My contribution to Sojourn was a pseudo-myth story called “Blind Barthon.” The basic premise is that Barthon must go on a quest to find the perfect bride, guided (and insulted) by the gods all along the way. The story began its life as backstory. Over the last three years I have been developing an EPIC fantasy world that I call the Mortal Realm (emphasis of epic). I wanted a mythology for a Nordic culture in this world, a people that I called the Jarls (j pronounced as y–and yes I do know that Jarl means King in the real world). This world is where I fully devote my passion for history. I want as much of the world as possible to feel authentic and plausible–at least to me. Basically not sound made up. I wanted the Jarls to have a mythology suitable for their inspirational heritage so I hit the books. I read up much on Norse mythology specifically with The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland. While reading that book I had a spur of inspiration and I started penning some myths. One of the myths (and honestly the best of the bunch) was the story that is now available in Sojourn.
Now to the map. Part of the function of the Barthon myth is not only to teach Jardic boys what are the preferable qualities in a wife, but to also give a geography lessen. Pre-modern peoples had a very limited scope of their surroundings. Only 200 years ago it took pioneers years to cross the North American continent. Nowadays the roughly two thousand miles from NY to LA is crossed in hours. Even driving is not much more of a hassle. A year ago my family vacationed in California. On the return trip my brother, dad, and I drove from California to Illinois in 24 hours. We drove in a Ford Explorer so at least one person was able to have a nap in the backseat (also we are from good Scottish stock so we were up for it). That is a colorful anecdote of how much time and distance has changed in the world. Barthon, and his pre-modern contemporaries, probably never strayed 20 miles from the place they were born. So how they learned of the surrounding world was through stories such as mine. Along with just directional information, the stories would be filled with what type of people lived such faraway places along with how they related to them. For instance, Barthon’s people were mainly a hearty warrior people and such they looked upon the Normons as very strange for their vigor of the seas.
The map only shows a quarter of the world (as I said EPIC) that is called Borea. Hemmed in by the Hygeann Mountains (high-JEE-in), the region is approximately the size of the Atlantic to the Mississippi. The region is divided into three horizontal cultural halves. The bottom half, comprised of those jutting peninsulas is subtropical and home to mainly the Waelens, an amalgam of invaders and foreign cultures. The Waelens are very cosmopolitan and the home of fine wine and finer intrigue. The middle bulk of the continent is inhabited by the great swordsmiths and hearty warriors of the Aluns (my Celtic analogy). And last but not least, is the most northerly half– home of winter and cold winds. Barthon the Jarl calls this his home.
The circles show the places where Barthon visited. Reread Blind Barthon and discover the places listed in the story. Have fun!
(Sorry about the confusing mess of lines on the map. This comes from one of those fractal map generators. The original files were corrupted but I did manage to save some images from the maps. I intend to one day draw out the maps properly so that they don’t look so squirrely, but that is for another day. Just cross your eyes…maybe that will help)