With no magic, no brawn, and no pirate crew, Zala seeks to steal back the one treasure that matters to her most: her husband.
African fantasy world inspired by mythology and folklore from the African diaspora and Pan African countries.
I’d definitely suggest hitting up the Seaborne Inn where you can get the best drinks—if not the best food. You’ll want to stop here mostly to get the lay of the land. There’s always gossip brewing about the latest on the island… just don’t piss off the brewmaster who frequents there or he might slip something nasty in your drink.
What dangers should we avoid on The Ibabi Isles?
Unless desolation and barren islands are your thing, I’d suggest staying far away from here. Some even say the lands are cursed by the merfolk who used to live near its depths.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Jultia?
In Jultia, you might be surprised to find that there are no forks or spoons or other eating utensils. Almost all food is consumed by hand or by a spongy sourdough called injera (inspired from real live injera from Ethiopia), which often wraps around meats and veggies during meals.
The thing about the Sapphire Isles… it’s an intersection of many other regions. You’ll see Northern straight swords, Eastern curved sabers, Ya-Seti recurved bows, and Southern Spears. While the kinds of weapons you’ll come across are diverse, the fighting style is all the same. Many on the isles call it the “palm wine dance”. Almost everyone seems half drunk when they fight one another, even in brutal competition like the fighting arenas near Port Zanziwala.
Though merely at the start of its major use, the Vaaji have started to construct airships to transport themselves from their coastal desert nation all across Esowon and beyond.
|Shomari (a pakka) and Fon (an Aziza)
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Esowon that we don’t see on Earth?
In Esowon, especially in the more densely populated cities and towns you might find an aziza (usually half or quarter). These diminutive fae creates come from the Kunda Jungles, but many of those who are half or quarter breed have been disbanded or exiled from the ancient jungle and forced to live among humans and pakka. The pakka, also known as cat-people, are more common than the aziza. They stand slightly shorter than the average human but they are far more dexterous and nimble.
Magic is a dying thing in the world of Esowon. In centuries past almost everyone had it, and almost everyone could do extraordinary things (i.e. manifesting storms/moving mountains/predicting the distant future). But during the timeline of By Sea & Sky, nations that were built on magic are looking for alternative ways to dominate… the primary focus being technology. Many marriages are now determined by how much magical blood is within the bride and groom.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Esowon? If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
Yes, the mentioned airships are new to the world of Esowon. These ships are fueled by old magic in the form of skyglass found throughout the world (usually compacted within old mountains).
The Vaaji favor a game called King’s Way, which is very similar to Earth’s chess. Southern Esowoni enjoy a game called stone and marbles, which is based on mancala.
Though Esowon has similar days and weeks to Earth, the people do not refer to months as months, but rather as moons. In fact, weeks aren’t weeks all the time. Sometimes, individuals (usually of the Old Faith) will say Àyá’s cycle instead of week. You see, this world has two moons. The big moon, or Yem’s moon, revolves around the world every 28 days, while Aya’s moon revolves around the planet every 7 days. So the people of the world have a perfect measurement of their weeks and months (yes, in reality this would break their world, particularly their ocean currents but… magic).
There are many religions in the world of Esowon, but the two focused in By Sea & Sky are Jo’bara (the Old Way) and al-Qiba (the One True Faith). Devotees of Jo’bara believe in the continued influence of the Old Gods, even though said deities have been gone for thousands of years. Devotees of al-Qiba only put their faith in one God name Shati (or Shati’ala if you use Her honorific). Shati is known to have given humans magic way back when humans were nothing more than primitives beating stones together. And thus, those of al-Qiba pledge faith to her, and her alone, as she gave humans not only magic, but free will, and more importantly, their inventive minds.
Currently the reigning “government” on the Sapphire Isles is the golden lord and his Golden Court. Under him are several tide lords who oversee the seven major isles of the Sapphire Seas. The political structure is based around a meritocracy of earning gold for the golden lord. It is the aspiration of many “aggressive entrepreneurs” (aka pirates) to bring enough plunder to Golden Lord Zuberi to be accepted to the Golden Court in Port Zanziwala. At this place, it’s said that a person can live well into old age without worry about coin ever… so long as Lord Zuberi likes what you bring him.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit the Sapphire Isles?
Were you to visit Port Kidogo or any of the smaller towns, there is an old tradition called Six-Nights which is a huge event when there is a major loss of life or an important figure has died. It might be better if I just leave an excerpt from the prequel novella, Stoneskin, about this tradition…
I’ve certainly been inspired by my real-life research but not much in the way of my real-life experience (that’s reserved for my contemporary young adult novel I’ve also got).
There aren’t too many hot takes in this book unless you have an issue with same-sex relationships.
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