East of Transylvania
Over the wild Carpathian Mountains
There is a land where legends live.
That’s how book one, The Dragon Lord, begins. But except for that one hint, here is a fact that you will have only found mentioned in the Author’s Notes in The Sons of Tyras Series. The Hidden Lands in this series are in Romania.
So, why didn’t I mention Romania in the stories themselves? Well first, it was not known as Romania back in 1816 when these stories take place. But more importantly to me, I wanted to spin the right balance of atmosphere in these stories without the interference of heavy handed stereotypes of the country that the name invokes.
Okay, yes, there were scenes that drew upon the evocative atmosphere we know of Romania, because hey, it is Romania! But if there is one thing I would like for you to take away from these books about that beautiful country, it is this: there is far more to it than the stereotype we are typically shown.
Its legends go far beyond vampires and Dracula. Its history is rich and rather interesting. And besides all of that, it is a geographical wonder, and the best place possible to bring the Sons of Tyras to your attention. Partly because I believe the myths that the Sons of Tyras are attached to, really can be argued to originate from there, and because, well you will just have to read the books to see how important a role the landscape of this region plays in them.
So let me just start today with a closer look at that map I added above.
Isn’t it a nice map? You will also find it in the books. The graphic in the inset comes from an old map I have in my office. I have gone to it countless times to keep me straight about where everyone was.
Now as I said, in 1816 there was no Republic of Romania. There were the three countries that I have outlined for you on the map.
One you know well, Transylvania. Transylvania was a not just a region as it is today, it was a country. However not an autonomous one. In 1816 it was a principality ruled by the Kingdom of Hungary. And Hungary was ruled by the Austrian Empire. Transylvania has three names that it goes by. The two others are Ardeal, which the local Romanians still call it. And Erdély, the Hungarian name for it. All three names have something to do with the word forest. Romania today is still a heavily forested land at an impressive 40%.
Now, looking at the map, you can see the curve of mountains that divide Transylvania from the rest. To the south there is Wallachia and to the East the land where the Sons of Tyras reside, Moldavia. Those two countries together were known as the Danubian Principalities, they were governed by princes who answered to the Turkish Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Their history as a suzerain of the Turks is interesting reading to be sure.
But I will not go into further detail on that now. Today I just wanted to begin a journey to unfold for you some of the fascinating things about the area that I discovered in my research. I hope to share more in the future though of the history, culture and mythology of this beautiful land where even many of the individual mountains have legends about how they were formed.
If you would like to see more images of Romania, come take a look at my Pinterest board.