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Posted: June 29th, 2010 under artwork, Background, the writing life.
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Still working on the map(s).    I’m going to have to take the current set of “stuff” down to the city again to the bigger scanners & copiers.  But I got a halfway decent photo of the west map (not perfectly aligned…standing on step-stool above the drafting table with only a room light and the camera flash…trying not to wiggle and also not fall off the stool…

Most of what you see north of the main mountain range is Fintha, with Fin Panir that large dot on the left.   The Honnorgat drainage basin includes all of Fintha;  it has many tributaries, most here too shallow and swift-running for boats.   Precipitation is less than in Tsaia; soils vary more, with more rocky/thin soils and fewer areas of deep soil.   The road (dot-dash marked) south from Fintha and skirting the mountains and hills is the South Trade Road.  The road along the river is the River Road on the Honnorgat River.  West of Fintha the land lifts in a series of “levels” to read the short-grass/desert mix that goes on until it reaches the “great canyons” country (and Kolobia, ultimately.)

South of the mountain range is a vast desert country with some salt lakes in it, and some scattered mountain ranges.   It’s known as the Southern Waste to Finthans who have ventured into the Southmounts and made it back, but the Western Waste to those from Aarenis.

Fintha has only one real city now, Fin Panir; the larger cities there in Gird’s day, such as Grahlin,  did not long survive the departure of the magelords.   The population (smaller than before the war) went back to older social organizations of vill and market town.   Fintha has more towns than Tsaia, but most remain small; foreign trade is much lower than in Tsaia.   Only some are shown (dots in this scale, circles on the master map.)

Finthans have the reputation for being suspicious of outsiders (especially away from the Tsaian border) except for gnomes (thanks to Gird’s relationship with gnomes.)   There is no official Thieves’ Guild in Fintha, and as it is a theocracy, with a serious social welfare program, the spread between rich and poor is much narrower than in Tsaia or Aarenis.   Human nature ensures that some crime exists, of course, and in the centuries since Gird’s death,  the aversion to magelord styles and materials has eroded…the wealthier Girdish in Fintha don’t flaunt their wealth, but they know the feel of silk and don’t consider a walled garden an obscene show of power.   Particularly in the last century, some of the river towns and one on the South Trade Road are growing into more serious little cities, with taller houses and more amenities.   Rural Marshals disapprove, but town Marshals shrug as long as the town granges are full and no one seems hungry or without shelter.

Fintha’s economy is largely agricultural; its people produce all their own food except for luxuries (spices, etc.)  and their flocks and herds also produce leather and wool and mohair.   The old custom of parrions still survives in many families, with skills passed down through generations, but because of the disruptions of Gird’s war, when some families lost their connection to traditional skills, an alternate apprenticeship system took root, with unrelated masters and apprentices.  Parrions remain outside the Code of Gird, but apprenticeship is standardized and regulated.


  • Comment by Eir de Scania — June 30, 2010 @ 5:48 am


    More background information – wonderful! Thanks!

    And be careful! That step-stool sound risky…

  • Comment by Adam Baker — June 30, 2010 @ 6:26 am


    Very nice. I love seeing the background information like this, it makes it so much more lifelike, and a lot easier to feel the immersion into world when reading the books.

    A question I just thought of, seeing your map and this information.

    Several years ago (maybe as much as 20 years ago) someone wrote amazing book covering Anne McCaffreys excellent Dragon Riders of Pern series, with a book called The Atlas of Pern. It had maps of the whole planet, and then had breakdown of each Weyr, the Harperhall, all the major holdings, etc. Something that brought even more life to an already excellent series of books.

    Would this be something that you’d consider doing for Paks’ world?

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 30, 2010 @ 9:19 am


    Karen Wynn Fonstad did the Atlas of Pern and has done others: Forgotten Realms, Middle Earth, etc.

    Remarkable work.

    As I draw maps and plans as I go along, not ahead of time, I don’t know how I’d go about it (nor how I’d have time) but wouldn’t mind if someone competent, like Fonstad, produced one. Right now, the full scale of the geography hasn’t shown up–there’s Old Aare to come, and more of the western side…Kolobia, the great mountains west of the steppes (and the steppes themselves), the peoples and places west of Kolobia…and the lands east of the Eastern Ocean. Not all of these will have stories set in them, but–just as the other side of the world affects us, the other side of that world affects the stories that do get written.

