When and where does the series take place?
Áine’s world isn’t Earth, but it’s a very Earth-like planet. The flora, fauna, and geology are all pretty similar. Sure, I could have gone crazy making stuff up, but I think it actually helps to have a familiar frame of reference. Where Áine grew up is very similar to Western culture, but this book is not set in medieval Europe. I’d say it’s more like the Age of Enlightenment, if I were to compare to Earth eras, although with far fewer powdered wigs.
Áine’s familiar with clocks, indoor plumbing (although really high-end plumbing in individual rooms is reserved for the wealthy), carriages with actual suspension, and diverse foods from all over the continent. The printing press has long been invented, and even before its invention, magic could be used to make copies of books. Literacy levels are high, since printed material is reasonably priced and widely available. In fact, there are free libraries all over the place, although university collections are the biggest.
Áine is not familiar with gunpowder. Magic usually serves the same combat and construction purposes. In fact, black powder has just appeared on the global scene, since the number of magicians is on the decline. Humans are inventive. They have to figure out some way to get stuff done when the old methods no longer work.
The world has two major continents, Elanen and Petekh. Áine was born on Orinnish, an island off the eastern coast of Elanen. Elanen is comprised of scattered city states. Those city states tend to have governors, hereditary or elected, rather than kings and the like. Petekh is a single empire that takes up the entire continent. The action in the first two books takes place on Elanen, but don’t worry, you’ll get to Petekh eventually.
It takes about six weeks to sail between the two continents, faster if you’ve got a magician on board to help out with things like keeping the boat from capsizing in a storm. The two continents do trade with each other, but on a very limited basis. The people of Petekh keep to themselves and don’t allow foreigners to leave the docks in the designated port city of Depet.
Most ships sail the shortest, most direct route across the sea. People from Elanen could also sail the opposite direction to reach Petekh, but the people who have tried to go too far in that direction have never returned. Not to say that there aren’t archipelagos and such out there, but it’s definitely taking the long way around. Sort of like if you had to sail from North America to Africa, only without Asia in between.