When the early chapters of the book were being work-shopped on Scribophile, the terminology caused some confusion. All self-respecting fantasy invents new words and subverts the meanings of others, and for many fans part of the fun is working out what everything means. For those who find it less fun, here are some of the significant terms that crop up in the book:
Karning: a square of land roughly 80 miles by 80 miles.
Karninghold: the administrative centre of a Karning.
Karningholders: the rulers of the Karning, and the husbands and wives in a multiple marriage.
Karningplain: all the 300+ Karnings, which are arranged in a checkerboard pattern.
Karningers: anyone living within the Karningplain.
Companions: each Karningholder husband and wife has three Companions, who are also a part of the marriage. The husbands’ Companions are Skirmisher Commanders (trained soldiers). The wives’ Companions are friends who help with the day-to-day running of the Karning, and in raising the children. The Companions’ children have equal status with the children of the wives.
Skirmishers: trained warriors who participate in the organised skirmishes between Karnings, or in the real battles against the Vahsi (barbarians) beyond the border. They are organised into Twenties and Hundreds. Every male Higher (ruling elite) has one Hundred of his own, who follow him from Karning to Karning. Karningholders have two Hundreds.
The Ring: the administrative centre of all the Karnings, an area surrounded by the mountains called the Ring of Bonnegar.
The Barrens: the eight empty Karnings around the Ring.
The sky ship way: a raised road for wind-powered groups of wagons.
The Nine: the Gods worshipped by the Karningers.
Those who Serve the Gods (or Servants): highest level of priesthood, who talk directly to the Nine.
The Voices of Those who Serve the Gods (or the Voices): priests who administer the Word of the Gods.
Slaves to the Gods (or Slaves): priests.
The Vahsi: the barbarians who live beyond the borders of the Karningplain, and are engaged in a perpetual war with the Karningers.