Impendix I: The shape of the worlds

After long reflection and consultation, I have decided to go ahead with the project of writing ‘Impendices’. My editorial consultant, the wise and formidable Wendy S. Delmater, has lent her support to the notion of using these posts to advertise my ‘legos’. By that term I mean the more or less original elements in my stories that other people may find sufficiently interesting to want to play with themselves; which is the best way to turn casual readers into lasting fans (and repeat customers). I have discussed the matter in my essai called ‘Legosity’.

(My brain, which as my Loyal Readers know is a foolish and incorrigible thing, thereupon suggested that these fragments of story were not really Impendices at all, but Pro-Lego-Mena. I therefore ordered it to be taken out and shot.)

The methodical part of my mind, however, revolts at the idea of tossing out legos willy-nilly, whichever one seems to be shiniest at the moment. I should like to present these things in some kind of reasonable order, so that my 3.6 Loyal Readers can have some notion of the context. It would be difficult to explain why a particular chess piece, a knight for instance, is interesting and fun to play with, to someone who did not know the object of the game or the shape of a chessboard. So I shall begin, as it were, by describing the contours of the board.

Most of my stories, existing or projected, belong to what I call the Terennian Cycle. Terennian comes from words in the Fair Tongue which can be interpreted either as ‘three worlds’ or ‘three circles’, and both readings apply. To the Fair Folk themselves, the wordplay involved seems perfectly right and natural. We see this kind of wordplay now and then in the languages of our own world. Pascha, the Greek and Latin word for Easter, resembles not only Pesach (פֶּסַח), the Hebrew name of Passover, but Greek paschô (πάσχω), ‘I suffer’. And there is sophomore, which actually seems to derive from an older English word sophumer, meaning ‘one who studies wisdom’, but is popularly supposed to come from the Greek roots sopho- + moro-, meaning ‘wise fool’. In any case the ideas of ‘world’ and ‘circle’ are naturally connected in the thought of the Fair Folk, for reasons set forth as follows.

The Three Worlds, or Circles, are what we should call parallel universes or time-lines; except that they are not quite parallel, but tangential at their endpoints. From the ending of one time-line, if you happen to be living at such an hour, you can (if you survive the general catastrophe) pass freely to the beginning of another; with the proviso that you can only be bodily present once in each of the worlds, and once you have visited all three, there is nothing left but to exit the cycle. The easiest way to think of this is to picture the time-lines as three circles, all touching at one point on their circumference:

The usual direction of travel is from Färinor, the smallest or innermost world, to Mirenna, the ‘Middle Circle’, and then to Terion, the ‘Third Creation’ or orbis tertiusThe Eye of the Maker and its connected tales are set in Mirenna. The people of that world, naturally enough, have a good deal of knowledge about Färinor, if only in the form of myths and legends, but very little information about Terion. (It so happens that Terion has its own developed history, most of which exists in outline and some in the form of detailed stories, but none of these are finished and I fear I may not live long enough to bring any of them into publishable form. That is part of my motive for writing these Impendices.)

Mirenna and Terion are both what we might call ‘post-Copernican’ worlds – spherical islands floating in space, and belonging to the sort of systems that we would find familiar enough from our own knowledge of astronomy. Färinor is something quite different: the flat Earth imagined by our remote ancestors (or by Terry Pratchett), a walled-in circle of lands topped by the solid dome of the heavens. It does, however, differ from the old conception of the flat Earth (or Discworld) in some important respects.

For one thing, Färinor has no sun. Its landmasses are distributed about the periphery of the world, surrounding a central ocean which contains the only source of strong light. That light waxes and wanes with the turning of the heavenly dome, and the rising of a particular constellation (the Net of Morning) signals the hour of increasing brightness. The intensity of light on each ‘day’ fluctuates in a pattern that corresponds with the years and seasons of the sunlit worlds. The nights are as dark as ours; the days, brighter or dimmer according to one’s distance from the centre. The outermost parts of the world are wastelands of eternal night, ice-bound and lifeless. Beyond the encircling ice lie the Ramparts of Night, the sphere of the stars, and the Void beyond.

Men, and creatures resembling them, dwell on the shores of the central ocean, looking outwards to the permanent winter of the wasteland, or inwards to the warmth and brightness across the sea. The source of that brightness is beyond their reach, and almost beyond their knowledge; but they tell tales in reverent tones of islands like shining jewels in the very centre of the world, invisible in the haze of distance, but revealing their presence by the glow on the immeasurably distant horizon. The bright spirits that inhabit those islands have a rather different view of things; and to them we turn next.

The next Impendix will describe the Isles of Light and the Keepers who dwell therein.


  1. I’ve followed this cycle as it has emerged from your fertal imagination, and there were things in this post I did not know. Thanks for showing us the shape of the chess board.

  2. More! More! 🙂

  3. E. Crook says

    For a minute as I started reading I was afraid that the development of your world’s background was going to be way too similar to my own, as I also have three connected worlds. And then it was way more awesome, and extremely different from, my own created world(s).
    Obviously you have the advantage of years of development (I have yet to attain enough years to come of age if I were a hobbit, and I’ve been seriously worldbuilding my particular created order for less than half my life), but I can see that you’ve put much thought into this, and it looks like a wonderful place for amazing stories to happen.
    Please keep writing. I’ll keep reading.

    • Thanks very much! I’m honoured and pleased that you find it interesting.

      • E. Crook says

        Well, I am the kind of nerd that reads all the background, appendices and so forth – I read through the Silmarillion and the ‘History of Middle-Earth’ and everything else I could find of Tolkien’s at our library once I finished The Lord of the Rings. That said, your impendix is genuinely fascinating, and I look forward to more of it.

  4. Stephen K says

    Fascinating stuff, more please!

  5. Are the Angel Keep stories in this setting?

    What about Lord Talon’s Revenge?

    • Eric Schmidt says

      According to the “About the Author” section, Lord Talon’s Revenge was written by one Andar Peregrine who is a character in the world of The Eye of the Maker. It is not clear (to me, at least) whether or not Lord Talon’s Revenge actually happened within the fictional frame.

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