The Maedari Book of Deeds

The high point of the old Maedari High Kingdom came in the period before the wars against the Cheloisans, as told in The Epics.  The Arduq and Aracan had for the most withdrawn, and the Maedari flourished and prospered, their towns spreading out across the great plains, while their smiths forged amazing artwork and jewelery of bronze, gold and silver.  The period marked the middle bronze age for the Maedari.

The Maedari were no longer the only men by that stage, for the ancestors of the Chelosians, Vacec, Amarans and Tagosans, among others, had begun to arrive in the north of Aesvar.

It was a time of great heroes and champions.  The greatest of these were the men – and one woman – whose exploits were told in the Maedari Book of Deeds.  Starting with Cavraean, the first High King, it is a collection of twenty-three kings and heroes, and their stories.  Chariot riding, spear wielding, they clashed with monsters and with the earliest of the Chelosian raiders.

During this period, the Maedari first forged their alliance with the minotaurs.  The earliest contact with them saw the High Kings employ the minotaurs to build their great halls.  This soon turned into an alliance.

Prior to this period, the Maedari had limited experience with the sea and sailing.  According to legend, Awn the Red, one fo the heroes of the Maedari Book of Deeds, was the first to take to the sea, and from those early steps, forged a tradition that by the time of the Commonwealth Chronicles had established Maedar as one of the leading maritime powers.

The High Kingdom faced a threat though.  As more and more Chelosians arrived, the clashes for land across the great plains grew more frequent, leading up to the wars that form the great saga known as The Epics.

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The Early Maedari

The exact origins of the people who came to be called the Maedar are unknown. When the tall, pale men came out of the cold south, into the southern plains of what was to be latter-day Chelos, they were the first humans to emerge into Aesvar.

Simple stone using hunter-gatherers, they met with those already there, the Arduq and Aracans, peoples who used copper and bronze, who had established permanent settlments, tilled the soil and raised livestock.

In time they came to be known as the Maen ae Aedari, the People of the Wolf’s Heart, which later contracted into the Maedari, the people of Maedar.

As the Maedari began to settle down, to learn to till the land and taught the crafts of copper and bronze by the Arduq, there came a war to the plains. Only scattered, fragmented tales remain of those times among Maedari or Aracan, but those that do speak of darkness and shadows, of those the Maedari call Aelfir. Long and bitter was the struggle between the Aelfir and the Aracan and Arduq, and even among the Maedari some were drawn into it, and while at last the darkness was vanished, the hobgoblins were left a shattered, broken people.

The Maedari tribes grew strong though, and in time were unified under the first High King, Cavraean, and the mysterious woman, Jaessa, whom he took as his Queen. She was not of the Maedari, yet that is all that the tales say about her. Of the days that followed, of the flourishing of the Maedar, much is told in The Maedari Book of Deeds, of the Kings and Heroes of old.

The Stone Age Myths of the Cahuac Cycle

Continuing on with the rough history of Sharael, and the region of Aesvar in particular, we come to the time of Cahuac and the Aracan.

The Aracan are one of the goblin branches, known more specifically as the hobgoblins. While their shorter kin lived in the hills and mountains, the hobgoblins came down onto the plains of Aesvar, in what was to be, in later days, Chelos.

When the Aracan first migrated to the plains, they were simple stone age hunter-gatherers, living in small family groups, nomadic in origin. It was from that time that came the oldest non-Arduq tales, pre-dating the arrival of the Maedar to the region. Fragments of it have survived in the oral traditions of the Aracan, but the most complete versions were discovered by the famed Chelosian historian Eris Selanos, inscribed in ancient Arduq cuneiform upon clay tablets in the ruins of one of their ancient settlements.

The Cahuac Cycle tells of the exploits of Cahuac, the most famous of the Aracan ancestor-heroes, and are in effect a series of creation myths, telling of how the world came to be.

Currently there are four short tales in the collection, though, as ever, I want to add more. When I wrote them, I wanted to make them sound as if they could be told by oral storytellers around a campfire late at night after a hunt.

By the time the Maedar migrated to Aesvar, the Aracan had moved beyond their simple origins, into the age of bronze, establishing towns and cities upon the plains. I do have a half written story of the time, when the Maedar were new and the Chelos had yet to arrive, the events of which form the Maedari Book of Deeds.

Sharael: The Ancient Past

As mentioned previous, The Commonwealth Chronicles series of stories deals with the gunpowder era of the history of Sharael. The Maedari, around whom the stories revolve, call themselves the First Men of Aesvar, the lands west of the sea. They were not, however, the first people.

