Ladies First


Specifically, Mistress Katharina Tomiko Marquering, the female protagonist of The Iron Conqueror, and the Griffin Tales that follow. Born in the ‘Orient’ of my world (though that’s the west in Sibanenne), but raised in the Union of Vravan as the daughter of missionaries. She is a woman of two worlds, and yet truly welcome in neither. She is well aware of her ‘outsider’ status, and yet cherishes the freedom her adopted homeland allows her.

But her Zouxing heritage manifests in her Mystic talents. Born a sorceress, she becomes a student of the history and culture of her homelands to aid in using her gift wisely. Katharina is always balancing her desire to be a properly pious lady with the knowledge that her talent demands greater discipline, responsibility, and opportunity to protect what she loves.

Petite, yet possessed of a keen intellect, she is a research assistant to her father, who is the Professor of Zouxing Studies at the University of Heideren. She is somewhat frosty to those who do not intrigue her, and yet open and caring to those who capture her interest. She is not without her frivolous side, though few ever see it.

The enigma that is her background becomes a catalyst in The Iron Conqueror. And as she learns about herself, she discovers her enemies are not far from finding out the truth either. And they will not be pleased about what they have learned.

(Character render by Suzi Amberson, aka Kachinadoll on dA, at my request.)


The World of the Iron Conqueror

One of the things I did in A Griffin’s Tale that is somewhat atypical for Steampunk is my choice to indulge in creating a new world. At the time, I was writing a Historical Fantasy series (my Aurori Saga, which if you followed to my deviantArt page, you will see there), and wanted the freedom to explore a new setting.

So The Iron Conqueror has a strong flavor of Victoriana, and Airships, Gaslight, Gears, and all the strange science that one expects from Steampunk. But it also has a goodly dose of magic, common to the “Gaslight Fantasy” subset. Creating a new world also allowed me to spin the Great Game of Nations in directions the Victorian era did not pursue. For example, Caralie pursued a course similar to that of Napoleonic-era France, with a similar end. But in reprisal, it was divided into a group of puppet states, vassals of their conquerors.

As a result, much of Trivoria’s politics are played out through the carcass of fallen Caralie, including the majority of The Iron Conqueror’s plot. It becomes a cat’s paw for The Dythian Thallosocracy and the ever-ambitious Sylvunurian Empire to its west (an analogue to the Prussian Empire, but with an attitude towards those its conquered not entirely dissimilar from The Dominion of the Draka in S.M. Stirling’s Dystopia of the same name. Meanwhile, the Union of Vravan is an experiment in decentralized pseudo-monarchy, much like the United Netherlands of Orange Family’s height.

It’s even become a ‘training ground’ of sorts for the far off Zouxing Empire to allow its Great Houses to prove their worth in the eyes of the Divine Emperor. So, unintentionally (as politics so often does) the winners of a war, in their pursuit of stability, have created fertile ground for a new one. So there is nothing like the Congress of Vienna to facilitate peaceful negotiation between nations. But there is the confusing web of alliances. Yes, it gets messy. 😉

The world is about 3/4s the size of Earth, and significantly cooler. It orbits at the outer edge of the habitable zone of an orange dwarf star. Two large asteroid belts block out much of the star field to the naked eye. It also possesses plentiful coal, but petroleum poor (at least in the parts of the world their technology allows them to explore and exploit). Hence my justification for the prominence of external combustion engines and steam power. The petrol engine exists, but its not profitable to mass produce.

In general, technology is at an 1850s-60s level. Though certain areas (airships in particular) are more advanced. Among the residents of the Zouxing Dynasty, this is not quite as prevalent, as much knowledge is kept from those who lack the Mystics’ Gift. And those who possess it are encouraged to maximize their study and use of it, as opposed to more ‘mundane’ fields. One still finds ornithopters with Aether-fueled power sources and weapons among them, however.

There is magic via manipulating the Aether. Those who can do this are called Mystics, and the gift is much more prevalent in the Zouxing Dynasty than it is on the Trivorian Continent, though even in the east, it is not unheard of.

The vast majority of action takes place in the southeastern continent of Trivoria. It is where both main characters, Cage Monaghan & Katharina Tomiko Marquering, is included below:


Once More Into the Breach!

I’ve done this blogging thing a few times. But mostly for politics in the past. This site, on the other hand, is meant to avoid politics, as much as is possible for me. (Yeah, I see you snickering on the other side of the monitor. I mean it!)

What this blog is meant to promote is my writing. Many of you may know that I’ve been sharing my writing, and my desire to become an author, on deviantArt for sometime. As you can see  As part of my effort to promote my work, garner visibility, and chase the elusive brass ring that is professional, published, Fantasy Author, I’m starting this site.

What do you expect to see here? Well, excerpts from my writing, naturally. General promotion of the excellence that is Tarien Cole’s writing. The artwork of others inspired by my stellar imagination. The maps from my various worlds. The rave reviews my work has gathered. And my own shoeing of the nincompoops who think they do this better than me.

Will I lapse into political commentary from time to time? Perhaps. But I hope to keep it to matters that touch on the Speculative Fiction community. Copyright and piracy, the direction of the genre in general. Where I see the boundaries between Fantasy and Science Fiction within that larger grouping. The questions the publishing industry must deal with in a growing cybermarket world. And whatever else tickles my fancy.

I will probably also drop bits of lightheartedness here, as they seep into my GrimDark soul. But since these are only Hope Shots, expect me to dash them to pieces in short order. You have been warned. I may also grant glimpses into my plans for global domination during the zombie apocalypse. But I can’t promise.

It will also contain news as to my progress in my current projects, and where I see things going next. Occasionally I may post my concepts for future reference. However, we really don’t want to give too much away, do we?

As the blog gets out of its ‘Under Construction’ phase and moves more towards permanence, I’ll provide more concrete site navigation. Until then, thanks for looking in, and I hope you enjoy the journey!