This is a map I drew up of the northwest corner of Vestic Sea, the region where most of the story takes place in my novel-in-progress, First Empress. As the story is based heavily on my studies of Ancient Greek history, I very deliberately gave the Vestic Sea a Mediterranean climate and gave the land masses a mountainous, Grecian topography. While there are only a few dozen islands visible on the map, much of the sea is dotted with islets of various sizes and shapes, making cracking down on piracy a virtual impossibility given the story’s Iron-Age technology. There are thousands of villages, towns, and cities spread across the island and mainland; the cities displayed on the map are just ones I have plans for in the story so far.
Also like in Ancient Greece, the political climate between various cities and hegemonies amounts to a veritable viper pit. Often a city will declare war on another for no other reason than a perceived weakness on the other city’s part. Alliances are fluid and borders fluctuate constantly. The colors on the map depict the political boundaries of the three main alliances at the start of the story. These borders will change as the story progresses. The Tollesian cities (based on the Greeks) are largely on the coast and flatter regions where trade and agriculture are easier to conduct. The mountains are largely inhabited by tribes of the Gan (based heavily on the ancient Celts). When not at war with each other, the Gannic peoples will often raid Tollesian farms, trade caravans, and settlements. It is not unheard of for several tribes to gang up on and sack Tollesian city-states.
Kel Fimmaril, the home city-state of the title character Queen Viarraluca, is a fairly small island (<5 mi at low tide), and not particularly significant geographically or politically. Though once a marginally important trade hub, the island’s economy has been fairly hamstrung over the past decade by increased pirate incursions on the local sea lanes.
Andivel is the hegemonic power closest to Kel Fimmaril, and a distant third, strength-wise, on this part of the Vestic Sea. Though it’s alliances once stretched as far north as Gillespar and Illis and as far west as Ryllar, Andivel’s strength has waned over the past decade. The most devastating blow came three years previous, after the hegemony borrowed massive amounts of gold from the city of Pellastor in order to fund a pair of campaigns against the Gannic tribes from the Vedrian Mountains. Unfortunately, these campaigns resulted in stalemates, and no spoils come from tying the battle. Thus a crippling amount of Andivel’s income goes to repaying those debts. Andivel’s once-glorious armies are now employed in the bullying, extortion, and invasion of weaker city-states in effort to repay the hegemony’s debts. Meanwhile, the Vedrian tribes have discovered that the Tollesian cities are not as strong as they once were, and have become increasingly bold in their raids—though not strong enough to best the Tollesian armies in the field… yet. With Andivel’s military spending crippled by debt payment, however, many of their citizens and remaining allies worry about the future stability of the hegemony.
Pellastor is the predominant imperial power on the northern Vestic Sea, with a strong military tradition backed by a powerful maritime economy. Their armies and navies are the largest and best-trained to be found in this part of the world. Their capital city is a wonder to behold, with grand temples, theaters, universities, and agoras to delight the eye of the bemused visitor. The hegemony is made up largely of coastal and island city-states upon whom they rely to provide trade and taxes as well as ships and soldiers during times of war. Yet their excellent general staff is able to effectively keep together and deploy these armies from diverse and often rival city-states.
Like Pellastor, Illarra is structured around a maritime economy. This economy is supplemented, however, by the funding of corsairs and privateers to raid and pillage the sea lanes and coastal settlements of rival city-states. This piratical harassment has earned the ire of many of Illarra’s neighbors and has frequently led to open war with the city-state of Pellastor and her allies. While Pellastor’s armies and navies are significantly larger and more powerful than Illarra’s, the Illaran Confederation has a history of devious rulers and wily generals. Many an army from Pellastor has found itself pinned in unfavorable terrain by harassment tactics and the cutting of supply routes. Though Pellastor’s commanders are typically able to get their armies out more or less in tact, in recent decades neither city has ever won a deciding victory.
(PS: If anyone can recommend a good, free map-making software, I’d be most appreciative. Thanks and stay awesome!)