If you’ve looked at the book list recently, you may have noticed a new pending title called Muirgealia. Muirgealia is a land that was home to a mixture of enchanters (with various magical abilities, including telepathy, telekinesis and the power to create areas of stasis), mystics (who can see through time in the form of visions), and handcræfters (people with no magical ability, who are typically inventors, engineers or artisans). Five hundred years before the start of the story, two calamities (one natural and the other contrived) lead to the usurpation of power by the enchanter¹ Pelouana, a traitor who formed an alliance with the warlords from the neighbouring land of Acralund. A warning from the future allowed most of the Muirgealians to escape into exile before a curse hit both Pelouana and Acralund.
At the start of the story, Muirgealia is deserted, except for Pelouana who has been trapped there for five centuries as a result of a magical explosion that fractured a stasis field (where time is almost stopped) causing drifting pockets of stasis. Acralund is sparsely populated by the remnant descendants of the warlords, who are still affected by the curse that prevents them from rebuilding their civilisation. The descendants of the Muirgealians in exile are in hiding, waiting for their future ally to be born and grow up to help them regain their land.
The people of Langdene, to the north of Muirgealia, unwittingly became caught up in events when their king ordered a mass migration south to escape a savage winter. They pass through Muirgealia just after Pelouana has taken over. She murders the king, suspecting him of being the one who had cursed her (it was, in fact, one of his descendants), and a rift forms between the king’s two surviving sons who end up creating two new nations, Farlania and Barlaneland, in the land to the south of Acralund.
Five hundred years later, Luciana is the daughter of the king of Barlaneland and Rupert is the second son of the king of Farlania. Pelouana is finally freed by the Acran, who first target Rupert, believing him to be the one who cursed them, and then target Luciana, believing that they can get to Rupert through her. Meanwhile, the Muirgealians want revenge and their land back (which contains all their books and other cultural works locked up in time). More importantly, they need to destroy the stasis bubbles that will cause havoc if they break free from the loose tethers that are keeping them in Muirgealia and drift around the rest of the world.
The “world” in question is an Earth-like planet with a single moon and orbiting a single star (or perhaps it is Earth in some forgotten past or other timeline). Langdene, Muirgealia, Acralund, Farlania and Barlaneland are all located in an eastern seaboard, bordered to the west by a mountain range. Well over a thousand years earlier, the entire continent was ruled by Potensmunda, a land beyond the mountains. The Potensmundan Empire was much like the Roman Empire. If you know any Latin, you might pick out the words “potens” (powerful) and “munda” (clean). The empire was like bleach, erasing all local languages and replacing them with Potensmundan. The empire has long since fallen, but the language and a few structures, including old roads, remain.
In universe, the above map was created long ago by people who didn’t have the modern surveyor’s tools that we have in our own world, so it’s not accurate. The three different fonts represent three different sets of handwriting, as the map has been modified over time. The translation convention applies here. English is used for modern dialects of Potensmundan, and the few words of ancient high Potensmundan are in Latin. The character names (which are a mixture of Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Germanic) can also be considered as having been translated into the closest match.
Incidentally, in case you’re wondering why I didn’t choose “Potensmundi” (powerful world) instead, there are two reasons. The first is aesthetic, I prefer the sound of Potensmunda. (I was looking for a four or five syllable name ending in an ahh sound, but don’t ask me why.) The second is pragmatic: an Internet search of “potensmundi” produces a huge load of hits (which isn’t particularly surprising, given its meaning) whereas “potensmunda” (or “potens munda”) isn’t so common, so I’m less likely to step into someone else’s digital footprints.
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What happened to The Fourth Protectorate, which I’ve previously posted about and is also still listed as pending? Life happened. When I wrote it, the social disorder of the 1980s seemed firmly in the past. Recent years have put me off it. The Fourth Protectorate is without doubt the biggest and bleakest of all my novels. Muirgealia is the shortest and lightest. The Private Enemy comes somewhere in between.
¹Muirgealians use “enchanter” as a gender-neutral term. They don’t use “enchantress”. The Acran and Langdeners use “sorceress” instead.