Page 214. " transported to the American colonies "

Transportation was punishment by exile, sometimes for a period of years, sometimes for life.  Transportation to what is now the USA was a common sentence meted out to criminals in the 17th and 18th centuries, when much of North America was a British colony.  Hanging was the usual punishment for returning illegally from transportation.

Page 215. " the Egyptian Walk and the black doors in the mock-Egyptian walls "

The novel's Egyptian Walk is based on the Egyptian Avenue in Highgate Cemetery West, an architectural wonder reflecting the Victorian fascination with the Valley of the Kings.

Highgate Cemetery's Egyptian Walk
Creative Commons AttributionHighgate Cemetery's Egyptian Avenue - Credit: Nick Garrod

Page 216. " your Terpsichore, your Echo, your Clytemnestra "

Public DomainTerpsichore - Credit: Jean-Marc Nattier
 Terpsichore is the Greek muse of dance and theatrical choruses.  Echo was a nymph who, in Greek mythology, fell in love with a self-absorbed youth who scorned her, and pined away for love of him.  Clytemnestra is another figure from Greek mythology, who plotted with her lover to murder her husband, only to be murdered in turn by her son Orestes.

Classical references such as these, particularly comparisons between a beloved and mythological women, were common in the poetry of Nehemiah's period.

Page 217. " young Leander, young Hero, young Alexander "

Alexander the Great
Public DomainAlexander the Great - Credit: Gunnar Bach Pedersen
 Leander and Hero are lovers from a Greek legend, who came to a tragic end.  Nehemiah takes a certain poetic licence here, as Hero was female. 

 Alexander the Great was the ruler of the Macedonian empire and a heroic figure from Classical history.

Page 222. " caves called the Dragon's Den "

These caves do exist.  They are, as Gaiman says, under Wawel Hill in Krakow, a large city in Poland.  Their name in Polish is "Smocza Jama" and legends say they are the lair of the Wawel Dragon.

The caves go 270 metres into Wawel Hill, although only the first 81 metres are open to the public as a tourist attraction.

Interior of the Dragon's Den
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeInterior of the Dragon's Den - Credit: Craig Nagy
Page 222. " a bandage-wrapped Assyrian mummy "

Although Assyrian burial customs included ritual washing and wrapping the body in linen, Assyrians did not mummify their dead as Egyptians did. Pigs had totemic significance in both cultures.

Map of Ancient Egypt and Assyria
Creative Commons AttributionMap of Ancient Egypt and Assyria - Credit: Missional Volunteer


Page 222. " when the Ifrit "

An ifrit is a supernatural being of Arabic folklore.  They are a type of genie and are sometimes good, sometimes evil in legends.