The second book in The Brightest Shadow takes the main characters out of the Chorhan Expanse, exploring the the northern part of the continent. They'll journey across the Sotunn Mountains, a brutal range filled with vicious raiders, and to the nations of the Maenhu.
The northern region of Breilin, bounded by oceans and the vast Sotunn Mountains, forms a distinct cultural region. Though considered the far north by many, it spans a significant latitude, ranging from hot desert in the south to frozen shores in the north. Though the three nations are similar ethnically, they have sharp cultural differences and a history of warfare between them.
In ancient times it was ruled by an empire and fiefdoms controlled by powerful warriors, but for the last several centuries it has been dominated by three nations that continually fight over their borders. Where the Chorhan Expanse is a meeting of countless strangers from across the world, the Maenhu is a firmly established and insular region.
The three nations of Espal, Portant, and Wahleen are each governed by a semi-democratic council. This system has proved remarkably durable over the years, allowing powerful sects to maintain seats while limiting their control. Likewise, the rise of a merchant class was easily absorbed into the council system with the creation of mercantile seats. Overall, the Maenhu has a weakened noble class, spreading authority across more social institutions.
Most warriors in the Maenhu are known as errants, following a wide variety of paths that nonetheless have certain elements in common. The Maenhu has pioneered the use of sein with metal, both when creating and wearing equipment. Sufficiently powerful warriors might be able to cut ordinary steel, but armor forged in the north and filled with an errant's sein takes on far more durable qualities.