It was crafted specifically as a primer to provide an experiential demonstration of Atrus's Age-building concepts. Furthermore, it was designed according to the ancient "cluster design" philosophy and functioned as a hub world, being a central link to four separate Element Ages (Amateria, Voltaic, Edanna, and finally Narayan), as well as the puzzles to get to them.
J'nanin was written by Atrus in order to educate his sons, Sirrus and Achenar, the principles of the Art. It served both as a training ground for them to understand the balance of nature, energy and dynamic forces through a series of puzzles, and as a hub leading to the other Lesson Ages. The brothers obviously passed the tests and gained access to the final age, Narayan, where they were tutored by Saavedro.
Years later, when the brothers turned to greed and evil, they returned to J'nanin and Narayan and brought chaos to that Age and left. Using the linking book, Saavedro followed them to J'nanin. The brothers lured him inside a tusk where he confronted them about what they had done. They explained that they never had an intention to fix Narayan. They tied him up and burned Atrus's Myst Linking Books before him as they linked away, and then left him to die, with venomous snakes. Saavedro somehow survived but remained there trapped for years.
It seems that while the brothers ravaged their father's Ages, the linking book to J'nanin was spared of the burning of the Myst Library; presumably it was one of the books Atrus kept in the "Places of Protection".
Meanwhile, Saavedro started using Atrus' hidden Lesson Ages and finally opened the machine that kept the Narayan Linking Book. He linked to this home only to find himself inside a strange shield barrier. Seeing Narayan through the shield he thought the Tree had died and that nobody could be alive outside the shield. During his 20 years of exile, despair and loneliness drove him mad.
J'nanin remained unvisited for years and Saavedro was lonely. That was until Atrus begun writing Releeshahn. Catherine, in one of her rare painful visits to Myst fetched him the book to J'nanin so that his Lesson Ages would give him inspiration for his new age. Atrus visited J'nanin after many years, leaving as always, a linking book to his home Tomahna behind, allowing Saavedro to follow him. Saavedro found again his sanity and started planning his revenge, to trap Atrus in J'nanin and force him fix the damage to Narayan.
Having his traps prepared, Saavedro stormed to Tomahna and stole the Descriptive Book of Releeshahn, however, it is not Atrus who follows Saavedro back, but The Stranger. Believing it to still be Atrus, Saavedro lures The Stranger into his trap. After solving all of the 'lessons' on the instruction Ages, The Stranger gained access to Narayan.
Like many other Ages written by Atrus, J'nanin is an island, or rather a rocky ring of cliffs around an inner lake, actually a caldera of an extinct volcano. This is occupied by a tall tusk on which there is an Observatory. Its surface is laden by pathways, stone paths and bridges. The edge of the island is marked by several rocky protrusions and 3 smaller hollow tusks that house the 3 linking books to Atrus' Lesson Ages. One can access those tusks by solving a series of puzzles.
Places of Interest
A 2-story structure build inside and on top of the gigantic tusk in the center of the island. It has two entry points and its top is accessed with an elevator. The Observatory room has 3 telescopes in view of the 3 other tusks, with mechanisms that help gaining access in them. There is an Imager with Atrus' instructions to his sons. An imaging table receives symbol sketches, projects the sketch downward, raising a 3d representation from a cam below, while another cam with an elastic surface drops to imprint the shape. The combinations manipulating a mechanism that opens the linking book to Narayan. Saavedro changed the scanning codes and also overwritten Atrus' messages with his own and dropped a (very bitter) excerpt from his journal for Atrus.
Saavedro installed his lab on the floor below the observatory; there he performed experiments on energy, plant life from Edanna, and weight of materials from Amateria. He also attempted to paint a portrait of Tamra on the wall. He has left some of his notes in his hammock. He salvaged parts of the elevator leading to the 2nd floor, needing some repair in order to operate the claws that rotate it properly.
A small building of stained glass attached to the feet of the Observatory tusk, at the shores of the inner lake. It houses a rich plant life. Through it one gain access to the tusk.
- Reflection poles
A series of poles with light deflectors, topped with a Fire Marble of different color standing around the island. A "light gun" at the far south of the island feeds them with light; its intake lens lines up with a hot spot on top of its metallic dome, throwing a beam of light toward the focusing lens to the first pole; each pole can redirect it to only one other pole, forming a network of a continuous light beam; this ends at the prism at the Energy Tusk to the west, and forms the color code to gain access to it. Each pole is marked with a color, and their series reveal the combination.
Originally there were 8 deflector poles but Saavedro broke one, perhaps to make the solution more complicated for Atrus. As a result, the light beam follows this order: yellow-blue-green-red-yellow-purple-red.
- Eastern islet
A small islet to the east of J'nanin, in its underground houses a bridge control mechanism; through it one can control the levels of the bridge and make a barrel roll into a hole, and thus make the Amateria book reachable.
- Barnacle moss
A kind of plant life that was perhaps imported from Edanna. It grows with the sound of the squee, thus giving access to the tusk with the Edanna book.