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Recap / A Thing Of Vikings Chapter 77 All Roads Lead To Rome

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Book III, Chapter 9

Another—typically overlooked—area that was tremendously impacted by the integration of dragons was city planning and design. Human cities prior to the adoption of dragons were universally two-dimensional (with noted exceptions such as Shibam and Derinkuyu), originating from a smaller settlement, typically next to a river or water source, and sprawling extensively across the landscape with greater or lesser degrees of urban planning, guidance, and support infrastructure. Buildings were typically only a few stories tall and close together, with narrow, twisting streets. The reasons for this, of course, are obvious: digging underground without the aid of Boulder-class dragons is time-consuming and labor-intensive, as is constructing high-rise buildings without the use of structural steel, even discounting the additional labor involved in climbing up and down such structures.

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Modern cities, by contrast, sometimes seem almost as deep and tall as they are wide, with terraurban spaces extending far below the surface, and high-rises extending far above. Streets are multi-level and broad, with gentle curves to allow for ease of aerial traffic, and elevators and draconic flight connect the various levels together. Balconies and bridges are typical building features to allow for ease of transit and landing, while buildings themselves typically have high ceilings and wide corridors to allow for draconic foot traffic. Additionally, the small infrastructure access tunnels are typically designed with the sizes and capabilities of the small dragons employed as maintenance workers in mind. Some cities are even formed out of hollowed-out mountains and carved into the sides of valley walls; while to our modern eyes these emplacements seem natural, to our ancestors they would have seemed miraculous, something out of fantastical tales.

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The transition, of course, was not smooth, and remnants of the transition are easily found and well-documented, despite the loss of some of the key transitional elements to time and demolition. But still, while they are humble in comparison with their descendants, those first 20-story steel-framed towers constructed in the 1200s cast long shadows through human history…

The Dragon Millennium, Manna-hata University Press, Ltd.

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Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Authority in Name Only: In theory the papacy has authority over the entirety of Christianity, in practice not so much.
    Theoretically, the Holy See was the center of Christendom, with the Pope, as Saint Peter's heir, being the primate of the whole of the faith, but Viggo knew well that it was a polite fiction. In practice, the Church outside of a short distance from Rome was effectively autonomous from the Vatican, a situation that was even more exacerbated to the east, where the Greek Patriarchs had effectively broken entirely—both politically and theologically—from the practices in and of Rome.
  • Clarke's Third Law: It's mentioned that during the setting up of the dragon mail stations, one town tried to offer to build Hiccup a wizard's tower. Jonna predicts Hiccup's response to be along the lines of "It's not magic, I'm just a really good smith".
  • Exact Words: Wulfhild basically relies on this when talking with a priest about her relationship with Hiccup, taking care to discuss their relationship in a manner that answers all questions honestly without admitting that she plans to marry Hiccup and Astrid to limit the 'risk' of the Vatican trying to step in.
  • Shown Their Work: When visiting Rome Fishlegs notes that the Colosseum and Titus's Arch were built by Jewish slave labor in the aftermath of the Jewish Revolts a thousand years earlier.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Pope Benedict IX has this mindset if this quote is any indication.
    We've been receiving confused reports out of the Empire; apparently the Emperor is gone, and there is now an Empress over the Romans—if you can believe such a thing!" the Pope said, and scoffed.


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