The Anauroch Desert, also called The Great Sand Sea, is a remnant of the once-powerful Netheril Empire. It is presently inhabited by the Bedine, magically transported there from Zakhara as well as the vicious asabi and the dreaded phaerimms and, since very recently, by the archwizards of Shade.

Elminster has said of Anauroch that "It is not a natural desert, and it is not all hot sands." In fact it is three deserts. The hot, dry desert of sand dunes which most folk imagine all Anauroch to be like is known as "the Sword" and actually makes up only roughly the southern third of the region. North of that lies a region of wind-scoured bare rock, called "the Plain of Standing Stones" despite very little of it being flat plain. The most northerly region is a vast sheet of ice overlying bedrock and marked with many rifts named "the High Ice."

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