Endnotes from Oon: The Known World of The Nameless Republic
Plus: Early access to pre-order campaign!
This is Endnotes from Oon, a series of letters in which I offer behind-the-scenes worldbuilding, research, extra and/or other tidbits in relation to my new epic fantasy series, The Nameless Republic, beginning with Son of the Storm. I will try my utmost best to avoid spoilers, but they may be inevitable to a small degree, as I might need to provide context for one thing or the other. If you’re risk-averse and would prefer to wait until you’ve read the book before you eyeball any of these letters, that’s great. But if you’re the brave sort, read on.
'Allo, mes amis!
Welcome to the second letter in this series. Today, I’m going to be taking you on an inside journey into the known/discovered world of The Nameless Republic, with focus on the unicontinent of Oon. But first, I’m going to let you in on an exclusive opportunity!
Son of the Storm pre-order/request campaign: 1-week early access for newsletter subscribers!
The pre-order campaign for Son of the Storm launches publicly in a week’s time! But I’m opening it up one week early to newsletter subscribers like you. So go now, follow this link to claim your first-come-first-serve spot in pre-order goodies!
PLEASE DO NOT SHARE THIS LINK/NEWSLETTER PUBLICLY!
Now, for today’s episode.
The (uni)continent of Oon
Oon is called a unicontinent because it is the only known continent (at least, for now) in this world. The map above mostly shows the mainland (which is where most of Son of the Storm takes place—in further books, the other aspects will come to bear). As a whole, think of Oon as a crudely-shaped hourglass-like continent, with two major landmasses surrounded by a massive body of water.
To understand Oon, here are five “fast facts” to know about the world it exists in:
Moons: There are two moons in this world, named (and venerated) by the people of Bassa as Menai and Ashu. Menai is a red/equatorial moon, and Ashu is a white/polar moon. Once every month, the moons cross paths in a lunar eclipse event known to the inhabitants as a mooncrossing. There are several myths about what happens at mooncrossings, including that supernatural powers are at a high (this is false—or is it?)
Tides & Sea Travel: As a result of the tidal forces exerted by the two moons on the neverending ocean around Oon, sea travel is virtually impossible. Drastic tidal changes make travelling by sea doomed to end in disaster, and countless explorers have given their lives to find out (though the inhabitants don’t know the natural reasons for this—they simply consider the sea’s rage the work of spirits). A technological solution to sea travel hasn't yet been discovered. However, unknown to most of Oon, a magical one has: sea travel is only currently possible by Iborworkers (more on this later) who can guide water vessels through the violent seas.
Ibor: Ibor is a mineral whose existence is disputed due to its rarity, but also because of its ability to grant supernatural abilities to those who know how to extract/wield its powers. These users are called Iborworkers, and they have not been seen in, well, forever. Except on the islands, where ibor exists plenty. But no one can travel to the islands, so no one knows. Tricky, isn’t it?
Environmental change: Drastic environmental changes drive most of the migration in this world. Desertification causes most desertlanders to move toward the mainland. For the islands, higher and higher tidal forces mean islands are shrinking/sinking, and it’s only a matter of time before they have to leave and move to the mainland.
Power: As you can see, the mainland has most of the goodies, which is why Bassa feels protective of it. But the desertland has salt and willing immigrant labour, and the one remaining island has ibor. Your move, Bassa.
Here’s some more detail on each region.
The mainland is mostly rainforest-swamp akin to West Africa’s southern regions (heavily influenced by Nigeria’s geography). Its notable areas are:
Bassa, the biggest city, centre of commerce, and seat of power on Oon. The Bassai nation is domiciled here, and controls most economic and political activities by proxy. Its politico-cultural power extends down to the mainland protectorates, as well as into the Savanna Belt.
The Soke Mountains, north of Bassa. Through the middle of this range, there is a “pass” connecting the mainland and desertland, called the Soke Pass. Across this pass has been dug the Soke Moats. Together, these constitute the Soke Border that keeps desertlanders out of the mainland
Two rivers, the Tombolo and the Gondola, meet in a confluence that splits the mainland in half
The biggest areas outside of Bassa: the South-East Hinterland Protectorates (collection of clans living in isolated towns); the South-West Hinterland Protectorates (same as above, but more inland and less is sure about how they live); the Delta Settlements (villages hidden within the southern swamps, mostly undiscovered by the Bassai); the Tombolo Fishing Hamlets (a coastal protectorate to the east); and Whudasha (also known as the Coast of the First Landers: a western protectorate separated from the rest of the mainland by a Peace Fence)
Mines: The Dead Mines (abandoned mines embedded at north-west base of Soke mountains) and the Undati Mines (tiny mining town near north-east base of Soke mountains, active)
Rainforests, specifically three: the Breathing Forest to the west of Bassa, the Tombolo Rainforest to the east, and an unnamed rainforest at the confluence.
The desertland (not fully shown in the map above) is a vast area known for its dwindling access to water and unforgiving temperatures. It has the largest landmass on the whole continent, and is distinctly divided into three:
The Savanna Belt: Most populated part of the desertland and largely occupied for trade and migration, due to its proximity to the mainland. Contains Chugoko (largest trade city because it’s closest to the Soke border/pass), and Chabo (a colony of vagrants further west)
The Sahel (not shown): A small transition zone immediately north of the Savanna. Contains the Lake Vezha (very important in book two). Most desertlanders who aren’t trying to get into the mainland go here for access to water.
The Idjama Desert (not shown): Most northern part of the desertland: dry, unforgiving, and largely uninhabited. But also contains most of Oon’s saline deposits (rock salt), which is very important to the mainland.
The only two known islands off the coast of this continent are: the Ajabo Islands, a collection of five islands to the west; and the Ihinyon Islands—or to everyone else, the Nameless Islands—an archipelago of seven islands to the east.
The Ajabos came to the mainland hundreds of seasons ago, trying to escape their sinking islands. Their interactions with Bassa spawned the Second Great Wars (which no one talks about), and they were eventually sent back into the waters to die. No one knows if they made it back to their islands or not, or if any of the original Ajabos have survived to this day. Descendants of their offspring with mainlanders (of which Danso is one) are a significant minority but still exist on the fringes of the mainland.
The people of Ihinyon, on the other hand, have had no major interactions with the mainland throughout their existence. The Ihinyon archipelago consists of seven islands, most notably Namge, the largest and closest to the continent (connected to the desertland by an isthmus). From Namge, they intermittently send scouts to learn about continental ways of life, but due to the Soke border, have not really ventured into the mainland. Also, they possess a particular genetic disorder that causes their eyes, hair and skin to become hyperpigmented (in a fashion similar to albinism), so they are easily recognizable. So in order to keep their islands a secret, they only send skinchangers—a specific kind of Iborworkers who can alter their skin shade to mimic those on the continent—as scouts. Some scouts have been spotted in the past, but no one knows where the Ihinyon islands are, or if they exist. Which is why they are called the Nameless Islands.
Next time on Endnotes from Oon: The magic system of ibor! Or at least I hope it’ll be. If you have any behind-the-scenes topics you’d like me to explore, let me know in the comments! And if you have a reader friend who’s excited about this book/series and would be interested in these notes, they might want to sign up for this newsletter today: share it with them!