The action of The Leopard begins in the lands Over-Malagru, in Praitan and the area south of it around the city of Gold Harbour. (If you’re looking at the Blackdog map, that’s off the edge to the east, beyond Marakand. Rest assured there are lovely new maps by Rhys Davies in the two volumes of Marakand, taking you farther east along the caravan road.)
The name Praitan once meant all the lands Over-Malagru, between Marakand and the eastern deserts, but now, since the long-ago invasion of the coast by Nabbani colonies, the word generally refers to only those lands in the northwest of Over-Malagru still ruled by kings and queens. There are seven tribal territories, or duinas, a word which means both the land and the folk of a god. An elective high king or queen chosen from among the seven rulers is, in theory, the supreme authority under the gods and the bards, who are the keepers of the memory of the law, but this is a land where shepherds have no qualms about arguing with their kings or queens and war generally means pinching your neighbour’s cattle. (And pinching your neighbour’s cattle generally means war . . .)
The eastern caravan road passes along the fringes of Praitannec territory and away into lands eastward where the folk still seem Praitannec in their language and customs, but have no kings, only the chiefs of small villages. To the south, nearer the Five Cities, the folk are likewise Praitannec in their origins, but are either small chieftain-ruled villages paying tribute to the nearest city, or conquered and ruled outright by the lords of the city clans. There was been much intermingling and intermarriage between the folk of Praitan and the cities over the years and the Praitannec language has picked up many Nabbani words; even among the free kingdoms there are many with city Nabbani ancestry, and vice versa.
The assassin Ahjvar is a Praitannecman, though his name comes from the eastern desert and is not the one he was born with, and he’s been living in or around the Five Cities for a very long time now. His friend/horse-boy/shield-bearer (there is a certain amount of confusion on the part of the young bard Deyandara as she attempts to define him, but he’s certainly not “the sidekick”) Ghu is Nabbani, but from the empire farther east beyond that desert, not the colonies.
The Leopard comes out on June 10th, so that’s the end of the introductions. Now go read the book! #SFWApro