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The Well of Souls is an underground passage beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But it's also a name that crops up repeatedly in fantasy and science fiction.

The best known examples of the name being reused are as the name of the Markovians' master planet/computer in Jack Chalker's 1977 novel Midnight at the Well of Souls (and sequels), or as the location of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). However, off the top of my head I can also think of an evil magic artifact from D&D module DA4, The Duchy of Ten, and the location in the underworld where dead characters can be resurrected in the Interplay video game Dragon Wars. Of these, only the Indiana Jones example has anything to do with the real-world place. Nor do any of them have anything to do with one another.

So where did the use of this name originate? Was Chalker the first person to decide it was a cool-sounding name and co-opt it, or did it go back further?

  • ngram doesn't show it in fiction until the Chalker era. – JohnP Jan 4 '18 at 15:21

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