The advantage of writing historical fantasy is that it is fantasy – in the case of my Empire’s Legacy series, the fantasy isn’t the dragons and wizards sort, but the creation of a world loosely based on cultures, historical events, and people, all of whom existed. But I have taken huge liberties with timelines, geography, and cultures, so while the setting and background of the books may seem familiar, it isn’t anywhere you really might know.
In previous installments of this occasional series, I’ve talked about various aspects of Lena’s world. (Lena is the protagonist of Empire’s Daughter and Empire’s Hostage, in case you are new to this blog). In the newly-published Empire’s Hostage, Lena’s world expands to include the lands north of the Wall. The Wall is based on Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman wall in the north of England built by the Emperor Hadrian in AD 122 to mark the dividing line between civilized Britannia to the south, and uncivilized (and unconquerable) Caledonia to the north. It plays the same role in my books, dividing the ‘civilized’ Empire from the unconquered lands of Linrathe.
Linrathe, though, has another wall, further north, an earth-and-wood rampart called The Sterre. Where did this come from? Well, although it has a very different role in the world of Empire’s Hostage, it’s based on the Antonine Wall, another Roman wall – this one built by the Emperor Antoninus Pius, in AD 142, in an attempt to move the boundary of Roman occupation farther north. In Empire’s Hostage, the character Perras, quoting a work of history to Lena, tells her “… ‘they did not find the conquest of the northern lands easy, for the inhabitants knew the hills and valleys, forests and caves well, and used them to their advantage’. It is a wild land, Lena, and very difficult, and more so as you go north. But they did try; the Sterre, the other wall you noticed yesterday on the wall map: they built it, but could not hold it for more than a dozen years, if that. Their armies retreated south, and left these lands in peace, more or less.” The Romans held the Antonine Wall for only eight years, before retreating back to Hadrian’s Wall, likely for all these same reasons.
Here’s a picture of what the Antonine Wall looks like now, nearly two thousand years after it was built.
In the next installments, I’ll be talking more about how early-to-late medieval Scottish history influences Empire’s Hostage. In the meantime, if you’re intrigued, here is the link to the books!