The most fun part of writing Majai’s Fury was creating the countries and their cultures…and making sure they had little in common. Taifa is from Nuomor, and Shanh is from Ghairlazh. These countries share a long border through the Azhalwar Mountains.
It is a Mediterranean type country with an extra long coastline due to the Inland Sea. The capital city, Uzzaino, is similar to Venice. It consists of many small islands connected by bridges. Most compounds own a gondola or two, and those who travel longer distance do so by sail. Nuomor actively trades with many nearby countries and has many allies.
It is a steep mountainous country with numerous narrow lakes and plunging rivers, so travel by water is rare for any distance unless you live along the coast. Even there, fog and storms make boat travel difficult. Most Ghairlazhians travel by foot with a pack animal for heavy loads. Ghairlazh is insular. Most of its people never leave the country, and they do not trade.
Different parts of Nuomor worship their choice of gods or goddesses: Majai, the goddess of water, Aerde, the god of the earth, Vuari, the goddess of fire, and Upiepo, the god of the wind. Uzzaino, where Taifa lives, worships Majai.
Majai is powerful, and there is a full system in place to appease her: the sacrifice of every woman’s firstborn.
This is a culturally religious people who worship only one god, Azhvah. They believe other countries’ deities are imaginary at best. Azhvah has given his people five books of the law which outline every aspect of their lives and the ceremonies and festivals they must adhere to. One of these is the Festival of Repentance, when scarification marks are placed on each face as a mark of repentance. Only then can the person know they have been forgiven. (Marks of Repentance was the working title for the novel.)
Shanh is a sunazhvat, basically a prophet of Azhvah, one of the religious elite under the country’s ruler, the mardazh (spokesman of Azhvah).
Where Majai rules, men and women live in different compounds with other members of their family. Children are reared in their mother’s family compound. At age 12, boys go to their father’s compound. A promiscuous lifestyle is not only accepted, it is encouraged, and faithfulness to one partner is nearly unheard of.
Taifa lives in her own little cottage in a compound with her mother, grandmother, aunt, and cousin, who is raising two young boys. Each compound has a central plaza with a fountain (remember they worship the goddess of water), and a garden/cookhouse to the rear of the property, bordering the canal.
Marriage and nuclear families are a staple in Ghairlazh. If one’s spouse dies, any children go to live with relatives for it is believed that children require two parents. A parent can only regain custody of their child when they remarry within the faith.
Shanh’s a widowed father of a young son who now lives with his grandparents. Shanh knows that when he returns from this mission to Nuomor, he must take a wife so that he can have Rhanjit back in his home. Obviously, a Nuomoran wife is not an option.
A Rich Tapestry
There are, of course, many additional cultural differences and nuances that create the backdrop for Majai’s Fury, a fantasy tale of forbidden romance amid clashing religions and cultures.
A vindictive goddess. A desperate woman. A reluctant champion. A frantic scramble to flee from Majai’s Fury.
Taifa hoped the goddess Majai wouldn’t notice she hadn’t provided a firstborn for sacrifice. But when the king demands Taifa’s life in exchange for the child she has not yet conceived, she knows she is out of time. She seizes the king’s proposal—her life spared if she neutralizes Shanh, the foreigner whose doomsday prophecies infuriate the king.
Secure in Azhvah’s protection, Shanh’s mission looks simple enough: deliver his god’s fateful message then return to his homeland. But when Azhvah allows a conniving woman to weaken the shield, many long-held beliefs are shattered. Can Shanh’s god truly desire to rescue this heathen from the fate she deserves?
Buy Majai’s Fury for Kindle here. (Other formats, including paperback, to follow.)