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: