This elaborate tale touches on a diverse array of disciplines. The author, A4, did include a bibliography of sorts (it was a list of obscure ancient texts that are now lost to time). After consulting with several colleagues, I was able to formulate a list of modern references for those interested in delving deeper into the underbelly of the Far Forest Scrolls.
RC Novotny, PhD
No one at Far Forest Scrolls has any affiliation to the references or websites listed below.
Special thanks to Professor David Roochnik of Boston University for reading the passage relating to Plato and providing feedback on the translation. Plato and his teacher Socrates are the only historically known people mentioned in the trilogy. In Book Two, Chapter Four, Scroll Nine Plato, and his Republic were discussed by the Blue Kirvella Dragons. As an interesting side note, the names of the Council of Kirvella all relate to ideas in Plato’s Republic. The Greek translation of their names -
Contatto (sensible things)
A CANDLE IN THE SKY
The story that the mystic from Jaa tells in Book One, Chapter Eight, Scroll One, is actually from ancient Greece. In the tale, the mystic uses the example of several candles to deduce that our sun is, in fact, just a star that happens to be closer than the billions of other stars in the sky. Thanks to the late and great Professor J. Rufus Fears. His lecture on the Great Courses website, “Famous Greeks,” recounts this story. Link: The Great Courses
Indra’s Net is a Buddhist concept that is prevalent in the search for the last pair of Power Crystals (Book Three, Chapter Seven, Scroll Eight). Philosopher Alan Watts explains the Buddhist concept of universal interconnectedness that is Indra’s Net: "Imagine a multidimensional spider's web in the early morning covered with dewdrops. And every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops. And, in each reflected dewdrop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so, ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image."
In the Far Forest Scrolls, the poem they read on their challenge states:
“Each jewel is reflected in all the others.
A representation of Indra’s Net with Arachne
You can’t touch one without touching another’s.
And so it goes.
Interconnectedness is imposed.
Appearance is but a reflection of reality.
Consciousness is the light, in actuality.”
For those of a younger generation, YouTube: Indra's Net video
In Book One, Chapter Two, Scroll Five, the reader is exposed to an ancient text on a Knight grave (it is Latin). According to Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University, the Latin text on the headstone was a common epitaph in ancient Rome.
The headstone in the scrolls read, “Non fui, fui, non-sum, non-curo.” Professor Garland’s translation: “I didn’t exist, then I existed. I don’t exist now, and I don’t give a damn!” Hunter and I discussed whether to put the translation in the body of the text (the author A4 did not). Ultimately we decided not to include it.
Addendum: On editing, the translation was added to Book One.
OUT OF BODY
At the end of the trilogy (Book Three, Chapter Eight, Scroll Seven), one of the characters undergoes an “out of body experience.” As I looked into this issue via books and email with, among others, Dr. Sam Parnia, MD Ph.D., I was amazed at the accuracy of the near-death experience included in the book compared to our current understanding. “What Happens When We Die. A Groundbreaking Study into The Nature of Life and Death.” by Dr. Parnia, has more information. This is a cross-time and cross-cultural experience. Also fascinating is Dr. Jeffrey Long’s book, “Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.”
One of the challenges on the quest for the magic crystals involves the main character being immersed in a breathable liquid (Book Three, Chapter Four, Scroll Three). Believe it or not, this is not science fiction. There are certain substances within the perfluorocarbon (PFC) family that has been used in research as liquid breathing agents.
The fact that the liquid used in the story came from an electrical storm field adds credence to the notion that such a substance was known in ancient times. This is because PFCs are organic compounds in which hydrogen atoms are replaced by halogens such as fluoride. One method for synthesis of this breathable liquid is electrochemical fluorination, which could potentially happen in the electrical storm fields described in Book Three.
Oxford Journals, British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 91, Issue 1 Pages 143-151.
Link: Oxford Journal - Liquid Ventilation
THIRSTY? LOST? FOLLOW THE BIRDS
While wandering in the desert on their first quest (Book Three, Chapter One, Scroll Three), the characters follow birds to find a life-saving oasis. This story is remarkably similar to an account perpetuated by the Ancient Greeks about Alexander the Great.
The Egyptian god Ammon (equal to the Greek god of Zeus) was said to live in the miraculous Siwa Oasis. Since Pharaohs were believed to be divine, Alexander went on a pilgrimage through the desert to speak with the oracle at Siwa and be proclaimed the son of Ammon. On his way, Alexander became lost in the desert and only found his way by following a flock of birds. Once at Siwa, he was predictably labeled Ammon’s son, thus being legitimized in the eyes of Egyptians as their ruler/Pharaoh.
LAVISH LINGUISTIC LABYRINTH
It would be impossible to review all the linguistic convolutions in the Far Forest Scrolls (actually, it would be a novel in itself). The name of every character, location, and landmark has a hidden meaning.
