Welcome to Journey Taker’s first guest post – and first book tour post, a very inventive travel guide created by Kristen S. Walker, author of A Flight of Marewings, in which Korinna’s life gets turned upside down when the ghost of her father suddenly appears. Her father was duke of Kyratia City and he wanted Korinna to marry his warlord, the foreign mercenary Galenos, and inherit his title–but the city’s Council has other plans. When the Council denies Korinna’s right to rule, she decides to join Galenos’s mercenary company and tame a wild marewing in order to take the city by force. But people whisper that the late duke’s untimely death was murder, an induced madness that forced him to dance himself to death–and now that madness is spreading. Can Korinna become a marewing rider and conquer Kyratia in time to save everyone?
Oh, and enjoy!
This is a post about a fantasy world that I created for my epic fantasy novel, A Flight of Marewings. Some parts of it trace back to stories that I wrote when I was thirteen. Over the years, I’ve expanded and change many things to make it fit what I wanted for the story and to incorporate things that I learned about the real world, like anthropology, ecology, and sociology. I’m going to concentrate on the fun parts—the kinds of things that you would need to know if you were planning on visiting the area.
Seirenia is a long, narrow peninsula at the southern edge of the larger continent of Orn. There’s also Xynalia Island off the east coast and an archipelago of several more islands to the west, which are considered part of the same region. A mountain range fills most of the middle, running north to south. Because of the temperate weather, most of the mountains are too low altitude to get any snow. Only the largest Mount Deyos, at the northern end of the range, freezes annually, while the rest of the peaks get only the occasional dusting during cold spells.
The rest of Seirenia enjoys mild seasons throughout the year. The sixteen-month year is divided into two seasons: the hot Dry and the cool Rains. Most plant growth occurs during the rainy months, so farmers plant their fields at the beginning of the Rains and harvest at the beginning of the Dry. During the hot months, wildfires are a constant threat. Also, much of the peninsula is rocky and arid, so most of the human populations are concentrated along the coast, where more rain comes off the ocean and fishing is plentiful. Because the mountains are difficult to travel and the roads can be attacked by roving monsters, sailing is the best way to visit Seirenia: by going up and down the coasts, you can see most of the major cities in a safe and easy trip.
Independent City States
Once, Seirenia was part of the Kaldonian Empire, and some of the imperial infrastructure still survives today in some of the major city developments and the straight, strong roads that form a network all over the peninsula. But the Kaldonians were driven away by the sudden arrival of Wyld Magic, abandoning the native people to the dangerous monsters that now roam the land. In their struggle to survive, Seirenians banded together into small cities, defending small patches of farm land outside their walls, and there was no unified government.
A thousand years later, many of the original city-states still keep their independence, especially in the north. Alliances are shaky and mostly rely on pressure from the main temple of the Allfather, since they share the religion of Deyonismos. Some cities have conquered others, forming larger regions. In the south is the largest, where the flat plains have most of farmland. Not surprisingly, an agricultural-based religion called the Idarnian Mysteries grew popular among the three cities here, creating the Holy Empire of Damia. Religions and customs vary depending on where you go, so it’s important to be respectful of these differences when traveling.
Much of Seirenia’s prosperity actually comes from its centralized location in the ocean. While they have a limited number of goods to export, they’re a connection for trade routes from four major continents (Orn, Itteki, Arkia, and Eiry), so most coastal cities rely on their mercantile ships for income. And of course, traders and immigrants from other lands come to settle in Seirenia as well, so many ports are a diverse blend of many languages, cultures, and creeds. A visit to the markets can give you a taste of many foreign cultures all in one place, so be sure to make this a part of your trip!
While Seirenia does not have a lot of raw goods to export, their vibrant trade has given them the money to invest in education and the arts. Many cities have their own university, and artists such as painters, writers, musicians, and actors are supported through local guilds. Visitors can take a tour of architectural marvels such as the elaborate temples and palaces of most cities, enjoy art galleries, take in a play or concert in the local theaters, learn about the latest astronomical discoveries in an observatory, or see advancements in magic at the colleges. Be sure to ask the locals for tips to find the best of what their city has to offer.
The major language of most Seirenians in Meresto, and while there are some regional dialects, the constant travel between cities and relatively small size of the peninsula keeps the language recognizable throughout. The only exception is the nation of Syannata Ilnaota in the central eastern region: the area was settled by missionaries from Arkia, so the ruling priestess caste speaks Arqan, while most of the farming caste still speaks Meresto. Also, in the major cities which rely on trade, it’s common to hear other languages, and any educated citizen can speak at least three tongues fluently. It can be helpful to learn some common phrases in Meresto, but if you stick to the ports, you’ll be able to find a translator for any major language easily.
If you’re in a Deyonist area, religious festivals are common throughout the year, especially during the Dry. Celebrations can spread throughout the entire city and everyone is welcome to join in. Feasts dedicated to the many deities happen on a monthly basis, so check the local temple district to see which shrines are busy. In the Idarnian Mysteries, most festivals are not open to non-initiates, but there are a few public annual holidays. And don’t ever ask to see a temple of the Sisterhood of Syannata—they’re strictly for priestesses only!
Cuisine also varies depending on the local crops. In the north, expect lightly-seasoned foods that highlight local fruits and vegetables, like artichokes, olives, and lamb. Syannata Ilnaota keeps a strict vegetarian diet and is the major grower of rice. Seafood is popular along the coast and in the islands. In the south, watch out for the heat—they love spicy peppers! Ask for suma, a fruit-flavored yogurt drink, to cool your tongue if you get burned.
Come Visit Soon!
I hope that I’ve piqued your interest in Seirenia, because it has a lot to offer. Don’t let the rumors of monsters or roving mercenaries drive you away—city walls keep out everything but the rare dragon attack, and mercenary companies are regulated by strict laws in most areas. As long as you travel with a little knowledge and caution, your trip can be both rewarding and safe!
Giveaway and Purchase Links
Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a pirate mermaid who can talk to sharks, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. Her new novel, A Flight of Marewings, tells the adventure of a duke’s illegitimate daughter who must stop her father’s murderers–by taming a dangerous monster. A Flight of Marewings is now available in print from Amazon and digitally from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. To read a sample chapter or check out Kristen’s pirate pictures, please visit kristenwalker.net. You can talk good books, cats, or medieval cooking with Kristen anytime on Twitter (@KristenSWalker) or Facebook.