Taerna: The Setting of Promise’s Prayer


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Promise’s Prayer is unique in its setting: it’s not historical fiction, as Taerna is a fictional country, yet it lacks the elements that would categorize it as fantasy or science fiction.

This is in part due to the fact that I wanted to tell the story unrestrained by the limits of strict history while still keeping realism. In essence, Taerna’s history could have happened; it just didn’t, because there’s no such place on earth.


The culture of Taerna is a blend of medieval Europe, Biblical Middle East, and late 1800s America, with a hint of contemporary in the capital city of Syorien and its pleasure houses. Technology is a unique mix of eras, since I was free to mix and match societal advancement without the confines of strict earth history. Modern conveniences of Taerna include running water (even in poor homes), chariots and wheeled carts, plows, and listening devices that transmit audio from one location to another. Syorien’s palace is luxurious, lavish, and immense, while small towns are built of stone and brick. Bright colors abound in upper class and lower class homes.

Developing a country for a story may possibly be as much work as researching history, however. There are so many factors that mustn’t be forgotten: what is the geography like? What is the social structure? What elements are ingrained in their history? What are cultural sayings or proverbs? What is the transportation system like? What is the waste removal system? How does their economic system work? What are family structures like?

Historic buildings. Virginia City, Nevada, USABecause Taerna is in chaos at the time of Promise’s Prayer, I had to figure out what was keeping the country going. Developing the governmental system was an interesting project that also proved educational. Describing the down-to-earth daily normalcy of the pleasure districts in Syorien also ended up being essential to give a sense of the setting. I wanted to paint the picture as vividly as I could of how people frittered away their lives on one pleasure after another and how most of Syorien is essentially a “party town.”5cd3493a6a43c5cbff56161676e4dc8a

The geography of Taerna was one of the most interesting aspects to develop. Taerna is a land of trees and rolling hills. Most of the action in Promise’s Prayer centers on the small town of Frydael, where Kaelan and Carita live, and the capital city of Syorien, which is three to five days’ journey to the east of Frydael. Taerna is situated between the country of Oponsin to the east and the West Taernan Hills to the west, with unexplored territory beyond.

Typical seasons consist of a long autumn, a short and mild winter, a long wet spring, and a short hot summer. The growing season lasts from mid or late spring to mid or late fall.

Taerna’s government consists of two kings who reign together as Chief King and Co-King. Upon the death of one of the kings, the kingship passes to the first combination possible in the following chart, according to the lineage of the kings. Because of the structure of Taernan law, every king desires at least two sons.

Eldest son of Chief King Second-eldest son of Chief King
Eldest son of Co-King
Nephew of King (by choice)
Friend of King (by choice)
Eldest son of Co-King Second-eldest son of Co-King
Nephew of King (by choice)
Friend of King (by choice)
Nephew of King (by choice) Nephew of King (by choice)
Friend of King (by choice)
Friend of King (by choice) Friend of King (by choice)

All in all, I enjoyed crafting Taerna because I could combine elements of earth’s geography, nature, and history that I love and also choose a setting that would most strongly bring out the plot and message of the story. The key for me was creating a setting that wasn’t real, but that real people could relate to.

That’s my goal and mission: through Taerna, shedding light on real-world truth.

Check out my Pinterest Storyboards for Promise’s Prayer and it’s sequels to see where I got inspiration for crafting Taerna!

Image source credit: Pinterest


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