Welcome to the Continent, Part 1

The Kingdom of Limba

I would be lying if I said I remember what the first seed of this story was. Casting my mind backward fifteen years, I can see the tender growth of this story already emerging from the soil. The most vigorous seedlings were the characters--a betrothed princess, a warrior who was charged with protecting her, and an enemy. Those seedlings grew into immense trees within the landscape of my imagination, larger and far more complex than I could have predicted. Standing in the midst of that , I finally paused to look around. There were game trails through the forest leading to places unknown. The detritus of the forest was thick beneath my feet. The soil was alive, rich and crumbly. Everywhere I looked, new saplings had sprung up beneath the mature trees, eager for me to become acquainted with them.

The story had taken on a life of its own.

During my first draft of Redemption's Pursuit in 2018, I recall writing Princess Erianna standing on the ramparts of the castle at Vortigern and wondering what she was seeing. The landscape spread out before me in stark shades of sage and stone. It was rough terrain, the sort mountain sheep might find sustenance upon, but not suitable for putting a plow to. I was reminded of the landscape of Dartmoor National Park in England.

(Lest you think I am well-traveled, let me state that I saw a documentary on the magnificent place. I have not yet been to England, though it is on my bucket list. While we are on the subject, nature and history documentaries are excellent fodder for the imagination.)

The princess's mood shifted as she gazed upon her kingdom. Her memories came to light. Across this harsh landscape, her childhood romps had happened. She had laughed, played, and cried. I began to take notes on the geography. It played a larger role in the story of my characters than I realized.

Although the entirety of this story including the setting is fictional, I wanted it to ring with historical credibility. For all purposes, the Continent could be an eighth continent on our planet. There are no elements typical of the fantasy genre within the Redemption Saga. I attempted to mimic real cultures and traditions that once existed.

To explore the Kingdom of Limba, I researched various agrarian societies from the time period of the middle ages, specifically those that lived in a place geographically similar to Limba. Medieval England was my first destination. My fondness for that time and place is reflected in the feudal society of Limba.

The feudal society is complex and varied. It is a pyramid of ascending power and wealth based chiefly upon lineage and what societal class a person was born into. Those at the bottom of the pyramid served those higher up. In exchange, those at the top of the pyramid protected those beneath them.

On the Continent, the kingdoms of Limba and Malesiir are governed by hereditary monarchs ruling over a feudal society.

The classes within this structure differ slightly from Medieval England's feudal society for simplicity's sake. The most obvious difference is within the military. Medieval societies had knights of various rank serving their overlords. Some were born and raised to serve on a particular fief while others were more mercenary. Some were also landed nobility. The hierarchy of knights is pretty muddy.

I designed the military in Limba and Malesiir to resemble that of ancient Rome. I will spend more time explaining that in a later post.

The backbone of Limba is subsistence farmers. They grow what they need to survive and little else. In this cool windswept climate, grains such as barley and rye are the staples of the peasants diet. Turnips, beets, potatoes, and fava beans comprise the rest. Those of middling means own a few head of sheep. Everyone grows flax to spin into linen to clothe themselves and sell.

What sets Limba apart from the rest of the Continent is the large deposits of ore. Iron, tin, and copper are mined, refined, and exported to the People's Commonwealth and Malesiir. The metal smiths of Limba are renowned for their ability to craft superior weapons. The Limban military is renowned for its ability to use them.

Though this level of detail may seem superfluous to the story, I have come to realize that the setting drastically influences the overarching plot of the story and the characters' experiences.

Limba's society and economic situation are similar to the earlier half of the Middle Ages, also known as the Dark Ages. The kingdom is divided into duchies, governed by dukes who report directly to the king. The dukes control every aspect life for those within their domain. They have the authority to levy additional taxes on the people, seize their property, even arrange marriages for the lower classes. The peasants have little ability to contest the governing duke's decision. Theoretically, they could plead their case to a sympathetic nobleman who could take the matter to the king. That assumes sympathy on behalf of the nobility and king. In Limba, there is none.

There exists a chasm between the peasantry and nobility. A chasm of wealth. A chasm of power. But mostly, a chasm of respect.

The peasants are exploited. The holdings of the gentry are vandalized. The military that should protect the people has become a weapon used by the king to beat the people into submission. Each side is entrenched in their ways, and all are suffering for it. The disdain of each class for the other has created a festering wound in Limba, the stench of which has brought a predator down from the mountains to prey upon the kingdom.

This is the world of our heroine, Princess Erianna.

She would do anything to escape it.

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