What is the Perilous Realm?

sunstars_lineartQ. Since the Realm is a huge world, would places such as the Screaming Wastelands, Bourne, Snowlands, Twilight Land, Dark Aunc, Tirreth Dree and Arzareth be like seperate provinces/states/countries within it?

A. The Realm is the world (or worlds) of Story, so really it is infinite in size, as vast and neverending as all the stories that have been told or might be told. So all of the places named above are “storylands” within the Realm, but yes, they can be thought of in a way like provinces or countries. The only difference being that you can’t always get to one storyland from another by way of a direct road or path, and maps are never very reliable. This is because Story is always changing, in the same way that each teller changes a story as he or she tells it. Take the tale of the voyages of Odysseus, first told by Homer in the epic poem The Odyssey. Each time the story is retold or translated or turned into a graphic novel or a movie, it’s a slightly different story. You could almost say that the story remains the same by constantly changing.

So, in the Perilous Realm, it is natural for storylands to grow, and sometimes to fade away, back into the Weaving from which all stories come. That is why you can never completely rely on a road or a map to get you to a particular storyland.

IMG_4360Something else that’s strange about the Realm is that each story within it has its own time, its own seasons and changes of day and night. It might be a warm summer’s day on the road to a storyland, but as soon as you step across its borders, it’s the middle of the night and raining. Then you go home, and years later if you return to that story, you might find yourself setting foot again in that same rainy night. For the people within that storyland, time passes normally and the seasons change, but for you, coming back to visit it, time hasn’t passed. It’s paradoxical, and most folk who live in the Realm don’t bother themselves too much with these mysteries. They leave that for the Enigmatists.

Here’s another question that sometimes puzzles people in our world when they think about the Perilous Realm: do the people who live in the world of stories know that they’re in a story? The most likely answer, I suppose, is that some do and some don’t. Or sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Aren’t there times in our own lives when we feel like we’re living in a story? (It may be a good story, a happy one, or a bad story we’d like to get out of). And don’t we sometimes tell ourselves stories about our lives, to try to make sense of them? I imagine that for people in the Realm, life is very much like that: they simply accept that there is Story all around them, that their lives are made of stories, but they don’t often stop to think about it.


  1. Hi Tom,

    I was at a workshop of yours in Calgary recently and forgot to ask whether any of the maps you created for the Perilous Realm have been made publicly available. Would love to see them if they are posted at all anywhere. Thanks!

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