While writing our last novel, Unintended, Murandy Damodred and I knew that we weren’t done with the world we had created. We wanted to tell more stories in the world of Ismera. Unintended, a romantic comedy set in our own fantasy version of England, Scotland, Italy and France, focuses on the royal family of Ismera (England) and is set mainly in the capital city of Ismer. But we’d done so much more in the way of world building that there was a whole world left to explore. So we started working on Uncharted and set it in and around the Isle of Saegard (France) and we decided to focus on characters who were more on the fringes of their society, rather than the rulers.
Now, if you’ve read Unintended, you’ll have learned a little bit about Ismeran culture and politics. Ismerans are native English-speakers. They prize traditions, propriety and politeness. However, they are also political schemers and thrive on intrigue. The Ismeran government is a monarchy with the current ruling family, the Authiers, controlling the Capital city of Ismer, as well as their own native lands in the north, Authera. Authier is one of the twelve royal houses, each of which are responsible for their own lands under the general oversight of the King. The intrigue generally results in power changing hands every couple of generations, if not more frequently. And the latest King has only been in power for a few decades.
North of Ismera, is Haldoram, a land ruled by several nomadic clans with their own culture and politics. South of Ismera is Welland, a rich Italian-speaking nation ruled by a council of Lords with a very steep hierarchy, largely fueled by their capitalist economy.
Saegard, the main setting of Uncharted, is the Island nation to the east of the mainland. Saegard is known for its multiculturalism, but its primary language is French. Instead of a Monarchy, Saegard is ruled by two councils; one for the military and one for the merchants. They are fairly separate, but the rulers of each meet on occasion to deliberate on concerns that affect the whole nation.
Culturally, Saegard is egalitarian. They are a very open-minded and accepting people, especially when it comes to gender and sexual orientation. Men and women are found equally in all professions and they have very liberal views on marriage and sex.
This might seem strange, given that Saegard is home to the Order of Saegardian Priestesses, but the Order’s purpose is not overly religious, rather the Priestesses act as teachers, medical professionals, therapists, mediators, and ect for Saegard and the mainland. It’s true that they only allow women to become priestesses, but men can join the Order as well and become Companions who are trained as bodyguards, law keepers and assistants to the Priestesses.
I knew when we started writing Uncharted what I wanted Saegardian culture to be and how I wanted it to contrast with the culture in Ismera, but I still found writing in the cultural details to be a challenge. The hardest part was in acknowledging my own implicit bias and dismissing it, so I could make Saegard a place without sexism or intolerance. Murandy and I both worked very hard on all the little details in the world we created and we hope that you will enjoy the time you spend there as much as we did.
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