Mappe monde ou description du globe terrestre & aquatique presentée a Monseigneur Le Duc de Bourgogne, published 1694 by H. Jaillot, Paris. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The 1690s may seem so different from the 2020s. The Industrial Revolution wouldn’t start for another seventy years. The vast scarring it brought to the Earth with its destruction of air and water resources was yet to come.  The migration of rural people seeking their livelihood in the cities had not yet begun. The Middle Ages were fading from humanity’s collective memory. Education was more and more available to the common folk. Scientific knowledge gave answers to age-old mysteries that folktales and folk wisdom had once explained.

In other ways, though, things have changed little.  Our tools to butcher ourselves are more efficient and devastating, but our bloodlust has hardly diminished.  Politics, religion, and the wars they cause remain the sources of our most self-destructive urges. Potent human-caused climate disasters are disrupting life on the planet. We control the weather no better than our seventeenth-century forebears, but we are better at predicting it.

The Lallander has only a few of these worldwide currents of change: climate, Protestant sectarian troubles, and the struggle between folk beliefs and science. Few novels have that many sources of conflict to draw on.