The notes I have taken in the research for writing my books could almost be a book in itself. I had to make rules for magic, study arms and armor, design the setting, name the people and places, establish cultures, understand architectural names, and so on. My favorite study topic was of different cultures. I love ancient history so coming up with a main culture and different sub-cultures for my book was fun.
The Land of Ungal
Ungal is a country and the place for the main setting. It has basically a medieval culture. Most people in Ungal are fair-skinned, but even that can vary because Ungal has been settled by various other peoples. Because of this mixture, Ungalan people can be tall or short, have dark hair or light, have straight or wavy hair. Poor soldiers wore quilted armor, middle class might wear leather armor, while the very rich wear chain mail or even plate armor. Helmets are common and these too varied. Depending on which part of Ungal, the helmet of a nobleman might be crested or plumed, conical or plain, with or without nasal guards, etc. Most Ungalan soldiers carry a sword, but spears, forks, pikes, ax, long bows, etc. are also prevailant. Most men have beards, generally short but sometimes long. Noble women wear makeup with the women of Berdoa and Mael wearing the most extreme. Women also wear jewelry. How much and what kind of jewelry depend on which region of Ungal. You will never see the word “pants” or “shirt” in my book (unless it is a linen undershirt). Men ear leggings and tunics. Sometimes they wear a leather jerkin or vest. Soldiers might wear a surcoat. Women wear long dresses of varying styles. Most place and people names are English-sounding.
The Land of Menkhara
Menkhara is based on Egyptian cultures. Tomis’ mother is from Menkhara. And as such, she has black wavy hair, is darker-skinned, and has brown eyes. The word Menkhara is derived from Egyptian-sounding words such as Sekhmet, Nefertari, Khepri, etc. Most people of Menkhara are tall and lean. Men do not grow much facial hair. Men and women wear light clothing due to the heat. Women wear Khol around their eyes and lots and lots of jewelry. Men do generally wear much armor as it is too hot. They prefer hand-to-hand combat but also carry swords, daggers, and use a shield to protect them in battle.
The Azizi people are similar to Native Americans in many aspects – perhaps a little of both North and South Native Americans. Tattooing is prominent in their culture. They are slightly bearded and have medium-toned skinn. Their hair is long, dark, and generally matted and weaved with feathers, beads, and/or bones. Their weapons of choice are spears, daggers, and primitive bows and arrows.
The Miyashi are the original inhabitants of Ungal. But they have long since gone into hiding and are believed to be extinct or genetically diluted into the population. The Miyashi are thin small-boned people with blue or green eyes and strawberry-blond to red, to dark red or auburn hair. Women usually wear their hair long and braided for ceremonies. Men generally keep their hair and beards short until they get older. They are bronze-skinned which is very unlike our culture where most red-headed people are fair-skinned. The Miyashi purposely has an oriental sound to it, but the culture is not oriental based. The Miyashi are magic people. To find them in Ungal will probably be your death because they do not want to be found.
The culture of the Outlanders will much represent the Norsemen. There will be a few differences, but not much. The Outlanders have much facial hair – chin beard, mustache, and bushy eyebrows. They keep their cheeks shaved. Sometimes the mustache or beard is long enough to braid. Their hair might be braided (or plaited) as well. They have yellow cat-like eyes, a large square upper face, and narrow chins. Like the Norsemen, they love battle and glory. They sometimes use big heavy swords in battle, but more commonly, they use a double-ax or pole-ax. The warriors wear firs and hides as clothing, with big tall furred boots. The only metal armor they wear are the horned helmets. For protection in battle, they carry big heavy shields.
The Land of Tethra
Tethra is not mentioned too much in books 1, 2, and 3. But I have big plans for it by the 5th book. Tethrans will be more oriental in culture. Their swords will be single-edged and Samauri-type. Their armor, too, will resemble Samauri armor. A big difference, however, is that they will be generally light-skinned and the men will have beards.