mine cartThe trip to Book Assembly Island from Jungle Island is certainly an interesting one. Instead of taking a MagLev you're forced to use a more unorthodox form of transportation in the shape of a 'mine-cart'. This mine cart was installed by Gehn to transport the cut logs from the jungle area on Jungle Island, to the now distant Book Assembly Island. The 'mine-cart' starts it's trip facing away from it's destination. It then picks up speed by heading down a hollowed out part of Jungle Island itself. During this steep angled drop it slowly turns around before entering the ocean. If Riven was a normal place this is whereheat coils the wood, and you, would get very wet. In Riven however, the water acts mysteriously indeed. Due to the water's curious properties it is repelled by heat. Knowing this fact, Gehn has set up a 'tunnel' of heat coils around the track. The water moves away from the coils giving the 'mine-cart' a clear passage all the way to Book Assembly Island.

The lake in the middle of Book Assembly Island is certainly an unusual colour. This colouring is partially caused by a host of copper-rich minerals in the sediments from the surrounding rock. However, the most important determinant of colour in a volcanic lake such as this, is it's level of oxygen saturation. While these are the main reasons for the lakes colour, there are many other factors that contribute, making this a complex subject. For further reading visit the 'Science of Volcanic Lakes' page.
log chipper

When you first arrive on Book Assembly Island you are dumped into a wood chipping machine. It's designed to shred the logs received from Jungle Island into nice little chips then deposit them nearby ready to be turned into pulp. Fortunately for you, it wasn't turned on when you arrived. You can however turn it on later. Just go to the centre of the lake and pull the steam control lever to the far left, then return to the chipper and pull the lever there. The blades spin around a few times then stop, giving you enough time to realize what would have happened had it been on when you slid into it.


Being a mainly dormant volcano, Book Assembly Island has all the power sources Gehn could ever need. Steam to power all his contraptions, water to help separate the wood fibres for his paper, and a good supply of natural gas to keep the boiler flames running for as long as he needs.

boilerAfter the wood has been shredded into small chips it is then taken over to the boiler. The boiling helps to separate the individual fibres of the wood. When done, the grate is lifted, draining the water from the pulp, which is then gathered to be pressed into sheets in the paper press.

There was once going to be a paper press in Riven, but it was removed from the final version because during testing, very few people identified it as a paper press. Most assumed that it was something to open/unlock the manhole cover to the landing above. The movie for it however, was left on the CD and it can still be accessed using a program called Riveal.
The press can also be seen in game. In one particular view you can see the top of it sticking up from the bottom of the screen. To get to this view you need to look up at the pump on the boiler. You have to actually click on the pump itself. If the cursor changes into the "up" hand then you're in the wrong spot.

puddleWhen you empty the boiler of all its water it obviously flows up the large pipe where it is "disposed of" into the sea. To make it up the steep slope that the pipe is at, there must be a lot of pressure behind it, so I wouldn't want to be in front of the pipe when it comes gushing out. Unfortunately some of that water hasn't quite made it to the sea and has pooled, creating a stagnant little puddle below the pipe's exit, which you unknowingly jump down into, getting your shoes all wet :o)

Marty and Total AudioEver think that Ytram was a strange name for a frog? The story behind the name is actually quite funny. Not long after Richard Vander Wende arrived at Cyan an annoying frog took up residence behind the drywall next to his desk. At the same time Cyan was receiving constant phone calls from a guy named Marty O'Donnell, continuously bugging the Millers about doing the sound effects for Riven. He was a nice guy and all, but he was also quite the pest. So when the guys were searching for a name for the frogs they'd made for Riven, Richard suggested Ytram, which is Marty spelt backwards. Marty doesn't seem to mind this, and in fact uses the screen name 'Ytram' in on-line chat rooms. In case you were wondering, he got the job as well. (Marty's on the left in the pic.)
The Ytram is actually based on a South American frog that lives in the jungles. The natives in the area use it's excretions for poison darts much like the Moiety on Riven. In fact the frogs real name is just that - 'Poison Dart Frog'. Poison Dart Frogs have powerful toxins infrogs the skin mucous that cause paralysis and even death to predators that eat them. Certain peoples in South America use the poison for hunting animals by wiping their darts across the skin of the frog. And like Gehn, the natives also get an extract for smoking. This extract is said to have hallucinogenic properties, which probably helps explain Gehn's paranoia and delusions of grandeur.

This model on Gehn's desk most likely represents the Star Fissure. Gehn conducted many experiments concerning the Star Fissure, one of which was to track the movement of the stars in an attempt to navigate them. I'm guessing this model may have had some relevancemodel to these experiments. It was probably meant to rotate in the original design, but as with a lot of things in Riven, there probably wasn't enough time to do it.

gun & pipe

Did you think you were alone on Riven? Not so, Gehn was still going about his business. An example of this can be found in his lab on Book Assembly Island. If you make your way straight to Book Assembly Island after arriving on Jungle Island, you'll find that Gehn has left his gun and pipe sitting on the desk. Then if you come back later you'll find that Gehn has come back for it. Lucky you weren't still messing around with his stuff at the time!

chairWhen Richard Vander Wende arrived at Cyan he had a huge influence on the design principles being used on Riven. However some parts of Riven had already been designed and modelled before he arrived. As designs and ideas changed some of the older areas of Riven were discarded or completely redesigned. One of these places was Gehn's old book making lab. Although some elements of the original design were incorporated into the new lab the only real similarity is that they're both pentagonal in shape.
This elegant high backed chair was also to be used in Gehn's lab but was completely discarded when the room was changed.
Gehn's lab

boltsIn keeping with the number five theme running throughout Riven, all of the bolts used have pentagonal heads instead of the regular hexagonal ones. It is particularly obvious on this steam vent regulator on Book Assembly Island.

cross sectionThe cross section of a tree that is sitting on Gehn's desk looks much like a regular tree. The only real difference is that when you look at it through the magnifying glass you can clearly see a five pointed star branching out from the centre of the pith.

water experimentThe water in Riven acts in a very mysterious way. Although Gehn never figured out exactly why, he found that there was a certain bacteria that lived in the water, which, through some force, was able to hold bits of water together, even moving it in response to heat. The bacteria has this dramatic aversion to heat because, if exposed to extreme heat- such as a period of extended boiling - the bacteria will die.
This aversion to heat caused a problem for the villagers, as when they tried to cook with the water it would rise above it. To cope with this, all the cooking implements in Riven had special "catchment lids" and spouts with tiny valves which did not open unless you tilted the thing a certain way. Also, when ingested the bacteria would make a person sick. Because of this the Rivenese had a special powder to counter the bacteria's effects.

Since a lot of the information I have put up here is based on my own interpretations, some of it may be incorrect. If you think there is a problem with anything here, please fill out this form, and send it to me. Or, if you have anything that you think I should add, also please fill out this form. Thank you.

Last update, 01-Sept-1999 author:Stewart Bradford
temple island
jungle island
book assembly island
survey island
prison island
tay (rebel age)
gehn's 233rd age
misc. information
easter eggs

All Riven images and text 1996, 1997 Cyan, Inc. All rights reserved Riven Cyan, Inc.