The New Potential has two distinct settings that are split almost (not quite but almost) evenly in the course of the work.
The book opens up in the great City State of Britania. It actually begins atop one of Britania’s great walls and shows a moment in the lives of the regular fighting men who guard that wall. While this scene does set up the entrance of one of the key characters to the book, its real purpose is to show of the siege-like lives that these people live under. Outside their walls wait unspeakable dangers. Knowing what resides outside the civilized boundaries and the risk that the outside world holds begins the reader’s understanding of the ruin that this world is in.
Britania itself is something of a modernized 19th century England where the old ways never really went away and the industrial revolution has come about in strange ways. The first eight or so chapters detail the gathering of the story’s main cast and their motivations for leaving the city. What becomes obvious is the influence of the military and the domination of two out of the three branches of government in Britania, notably the Guild and the Governor.
When the book eventually changes scenes and moves north in the world, flashback sections still take place within Britania. These flashbacks show the other side of the city. While the primary scenes within Britania show the power and splendor of the City State, the flashbacks show the filth, squalor, and government sponsored oppression of its people. As the flashbacks grow darker in their content, they portray Britania as being of two faces. The secret of why this dark side exists is hinted at and will be a primary focus of later work (planned for three books later).
The second physical location for The New Potential is in a City State known as Keldj. While Britania is a place of law and organized statehood, Keldj is a wild fortress set amidst great wilderness and cold. These places operate under entirely different social contracts. Britania has a top-down hierarchy with clear distinctions between those with power and those without. Keldj is a place where power is based on strength of arm and the ability to lead your fellow man to the next day. The harsh climate and more present danger of the wilds have an entirely contrasting flavor to Britania.
Ultimately, the scenes and their progression are meant to confer a growing sense of the fantastic onto the reader. Britania is a reasonably calm place with a familiar setting that most readers of fantasy fiction can identify with. As the heroes move from this place into Keldj and then eventually up the mountain to their answers, the things they see slowly put together a picture of old forces with powers long since thought lost.
As a hook for future work, it is my hope that the reader has a building sense of adventure and interest as they read through The New Potential.