It’s been some years since I’ve spent this much time on a map. Unlike then, where I put in all sorts of crazy geographic things going on, this is more down to earth. Whilst there’s still magic, it doesn’t affect things quite the way they do in The Rogue King Saga.
In building this world, I found myself taking the influence from all over Earth. The continent is a big place and I wanted a bit of diversity, enough to let me have some cultural differences in To Target the Heart without it seeming strange. But a lot of high fantasy, at least the high fantasy I’ve read (which is a lot of the older ones), seems to put me more in the mind towards medieval England.
With the Spellster Series, there are times where some places perceived as “good” and others as “bad”, but this changes depending on the story and the narrator. Those from the country where In Pain and Blood is set sees a place like Udynea as an evil empire full of slavers, but in To Target the Heart, they are potential allies. And to those of Through Smoke and Fire and Spectre of the Golden Voice it’s home. Just to different characters.
So what influences can be found in this world?
In order of the country’s creation…
Udynea: I went a little crazy here. The base influence is Ancient Rome via an older empire, then there’s Victorian England or India depending on where we are in the empire (mainly for things like dress and architecture). I think there’s some Middle Eastern influence in there, too… It’s a big place, with lots of history and the absorbing of other cultures.
Demarn: This is the medieval England society… with splashes of Italian and Spanish (mostly in the accents). Although, Dylan’s garb (all spellster outfits, really) is basically a hanfu. I don’t know why, it just is.
Dvärghem: Lots of Scandinavian influence with a wee bit of Polynesian.
Tirglas: Medieval Scotland and Ireland were the original influences here and it’s a very heavy one. Somehow, Eastern Slavic dress wiggled its way in there as well. At this point, I ain’t even mad.
Heimat: German influence in the name and several other influences involving travellers and those who have fled a land over the seas. If I include the nomadic elven tribes, then there’s a touch of Romani as well.
Niholia: Whilst the name came to me as I was looking over the African map, this place has a heavy Middle Eastern (architecture) and Indian influence, alongside Russian. Yes, I basically made a lesbian Indian princess with a Russian accent.
Obuzan: Again, the name was picked whilst looking over Africa, I named the two countries together. It’s established in In Pain and Blood that the place has a jungle and the land’s equivalent of a corpse flower, even though I currently picture the terrain more like a South American jungle. How things are run here is influenced by the Inquisition and all the nasty witch-hunting periods. Poor Emma…
Independent Isles: Beyond being ruled by elected officials, managing to avoid both Stamekia and Niholian occupation and being a largely seafaring people, I’ve not gone majorly into this. I might once I tackle Burning Beneath the Sun.
Talfaltan: A bit of Polynesian influence in the name. They’re also a seafaring people, but there’s little made of them beyond their utter dislike of spellsters.
Cezhory: I went with a similar influence to the countries flanking it. As it’s just a name, with no stories set in the land, I haven’t delved too deep into this.
Stamekia: Yeah, this was the final one. Nothing major yet. There are some nomadic tribes and a tough language, so some possible influences brewing in the background. I mainly named it just so I could have all the kingdoms laid out.
Most of the influences crept in by degrees as I built the world piece by piece. Don’t ask me what happened, seriously. At this point, I’ve stopped asking and am just going with it. Some influences might not even be all that strong, just… there.
Obviously, a few things still need names and it may be that more influences appear. I’ve yet to come up with adequate capital city names for a few and I need to choose where to put Emma’s village in Obuzan.
This is why I occasionally have Katarina breaking into my story-writing time with brief dissertations for me, to keep it all straight.