Before we jump in, a few housekeeping items! The Annual Hero Poll is still running until January 24th, so be sure to cast your five votes before then! Also, just as a warning, I’ve been battling a pesky cold for about a week now, so this post might not be the most coherent thing I’ve ever written, ahahah….
As most of you know, I like to base my countries off real life (Historic) countries from our world. Loire and Trieux both have French roots, Sole is more Italian, Ringsted is Scottish/Irish, Farset has more of a celtic vibe, Kozlovka is Russian, and Verglas is more Norwegian.
The problem is I usually try to use lore from that particular country when I build the story, but Snow White–like Wild Swans–is solidly a German folktale. (There are variations, as we already explored, but the Snow White story as we know it is German.) I knew I needed Arcainia to be more of German influence due to Wild Swans, so what was I to do with Mullberg?
I was aware of this problem back when I was first designing the story world which is why I decided to make Arcainia and Mullberg neighbors. As neighbors its more understanding that they would share a similar German culture–much the way Trieux has/had a very similar culture to Loire.
You can see the similarities in the way the royals are unafraid to work, and are more aware of their subjects’ daily lives than the more affluent countries like Loire and Sole.
But I also needed a way to depict clear differences. And let me tell you this was a real challenge considering Snow White spends about 80% of the book IN THE FOREST. But I still tried to place clues, so let’s talk about a few!
First, you can see the German influence in Mullberg clothes. I very specifically mention that Snow White and Faina wear dresses with small puffs at their shoulders and elbows, complete with ribbing. This is a veeeerrrryyy German dress style, as you can see below.
I also used Germanic names (Fritz, Marzel, Wendal–all the warriors have German names, yes, including Aldelbert–though his comes from the name Adelbert, I threw in the extra L because Aldelbert is the sort of guy who needs it.)
Where Mullberg starts to depart from both Germanic tradition and Arcainia, is in the formation of the government. Mullberg is unique in that it has a Cabinet of lords who serve to help the monarch make decisions.
Other countries have royal advisers, but none with as direct access as Mullberg’s cabinet. Moreover, Mullberg royalty is the most informal in the continent–even more so than Baris.
There is multiple examples of this through out the book–from the servants speaking freely to Snow White to the fact that the Seven Warriors don’t bother much with Snow White’s title. You can even see it in the way Fritz doesn’t dwell very much on the improbability of a princess falling for a forester. (Isaia, on the other hand, agonizes over this since he is from a land of nobles and blue bloodlines, even though he is of noble blood.)
Probably the greatest example of this, however, can be seen in the meeting with Lord Vitkovci and the other lords. The lords don’t protest Snow White staying with the Seven Warriors because it’s beneath her to room with peasants, they’re only concerned about her reputation.
Besides Mullberg’s distinct culture of informality, there is another unique trait to this country: mining. This I took directly from the original Snow White where, as you might recall, the dwarves are all said to be miners.
Though Snow White mentions that Mullberg’s biggest industry is mining, if you pay close attention, you can see that play out in Mullberg’s culture. (And I mean clooooose attention, because it is HARD to show that off when the heroine spends the bulk of the book in a forest.)
It starts in the palace. If you read the first chapter closely, you’ll notice considering it’s a little more humble than the other countries (being that it doesn’t follow Loire fashion or influence) the palace has a lot of jewel encrusted decorations. Heck, Faina uses a giant gem as a paperweight and no one thinks twice about it.
I also made a nod to it in the capital city’s name, Juwel, and the palace’s name, Glitzern (like glitz and glamour) but where it’s especially hidden is in Hurra. Hurra is a moderate city–given it’s close proximity to the capital there is no need for it to be huge. And yet in her short visit there, Snow White sees multiple jewelers and jewel smiths–something no country besides Mullberg would have the ability to support because the industry just simply isn’t there.
It’s a little more obvious when the Seven Warriors choose to take on the disguise of miners, but you can also see it in the palace decorations at the end of the book as well–there is again more gold and gems and different types of rock.
So that’s Mullberg! It was a really fun country to play in–particularly because of its informality. I hope you enjoyed today’s post, Champions, thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!
Merie Shen says
Yay, I guessed right about the influence of mining in Mullberg (sorry it’s just that I love gemology)! Great post, Kitty. Miller was definitely a fascinating country.
This info is perfect! I’ve been making lists of what each country in your books are compared to real life, and you just gave me the answers!
I love background like this. It is why I cannot wait for a Timeless wikipedia of people and places and such. I live for this! <3
(Quinnifer on Discord, Margaret on fb live chats, Annie IRL)