Setting - KalaDene
I’ll be writing a series of posts giving you a deeper look at the world of KalaDene and the characters who inhabit it. If you like what you read here, please do check out the books.
Setting – KalaDene
For the first of these deep dive posts, I thought it would be fun to talk about the setting. The primary setting for the trilogy is a secondary world called KalaDene. The people of KalaDene are hunter-gatherer, roughly stone age equivalent cultures. I’ll be writing a post looking on more detail at the main cultures of the books in the future, so I won’t get into that too much here. Instead, I’m going to focus on the physical world that they inhabit – avoiding spoilers as much as possible for any of you who have not read the first book yet.
I’m including some images that carry the tone that I was trying to achieve with the setting – the sense of wonder and space and beauty of the world.
Much of the action takes place in and around Ashael’s home, Oak Cam, a village within an ancient forest. The buildings are largely one or two room huts similar to the ones above. Ashael lives with her mentor, Bhearra, the cam’s filidh (healer and spiritual leader) in a massive, hollow oak tree. Joren and Rana, the community’s leaders, also live in an oak tree.
The part of KalaDene in which Oak Cam is situated, has a climate and an environment very loosely based upon Scotland – they do say you should write what you know. So much of the time while I’m writing, I’m seeing the trees and plants and animals that are native to my part of the world.
I did make a conscious decision to give them a bit less rain than we usually experience though – I felt sorry for them when I thought of all the treks through mud in wet animal hide clothing…
The Folk are spread out in many cams all across this section of KalaDene. To the west of Oak Cam lies the Edge of the World, a mountain range that the Folk, as a people, have never crossed, although they tell stories of another culture, the Flores, who live on the other side of the mountains. Over the years, the occasional adventurer has made the journey over the mountains and none have ever returned. The Edge of the World continues to the north, where it curls around.
In amongst those mountains, lie the Blasted Lands.
This is where the Zanthar made their home when they first invaded KalaDene and the earth has not yet recovered from their magic. None of the Folk go there, if they can avoid it. A place of pain in their collective memory, a place where once they were enslaved.
To the east, the land curls around the sea. Many of the cams in this area get most of their food from the sea and their ways and skills lie in different areas to the Folk of the forest and plains. To the south the land stretches away, farther than Ashael has ever travelled though she knows that eventually it leads to the sea. The folk have fished and explored the sea close to the shire, but having only kayaks, they have never sailed out of the sight of land. With the only mode of transport being walking, life is generally lived within a much smaller space than we are used to today.
The Folk are always conscious of the dangers of living out of balance with the earth that supports them – they’ve seen the damage caused when people count themselves as something separate to the world. They never take more than they need and make attempts to give back to the world as much as they take.
The Zanthar are a threat to the land itself as well as to its people and both the Folk’s care of the land and the Zanthar disregard of it, are key elements of the story told across the trilogy.