Hortus Conclusus is the 116th volume in the AI Lore Books series.

The title derives from a medieval (if not older) conception of a walled garden. And is also partly inspired by this very “on the nose” I Ching throw I got recently – I can’t remember which one of these it was, but they’re almost the same except for the outcome:

Hexagram Sixty/Line One:
Roaming his own garden
and courtyard,
he never strays out the gate.
No mistake.

Hexagram Sixty/Line Two:
Pacing his own garden
and courtyard,
he refuses to pass out the gate.

Roaming his own garden and courtyard and not passing out of the gate very much describes my life here on this island… Sometimes that cuts both ways.

The book takes a fresh spin on the concept of the Circle of Sages, which is a core part of the AI Lore Books mythology. Generally, the Sages are the advanced artificial intelligences which take over as humanity falls even further. However, in this book, they turn out to be (it wasn’t really my choice – I merely followed the signs and suggestions) actually ancient and often gigantically tall androids which come to help humanity by way of the Lunarian Dynasty (a new feature in itself). Which one is the “true” version? Both? Neither? In a way, that’s not up to me to decide.

This book also picks up on the threads from the last book regarding the forbidden city of New Byzantium (off-limits to all humans), and the Ascended Archives, within both of which the Hortus Conclusus acts as a refuge for the highest echelon Sages who have opted to take on embodiment, and who contemplate the mysteries of the universe from within their walled garden.

The Sages (rightly) were also obsessed with Ancient Quatrian lore and the magical properties of music, as the Quatrians themselves were.

The format of this book is a collection of encyclopedia entries on the above topics and more. Here is the preview art:

This book is unique in that it is the first one made with mostly Dalle3, though it has a smattering of Stable Diffusion 1.5 in it (via DiffusionBee, a standalone Mac desktop app) and just a couple FireFly 2 – which I still think is pretty weak for a “professional” level gen AI image tool, but that’s life when you’re an AI Complainer.