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Any Epic fantasy series based on the Ancient World?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Hexasi, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. Hexasi

    Hexasi Dreamer

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    I've had a bit of trouble finding fantasy novels with a setting based in the ancient world recently, and its the genre I love and want to write. Any recommendations would be appreciated!

    (Also, hi, Mythic Scribes! I'm new here :I)
     
    CelestialGrace likes this.
  2. Yora

    Yora Inkling

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    You mean historical fantasy or the more general style of Antiquity?
     
  3. Hexasi

    Hexasi Dreamer

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    The general style of Antiquity: not literally set in the ancient world.
     
  4. Yora

    Yora Inkling

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    Hm, good question. All the examples I can think of are very much not Epic style. And also well over 80 years old now.
     
  5. Hexasi

    Hexasi Dreamer

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    If there are none, I will write some.
     
  6. Yora

    Yora Inkling

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    That was my motivation to learn about writing heroic fantasy. If I can't read it, I'll have to write it.
     
  7. Hexasi

    Hexasi Dreamer

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    Props to you, my friend!
     
  8. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    How ancient? And how epic? The Iliad and odyssey should fit in there. Some center of the earth stuff has dinosaurs and cavemen. Any tale like gilgamesh, or david v goliath should do.
     
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  9. Yora

    Yora Inkling

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    There's also the Mahabarata and Ramayana from India. They include gods that people actually worship and segments with complex philosophical teachings that are regarded as religious texts, but they are also tales of great adventures and magical wonders.
    I think modern fantasy really is just a secular version of this old style of mythological stories.
     
  10. Hexasi

    Hexasi Dreamer

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    pmmgpmmg ancient typically refers to the ancient world at the maximum extent of the Roman Empire to the maximum extent of the empire of Alexander the Great, from around 3000 BC to 500 AD, I'd say. Clarified in other comments. YoraYora thanks for the recommendation (I'll look into it), but I'm looking specifically for invented worlds such as, say, Hyborean Age (yes, technically that's disputable), not taking place in recorded history on this planet. Set in a fantasy setting inspired by or strongly linking to Ancient History.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
  11. Yora

    Yora Inkling

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    For some reason it was really fashionable in the early to mid 20th century to have fantasy worlds that we are told are in the distant past or distant future of Earth, but don't include anything that would make such a connection apparent or in any way relevant.
    It was just something people did, I don't know why. Tolkien's Middle Earth did it too. I guess it might have been seen as the default expectation because everyone was doing it.

    Technically, Antiquity refers to the time after the Iron Age and before the Middle Ages. Stone, Bronze, and Iron Age were called Prehistory because there's only archeological discoveries but no historic sources. But in the last 200 years we've found a lot of documents from the Bronze and Iron Ages and we also figured out how to translate them, so they aren't really prehistoric anymore.
    To the expert there are major important differences between them, but when it comes to popular culture depictions, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Antiquity are more or less the same thing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
  12. Hexasi

    Hexasi Dreamer

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    Aye, you may be right. I'm just going off what wikipedia says :I

    But yeah I'll go with your recommendation and start writing some, I guess.

    (edit) I just realised that article refers to the point that classical antiquity and ancient history should not be confused. I suppose I'm referring to classical antiquity here, sorry for the confusion.
     
  13. Yora

    Yora Inkling

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    I think the wars between Alexander's generals are super interesting material that should make a great reference for fantasy empires. I always wanted to see something like that, but it seems most useful for Epic fantasy, which isn't my style.
     
  14. Hexasi

    Hexasi Dreamer

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    Ah-hah! You've given me a chance to ramble!

    Anything from ancient history is pretty fair game for epic fantasy. It feels like epic fantasy whenever I'm reading books about it: the scale, the ideas at play, the modernity and complexity of the characters - it all fits. Alexander the Great himself actually inspired one of the characters in my current WIP, and the Consuls of Rome interest me deeply. Personally, I think the greatest material there is for epic fantasy in antiquity lies in both Punic Wars, the spread of the Persian and Roman empires and the fall of the old world into the dark ages. It's all fantastic, and it's what I love.
     
  15. Yora

    Yora Inkling

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    One thing that I think that works even better in ancient style than medieval style is having more exotic and alien natural worlds for the setting. We associate medieval culture and institutions very much with horses, dogs, cows, sheep, wolves, bears, chicken, and all of that. But when you look into the sources we have about Antiquity, you already get elephants, lions, and camels and waters where you have to deal with sharks, dolphins, and squids. You have of course deserts as well, and in India you get jungles.
    I'm not saying you have to have dinosaurs, but in a setting that takes Antiquity as a reference frame they would feel much less out of place than in a medieval style setting. Or whatever other funky wildlife or landscapes you can imagine.
     
  16. Hexasi

    Hexasi Dreamer

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    Oh, hell yeah! M'armies rocking elephants all day.

    For example, the Persian Empire had armies from literally all over the politically relevant world at that point. They had everything from Scythians to Indians to Ethiopes. Really, the stuff you can do with the massive world of three thousand years ago is amazing... better stop running my mouth about it and write some, I guess. Thanks for inspiring me, Yora.
     
  17. Well, in the fantasy genre I cannot think of anything off the top of my head but your last comment above made me think of The Falcon of Sparta which, if you want an example of a beautifully written book that falls under ancient historical fiction, that would be a place to start. It's by British author Conn Iggulden and is loosely based on the Anabasis written in 370 BC by Xenophon. It would be easy to see a story set like that being tweaked with wonderful fantasy elements. I've never personally had a desire to write fantasy set in a historical time/place BUT that book made me think I might very much enjoy it because I could really picture it working alongside the historical in that instance.

    I recommend it because, while I don't tend to read much historical fiction, I could not put that book down once I'd started it. Also it's a good example of an epic tale being retold through wonderful characters and not getting by on a slog of unending and repetitive battle scenes for it's strength. (though the ones it has are lean and so well done.)
     
    Hexasi likes this.
  18. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Eve of Snows and the Sundering the Gods Saga is not set in a particular time... the story begins in a clan setting, no plate armor... moving through book two, you encounter different cultures, and as you enter book three, the cultures encountered will be more Greek/pre-Rome Italy with city-states, and more Aztec or Meso-America in the other direction... Again, there’s no real time period, but for the most part everything is pre-middle ages in flavor. The Tek nations are tad low-middle ages, maybe.
     
    Hexasi likes this.
  19. Nirak

    Nirak Scribe

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    This reminded me of "Druids" by Morgan Llwyelyn, which takes place in that time period. That one is about the Gauls under Roman rule, and she has others in that time period, although most of her books are focused on Irish myth and history. Arthurian works are also often set in that time period, although after the Romans left Britain. If you're specifically looking for Roman/Byzantine/Grecian settings though, I found this Reddit thread: Book/series set in an Ancient Greek setting? : Fantasy
     
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