I remember reading this book in high school which would have had to be before 1992. My memory isn't great though so it could have been after but I don't believe so.

In this book (or series) there was a city that had some form of protection from the surrounding lands like a shield . The surrounding lands were chaotic and adventurers would mutate over time due to their exposure and their behavior in the chaos lands. For example, someone who was stealthy might take on features of a chameleon or a sword might fuse to another's arm.

Inside the city, which was quite large, the elders/rulers had a map made from soil from all over the chaos lands that was enchanted to show trouble spots to send adventurers to. This was because if chaos got too out of control the city would be in danger as the protection was only so powerful and could degrade over time or damage.

Those are the only features I can remember about the book and I had asked in Reddit about eight years ago with no luck.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F! Do you happen to recall the cover of the book? Was it a quest plot, or a defeat the chaos lord plot, or something else?
    – DavidW
    Feb 5 at 19:13
  • I do not remember the cover but I believe it was quest related and there was a real danger of having spent too much time in the chaos lands. Also there may have been some benefit to doing excursions like citizenship or something beyond just money.
    – Jacob Tate
    Feb 5 at 20:31
  • 1
    Odds that this is Jack Chalker?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 5 at 21:21
  • 1
    If someone posts the correct answer, you can accept by clicking o the checkmark by the voting buttons, as per the tour.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 5 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


This might be the Changewinds series by Jack L. Chalker.

Front cover of When the Changewinds Blow

Charley Sharkin, swept into the parallel world of Akahler by a Changewind, becomes a pawn in a wizard's scheme of dark conquest using the power of the Changewinds themselves

To quote from the first book of the trilogy, When the Changewinds Blow:

"Each null zone has a shield like that," Dorion told her. 'Tt is a great shield of an Aklibreed sorcerer, and it prevents any but Akhbreed from going through it to the land beyond. In that way all nonAkhbreed, all changelings, all the ones who don't fit the definitions, are prevented from ever moving from world to world. It's not absolute because you can't ever be smart enough to write a spell that covers everything, but along with the entry gates it keeps things so manageable it may as well be impenetrable to all others."

I have no found reference to a map made of dirt, though.


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