Waterfalls and an Underground Lake: Settings in "The Ban of Irsisri"

Last week I shared how exotic landscapes are said to be a hallmark of epic fantasy, and how the opening scenes of my fantasy novel, The Ban of Irsisri, occur on and along the shores of a large lake surrounded by forested hills that was based in part on Center Hill Lake in Middle Tennessee.

The Ban of Irsisri, scheduled to be published next month, was originally self-published under the title The Dreamtunnel Sequence. Readers may recall the cover of that first "edition" depicted a very high waterfall. (See the Amazon page for The Dreamtunnel Sequence to see this cover.) The artwork on the cover is a watercolor, titled "The Challenge," by an artist named Richard Akerman. I purchased a print of this many years ago. I was always struck by Akerman's use of shades and tints of blue to show depth, the way he gave movement to the art through his depiction of mist at the bottom of the falls, and the way he included riders leading horses at the bottom of the falls to give the falls scale.

This watercolor was the inspiration behind the Falls of Mist on the Esolasha River in my story. The tower Tura Iaphon stands in a hidden grotto near the falls, and the Rivertree, a gigantic red cedar, straddles the Esolasha River upstream from the falls. In my novel, Visylon, a Saerani warrior, must retrieve a prophetic document from its hiding place within the Rivertree. To do this, he must successfully paddle down the rushing waters of the Esolasha and enter the base of the Rivertree without being swept over the falls.

Early in the novel, Enkinor, another main character, is racing ahead of a forest fire. He reaches a very tall bluff, next to a different waterfall, and has no choice but to do some non-technical rock-climbing to reach the bottom. That waterfall was inspired by a real-life waterfall, Fall Creek Falls near the town of Spencer in Middle Tennessee. Fall Creek Falls is the highest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi. Enkinor finds a cave and an underground lake behind the base of the waterfall. This underground lake was inspired by a lake in Sweetwater, Tennessee, called The Lost Sea. The Lost Sea is the largest non-subglacial underground lake in the US and the second-largest in the world.