Over on Pinterest, I've been keeping a pin board full of images that inspire and capture the spirit of the Scorched Continent series. With book one, Steal the Sky, coming out January 5th, I plan to explore some of these images here and explain what they mean to the world and the characters which inhabit it.
As with most imperial outposts, the Scorched Continent wasn't exactly empty when the Valatheans decided to settle their new found territory.
Descendant of an ancient, common ancestor, the Catari people do bear a slight resemblance to their Valathean counterparts. The ways in which their physical countenance differ are subtle, but obvious to one who has lived among either group of people for a substantial amount of time. The Catari tend toward tanned, beige skin, that blends with the dominate color of the sands of their homeland. They verge on slender compared to their Valathean neighbors, and have smooth, rounded cheeks where the Valathean facial structure is more heavily angled.
The Catari are a nomadic people, traveling across the Scorched in sync with the continent's changing weather patterns. They herd a pack species similar to real-world goats, and don't bother with crop growing or permanent settlements as the monsoon season makes soil maintenance difficult for them. Their population is sparse compared to the large continent they inhabit, and even sparser now that the Valatheans have driven them away from the selium-producing firemounts that were once their birthright.
Their struggles with Valathea have made them insular, secretive, and it's rare to see a full-blooded Catari anywhere near a Valathean settlement. However, Valathean-Catari intermarriage was extremely common in the early days of Valathea's arrival on the Scorched Continent, as the Valatheans believed at first that the ability to manipulate selium was tied to a person's bloodline, and the Catari were rich in the ability. As such, most residents of the Scorched now have some Catari blood in them, and the interbred settlers are trending lighter in skin tone than Valatheans who stayed in their archipelago homeland.
The Catari themselves embrace diversity, but resent the Valathean monopoly of the firemounts and the diaspora of their people. They mounted a brief resistance, but were quickly pushed back and outmatched technologically.
As the Catari embrace diversity, they are no stranger to the various ways in which sel-sensitivity can manifest and even embrace and name different varieties of talent. They have no trouble harboring doppels amongst their midst, and are happy to harbor those of deviant abilities who are fleeing from the empire which requires conformity of strength and ability in their sel-sensitives.