The (hi)story of Elbora

This page will tell you a bit more about the history of Elbora, the fantasy-steampunk continent which is the setting for my book The Outlaws of Kratzenfels.

Elbora! Shrouded in mist and mystery, cloaked in dark forests, girded by deep waters… There are icy mountains like the Drachenspitz in Kratzenfels and flooded plains like the Flarkenfelder… It’s quite a place. How did it – and its peoples – come to be?

First, the boring behind-the-scenes stuff. I needed a fairytale type landscape in which to set the book. Fairytales don’t say much about geography, history, or (yawn) politics, and why should they? But The Outlaws of Kratzenfels needed a dose of all of those to work. So I set about creating some.

The basic idea: I wanted to make Elbora a world dominated by Germanic, Finnic, Slavic, and Celtic ideas, not by those of the Classical Mediterranean/Near Eastern world. The writing systems are mostly runic (more on that another time, perhaps), the gods are many, the languages decidedly ‘barbaric’, in the Greek sense. What if something like the last seriously glacial ice age in our world had taken place in Europe much later, like during the period of Classical civilisation and the Roman Empire? The southwards and westwards push of the Germanic and Slavic tribes would have an explanation: the frost-giants are coming! And the Classical civilisations of the south, instead of assimilating the invaders, would be overwhelmed by them.

And that ice! Some people are left behind, stranded for generations on rock-islands and mountaintops in the oceans of ice, witness to the terrible battles of the frost-giants. These maroons become known as the Jarstlings (‘j’ like English ‘y’), and their ordeal makes them magical.

Centuries later, the ice recedes, the refugees return to the north and settle the lands of Elbora. They mingle with the Jarstlings. By the time of Elbora’s own steampunk-style Industrial Revoution, magic is on the wane. Some people have it, most don’t. Elbora is a world between worlds, the old world of magic is vanishing; the new world of metal and machines is on the horizon. It’s a place of conflict.

That’s it for now. Pop back later…

Header image: Austria, not Kratzenfels, Salzburg, not Krasny Karlsbad, but you get the idea (photo by Gerhard mauracher (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons), URL: