The map of Esperia is extremely helpful for following the narrative in Through the Eyes of a Stranger .
It was originally intended that a larger version should be printed separately and inserted inside the book, much like a National Geographic supplement. The publisher said this was impossible, so it was decided to reduce it to 75% and print it as the first four pages of the book. Some may find this unified version more readable, although either should suffice. A few comments might serve to make the map more useful and the story even more enjoyable.
(NOTE: A large single map image in x.pdf format can be downloaded here - this is a very large file [~90 MB] so do not try to download it if you do not have a high speed service.)
The map you are seeing here is only of that part of Esperia where the story takes place. Much of the nation's territory is not shown ; I never drew it; it exists only in my mind and there only in the most general layout. Also not shown here are any of the places referred to in Yaro's backflashes, for example, his native Umberlands. I don't know whether some of that might appear in the sequel . What you have here is what there is, although I hope at some time to include some more detailed insets of certain parts of the present map.
What IS shown here is all or parts of the various fairs comprising the Nine Fairs, or Bluemeadow Province (although Goosegrass and Mercy fairs are not within the Bluemeadow drainage, they are grouped with it for administrative purposes). The Nine Fairs include Bluemeadow, Mercy, Goosegrass, Sunrise, Welcome, Broadlea, Laughingwater, Portage, and Weasel. The upper left corner of the map includes a small portion of the Onion River basin, which is part of another province, though still in Esperia.
Although the map appears cluttered with place names, the reader should keep in mind that none of these is a city, town, or even village, all of which are quite absent in Esperia, largely as a consequence of the Vine Laws. Rather each dot represents only the location of the bannerhouse, or community building. Most of these are situated near the centre of the "banner" (our word "township" might be somewhat applicable here), and since most banners are no more than three or four miles square, most citizens reside within a two mile walk of their communal meeting-place.
Due to the lack of urban centres, one finds no place-names with endings like -ville, -town, or -burg. Instead one finds many -banners, -steads, -halls, -camps, etc., such endings reflecting Esperian settlement patterns and history. It is also largely due to the Vine Laws that banners are roughly comparable in population (between the extremes of 600 and 3200) and fairly evenly distributed over the landscape, the major exception being the Sacred Groves. Those tracts of wholly unoccupied territory range in size from a few dozen acres to many thousands of acres.
The fairs are roughly analogous to counties and are defined by watersheds. To a large degree the banners and steads are too, especially in the older areas. Only in the later-settled regions are straight boundaries likely to be found. This also explains the predominance of -brook, -rill, and -pond in place names.
Place is extremely important to Esperians. Their love of their land is no more focused on its abstractions than on the physical details of the actual landscape; both aspects are totally inseparable from the Vision. Every landform or watercourse, however insignificant, has its name and its story which are rarely forgotten. Many seemingly whimsical names record an incident which happened there centuries ago and is still recalled by everyone. Esperian culture is rich in legend which celebrates the heroic as well as the commonplace. When one moves to a new stead, one does notmerely change addresses; one assimilates a whole new body of lore. One learns all about the place and thus becomes part of it.
Esperians are proud that their territory was all acquired by peaceful means, without recourse to armed conquest. During the first two centuries of the current era, the nation attained its present extent through a series of diplomatic initiatives, each by consent of both parties. Those are often reflected in the names of remnant-banners, such as -Treaty, -Pact, -Purchase, -Bargain, -Will, -Grants, -Pledge, -Accord, etc.
Having acquired territory by honourable means, however, the Esperians are unwavering in its defense, by force if necessary. Their neighbourly foreign policy has generally secured their borders better than arms, but on the few occasions when they have been invaded, the attackers have rued it. Two of their victories are recorded in the names of a banner called Zircon's Woe and a string of tiny ponds called Talon's Tears.