Using History to Write Fantasy

Top 10 Castles | English Heritage

I have taken Thomas B. Costain’s English histories as a guide to lead me into and through the story of Ozias, Prince in Peril.

The events to be told in this book occurred some 2,000 years before those in my earlier Bell Mountain books: which means the land of Obann, its people, and their way of life are quite different from what’s described in the other books. I have to find a way of accomplishing this while I keep the story flowing.

Costain’s histories, focusing on the Plantagenet dynasty of English kings and queens, guide me into a late medieval world leading up to the birth of our modern age. I describe a country of Obann somewhat similar to England in the 14th and 15th centuries. Intervening between this book and the others is a modern era, a total destruction, a Dark Age, and Obann’s slow recovery.

So things are different. It’s the same fantasy world I created years ago, but with a very different culture. Prince Ozias’ world has not yet had its Dark Age.

I’m not copying. Rather, I read Costain in search of a tone. And I think I’ve found it: Obann’s monarchy at the height of its achievement, just before it failed. But the failure of the monarchy unleashed creative efforts that led to a kind of modernity.

(I dunno–does that sound boring?)

But don’t worry. There’ll be plenty of adventures, betrayals, heroic deeds, cunning plans, and vivid characters too busy making history to realize that they’re making history.

I don’t know if I’ll finish before the winter shuts me down… but I’ll try.

2 comments on “Using History to Write Fantasy

  1. One thing I enjoy is the concept of Obann as being a civilization that has declined from an advanced technological state, and can no longer even comprehend what had been common just a few generations before. It seems like there are people that want that to happen in our day.

    1. Oh, they think it’ll only happen to us stupid plebs out here, while they continue to live high on the hog technologically.

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