"Aramore was a coastal city, and though the capital's city center wasn't particularly close to the port, the cool gusts of wind still carried the savory smell of sea salt - fiercely competing with the festival aromas. It was also a beautiful city, made up of charming cobblestone streets and buildings with colorful, brick facades." - You Can Count On Me
As the home of Wis' Apothecary and the setting for a majority of Isabel's adventures, it was always important to me to create a city that was as beautiful as it was exciting. In fact, the adjective that comes to my mind is romantic. It's fitting then, that I drew lots of inspiration from the Renaissance, and French architecture. But more on that in a minute.
An example of traditional, Maisons à Colombage (half-timbered houses) that you'd find in both Northern France and Aramore. Courtesy of Unique Retreats.
The Setting of Our Story
As we learn in You Can Count On Me, and as discussed in her profile, Isabel is from the town of Pommeseed. Pommeseed is a rural township of Aramore, about a day's travel southwest by carriage. One of these days I'll commission a world map, but until then, just imagine a kingdom of lush valleys and prospering farmlands. Pommeseed would only be one of many townships, villages and large estates. Think of châteaus, continuing with the French-inspired motifs.
Like many major cities, Aramore itself is located right off the coast of the Sea of Aramore. As a port city, it's a trade capital of the world, which is also why its population is so diverse. From orcs, half-elves and hybrids, just about anyone could walk through the apothecary doors.
The city is divided in half (East/West) by a large river, which if you kept following south, would lead you to the neighboring kingdom of Marza. I'm sure we'll explore Marza more later, but their capital is nicknamed the Twin City for that reason, on just the other side of the water.
Notable features of Aramore include the Starpass Mountain range to the north, and the Pinnella Forest somewhere to the south.
"It wasn’t super large, but to a 12-year-old child, it might as well have been Aramore’s fabled Pinnella Forest – named for its golden-leafed trees that could grow to be 300 feet tall!" - Birthday Wish
The Culture of Aramore
Romantic. That's the word I said came to my mind when I pictured Aramore. A sparkling coastline and bustling streets, filled by colorful buildings and interesting people. Not to mention the smell of freshly-baked bread that constantly tortures our loveable protagonist from inside the apothecary. Good thing she knows a baker around the corner!
But it's not just the bread that's French-inspired. Besides the architecture and the châteaus,
here you'll meet people with names like LaPannett, Collier, and Laurent. And besides baguettes, one might expect to find street food like rissoles, and deserts like croquembouche.
Croquembouche, courtesy of Bon Appetite. Recipe here. Isabel loves this desert!
As for the government? The Kingdom of Aramore is actually a matriarchy, though one of my regrets from book one is not expanding more on this thought. Without going into too many spoilers, in You Can Count On Me, we meet the half-elf princess Fleur von Eilsorin. Her father is the human, while her elf mother has ruled for hundreds of years. That means there have been many kings, and Fleur would have lots and lots of siblings.
The King and his guard would be responsible for many of the domestic policies that impact things within the city, while the Queen would only be involved with international affairs or more serious domestic issues. Perhaps one day, Isabel will get to make a royal visit to the castle and meet the two...
There's also the Aramore Sergeant Corp, who are similar to knights, but would be responsible for law and order within the city walls. You get to meet the Corp and its captain in book two, so look forward to that!
And of course, Aramore is the home to Wis' Apothecary. We learn in book one that Wisteria's shop has been there for more than 15 years, and like Isabel, Wis is from the kingdom. In those 15 years, she's made a name for herself that extends even past the kingdom, and many important people have come to rely on her at one time or another. Isabel is an extremely lucky apprentice, don't you think?
I want my stories to be interesting, so of course the place where these stories takes place needs to be interesting too. That's why I crafted Aramore in this manner, a city of limitless potential! But of course, that doesn't mean the stories will stop there.
Oh, the places you'll go...
To me, the most exciting part of world-building is just how it can grow so organically. As I introduce more lore, or reference other cities - no matter how passing in mention - it compounds and compounds, and the world just fleshes itself out.
In the first book, Isabel briefly visits Marza. And in book two, we learn of a couple other neighboring kingdoms: Huriel and the conquered kingdom of Corran (remember Guille?). We also know that Wisteria travels a lot for business, while leaving Isabel to tend to the shop. But as Isabel learns more, I can guarantee you she will one day be joining her master on those trips.
All this to say, there's so much more to Tierre than just Aramore, and I look forward to Isabel getting to experience that. I hope you'll look forward to it too.
Until next time!