From a newsgroup post dated October 1, 2011. That thread had a different title, and I’ve edited this post a little, but I’m reprinting it here because I thought some readers might be interested in the background of the Bound Lands.
On 1 Oct 2011 06:04:08 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (Josh Berkus) wrote:
>Can you explain what the whole business with the Bound Lands was? It was referred to several times in the book but never really explained.
Okay, the world in which these stories take place was originally just a chaotic mess, with variable and constantly-changing laws of nature — summer might last a couple of days in one place, several years a mile away, and that “mile” might change length from one day to the next. Gravity wasn’t a law, just a suggestion. A woman might have kittens rather than human children, and a baby could hatch from a serpent’s egg. Reality wasn’t stable enough for civilization to exist, but there were scattered barbaric tribes here and there.
Then a bunch of wizards happened — the Walasian religion teaches that they were the eldest children of the Father and the Mother, but there’s no real evidence of that. They appeared from somewhere, though, and bound the lands into a solid, stable form. Their influence extended over a circular area taking in what later became Walasia, Ermetia, and half the Cousins; within this region the year was always four equal seasons, the seasons always came in the same order, each species brought forth young of its own kind, the sun rose every day, etc. This rational area was called the Bound Lands because they were bound by wizardry into stable form.
Beyond the Boundary there was a lot of slop-over — things were far more stable than they had been, but still a little wild. The farther away from the Bound Lands one goes, the more chaotic everything is, until by the time you get to the outermost extremes of the Quandish Archipelago, or the farther Mystery Lands across the seas to the south and east of Ermetia, things are almost as weird as before the wizards arrived.
The wizards set up their own state, the Old Empire, and welcomed ordinary humans to settle in it. Some humans were already there; others immigrated. The immigrants were given the name “walasi,” which was a wizards’ word usually translated (to be polite) as “guests.” (Its actual meaning was more like “foreign pests.”)
Whether the wizards were human or something else isn’t clear. They could interbreed with ordinary humans, but usually didn’t. Their magic was inborn and hereditary, not something anyone could learn, but some Walasi were able to learn and use a weaker form of magic, which they called sorcery. Whether the first sorcerers were wizard/human half-breeds or not is the subject of much debate.
And then the wizards started disappearing, faster and faster, without explanation, until finally, over a period of thirty or forty days, the last two-thirds of them vanished and the Old Empire collapsed.
The Walasi sorcerers took charge of things and restored order in the form of the Walasian Empire, but never managed to recapture the southeastern chunk of the Old Empire, which reorganized itself under the original humans of the Empire as Ermetia (the Closed Land). Walasia also wasn’t able to keep hold of the eastern provinces, which broke apart into dozens of little principalities collectively known as the Cousins. The people of the Cousins expanded eastward, beyond the Boundary, but stayed fragmented, so now there are Cousins both in the Bound Lands, and outside.
Quand is the old word for “outside,” and originally meant everything beyond the Boundary, but later applied specifically to the federation of semi-barbaric tribes that came to control the peninsula and archipelago to the northwest of the Bound Lands. Their magic came largely from refugees from the collapse of the Old Empire. One such refugee was the first Lord Blackfield, who took over a burned-out, dragon-ravaged area in the southern part of the peninsula — the name comes from the dragon-scorched fields he claimed.
One of the novels I had hoped to write, Swordsmen of the Fallen Empire, would have described the fall of the Old Empire and the first Lord Blackfield’s origins. You’ll notice Lord Allutar had a copy of that story in his library.