The Twilight Kingdom is a quite large country in the world of the Shine Cycle, adjoining the Sunshine Kingdom. You can find it in the middle of the lower left quadrant of the map. It’s part of the Shine and Wild Empire, the political entity with which the cycle is primarily concerned. And it will probably be the setting of one of the stories in the (planned) “Alternate Universes” sub-series, at least a few scenes in The Imperial War, and perhaps of some other scenes throughout the Shine Cycle. Today’s post is a look at this country.
Unlike the Sunshine Kingdom, the Twilight Kingdom doesn’t have a memorable shape. But like its neighbor, its borders are shaped mainly by natural boundaries but fixed by surveyors: the eastern borders (remember that the map is “backwards,” with south at the top and east to the left), with the Sunshine Kingdom and the Earthshine Kingdom, for example, follow a mountain range that rises from what are only foothills in the Kingdom of the Night’s Light to the north to the high plateau I mentioned in that earlier post. The southern border follows a second mountain range from there to the west. But the northern and western borders are somewhat subtler, mostly tracing between the tops of (compared to the mountains in the middle of the continent) low hills but following rivers when those flow near the line being surveyed.
Like the Sunshine Kingdom, and indeed every country on the continent, the Twilight Kingdom was given a charter and a Blessing. Where the Sunshine Kingdom was given long and invariably sunny days, the Twilight Kingdom asked that neither the heat and light of the sun nor the cold and darkness of night be oppressive. And so throughout the kingdom full day and full night are somewhat shorter than they would otherwise be, while the periods of twilight are lengthened considerably. And the climate avoids the extremes that similar locations in other countries experience, being largely cool and misty.
Much of the southern part of the kingdom is “highlands,” cool and exhibiting a rugged beauty, especially with the way the fog makes the peaks grow hazy in the distance. Most of the kingdom’s mining takes place in area. But many of the mountain slopes and other areas are also covered with thick evergreen forests, and the peaks are capped with snow. Moving north, the landscape transitions smoothly into heath, well-suited for the raising of livestock. While this region receives less rainfall than the rest of the kingdom, it is well watered by numerous rivers flowing down through it, as well as various natural wells. The northern region of the kingdom is largely rich, fertile plains, best suited for hardier grains but one of the (many) regions that might well be called a “breadbasket of the Empire.” (If not one that could compete with the agricultural regions of the Sunshine Kingdom.) But it also has a couple of regions of “cloud forest.”
Of course, for all its advantages, the kingdom’s Blessing of twilight comes with its disadvantages too. Many of the Empire’s organized crime leaders eventually move their headquarters to the kingdom, and its governments seem somewhat more inclined to corruption than most, but most of the native-born people of the Twilight Kingdom usually don’t seem to care. Nor do they have much ambition for improvement of themselves or of their communities. So it largely falls to the Chosen to keep the kingdom clean and work for prosperity. Notable examples include the districts of Regal Falls, at the northern edge of the mountainous area to the south of the kingdom; Snowmarsh, near the southwestern corner of the kingdom; and Lady’s Ferry, in the “heartland” where the heath becomes lush plains. More about these eventually when I write profiles of their leaders, Brenna, Hezekiah and Bernice, and Ancelin.
Do you have any thoughts about the Twilight Kingdom?