Tammy: Tortall, Tusaine, Maren, and Galla are based pretty much on medieval Europe and England, without particular differentiation between countries. Scanra is more Scandinavia (I tapped medieval Russia for Kugisko in COLD FIRE). Tyra is my Venice-like merchant republic; Saraine is a medly of medieval Europe, Southeast Asia, and samurai culture (well, samurai armor, anyway). Carthak is a mishmosh that includes Egypt, but also Phoenecia, Assyria, and the Hittite Empire of the Middle East, caulked with Roman cuisine in places. The Yamani Islands are definitely based on samurai history. The Copper Isles, well, the wildlife I dumped there in earlier books was Central and South American, but the Amazonian cultures are tribal ones, and I wanted an established culture that has things like palaces, so I looked to Indonesia.I do medieval research all the time! I nearly went nuts find out placements for lances in jousting . . . For general stuff and everyday life, track down book by Frances and Joseph Gies, who have written about most aspects of daily medieval life. Stephen Biesty’s INCREDIBLE CROSS SECTIONS: CASTLE and David Macaulay’s books CASTLE and CATHEDRAL are also good for castle life.