Does it Need a Map?

I should have asked this question earlier in the process of publishing, but I left it until the last minute. The answer from the office was, ‘No. If Sheila had thought it needed a map she would have said so.’ That’s okay, then.

But The Amber Crown is situated in an analogue of the Baltic States. My country of Zavonia, has unruly neighbours, and the new king is playing politics and risking a war on two fronts. So just for my own sanity, I do have a rough map on paper as well as in my head. It’s vaguely Baltic-shaped and I’ve either changed the name of each country or used an older name.

The Baltic itself has become the Narrow Sea – and yes, if you look at my map, the Narrow Sea is narrower than the actual Baltic. That’s deliberate, it’s not just that I’m a bad cartographer.

My invented kingdom of Zavonia roughly occupies the space where Latvia and Lithuania are today. Vironia is Estonia. Sverija is Sweden, Suomija is Finland. Posenja is Prussia, Kassubia is Poland. Zavonia’s powerful neighbour, Ruthenia (Russia) has recently annexed Bieloria (Belarus). I should be careful what I write because the news is currently full of Russian troops massing on the border of Ukraine. And like the rest of the world, I’m sitting here hoping that no one does anything silly. If Ukraine was on this map it would be just south east of Bieloria.

So when King Konstantyn is killed (that’s not a spoiler, it happens on the first page) the killer could be someone close to the seat of power in Biela Miasto, or from one of the neighbouring countries. All of them, with the possible exception of Sverija, would benefit in some way from destabilizing Zavonia. Why not Sverija? Sverija’s king has recently married off his sister to Konstantyn of Zavonia. Sverija, the biggest and hungriest power on the Narrow Sea, has already annexed Suomija and has designs on Vironia.

Ruthenia is held by the Tsar and currently Bieloria is held by the Tsarina as a vassal state of Ruthenia. The Tsarina happens to be Konstantyn’s sister, so it’s not likely that she would have had her brother assassinated, but she has sons who will one day inherit Ruthenia’s territories, and Ruthenia would like a port or ports on the Narrow Sea. It’s possible that Ruthenia will take advantage of Konstantyn’s death to push through from Bieloria into Posenja, taking a narrow strip on the Zavonian/Kassubian border as a gateway to the sea.

Kassubia has been itching to take back Zavonia since the split of the Zavonian-Kassubian Commonwealth, when an earlier Duke of Zavonia seceded from the Commonwealth and declared Zavonia a kingdom in its own right.

So the political situation is complicated. There isn’t a map in the book, so here is my working map for all map-nerds like me.

About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (www.jaceybedford.co.uk), the secretary of Milford SF Writers (www.milfordSF.co.uk), a singer (www.artisan-harmony.com) and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers (www.jacey-bedford.com).
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