens to Legolas’ at the end of the story.

Legolas in Eryn Carantaurspacer

(It’s on disk 3 (Appendix 5), in the documentary, Forging the Final Chapter, Chapter 6).


The camel caravan

From the web.

The camel is a mild-mannered animal, except when it's being loaded, but cannot be trained like a donkey, dog, or horse, and it's very nervous compared to other animals of the same size. When a camel caravan comes to a river or a dangerous area, however, the herdsman need only force one of the camels to proceed—the others readily follow, anxious to keep up with the group.

Camel saddles are deep in the middle and high at each end, sit high on the camel's hump, and are designed to support cargo sacks. If the saddle is too small for the rider, it will pinch, front and back.

When it is time to mount, the camel crouches down, and folds its legs underneath itself. The rider may struggle to get his or her foot over the hump, or jump on from behind, as if leap-frogging. Then he or she must hang on as the camel rises, back back legs first.

Ancient camel caravans travelled about 40 miles a day (ten hours a day at four miles an hour) from water hole to water hole. The travellers ate raisins and dried figs, dates, almonds and dried meat.




Water cisterns.

water cisternspacerwater cisternspacer






Shibam is a still-thriving mediaeval caravan city in the Wadi Hadramaut. Its mudbrick houses, some of them 500 years old, are 30 or 40 metres high (ten, twelve and even thirteen storeys).

Michael Wood, in the book that accompanies his TV series, In search of myths and heroes, describes it thus:

In the evening we reach Shibam, a giant cube of whitewashed buildings rising above emerald-green palm groves like an ancient Babylonian city.

'The Manhattan of the desert'spacer

Rihat (Shibam)spacer

Rihat (Shibam)spacer


The circus

A model of the Circus Maximus, Rome.

The Circus Maximus


From the web.

At the straight end of the track stood a line of 12 arched openings containing wide stalls. When the magistrate started the race (by dropping a white cloth), the 12 wooden doors simultaneously sprang open. The charioteers drew lots for gate assignments, but the gates were arranged on a slight curve and had marked lanes, to ensure that all the teams had the same distance to travel as they thundered towards the right side of the barrier.

The relief below shows a detailed view of starting gates.

starting gatesspacer


The central barrier extended approximately 344 yards down the middle of the track, and was rounded off at each end with turning posts. Its high stone walls enclosed water channels, statues of deities, marble altars, shrines, and lap counters.

Half-way down the right-hand side of the barrier, a white line extended across the track. The winner was the first team to cross this line at the end of the seventh lap.

Rows of stone benches, three and four tiers high, extended around the track. The corridors beneath the stands, which were punctuated with staircases leading to various blocks of seats, were crowded with shops and filled with milling people—restless spectators, vendors hawking food or cushions for the hard benches, gamblers taking bets, prostitutes looking for customers.

Behind the scenes at the Circusspacer


Most charioteers began their careers as slaves but the most successful soon accumulated enough money to buy their freedom. The four racing companies, or stables, were known by the racing colours worn by their charioteers: Red, White, Blue, and Green. Fans became fervently attached to one of the factions, proclaiming themselves, for example, 'partisans of the Blue'. The factions encouraged this sort of loyalty by establishing 'clubhouses' in Rome and, later, in other cities of the empire. In the later empire these groups even acquired some political influence.

Charioteers wore little body protection and only a light helmet. Their practice of wrapping the reins tightly around their waists so that they could use their body weight to control the horses was exceedingly dangerous in the event of an accident, since they could be dragged and trampled before they could cut themselves loose.

I am Scorpus, the glory of the noisy Circus,
the much-applauded and short-lived darling of Rome.
Envious Fate, counting my victories instead of my years,
and so believing me old,
carried me off in my twenty-sixth year.

Martial, Epigrams 10.53

Scorpus, a famous charioteer who lived at the end of the first century CE, won 2,048 victories in his short life. Although it is not known how he died, it is likely to have been the result of a crash ('shipwreck').

Charioteers in their racing coloursspacer


The Kurian

I'm not sure whether I saw Oliver Stone's Alexander before or after I started writing about The Kurian, but the moment I saw the character of Bagoas (played by Francisco Bosch), I recognised him. We'll be learning more about him when I prepare the Special Edition of The usual suspects.

The Kurian


Please use your browser's Back button to return to the Story.


The usual suspects
Contents page

story 7

Back to main References page

Reference page

Extracts from the script


The Turquoise Garden
Some images.


The camel caravan

Camel caravan



The Circus

The Circus

The Kurian

The Kurian