A vast arc of territory unclaimed by any nations is located in the southern and south-eastern part of the Westlands. This territory begins on the Sea of Storms in the narrow buffer zone between Tear and Illian before extending north, across the Plains of Maredo, to the Hills of Kintara. It then turns east, cross the wide River Erinin and extends all the way to the Spine of the World and Maraside Mountains, crossing the vast boglands of Haddon Mirk along the way.
Of old, this region was claimed by Essenia and Almoren, two of the Ten Nations. Essenia’s great capital city, Aren Mador was built on an island in a lake in the foothills of the Hills of Kintara. The region prospered for some ten centuries before it was overrun by Shadowspawn during the Trolloc Wars. Almoren was destroyed but Essenia managed to rally and drive the Shadowspawn back, Aren Mador’s impregnable island location and the second city of Tear with its massive Stone making both impossible to capture or sack.
After the end of the Trolloc Wars the territory became divided between smaller countries. Fergansea dominated the southern plains, whilst Esandara incorporated the highlands and uplands. Esandara inherited Aren Mador as its capital, but for reasons still debated by historians it was renamed as Fel Moreina (the kingdom of Moreina itself lay to the south and east, incorporating much of modern Tear). The kingdom of Talmour was founded in Haddon Mirk, with Khodomar to the north, hard against the Maraside Mountains.
The region prospered again, but during the War of the Second Dragon almost the entire region was conquered by the false Dragon Guaire Amalasan. Leaving Talmour and Khodomar engaged in battle (but not fully taken), he moved north to cross the Maraside Mountains and invade Tova, but was instead met and defeated by an army out of Shandalle led by King Artur Paendrag Tanreall. The Battle of the Jolvaine Pass was fought at the foot of the Jolvaine Pass in northern Khodomar, one of the most significant battles in history.
Following Amalasan’s defeat, the region fell into chaos and infighting as Amalasan’s generals fought among themselves and survivors of the former regimes fought to regain their thrones. During the following two decades, the armies of Artur Paendrag, now known as the Hawkwing, swept over the region and conquered it in the name of the High King.
After Artur Hawkwing’s death and the outbreak of the War of the Hundred Years, the region was swept by storm and fire several times. Esmara Getare conquered the Plains of Maredo and the Hills of Kintara in FY 1090 before launching an invasion of Andor which was swiftly defeated. In the aftermath of this assault, the conquered territories revolted, becoming the sovereign kingdoms of Maredo (with its capital at Fel Moreina now renamed Far Madding), Kintara and Mar Haddon.
Over the next thousand years, as the population of the Westlands declined, this region suffered more badly than most. The Plains of Maredo were less inviting and harder to farm than the territory in neighbouring Murandy, Illian or Tear, leading to a gradual migration into neighbouring regions. The Hills of Kintara likewise saw a drain of people as they moved north into Andor. Mar Haddon was particularly badly hit, as the unfavourable soil and marshy conditions made farming difficult and the region was prone to outbreak of disease. Gradually people left, moving north across the Maraside Mountains into Cairhien or south into Tear. All three kingdoms collapsed within a few centuries, with only Far Madding left as an independent city-state and a few isolated villages and towns to be found here and there.
During the Aiel War, the Cairhienin army took refuge in Haddon Mirk, which confounded the pursuing Aiel for some months until the High Lords of Tear, fearing the Aiel horde on its border, convinced King Laman to cross the Erinin and retreat north. The result was a series of battles along the shores of the river and somewhat inland as Laman led the Aiel northwards through Andor and towards his eventual fate at Tar Valon, far to the north.
This region is one of the most varied in terms of geography in the Westlands, consisting of wide, arid and flat plains in the south-west, extending north to the more temperate and tall Hills of Kintara in the north and then across the Erinin into the vast marshes of Haddon Mirk in the east. These geographic features create significant barriers to travel and settlement, and explain the low population in the region despite its vast size.
The Plains of Maredo are large, extending across the borders of both Illian and Tear. Illian maintains hill forts along the Doirlon Hills in the far south-west of the plains to defend against possible Tairen aggression. It is more than 400 miles from the Sea of Storms to the lake on which Far Madding is located at the far northern end of the plains. From west to east the plains measure some 450 miles across in the north, from the headwaters of the River Shal to the banks of the River Erinin. They widen considerably further south.