Before the coming of man to the world of Sharael dwelt the Arduq, an enigmatic people who called themselves the Earthborn, and with them were the dragons, the Lifeborn. In Arduq legend, the world was different then, a lush and fertile world full of life. The Sharael of the present is taken up by vast tracts of desert, with civilisation clinging to the fertile lands that surround the great seas.

Beyond Sharael exist the Otherworlds, in which other powers dwelt. In the dawn of time, a great war was fought throughout the Otherworlds, one that came in time to Sharael. The Arduq, though a brave and doughty people, were still only in the age of bronze, and even with the aid of the mighty dragons, could not hope to stand against the foes that came upon their world. And yet they fought, long and hard, as the world was slowly ravaged around them.

After long ages, those who had come to Sharael to fight over it departed again, for reasons that perhaps not even the Arduq and dragons know. It was in the aftermath of this that the young races, the humans, goblins, minotaurs and others, began to appear. The Arduq and the dragons welcomed them and guided them, but slowly they began to withdraw, travelling into the deep deserts were none could follow, there, or so the legends say, working on a great undertaking, one that has gone on for thousands of years.

What Is Gunpowder Fantasy?

I’ve made mention of The Commonwealth Chronicles being what I call Gunpowder Fantasy, but haven’t explained what I mean by that.

Most fantasy is set in a generally similar setting, being something akin to medieval Europe, with magic, a place of knights and castles and princesses and dragons. It is what everyone knows. And generally it never progresses beyond that. Except, as I mentioned in my previous post on breaking the medieval stasis, technology always keeps progressing.

The Commonwealth Chronicles grew out of questioning what would happen if it did. At the time I was reading a lot of stories set in the Napoleonic War era, by authors such as Bernard Cornwell, C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian. It got me wondering what would happen if a fantasy setting progressed to that stage of techonology, where muskets and man’o’war were mixed with magic and minotaurs.

Even though gunpowder and firearms have appeared from time to time in fantasy, they are rare and only a minor part of it, and certainly not to the extent that I wanted to use them. To differentiate between more standard fantasy and what I wanted to write, I began to refer to it as Gunpowder Fantasy, its own unique fantasy sub-genre. Since I have started I have come across a few other examples in the sub-genre, which some also call Gunpowder Fantasy, as well as other names, such as Flintlock Fantasy or Muskets and Magic.

Gunpowder Fantasy is not Steampunk. gunpowder Fantasy uses real world technology that actually existed whereas Steampunk delves into more fantastical devices and inventions.

Gunpowder Fantasy covers the equivalent of the period of world history that saw the age of sail and colonisation, the birth of Empires and what was in effect the first world scale war, the Napoleonic Wars, except with the addition of fantasy elements, such as non human races, magic and more.

Breaking the Medieval Stasis

If there is one factor of fantasy that does irk me more than most (and one I have commented on before), it is what is called Medieval Stasis. (Be warned before visiting TV Tropes – it is very easy to get sidetracked there)

The TV Tropes entry starts by describing it as;

So, you have a Heroic Fantasy with a long history, in order to account for the fact that the Sealed Evil In A Can has been forgotten. So, you fast forward about five thousand years (or merely place the Sealed Evil’s Back Story that far back), and reveal a world… exactly like the one you started in! Same technological level, same form of government, same culture — you wouldn’t even need to dress differently to fit in.

Except that is not really how things work, not without some other factor at play. Some settings it is explained why that happens – in others no good reason is given. Things always change though. Technology, languages, culture. Go back just 1000 years on Earth and things were remarkably different. The English language as we know it didn’t exist – England was still Anglo-Saxon as the Normans hadn’t invade. The Eastern Roman Empire still exist. Vikings roamed the seas. And knights as most people know them hadn’t made an appearance.

With the world of Sharael and The Commonwealth Chronicles, I set out from the start with that concept in mind. I wanted to see change take place, with the rise and fall of nations, with technology changing and all that. What happens in some stories will become historical events in later stories. The sweep of history in the world takes us all the way from the stone age, through the bronze age and beyond, up to a gunpowder fantasy era, at the start of the industrial revolution.

The Commonwealth Chronicles in themselves deal with the later timeframe, the era of gunpowder fantasy.

Welcome to The Commonwealth Chronicles

The Commonwealth Chronicles are one of my fantasy series, this one dealing with the rise of the Maedari Commonwealth on the world of Sharael.  As a fantasy series, it is a little different to the norm, as it is what I called ‘gunpowder fantasy’, a setting that is more technologically advanced than the typical knights and castles setting of fantasy.

Sharael is but one world in the Mist and Shadows setting, and its history is a long one, with other stories and series set in times prior to the Commonwealth.  They too will rate a mention, as their events often influnce the Commonwealth, though the stories that form The Commonwealth Chronicles will be the predominate focus.