  • Comment by FrancisT — July 1, 2010 @ 4:41 am


    I’m having a bit of a problem understanding the size/length etc. of the Honorgat. You say the tributaries (at least in Fintha) are too narrow/fast to be navigable but is the Honorgat itself navigable for most of its length? It sounds a bit like the Danube or the Rhine (or the Mississippi). More the Danube seeing as it’s a West->East river I guess.

    In the middle ages, and indeed up until the arrival of the railways, various tributaries of the upper Danube were considered navigable that we wouldn’t think were worth it today. Of course by the time the Danube gets to Budapest (and it’s still got a long way to get to the black see after that) it’s a good quarter of a mile wide. But on the other hand it’s pretty darn enormous even at Regensburg (200 yards wide or so).

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 1, 2010 @ 7:53 am


    The Honnorgat is navigable by seagoing ships below the great falls. Above that it is navigable by smaller boats to near the border of Fintha, and boats are used on it between (smaller) falls and rapids, but the main transport of goods and people is on land. Finthans are not, for the most part, comfortable with boats.

    Pargunese and Kostandanyan seagoing ships sail up the Honnorgat as far as their river ports. Pargun has the better one. These lower tributaries are navigable by smaller boats right up to their capital. Along the lower Honnorgat, trade is largely carried by boat as the forests and swampy areas make road construction difficult to impossible.

    Mississipi-Missouri drainage is a partial model, though the geology underlying the region is different…sort of…and the river flows east, not south.

  • Comment by Kip Colegrove — July 1, 2010 @ 7:21 pm


    Missiouri drainage… As one who has lived in southeastern Nebraska, I would suggest you not forget loess formations. Very interesting; only on that stretch of the Missouri and in China, as I recall. But they’re relics of ice ages, and I’m not sure that was a feature of your world’s geology.

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 1, 2010 @ 10:33 pm


    There might be loess beds north of where I’ve been (except on horseback riding over the steppes with the horse nomads…) Hmm.

  • Comment by Daniel Glover — July 2, 2010 @ 8:25 am


    If you’re thinking of glacial features don’t forget the Great Lakes. 😉

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 2, 2010 @ 10:39 am


    That’s exactly why I haven’t dealt with glacial features except in the mountains (cirques, high lakes, U-shaped valleys, etc. I did not want Great Lakes equivalences in the Honnorgat drainage, and also didn’t want a parallel river system north of there. But Great Lakes without an outlet would be problematic, too. Still thinking about that. There’s a lot of land far north–maybe an ice cap is still there…I know the horse nomads don’t go all the way winterwards because “it’s always winter there.”

  • Comment by Kip Colegrove — July 2, 2010 @ 12:26 pm


    Another fascinating feature of Nebraska geology is the Sand Hills (as in the Sand Hill cranes), which make up most of Cherry County (which is huge) and are a stabilized sand dune field. Barely stablilized; there are blowouts and other signs that the vegetation does not always hold them all the way down. I’ve thought for years that something like that would make a fine addition to a semiarrid region in worldbuilding. Even today they support only a light population.

  • Comment by Angel — July 6, 2010 @ 12:44 pm


    I’m just curious, is there a name for this whole continent? In our world, we have Europe, Asia, etc. It was the mention of the lands to the east of the Eastern Ocean that got me thinking of it…

  • Comment by elizabeth — July 7, 2010 @ 12:02 pm


    Not an official name–there’s no “Paksworld Geographical Society”–but different cultures have names for areas they know or have heard of. For instance, across the Immerhoft Sea is Old Aare (once just “Aare” but now “Old” because of the flight from it.) So the land across the sea was “Aarenis” or “Daughter of Aare” to those who moved there from the south, and early on they applied that name to everything north, even what is now “The Eight Kingdoms.” But to the Seafolk who came from across the eastern ocean, it was always “the west” only to them that meant “sunfaring” and “great-river land” for the Honnorgat, because they could sail far up it, with more specific names for what they found on the banks. The indigenous peoples of the the north–Gird’s people, whom the magelords conquered–had never gone as far as the sea in any direction, and thought they lived in the center of the world.

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