World-Specific Info & Trivia

Lexicon & Trivia | Maps | Locations

Pronunciation Guide for Names and Locations

Captain Baltsaros – Baltsaros is the Greek version of Balthazar but has its roots in Assyrian—the name means “Baal protect the king”. Baal, or more properly, Baʿal (pronounced bale/bayle), is associated with the god Hadad (God of storm and fertility) who was decreed a false god and it’s here where the Christians picked up the name Beelzebub (sometimes Baalzebub or Baelzebub) aka The Devil. Side note: His close friends and relatives call him Saros, which is a nod to one of my favourite movie villains, Sarris from Galaxy Quest.

Char – a drug used to enhance sexual pleasure but delay orgasm.

Dokscha/rukscha – currency used in Ereme’ia Balor

1 dokscha = 10 rukscha = 3 gold = 48 silver

Dragon’s Milk – A dense, harsh green liquor brewed by the monks of the southern peninsula. It’s said to be one of the vilest drinks in the world. Tom acquired a taste for it when working at the Jewel.

Emperor Ah’Puch – Ah-Puch is often mentioned as being a Mayan death god, but in fact historians state that it is not an authentic Mayan name for the god. Hence the emperor being a rather fraudulent ruler.

Ephemroot – A root upon which a mould grows that has antibiotic properties.

Gessal – Fruit native to Madierus. Tastes a little like a plum.

Jon Black – Jon’s last name isn’t actually Black. Jon’s last name is Smith, which was Reginald’s last name. Jon’s character is meant to be unremarkable… an everyman, hence his name. The crew only start calling him Black because of Tom’s “prank” (Caged) and he went along with it because of relative on his mother’s side who went by the moniker Captain Black (Caged, ch. 4) Side note: I went with Jon rather than John because I thought Kit Harrington (of GoT fame as Jon Snow) would do a great job playing him in a movie version.

Madierus – The island paradise is partially based on Barbados, partially based on one of the big islands in northern Québec. Plus an inactive volcano… because where would a villain’s lair be, but on the side of an inactive volcano?

Medical – Most of Baltsaros’ medical knowledge springs from ancient Egyptian techniques (using waxed linen to cover Jon’s sucking chest wound or giving him mould [see ephemroot above] to cure his lung infection)

Peckerfish – A non-existent fish that Tom makes up to tease Saban.

Qaphberries – Spicy ground berries that have high levels of vitamin B, C, calcium, and potassium.

Sormaheine – In contrast to the midland islands and mainland (which you could compare to Europe’s High Middle Ages… ish), Sormaheine is largely cut off from the rest of the world (due to geography and a sort of insular mindset) and never went through an economic/scientific/cultural decline. As such, the level of education is quite a bit higher. The city itself is a nod to Antiquity and the Classical eras – The Pantheon as a planetarium (or the Etruscan Dome of Heaven), the Great Library of Alexandria, Hellenic temples, fluted ionic columns, etc. However, I also included references to the Middle Ages to keep it more inline with the rest of the world (stuff like church misericords and alchemy). Side note: The fact that it is northern and has reindeer was intended to bring to mind Scandinavia, which would place Baltsaros’ accent.

Tom – Tom’s full name is Thomas Hinchliffe of Averdown the Fourth. Hinchliffe for the fact that I listen to so much Dickon Hinchliffe while I write. “Tom” is because I really wrote his character with Tom Hardy in mind. He’s a fun, complex character, and he plays to many of Hardy’s acting strengths. And finally, the Tomcat nickname came out of surrounding Jon (who is linked to wolf imagery) with a bunch of cats: Baltsaros’ lion sigil, Tomcat, Kat. It’s meant to mark Jon’s otherness. And a final note on Tom’s name… he’s got such a long name because of my childhood love of Abraham DeLacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O’Malley aka Thomas O’Malley the Alley Cat (Aristocats).

General Trivia
Movie/show/song/book references
– The series is chock full of references to my favourite movies, shows, music, and books. Like the four lights above Baltsaros while he’s tortured (ST:TNG, “Chain of Command, part II”) and things like the chapter title “The Devil You Know” which is a line from Warrior and (to me) about father/son struggles with the past, present, future (and yes, Baltsaros inspired Byron in Better the Devil You Know). The Emperor’s menagerie in Sacrificed was inspired by a book I read in high school: Aztec by Gary Jennings. The series itself was inspired by a Decemberists song (Don’t Carry it All):

A monument to build beneath the arbors
Upon a cliff the that towers towards the trees
But every vessel pitching hard to starboard
Lay it’s head on summer’s freckled knees

There are loads of movie tropes, like when Jon orders a ship blown up and turns to walk away as it explodes behind him (Fated) or the general treatment of flashback/dream sequences. It’s all stuff that I threw in to make me smile, honestly. Silly fun.

Historical inaccuracies – There are none. Honestly. The only person in the world who actually knows the history of the Baal’s Heart universe is me. ;) When I first set out to write Caged, I wanted to write parallel world fantasy where history played out differently than it did in our world. So, I mixed and matched a whole pile of details (architecture, food, scientific discoveries, methods) to create (what I think) is a fun backdrop for the story. No dates are mentioned and no place names unless relevant to the story.

The Language – No one speaks English. The language in the book is (mostly) something just called Common (or the common tongue) which is a fantasy trope. The language and concepts are “translated” into nearest-neighbour English.