The Norothian Ennead, basics

07 Oct

So this is different. Actually got a request from a reader for more info on a particular piece of the world o’ the Norothian Cycle.  I began to write back, when I remembered that as I do tend to…um…write long stuff with tangents and digressions, there was probably enough here to get together a blog post, which I really, really need to do with more regularity.  So without further ado: Just what is the basis for the divine pantheon of my books?


While a lot of the terminology in the Cycle is invented, believe it or not “Ennead” isn’t one of them.  It comes from Greek and means a collection nine things, and is typically applied to a set group of nine related Egyptian deities: Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Horus, Set, and Nephthys.

The Norothian Ennead are the nine major deities of the part of the world in which my books take place (the continent of Noroth, and Kandala across the relatively narrow Channel to the south, plus the Miilark Islands to the west, out in the middle of the Interminable Ocean).  The Nine deities are commonly accepted as having begun to “speak” to the people of Noroth on a specific date some 14 centuries before the time of the stories, which is the beginning of the Norothian Calendar.  “The Sable City” (Book I) takes place in 1395, NC, and time marches on from there.

So, first question: Why Nine deities?

This brings me to my first tangent, which I will style, “The D&D Homage.”  Yes, to no one’s great surprise, I spent a lot of my youth at folding card tables in basements, behind a DM screen, rolling multisided dice otherwise kept in a Crown Royal bag.  I played a *lot* of Dungeons & Dragons growing up (Advanced, thank you very much), and of course it still influences me now, as I am writing fantasy after-all, albeit with muskets.  And though it may amuse no one but me, I like to slip a direct reference into the books every now and again, like having a character refer in an offhand way to “Rutterkin and Dretch,” or by calling a magic spell Know History. Of course, in doing so, I somewhat underestimated the prickly nerd-dom of my fellow RPGphiles, who will snootily mention “That is straight out of D&D!” in a review. 🙂 Nobody likes some wanker blundering into their sandbox, but I promise, I really mean all that stuff only with the fondest of intentions.

With the deities, there is also something of an homage at work, or maybe low-grade theft, from AD&D land.  For those of you who don’t know, in Dungeons and Dragons (at least when I was playing it, this may have changed in 20 years) everybody had an “Alignment” which is sort of a worldview, guiding principles, raison d’être all rolled into one, defined by a junction of two terms.  The first is, basically, how comfortable you are with rules and society: Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic.  The second is the kind of person (or elf or monster or whatever) you are: Good, Neutral, or Evil.  And the two terms work together, giving you nine options.  Let’s put ’em in a box (though there are a couple other ways of doing this, but we won’t go down that particular tangent)

So, as you can hopefully see, going by the AD&D rules, there are nine general “Alignments” which can be used to some extent define every character, monster, kingdom, god, et al.  Everything fits on the chart somewhere and it is sort of a sliding scale in two directions: Order to Chaos side-to-side, Good to Bad from top-to-bottom.

And that is what was in my mind when I was “inventing” the Norothian Ennead, nine deities sort of typifying the nine cardinal points of Alignment, with a divine portfolio to match.

A couple quick explainers. The numbers in the corners refers to how the gods are typically referred, ergo Tartha is “The Sixth God of the Ennead,” though if a Norothian was asked why the gods have the numbers that they do, they would probably just scratch their head and say “Because they do.”  Also, the order is hinckey with that nine in the middle square, because “Chance” is not personified as are the other deities, with both “spheres of influence” and even genders (the M or F in the bottom corners).  “Chance” is just that: True Neutrality.  The odds.  A coin toss.  If you are offering a prayer to Chance, you are in an awful lot of trouble.

