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During the finale of Elantris, the biggest mystery of the book is revealed by the way of Raoden

having an epiphany that the city of Elantris, its satellite towns, and the roads connecting former to the latter, are built in the shape of Aon Rao, and therefore act as an enormous conduit for the Dor.

This, somehow, prompts him to

draw a line in the dirt from Elantris to the town of Toa. Immediately as he finishes, the Rao shape is complete once again, and Elantrians' connection to the Dor is restored.

This implies that:

  • the road to Toa was in a state of poor repair, and
  • the road to Toa was the only road in such disrepair.

How did Raoden know that? Was the intent here that he didn't know that and that was a lucky guess or divine guidance? Is there some foreshadowing I missed?

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    ... or he was just doing what he could, while he had a shred of sanity? He knew he needed to add the line to the city, the same way it was added to his spell glyph. Just before that, he was 9/10ths adrift and about to be set free / dissolved at the pool to put him out of his misery. He literally bounded down the mountain that's normally only reachable via secret passage to get it done before the pain could overwhelm him again. Logic and fact wasn't really part of it. There's no telling, either, whether the physical line in the dirt was required, or just his intent, like with the spell. – Radhil Mar 21 at 21:47
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    o.O Why do you think it had anything with state of roads? He just drew the chasm line to complete the aon! – Mithoron Mar 21 at 22:59
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    I always assumed what Mithoron said, that the line was the chasm. This guess its substanciated in the simultainety between the apparition of the chasm and elantris fall. – Ram Mar 21 at 23:05
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    Ah, so it was the Chasm line, and not line between Elantris and Toa? – Dragomok Mar 22 at 18:04
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He wasn't trying to redraw the road, he was drawing the chasm line.

All Aons use the base Aon known as "Aon." It used to look like this:

Aon Aon

This Aon is based on the geography of Arelon. The top line is the Sea of Fjorden, the right the Atad Mountains, and the dot is Lake Alonoe. See the map of Arelon:

Map of Arelon

What's important is that during the Reod, a chasm opened up in southern Arelon in the Tii province. By the compass rose on this map, in Sel (the world on which Elantris takes place), south is called "Toa." The chasm resulted in the geography of Arelon changing so drastically that now an additional line needs to be drawn for the chasm in all Aons. Also note that the chasm line isn't straight east/west. It dips a little towards the south.

The city of Elantris plus its four satellite towns are built to resemble the Rao Aon, which looks like this:

Aon Rao

Where the sort of square in the center is obviously the base Aon. The actual city of Elantris is shaped the same as Rao's sort of square, and it has four circular satellite towns. We know from the text that one of those satellite towns is Kae, which is where much of the book takes place, and not coincidentally, that is the name for east on the compass rose on the map. In fact, the compass rose also seems to contain the Rao Aon.

Therefore, Raoden was running towards Toa, the southern satellite town, in order to draw the chasm line to the south of the base Aon, running in a northwest to southeast direction.

The epiphany he had was the fact that Elantris resembles the Aon Rao. Once he knew that, he knew the exact placement of the chasm line from common knowledge of the chasm that opened up in the Tii province, and because he'd already discovered that any Aons he attempted to draw required that same line in order to function.

  • Fantastic answer. All my question needed was the very first sentence, but you went far and beyond that, even including pictures. :D – Dragomok Mar 22 at 18:09

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