Did you know it takes the average mule caravan about 17 days to get from Karse to Furthest? And only has to pay about 10 different tolls?
From Karse to Boldhome to Slavewall to Furthest. Definitely the fastest – AND the cheapest route.
So although I say 17 days, I would assume 20 or more is usual. And that is with the complex logistical support provided by roads, inns, the Issaries cult, etc. Outside of that, it is much slower.
Is congestion a problem? The royal roads are four to five meters wide. If you take the royal road, you are under the Prince’s protection against the tribes and clans, and anyone else. Take the back routes and any tribe or clan who wants to shake you down can and will.
Royal roads all the way to Slavewall and then the Lunar Trade Road.
According to this map the Tarsh road does not go to Slavewall. There is a Lunar road built in the Sartarite style from Dwarf Ford to Slavewall. Never went any further.
Tarsh Road: This military road runs from Filichet in Holay to Furthest and the Temple of the Reaching Moon, and then on to Slavewall. It was first established by King Phargentes. Fazzur Wideread extended the road from Slavewall to Alda-Chur, using Sartarite stonemasons, and that section of the road is of far better quality than the rest.
Meanwhile, it is about 12 days from Boldhome to New Pavis, 10 days from Boldhome to Furthest, and 7 days from Boldhome to Karse.
Also, don’t take the Pavis Road if you have a caravan! Take Caravan Alley to Bigglestone, and then from there to the Paps and on to New Pavis. The only tough part is crossing the Long Dry.
As an aside I have a nice big chart in the Sartar Book saying how far segments of the road are and how long it typically takes to make that segment.
Why not Day’s Rest to Tourney Altar to the Paps? It looks like Biggle Stone is really a big detour so I don’t see why that would be the preferred route. It lets you take advantage of the comparative ease of Caravan Alley and bypass the arroyos leading into the Dead Place. Also I suspect that the nomads permit mules along the edge of the Eiritha Hills to come into the Sacred Grounds, but not from other directions. And there are also likely water sources at the edge of the hills, and shade.
Avoid the Pavis Road if you are a caravan! It is 6 days hard travel, and most of the year there is no water between the Better Place and New Pavis! Which means instead of trade goods, your beasts mainly carry fodder and water.
So a caravan taking the Pavis Road needs to dedicate at least 70% of its carrying capacity to carrying just food and water, and can bring very limited amounts of trade goods. The Pavis Road gets used as a military road, not a caravan route.
That assumes you are only bringing 6 days food and water. If you get delayed a couple of days – a sandstorm, a raid, hostile spirits – then things are going to get very dire indeed.
Moving goods by sea from Karse to Corflu can be done, but Corflu is a poor transfer station.
I am assuming these are mule trains traveling at foot speed, so 40 km a day on the royal roads, about 30 km per day in Prax. I doubt these are wagons.
So for example, it is about 308 km from Swenstown to New Pavis, or 176 km from Torkan’s New Fort to New Pavis. It is about 465 km from Karse to Furthest along the trade roads.
You probably pay 50% of your caravan’s “assessed value” as you travel the full road. But your profit margin is easy over 100 percent – so let’s say your caravan goods have an “assessed value” of 100 wheels. You are going to need to pay 50 wheels for using the road system. But you are going to make at least 200 wheels of the goods – so 200 less 100 less 50 means 50 wheels profit. And your risk is much lower than taking the back routes and you are much faster.
Now you can see why the Sartar princes were so rich. They basically got half the profits made from the trade they facilitated.
Rich Sartarite princes are a problem for the Lunar Provinces. The client kings might get the wrong idea about where their bread is buttered. They might even do something crazy like seek independence.
And from there it is only a hop skip and a jump from Jannisor knocking on the gates of Glamour.
From the Sartar Book:
The royal roads belong to the Prince and travelers and their property are under the protection of the Prince while they are on the road. Tolls on goods moving along the road are collected at various points, this is largest source of revenue for the Prince. For much of Sartar’s history, such revenues made the Prince richer than most Lunar satraps. At the entrance to each city and a few other toll stations (such as at Roadend and Dangerford), scribes and their guards assess a toll on the caravan. These tolls are sizeable (typically 2% to 5% of the value of the goods at each station) but ensures that the caravan can travel along the road without interference from the local tribes. A caravan traveling from Furthest to Karse might pay 50% of the cost of its goods in tolls, but can expect to still make huge profits; the tolls are the price of safety, security, and speed. Few experienced merchants complain much as long as the tolls are kept to these “reasonable” rates.
And all that coin flowing into Boldhome let the Prince hire warriors, buy the loyalty of groups, set up cavalry, build temples and libraries, and more. This is why even the relatively more laid-back factions in the Lunar Empire that don’t care that much about Orlanth still found Sartar to be a threat.
The ESSENTIAL reference book. I have it right in front of me right now:
Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army (1978) By Donald W. Engels
Honestly, if people are talking about transport in the ancient world and they don’t have Engels handy, they are just making stuff up. also
Travel in the Ancient World (1994) by Lionel Casson · 1994
So what is the motivation for traders going to New Pavis? FROM PRAX: Slaves, livestock, Rubble artifacts, leather, foodstuffs.