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Trudi Canavan's Black Magician series, starting with The Magicians' Guild and continuing with the first trilogy and then a prequel novel and sequel trilogy, is set in a purely fantasy world consisting of several countries such as Kyralia, Sachaka, Elyne, etc.

Are these countries in any way inspired by real-world countries? Has the author commented on, or can we figure out from textual clues, any connections with specific real-world polities (current or former) that share enough similarities with the fictional ones that we can be reasonably sure of a direct connection?

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Canavan has stated her inspiration for at least two of the countries found in the Black Magician Series.

Most of the action takes place in Kyralia, and accordingly that is described in most detail. From an AMA on Reddit, Canavan relates:

One thing I did for the BMT [Black Magician’s Trilogy] was borrow a historical children's book about Japan from the library and copied down all the headings and subheadings, then filled in and filled out what I knew about the world under them. I ended up with a 20K word document and only used about 10% of it in the book, but it was a very useful prompt for fleshing out a world as well as learning how much information I really needed to give a reader to make the world seem well fleshed out.

From Canavan’s website we learn:

For the architecture, food and furniture [of Kyralia] I took inspiration from Japanese culture. The Sachakan culture is vaguely inspired by classical Rome – as an empire that has faded but, in this case, magic was able to sustain a form of slavery.

So Kyralia was inspired by Japanese culture, and Sachaka by classical Rome.

Map of the Allied lands

The remaining countries and cultures are not described with such care, and seem to be classified mainly by skin color. From The Ambassadors Mission, for example, we read the description of Shari Tariko:

His skin was the typical Sachakan brown – lighter than a Lonmar’s but darker than an Elyne’s honey-brown.

Proceeding from lightest to darkest we have:

  • Lan (pale hair, blue eyes, tall, tattoos, cold mountainous climate, warrior clans)

  • Kyralia (dark hair, dark eyes, pale skin) - known to be based on Japan.

  • Elyne (honey brown skin, red curly hair, short stature, “frivolous”, enjoy wine)

  • Vin islands (pale brown skin, straight brown hair, brown or amber eyes, short in stature easy-going)

  • Sachakan (brown skin, dark hair, excessive jewellery, body piercings) - known to be based on the Roman Empire

  • Lonmar (dark brown skin, black curly hair, green or amber eyes, drab clothes, hot climate, conservative religion, hatred of homosexuality.)

There are also the inhabitants of Duna who lead a nomadic life in an inhospitable desert of volcanic ash.

I would speculate that the Lan are based on northern Europeans, possibly Vikings, and the Lonmar seem to be a kind of generic Arab culture. I have not been able to find any further statements by Canavan, however, which would confirm or deny this.

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