Hearthstone is about twice the size of Earth. To put that in perspective, the smallest continental mass in the southwest corner is approximately one and a half times the width of the United States.
The Egalitarian Confederacy. Other than a couple of old-style "postage stamp" monarchies, the southeast land mass of Hearthstone is under the control of this confederacy which is a relatively free republic. It is here that the Shrike Team portion of the Annals begins. The center of the land mass is dominated by the Canopy, a forest consisting mainly of ancient trees three to six times larger than redwoods. The wood of the large trees is too oily for burning and not suitable for construction, so the Canopy isn't harvested much and the residents simply build many of their cities in the shade of the Canopy, with large solar towers gathering energy from above the Canopy's roof.
The Traditional Allies. The collection of nations in this block of land consist of the oldest political and social entities in Hearthstone's recorded history. The Refuge, an inlet of the sea on the south border (to the left of the narrow neck of land connecting the Allies to the southeastern land mass), was Hearthstone's first "cradle of civilization". Countries like Tairtanya, aka the homeland of the old Prycene Empire (the home of Brom Shriker, one of our main characters) and C'Lun Mai form a loose confederacy somewhat like the European Union here. There are a few pure monarchies in the mix but most of the nations have at least a parliament. The peoples who live here (and in the Egalitarian Confederacy) are agonistic and dyadic. (If you don't know what that means, or don't want to look it up...you'll find out as you read the Annals. You might be surprised that there are people in our world who are like this, too.)
Nullabor and the Islands of Exim. The smallest of the continents is also the most sparsely populated. The inhabitants are hardy peoples with the greatest tendencies on Hearthstone towards individualism. Old traditions on the Eastern continents, such as arranged marriages, have virtually disappeared. One of our main characters, Sheila Rangslinger, lives in the midland wilds of this country where she and her Range Patrol are stationed. As the Annals begin, there is a wary eye being cast to the north...where we find:
The Cartel Axis. The northwestern continental mass is dominated by The Cartel, a ruthless techno-terrorist organization. Three nations -- Sylidbia, Elxisia, and Pholista -- formally exist but are merely puppet governments that do the Cartel's bidding. The unique shape of the visible land has it's reasons...but we'll save that for the Annals, as well as some of the details as to what actually goes on in Axis lands...particularly horrifying details at that. The Axis is a closed society (like North Korea) except for a small port area on the southwestern coast where trade is allowed and a "city of vice" (somewhat like Las Vegas, but with a great deal more violence) operates to drain off tourist dollars from the other, more prosperous nations.
Hearthstone's oceans are freshwater. Climate runs roughly similar to Earth's although the polar caps are relatively smaller. Violent weather is not as common.
Hearthstone is a very old world. It is geologically inactive (no active volcanoes, or earthquakes, in other words) and it was formerly inhabited by a people called The Legions of Almanor. To its current inhabitants they represent a mysterious and lost pre-civilization about whom little or nothing is known.
There are no "fossil fuels" or uranium. Energy needs are met primarily with steam or solar power, or with hydroelectric power where possible. Vehicles usually run on electromagnetism, taking advantage of Hearthstone's unusually strong magnetic field (though for speed, thrust provided by steam may be used; but think of most ground vehicles as maglevs without need for tracks) and a special element called polarium that is ingrained with an oppositional magnetic field. Vegetable and synthetic oils serve as lubricants for machinery. As a result Hearthstone's technological state is a mixed bag. There is little in the way of powered flight beyond dirigibles. Yet its residents have been able to develop, to various degrees, technology well beyond what we possess in certain areas, such as steam and solar power, as well as other areas that we'll learn about in the Annals.
Atmospheric conditions make distance communication by radio waves impossible over more than short distances. As of the stage of the Annals, an effort is underway to facilitate long-distance communication through the use of fiber-optic cables (except to the northwestern continent, as you may have guessed by now)....