Archive for the ‘Sharael’ Category

I was reading various news articles yesterday and I came upon one about a naturally occurring eternal flame burning behind a waterfall – and science has no idea how it is produced.  Which got me thinking about how a place like that would fit perfectly in a fantasy setting.  Fantasy worlds often have places of wonder in them, where strange phenomena produce all manner of natural marvels.

Now given that they are rare and unusual, even for fantasy worlds, they would attract attention, and any visit there is not likely to find the place abandoned, unless in a really dangerous and out-of-the-way place, and not always then.  Consider the climb up Mt Huashan in China, arguably the most dangerous tourist walk in the world.  People have been travelling along narrow plank walkways hammered into the side of cliffs for 700 years there.

So even the most remote places of wonder could have visitors.  You could have hermits and mystics and pilgrims there, merchants taking advantage of it to make a profit or even villages and towns built up around it.  Consider something like an eternal flame.  Maybe an enterprising dwarf tribe has set up there and have used it to power their metalworking business.  Free fire means lesser costs coupled with superior dwarven quality.  A win for all.  Well, the dwarves at least.

So when creating these places of wonder in your worlds, consider how the locals would react to it – and how they might try to make a profit from it.


As a history buff, this is the kind of thing I find interesting – beneath the Sea of Galilee in Israel, a massive, mysterious stone structure has been found, and no one is exactly sure as to its purpose.

It is also big – 70 metres across and 10 metres high. It was first spotted by sonar scan in 2003, and even a dive on the site hasn’t really worked out much about it, who made it, its age or purpose.

The full write up is available in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.

As a writer, I like scattering such unknowns around my worlds, random monuments to past ages and cultures that remain mysterious and unexplained.

The new story ‘Dawn of Wolves’ continues to make progress – the rewrite is up to 39,000 words already (even though the rough draft isn’t finished yet.) When I started I thought it would be only about 40K words, but now it is looking at being between 50 & 60K, taking it out of novella range and into a short novel. I’ll still probably label it as a novella. Fleshing it out to a fully fledged novel would need another 30-40K words and there just isn’t that in the plot, not without masses of padding and adding that much verbose purple prose would just ruin it. Sadly it can be a bit of a trap many fantasy authors fall in to. There is one series that got bogged down in this to such a state that one entire lengthy chapter of a book was just a precession of people entering a room described in such detail that near every stitch on their clothes was made note of.

The story of Dawn of Wolves recounts the start of the Nacatori Wars that The Tomb of the Tagosa Kings is set near the end of. It is told from two sides, on one a young, inexperienced Lieutenant Elraes, but also has appearances from other important characters, like Professor Halir, Harry Ban and others. It is the first meeting between Elraes and Harry as well. On the other you have Colonel Inkhumetekh, Haksetian advisor to the Nacatori. It is important to get the other point of view as it is an effort to help dissuade the notion that somehow they are the ‘evil empire.’ Also of interest is a character who makes an appearance, Tol Ventaro, who works alongside Inkhumetekh.

That is a name I have used before, in Tears of the Mountain. It is the name Prince Travanto gave himself. One thing about fantasy is you rarely see names used more than once – there can be a cast of thousands and each has their own unique name. This is a far cry from how we do it in the real world. Some names are far more common than others – one year in primary school there were six of us called Andrew in the one class. I know plenty of other people who share names as well, not to mention the fact that some names run in families. This is something I intend to happen in my stories.

One example is the name Heric – named after a legendary figure in Maedari history, Heric Jennet, it has become the most popular boys name in the setting, though for various reasons every single one is more commonly referred to as Harry (much as in our world Henry used to be known as Harry – Prince Harry’s real name is actually Henry). Of course they need to be differentiated and as such acquire nicknames, such as Red Harry, Tall Harry, Harry the Younger and the like.

Now back to the writing so I can get the story finished.

I have started a new section of the website that will explore the various nations and cultures of Sharael, having a brief look at their histories, appearances and more.

To start it off are the Maedari, about whom I mostly write. Strangely, though they are prominent in all the stories, I haven’t written one yet set in Maedar.

I will be slowly adding to this – and there are a lot of nations and cultures to add.

Professor Halir Ashford. Historian, Explorer and Adventurer. One of the favourite characters I’ve written so far. And a character who really shouldn’t have existed beyond a minor mention. It happens from time to time; characters take on a life of their own and demand a bigger say in things.

His story starts back with a novel I was planning (but never got around to starting). I needed someone to introduce the main character (Heric ‘Harry’ Ban, likewise a character that came about unexpectedly) to the adventure, and so I came up with Halir. he had been a friend of Harry’s father back during a war and was now a professor and historian. The novel was abandoned and the character would have been forgotten except for another novel I started sometime later, Winter Wolves.

Winter Wolves was my first serious effort at plotting and then writing a novel, and was designed to be a showcase for the setting and for Harry Ban. I even managed to complete a round draft. There was a need for a character who would draw Harry into events, and for that I went back to Halir and brought him along.

Though I finished the rough draft, I never got around to fleshing it out, instead, as is my want, I moved onto other projects and suddenly Halir took over somewhat. He got himself two lengthy short stories, Gifts and Sacrifices, and The Tomb of the Tagosa Kings, and then he got himself a full novel in which to star – Tears of the Mountain – which is the first novel I’ve completely properly.

It won’t be the last that Professor Halir is seen either.

As may have been noticed I have updated in a bit. That is because the project has fallen over. I got eleven days in and then it stopped. There are a number of reasons behind this, including coming down sick and working on editing. I’m trying to get Tears of the Mountain sent off to beat the rush of NaNoWriMo novel queries.

There was a time there yesterday where I was almost ready to give up on NaNoWriMo – I had done nothing on the story and was wondering if I’d get around to doing any. In the end though I had a late start I wrote almost 2000 words, bringing the total up to 17018 words. I’m still around 1300 words behind where I should be but at least I made up some ground.

I sort of hit a part of the story where my pre-plotting is rather limited which is half the problem. Fleshing out near nothing can be hard – but it did spawn a couple of ideas during the day that I hadn’t thought of before but will work when they are properly rewritten. Sometimes you have scenes and characters that just write themselves, which helps a lot.

One third of the way through the month and I’m not yet one third of the way through the novel. I’m only sitting at 15,197 words, a full day behind where I should be. To catch up I need to be writing around 3,000 words today. Not an impossibility, but things always seem to come up.

Yesterday I fell behind for the first time. Total output to date is 14500 when it needed to be 15000. That yesterday was busy didn’t help, nor does the fact that today will be the same. I may end up further behind by the end of today – luckily tomorrow doesn’t look to be busy so hopefully I can make up lost word count then.

The story is slowly beginning to develop, reaching 13,543 words. Puts me once again just slightly ahead of the progressive word count I need to make it. But not by much.

And the next two days may be rather busy, limiting my chance to make real progress.

The next character we will have a look at is the Lady Eris Selanos, of House Selanos. Of a minor noble family, she is unconcerned by such matters as politics. A magian of middling power, her interests lie in history and the past, and she actively seeks them out, often going places where danger lurks. At times she can be a bit absent and not particularly subtle with her emotions.