In When We Were Kings, the tiny country of Norihame is an anomaly. For generations, their over zealous neighbors, the Rhians, have conquered lands to expand their empire, just like the Romans of eons past.
Norihame, however, was based upon a small, Romanian-like country who refused to give in. Due to a few geographical defenses, a strong and willing military, but some genius in their ruling family, they maintain their autonomy. Unfortunately, their proximity to the diverse culture of Rhia means some will bleed over. This is how the gladiatorial games became the basis of their judicial system.
The Aravatti family are well respected and beloved rulers – for the most part. Ever since Queen Leandra sat on the throne and beat back the Rhian Empire with not only military might but also economic brilliance, her descendants have been seen as Norihame’s saviors, and time after time, they’ve risen to the challenge.
For me, the world of Rhia and Norihame is built upon the question of “What if the Roman Empire had survived into the Dark Ages?” This is why eager readers may notice some inconsistencies in style and time frame. I tried to imagine a “modern” roman mentality, swayed by the culture of the world and the pressure of religion.
The governance of Norihame, and it’s monarchy, was based on ancient Romania and the chief-kings of the time. Sadly, there was no exact word for the position they held. Modern English translates it to “King” and so that is what I used. It’s also a title that readers are comfortable with, even if the setting is not quite the standard medieval European one they expect.
And, as Leyli continues to stand defiant, those things she takes for granted will become more clear. From the politics she was never allowed to be a part of to the tense relations between nobility and neighboring countries, Norihame is a very diverse place. Secrets are tucked in every corner. Some even in the gladiatorial arena. Sometimes its the things right under our nose, the things we barely pay attention to, that can affect the entire outcome of this saga.