Please refer to the excellent blog by Nox Young-Thomas: http://hiddenfarforestscrolls.blogspot.com.
We wanted to include a few of the more salient examples. When our heroes are on their quest, they run into several different symbols that represent words or concepts. Dr. Isaiah James, a linguistic expert, discovered the “symbols” are a complex combination of several foreign languages.
“In each symbol, A4 combined languages from at least two of the Hellenic, Sino-Tibetan, Afro-Asiatic or Altaic traditions. A4 then diligently weaves the words into one amalgamated representation.
For the “Death” symbol, he used the Arabic and Japanese words for death and combined them into one token representation. The red arrows point out the Arabic letters embedded within the Japanese character for “death.”
For the “After Death” depiction, he used the same two languages. The Arabic letters are circled in red over the Japanese characters for “after death.”
Arabic: بعد وفاة
For the “Life” portrayal, he used the Greek and Arabic. Blue arrows point out the Greek letters hidden within the Arabic word for “life.”
For the “Faith” symbol, he used Hebrew, Japanese and Arabic. The Japanese character for faith has Arabic (circled in green), and Hebrew (circled in red) weaved around it.
Japanese: 信 “trust” or “faith.”
The use of Middle-Eastern and Eastern languages two hundred and sixty years before the Europeans Niccolò and Maffeo Polo traveled east is miraculous.
GREEKS & ROMANS
The retiarius gladiator fought in the Colosseum of Rome, the Retiarian fight for Piscium in the Far Forest Scrolls
There are many Greek and Roman influences besides the epitaph mentioned above.
The name A4 uses to describe the public meetings held in the wild Rebelde Plains of Verngaurd. Politeia is an ancient Greek (mostly Athenian) concept describing the civic duty of its citizens to participate in their democracy. It was every man’s obligation to join.
Zenia or Xenia
This was the term A4 used to describe the accommodations provided for the competitors from all over Verngaurd during the Tournament of Flags. In ancient Greece, Xenia referred to the concept of a divine mandate/need to provide hospitality to guests.
Is an Ancient Greek concept, translating loosely into “honor.” In the Far Forest Scrolls, it means the same thing for the devout Proliant warriors.
The Rotarian Division in the Far Forest Scrolls refers to one of the two divisions of the Piscium army. Their name and their equipment are modeled after the Roman Gladiators, retiarius (they fought with a weighted net and trident).
In Greek means, appropriately enough, spider. In Greek mythology, Arachne was an upstart girl who took on the gods (specifically Athena) in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Book VI). As retribution, Athena turned her into a spider. The fifteen books of the Metamorphoses were finished in AD 8. Verngaurd Arachne has a female human head and upper torso that flows into a spider’s body.
MILITARY TERMINOLOGY & EQUIPMENT
A woodcut modeled after a painting by German Heinrich Leutemann showing Greek Fire being used in action around 700 CE
Living at the height of medieval times, both the author, A4, and his readers would have been intimately familiar with the terminology of European warfare at the time. For the modern reader, these terms can be unfamiliar and confusing.
A few examples: besagew: protective armor, a roundel that protected joints. Champion: armor to protect horses' faces. Cuisse thigh armor for a knight. Destrier: warhorse. Gauntlet: armor for hands. Greaves: lower leg armor. Pauldron: shoulder armor.
Ancient Byzantine FlameThrower
In Book Two, we see an example of old Middle-Eastern military technology. During the later stages of the Battle of Trepas, the Knights and Northern Dwarves find themselves facing a vastly superior enemy force and roll out ancient flame throwers in a desperate attempt to survive. The flamethrower described in the scrolls is remarkably similar to the ones used in Byzantium. The recipe they used was kept secret and known as Greek Fire.
Dr. Kenneth Harl has an excellent course on Byzantium as part of the Great Courses series: The World of Byzantium.
SPINNING SIEGE ENGINE OF DEATH
In Book Two, Chapter Three, Scroll Seven, we see a fascinating and unique siege engine. Squire Scelto is introduced to the massive Proliant siege engine, the diezmar. This device is a giant spinning wheel with eight large slings that would hold a rock/other projectiles. The wheel would spin the large projectiles around and around. Once an adequate speed was reached, a sharp blade would be engaged and cut the slings. The result was a quick and fierce concentration of eight projectiles in one area.
A similar siege engine existed in ancient China. An excellent illustration can be found in Joseph Needham & Robin D.S. Yates "Science and Civilisation in China," Volume 5 Chemical and Chemical Technology; Part 6 Military Technology: Missiles and Sieges, Section 30, Illustration #69 page 201 “Reconstruction of Ma Chün’s ‘centrifugal flywheel ballista” 1994 Cambridge University Press.