History for Fantasy Writers: Do You Have a Moment?

This is the second part of a two-part article on how time was perceived and measured in ancient and medieval Europe. In the last installment of History for Fantasy Writers I addressed years, months, weeks, and days. Now I turn to shorter lengths: days, hours and still shorter periods. I’ll close with a more general … Read more

Avatars of the Divine: Gods Living Among the Ancients

This article is by B.K. Bass, and is presented by Worldbuilding Magazine. When we consider the history of world religions, certain images are bound to come to mind. Imposing Greek gods and heroes wrought in marble statues. Ancient Egyptian tomb walls covered with paintings of their deities. Along with these representations are the many totems, … Read more

Fantasy Fortifications — Part 3: Design

This article is part 3 of a series on Fantasy Fortifications by Toni Šušnjar. The design of a fortification depends on its purpose and on the threats it is expected to face. A fortification facing only infantry-held weapons, one facing mechanical artillery, and one facing gunpowder artillery will all significantly differ in design characteristics. Some … Read more

History for Fantasy Writers: Time Was

This is a two-part article on how time was perceived and measured in ancient and medieval Europe, in the age before mechanical clocks. In Part One I’ll talk about the larger units of time: days, months, years, and the like. In Part Two, it will be hours, minutes, and seconds. It is common for fantasy … Read more

Blood for Money: The Origins of the Mercenary

This article is by B.K. Bass, and is presented by Worldbuilding Magazine. “Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.” —Frederick the Great, Prussian King (1712-1786) Everybody has likely heard the phrase “the world’s oldest profession” associated with prostitution. However, that phrase originates from the 1889 short story “On the City Wall” by Rudyard Kipling. … Read more

Fantasy Fortifications — Part 1: Strategy

This article is part 1 of a series on Fantasy Fortifications by Toni Šušnjar. Fortifications are one of major parts of fantasy fiction, especially high fantasy. But they are also oh-so-often wrong, even though many basic details are typically right due to prevalence of models to build on. A common mistake is ignoring how weapons … Read more

History for Fantasy Writers: Journeymen

We often hear of apprentices in fantasy tales — Ray Feist’s “Magician Apprentice” comes to mind first — but apprenticeship is only one step. This article is about the next step: the journeyman (they were always men; I know of no examples of female journeymen, although there were cases of women who became masters). Once … Read more

Feudal Economics

This article is by B.K. Bass, and is presented by Worldbuilding Magazine. Often when we think of medieval history and medieval fantasy, the noble knight in shining armor is one of the central concepts that come to mind. Along with this imagery comes castles, people saying “m’lord,” and those same knights kneeling at the feet … Read more

History for Fantasy Writers: Shoemakers

Most everyone knows the story of the shoemaker and the elves. The Grimm brothers gave us the version most of us know, and it begins this way: There was once a shoemaker, who worked very hard and was very honest: but still he could not earn enough to live upon; and at last all he … Read more

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