On Mondays I post background essays on the Shine Cycle, my fantasy series-in-preparation. Today I describe a country in which some of the story is set.

Transylvania is a medium-size country in the Wild Continent, on the northern border of the Dragon Empire and an eastern neighbor of Diamonddom. (It’s slightly right-of-center on the map of the two continents.) Much of it was originally part of the Dragon Empire, or at least its “sphere of influence” (and in that period the terms are nearly equivalent), but it was liberated not long into the world’s history, in the Imperial War if not before.

For most of the countries that were carved out of the Dragon Empire by the various wars, it’s a matter of debate whether we can accurately say anything more than that they were “captured,” since Tashere’s power over his own people is such that they generally can’t get to the level of independent thought required to want to be free. So in the Dragon Empire, a revolt may be termed “successful” even if by revolt we mean only that a participant considered rebellion in his heart—but “liberated” is an unarguably reasonable term here because what became Transylvania was the site of the only rebellion against the Dragon Empire that came close to being successful even by more usual standards, requiring a detachment of troops to crush it.

After it was liberated, Transylvania joined the Shine Council, a mutual-defense alliance of free nations within the Dragon Empire’s shadow that later joined the Shine and Wild Empire as a body when it formed. Transylvania held much of the Council’s joint military forces and most of the its intelligence offices. Later, after joining the Empire and particularly under the leadership of a member of the Chosen named Reginald, intelligence became its national industry, independent of the Empire’s Ministry of Intelligence.

As a discerning reader might expect from its name, much of Transylvania is densely forested, though the forests in what had been part of the Dragon Empire are still very young. The rest—the eastern- and westernmost fifths, roughly—is rolling plains, pretty good farm- and pasture-land. The capital, in the northeastern corner on the Continental River, is the only major city.


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