Mapping The Tainted Realm

I love maps. I’ve got hundreds of them in my office, plus oodles of atlases and books of ancient and historical maps, geological maps, bathymetric maps, atlases of history, atlases of space and the universe. Any fantasy novel that doesn’t have at least one map – and some of my books have had many pages of them – feels deficient. It has an empty dimension; an opportunity wasted.

Central Hightspall

Having said that, the map from Vengeance is a little sketchy. Surely there’s more to the place than this?

Well, yes, there is and will be. A lot more.

The Tainted Realm is a big story but it takes place in a small area, and this was deliberate. All my Three Worlds books roam over vast areas – continents, in some cases – and people occasionally pop through a portal to briefly rummage around in another world, before retreating to safety, greatly scarred by the experience. And serves them right!

Almost all the action in Vengeance takes place in a few small areas in the centre of the island now called Hightspall, a once great realm now crumbling under its own decadence and a series of natural disasters. These areas are:

  • Cython, the secret underground realm of the bitter, dispossessed and vengeful Cythonians;
  • The Seethings, a blistering geothermal plain dotted with boiling mud pools, geysers and poisonous ponds, next to a trio of active volcanoes called The Vomits;
  •  The wrythen’s lair at Precipitous Crag; and
  • Palace Ricinus in Hightspall’s capital city, which is called Caulderon, on Lake Fumerous.

The action in Book 2, Rebellion, roams a little more widely, though still within a an area you could drive across in a day – assuming there were any roads.

Alert readers may notice a passing similarity between Central Hightspall and the central volcanic plateau of the North Island of New Zealand, and they’d be right. My first degree was in geology and I’m still fascinated by volcanoes. Where better to look at them than this part of NZ, which is one of the most volcanically active places on Earth, and the site of more of the most disastrous volcanic eruptions of the past million years than anywhere else, I spent a lot of time studying the geology and geography before creating the map, though it’s inspired by the area, not based on it.

But I’ll talk more about world-building in another post.

[This post is revised and updated from one I posted on my Blogger blog back in 2011.]

4 thoughts on “Mapping The Tainted Realm”

  1. I love the complacency of my home state of Victoria regarding volcanoes. I take year 9’s down to a camp at Port Fairy from Bendigo anually. We visit Tower Hill nature reserve to walk the old craters. Its very Jurrassic like and i always feel on edge.It is now controlled by the local indigenous groups. If its not too wet I take them out to the middle and we jump on the spongy surface whilst telling them about people who jumped this same spot and disappeared 4eva. Port Fairy gets its waters already geo thermally heated and they have to go into cooling towers. Just outside the town is a steam vent puffing away ! Yet the experts say there is no activity. How does a volcano move from dormant to extinct status?

  2. I love the vlocanic theme to Hightspall. I have always been fascinated by volcanic activity but never had the chance to study it properly. (I was rubbish at geography at school and geology just went over my head as a result!) Some of the storyline in Vengeance was very educational for me, so Thanks for the lessons!!!

    1. A pleasure, Dave. I liked science at school, but I was mainly attracted to geological catastrophes, chemical explosions and stinks, and all that great but childish stuff. However on a recent trip to the N Island of New Zealand I had a good look at the Lake Taupo Volcanic Zone, which is one of the most active and dangerous volcanic areas on the planet. Much inspiration there, dave.

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