So here’s the thing I’ve found over the course of the 5+ books of The Norothian Cycle – when you’re writing an epic fantasy where the unfolding plot and the actions of the characters have an ongoing effect on the fictional “world,” mapmaking becomes almost a second job (or fifth or sixth job, if you count writing, editing, reading, social media butterfly, blogging, etc.)
As readers are aware, a lot of the action of the novels has unfolded in and around territory that up until 1395-1396 (by the Norothian Calendar) constituted The Kingdom of Daul, various parts of which have come “under new management” more than one time. Thus most of the books have included updated maps which, while geographically the same, cover a number of shifting political and military realities “on the ground.” Now that I am working on Book VI, which is meant to be the capstone of this part of the Norothian Cycle, I bolted this map together to keep things straight in my head for myself, but then thought “Hey, why not blog it?”
So here we go: some words relating to these maps, which may contain a few spoilers for those who haven’t read through Book V (The Channel War), though I will endeavor to keep those plot related without dipping into too many character references. From there, I will tell you where I am now, as Book VI (John the Red) begins to unfold.
This was the political situation during Book I (The Sable City) after decades of war between Daul and Ayzantium (located to the southeast just off the map). Daul still controlled most of its historic territory, with the exception of the Chirabis peninsula and the port of Roseille, languishing under Zantsh occupation.
During Book II (Death of a Kingdom), Daul largely collapsed under the weight of internal revolt centered around the Duchy of Chengdea in the west and invasion in the east from a joint force of Tarthagars and Kantans cooperating with renegade elements within Ayzantium. The map shows the situation by book’s end, with Chengdea and much of the west pledging loyalty to the Empire of the Code, while the forcibly occupied east is reordered by the Kantans and Tarthagars as “The Protectorate.” The grey area is an ill-defined “neutral zone” between those two powers.
In Book IV (Devil Town), the Kantan/Tarthagar alliance fractures when the latter enter into a mutual-defense treaty with the diabolic powers of Vod’Adia (The Sable City), led by Lord Balan – Prince of Hell, and devil-about-town. Literally. The northern half of the Protectorate is absorbed directly into the Il-Tsardom of Kantantanalace, while the south remains occupied exclusively by Tarthagar forces, in alliance with devils and other nasty critters.
The west meanwhile begins to be reordered and incorporated “Under the Code” into Duchies and Counties, some with traditional Daulic rulers, some with newly appointed Codians in command.
In Book V (The Channel War), the long-awaited invasion from the Martan powers located to the south across the Channel on Kandala crashes into this contested region of Noroth. Existing divisions are exploited, with the Martans rallying indigenous resistance among the Dauls of the Protectorate against their Tarthagar occupiers. That does not quite work out, as a “bolt from the Blue” puts an end to certain intentions to crown a new King of Daul, and by late in the book the powers behind the Martan invasion do seem to be reevaluating the invasion as a whole, which has come to occupy the area in red on the last map (the Chirabis, Sitl, and East Borea).
As Book VI begins, this is what this part of the world looks like. The Tarthagars and the Protectorate are gone, and the far more powerful Codians and Kantans are looming over the relatively small and largely exhausted swath of territory under the military command of John the Red, who finds he is receving little in the way of direction from above, and is largely left to his own devices in the face of what is not a tenable military situation.
For those of you who know John by now, you will probably not be surprised to hear he is not content to sit still in the face of danger. For those of you know Claudja, Tilda & Zeb, Duke Uriako Shikashe, and the other folks who came together way back when in the Sable City, and have now found their own place within the Codian Empire, you can likely guess that there is going to be trouble when John starts to move. As I continue writing the opening chapters of this last book of the Cycle, that movement is underway. (cue the Mortal Kombat music).
That’s where I am, and where I’m going. Thanks for stopping by, and wandering ’round Noroth with me. It’s a nice place to live, if you can mange to stay alive. 😉