World Building in The Hidden King: The White City
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
The Hidden King, the fantasy novel by E.G. Radcliff, takes place in a world made up of two "sister" cities--the Maze, and Suibhne ("Siv-na", also known as the White City). Together, they comprise the kingdom of The Gut... but they couldn't be more different.
The White City (Suibhne) is a human settlement, and its economic and professional demographic profile is much more varied than that of the Maze. The majority of the population lives comfortably, and even the poorest of the White City rarely want for food or shelter. The richest live luxuriously, and much more sumptuously than the middling classes. In a reflection of the healthy economy, professions range from healer to carriage-driver, encompassing merchants and craftspeople from
a vast variety of trades. The average life expectancy is seventy five years, a number made possible by access to food, shelter, and medicine. Religion is practiced personally, but public sacred spaces experience significant visitation as well. The leading cause of death is old age.
The King rules directly over the White City, but the daily workings of the city are predominantly the responsibility of the Council of the King; taxation, cases of petty crime, and infrastructure maintenance fall under the Council's domain. Law enforcement is handled by the August Guard, a militaristic group whose General answers directly to the King or the Council (in cases of conflicting orders, the King's take precedence). In terms of justice, the King hears cases of higher importance, such as accusations of treason, while a sub-group of the Council handles more minor offenses.
The elevated location serves as a natural defense; the only access points other than climbing the cliffs are a concealed stairwell in the eastern face, and the road to the farmland on the western face. Other than natural barriers, the August Guard would serve as the city's defenders in the case of invasion.
Though the White City has the means to travel and trade, it is self-sufficient and culturally unmotivated to seek foreign markets.
The White City has a developed infrastructure of well-maintained roads, courtyards, and bridges. For buildings without plumbing, public wells provide water, tapping into underground springs. The city also maintains a path that zigzags down the western face of the city's plateau, so that agriculture products can be easily transported from the farms on the flatland to the higher city.
Centuries ago, the Maze and the White City were one, but they drifted apart over time due to geographic barriers and shifting cultures. Over the years, the connection was lost, and the means of travel between the two cities fell into disuse and was forgotten. In the White City, the Maze is seen as a dangerous slum, best kept at a distance. That said, the King of the White City still considers the Maze as part of his dominion over the Gut.
The buildings and roads are built solely of white stone, other colors serving only as accents. Flowers are a popular form of adornment, as are fanciful glass shapes in windows, and the rooftops vary in color by building. The architecture is advanced and artful, with walkways that arch between buildings, and lofty towers in important buildings such as the palace.
The White City is situated on a plateau, with the Maze to the east, farmland to the northwest, and wilderness to the southwest. It's isolated from the sea, which, due to their disinterest in trade and the sea's pollution, suits the city's inhabitants. Fresh water comes from underground reservoirs beneath the city.
Forests exist atop the plateau, but given the limitations of the space, the city cuts very carefully and replants often. Foodstuffs come from the farms at the northwestern base of the cliff, where the soil is most fertile. Iron and copper are rich and accessible with relative ease from the plateau itself, but mining destabilizes the land and is strictly controlled, permitted only in certain regions.
E.G. RADCLIFF IS AN INCURABLE WRITER and lifelong imaginer of worlds. An insatiable reader and researcher with a penchant for all things Celtic and a love of the mysterious and magical, she brings a knowing touch to her Young Adult fiction. She enjoys adventure, reading on the train, and dreams about flying. She is a Chicago native and is based in Illinois.
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