KRK Maps

What is it with fantasy writers and maps?

Authors are obsessive and fantasy authors are really obsessive. We NEED maps.

We need to know where something is in relation to something else and we need to know how long it will take to get there.

By horse riding flat out,(Mongol horse men could ride 80 miles a day, while eating in the saddle), by horse laden with armour (around 25 miles), by horse alone, by horse in a large group (always slows you down).

(Can a man running across hilly, forested country keep ahead of someone on horseback? Yes, according to my sources)

By wagon and by walking alone, walking in a large group, walking with old folks and children.

By ship, sailing in a merchant vessel, sailing in a vessel built for speed, etc. (Ships with a deep draft will come to grief on hidden shoals, while shallow draft ships will skim over them).

And then, because Rolencia experiences intensely cold winters, I needed to know how fast someone could skate on medieval skates, how fast they could cross country ski on medieval skis. (Oldest skates made of bone, then there were wooden skates, slower than modern skates). Because  Rolencia is riddled with lakes and rivers which are connected  by canals that follow the topography of the land, skating in winter saved time, but even the canals did not follow a straight line.

And you thought we just made it all up.

These are my working maps. They aren’t perfect.

Nearly three hundred years ago, Warlord Rolence marched over Foenix Pass and conquered the rich valley, defeating the bickering chieftains. He named his new kingdom Rolencia and declared himself  King Rolence the First, claiming the valley for his children and his children’s children.

But holding a kingdom is harder than conquering it. No sooner had King Rolence made his claim, than King Sefon the Second of Merofyn set sail to put down this upstart warlord, before the warlords of his own spars could get ideas above their station.

Meanwhile the merchants of Ostron Isle traded with both kingdoms, growing richer, while the Utland raiders preyed on everyone, including each other.

Having read about Japanese history and how the landscape put pressure on people to claim and hold the arable land, I wanted to develop kingdoms made up of islands. This, combined with a documentary on islands formed by volcanic craters, led me to develop the distinctive shape of the twin islands of Rolencia and Merofynia, and Ostron Isle.

The maps differ from the traditional fantasy map because they are topographical. The height of the mountains is important, only the relatively flat lowlands in green are arable. Living in the southern hemisphere where the south is cold, I’ve grown up with a mind that sees both south and north as cold, because I’ve read so many books set in the northern hemisphere.

I deliberately set these islands on the equator of their world so that, for the inhabitants, north and south are cold. They don’t know if there are any other land masses. There is no moon to light the sky at night, but a froth of stars form an effervescent arc across the sky at night. Although the winters are cold, the summers are steamy (the planet’s orbit is elliptical).

The land we live in shapes us, so the world the characters’ live in shapes them. In early times possession of arable land was a sign of wealth.