I’m currently at the world-building stage for my latest YA fantasy, codenamed Broken Blade. The world (or at least area) it’s set in contains a number of small, neighbouring kingdoms. The backstory begins with the king of one of those kingdoms, Edgar, wanting to wipe out all magic users – that is, people who can draw on the power of the goddess that the local kingdoms worship.
By the time the story starts, he has to be in firm control of not only his kingdom, but quite a few of the neighbouring ones, and preparing to invade the others – all in the name of killing every magic user in existence. This poses problems, of course. How does the king of a small kingdom manage to amass enough strength to invade another? How does he keep control once he’s subjugated it? How does he prevent rebellions, while not stretching his own army too thin trying to control too many territories?
He has one assassin whose identity is unknown to all but himself (and has a reputation as the king’s mysterious demon), the support of a neighbouring kingdom, one of whose princesses he has married, his own kingdom’s troops… and that’s it. He doesn’t have much to begin with.
It took a lot of head-banging and red herrings to find a time and place in history I could study (Hundred Year War? English Reformation? Three Kingdoms? Not quite…), but at long last, I’ve found it.
Germany and World War 2.
It might not be the middle ages. It might not involve kings and kingdoms. But human nature – what moves people to genocide, the indifference we show when “it’s not my problem” or “it’s not my war”, how easily cowed we are when it comes to authority or shows of brute force, our hidden penchant for wanton cruelty or surprising kindness – hasn’t changed over the centuries.
So I’ll be digging into this over the next few weeks, examining causes and effects, military strategy, propaganda, the nature of dictatorships, and most importantly, human nature itself. It should be rather fascinating. I hope you’ll join me!