Also, those reading the books may have noticed that the numbers for the gods also accord with their holy month, and the “Monthdays” within each (First of First, Seventh of Seventh, etc.) are their particular holy days.  Ninth of Ninth, on the other hand, is regarded as either a really good or really bad day to take a gamble.  Extremely astute (or pathologically obsessive) readers may have noted that Tilda Lanai, in Book One, makes an awfully big decision for herself on the Ninthday or Ninthmonth, though it passes in the text without reference, as all this stuff is really just background to the stories. Believe it or not, while historical digressions do tend to abound in the books, I am making an effort to keep a lot of this plumbing in the walls.  Or at least on this website.

Now, as far as the specific characteristics of the gods, why some are worshipped more in some places than in others, why some are known by multiple names, and what exactly “Triadism” is…those Q’s will probably be blog posts in and of themselves.  As will the question of whether or not it is significant that there are nine major(ish) characters who all gather in one particular place within Vod-Adia, 495 years after the First Opening of The Sable City which disappeared from the world, wait for it, 1395 years before, after an absence of 900 years.  This was just the nutshell background, and I hope it is generally what you were looking for, C.

Thanks always for reading,



Posted by on October 7, 2011 in The Norothian Cycle


13 responses to “The Norothian Ennead, basics

  1. Pj Jones

    October 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Your world-building is so complex. How long did it take you to write the first book?

    • Red Tash

      October 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      Ditto! It’s fascinating.

    • medmcn

      October 7, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      PJ. Not that long to write the book, really, less than a year. However, I only “built the world” over the course of the ten years before, during which time I intentionally did not write any fiction at all, as I had some nonsensical idea about having a real, serious life, job, etc. Like that was ever going to happen. 😉
      Anyway, my frustrated impulses and muses channeled into “world building” as a hobby, which was at least cheaper than coke and hookers. But when one particualr young lady who “lives” in that world kept badgering me to write her story down, she dragged me back here. Thank you Tilda, and the Ennead. 🙂

      • Red Tash

        October 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm

        Only ten years. 😉

      • medmcn

        October 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm

        Yep, about ten. Would have been faster, but I write long-hand. 😉

  2. Red Tash

    October 9, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I wish I had that kind of patience, Ed. I type about 90 wpm, so it sometimes happens that I type something out before I finish *thinking* it. I’ve also had conversations with someone while typing something else out, entirely (doesn’t usually end well for the piece, with random words flung in it). My handwriting went downhill when I started carrying little people around a few years ago. Now I think most Drs would squint at my signature. Hell, I’m not even sure what it says!

    Did you see the Lifetime movie about JK Rowling? Of course I’m sure it was mostly hogwash, but there was a scene where she was pulling her notes (world-building, sketches of characters, etc.) out of a big cardboard box to show her sister. It made me so NERVOUS.

    Sometime, you should take some photos of your world-building notes in longhand. I’d love to see maps, drawings, etc., if you have them. 😀

    • medmcn

      October 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      Red, actually about half the purpose for this blog is to do just that, I am slowly transferring some of those materials here, in a more legible form (my handwriting barely looks like language). There are maps, glossary, some short histories and such perusable here under the buttons across the top. 🙂

  3. deanna

    October 11, 2011 at 1:23 am

    I love this line: If you are offering a prayer to Chance, you are in an awful lot of trouble.
    Thanks for playing Red’s Trick or Treat Bash! I’m looking forward to reading your book on my new Kindle!, Red sent me!

  4. Rachel

    October 11, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Red sent me.

  5. Na S.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    This is the first time I have heard of The Norothian Ennead, and that they represent nine deities. I like ancient history so I will need to look more into this . Thanks for sharing. Ican see that The Sable City will have an interesting world.

    Red sent me .

  6. Amber G.

    October 15, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    “Trick or Treat! Thanks for playing Red’s Trick or Treat Bash! I’m looking forward to reading your book on my new Kindle!, Red sent me!”
    Thanks from!!!

  7. Corey Olomon

    October 16, 2011 at 8:15 am

    “Trick or Treat! Thanks for playing Red’s Trick or Treat Bash! I’m looking forward to reading your book on my new Kindle!, Red sent me!” (


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