The plains are large, flat and somewhat dry, with no major rivers passing across them. Tear and Illian have used the plains as battlefields for centuries, but the problems with resupply and foraging have meant that invasions in one direction or the other have usually petered out with no major strategic gains achieved.
The city of Far Madding is the largest major settlement in the entire region. Built by Ogier masons shortly after the Breaking, it is one of the oldest and best-preserved cities in the Westlands. It was originally known as Aren Mador and then Fel Moreina before becoming known as the Far Madding during or after the War of the Hundred Years. The city is considered impregnable, and has indeed never been taken in battle. It is located on an island in a large lake at the feet of the Hills of Kintara. Three narrow and easily-defended (or even collapsed) bridges link the city to the mainland and the lake, fed by winter runoff from the hills, is difficult to poison. The lack of rivers linking the lake to other waterways makes it impossible to bring in naval forces to help besiege the city. As a result, the city has rarely suffered attack. The city’s impregnability has been reinforced by a powerful, ancient ter’angreal known as the Guardian, which prevents channelling within the city or within several miles, preventing Dreadlords from attacking the city during the Trolloc Wars.
Major roads link Far Madding to Caemlyn (some 470 miles to the north), Illian (some 800 miles to the south-west) and Tear (some 520 miles to the south-east).
North of Far Madding and the Plains of Maredo lies a large upland area. The Hills of Kintara dominate this area, ranging from rolling hills to tall peaks on the borderland between hill and mountain. This upland complex consists of several distinct ranges, including the Tunaighan Hills to the north (which extend close to Caemlyn, the capital of Andor) and the taller and more rugged Chishen Mountains to the north-east. There is a large pass through the central portion of the hills (which carries the highway linking Caemlyn to Far Madding).
East of the River Erinin lies one of the largest and least-welcoming regions of wilderness on the entire subcontinent: Haddon Mirk. Almost 700 miles wide, this region consists of forest, marsh, swamp and boglands, occasionally interrupted by rivers, lakes and more stable areas of open countryside. It’s a confusing morass which, due to rivers shifting their courses and the soft ground, defies detailed mapping. The River Iralell, running down from the immense glaciers and valleys of the Spine of the World, feeds the region with constant fresh water.
Despite its much vaster size, Haddon Mirk is not as hostile or uninhabitable as the Drowned Lands to the south-east, on the borders of Tear and Mayene. Various nations have existed in the region for millennia and it is possible to live in the Mirk. Small villages and hamlets still exist there. However, the Mirk also makes an excellent base of operations for rebels, bandits and outlaws, who sometimes use it to strike into Tear to the south. The Tairen High Lords have sometimes swept the Mirk for such outlaws, but have never been able to bring enough force to bear to claim the territory for themselves.
This region has no government, aside from the city of Far Madding. Far Madding is ruled by the Counsels, a council of thirteen women who command all aspects of the city’s organisation, trade and defence. Aleis Barsalla currently serves as First Counsel, the chairwoman of the council and representative of the city in foreign dealings.
Far Madding’s lifeblood is trade. It is perfectly situation on the main trade routes running from Tear and Illian to Caemlyn and Tar Valon. With river transport being more expensive and more easily cut off by war or river pirates, the cheaper option of overland trade is more attractive for some merchants. Far Madding’s relatively southerly location also means that its markets are open all year around, giving the city a constantly bustling, busy feel as it enriches itself.
Military Forces and Population
Far Madding has no standing army, only a City Guard of a few hundred experienced officers and watchmen.
Far Madding is a large and significant city, but it is not counted as one of the great cities of the land. Thus, the city’s population is probably well under 200,000.
Far Madding is an outright matriarchy, with only woman allowed to have and hold positions of power and authority.
Women’s fashion in Far Madding is centred on high-necked dresses which extend right up to the chin, with embroidery of animals such as birds being common.
Much of the rest of the region is made up of hardy, independent and tough-minded folk who rely on themselves first and foremost.