Introduction of Book:
Day after day, throughout the winter,
We hardened ourselves to live by bluest reason
In a world of wind and frost.
—Wallace Stevens, "Meditations Celestial & Terrestrial"
Of the five directions of Creation, the North is the coldest and wildest. Every year, frigid winds sweep out from the Elemental Pole of Air to cover the North in ice and snow. Farming is difficult there except along the coasts and in a few sheltered locations, which limits the growth of civilization. Nevertheless, a number of powerful states have grown in the North - and the barbarian tribes who live by hunting and gathering have their own points of interest.
In the Time of Tumult, they all need heroes.