A World without Compromise
by David Brown
I was seventeen and studying at college when I first came up with the idea of Elenchera. The previous year I had discovered the RPG series, Final Fantasy, on the Playstation and I found the games to be remarkable. They blended sci-fi elements into richly adorned fantasy worlds, they had compelling characters both good and bad, epic storylines and they offered a memorable visceral experience as well, though that was the least important factor to me. I didn’t realise at the time that these games would change my life.
Final Fantasy allows the user to summon gods to aid their characters in battle and it was from this array of deities that I first discovered Odin. I assumed most of the gods in the game were invented but some were familiar from religious education at school so I delved deeper. I found that not only was Odin an actual god, he was the principal deity of Norse mythology, the faith embraced by the Vikings who launched relentless raids throughout Europe beginning in the late 8th century and only coming to an end around the 11th century. In that time the Vikings, led by Leif Ericsson, discovered America in 1100 AD, not Christopher Columbus as many may believe.
I began to read the mythology in-depth as well as branching out and reading the Sagas of the Icelanders, narratives from the descendants of Vikings, which told tales of their harsh lives and the many battles fought. Norse mythology is not colourful and romantic like the Greek stories or romance at court as you find in the Arthurian myths. The Norse tales are often gritty and the story of Ragnarok, where the world ends leads to a cataclysmic battle between good and evil where Odin is killed at the very start! I was drawn to Norse mythology because it had this uncompromising nature about it. Yes, there is great beauty amongst the gods, such as Freyja, but in essence this is a harsh world and I wanted that for my own work. It would mirror our own world which I don’t need to tell you is a difficult place to survive for far too many of us.
All of these influences had a massive impact on me and one day I drew a world map for what became Elenchera. I knew nothing about this world but I had one sheet of paper with twenty-three lands, crudely coloured in with crayons, and that’s where I started. With the geographical features already in place I could begin building the world history. However, having a world map wasn’t enough for me. I needed individual maps for each of the twenty-three lands. In effect I would be simultaneously penning twenty-three stories as I told the history of these individual lands. There would be crossovers of course with trading, war and colonisation, but each land would have to be unique somehow, have its own identity, culture and society. It was during these deliberations that I decided Elenchera would begin life as one large landmass before breaking apart as the result of some calamity. I felt that creation myths would have to be installed to convey this.
Elenchera begins life with a cloud in the midst of nothingness. Sprouting from the depths one day is a tree, Miarchre, which remains the centre of the world throughout the ages. From Miarchre’s branches hang crystal shards which fall irregularly. When one slips from the branches it signals the end of an age in Elenchera and the beginning of a new one. Hence periods of history in Elenchera are known as Shards and there are currently twenty-five of them spread across 47,000 years. The crystal shards are also integral to the changing of the years as well. Whenever a new year begins the shards glow and their illumination resonates across the cosmos and is visible from any point in the world.
From the outset I wanted a varied history in Elenchera and to achieve this I turned to our own world history. My closest friend in this venture was Cassell’s World History, a detailed timeline of all the key events in human history throughout the world. I read the book cover to cover and noted down any events that were of interest to me. The fact that the book covered history across the globe was very appealing. I not only gained insight into how a myriad of countries began and developed but I came to understand interaction between rival powers, why wars are started, how empires rise and fall, and learn about innovations that change the lives of millions for the better.
The earliest Shards in Elenchera are overseen by gods. One creates the world with the aid of his servants but later there are six gods that hold sway over the world. I was conscious of not having a world where deities are constantly in charge. The gods here are certainly powerful but they are not invincible and Elenchera can soon grow weary of its inhabitants. There are three epic wars at this time known as the Wars of Succession. They are the traditional good versus evil battles that many fantasy books have addressed. I may address one of these wars in a novel at some point but I certainly have more strings to my writing bow than just this one theme.
The middle Shards in Elenchera focus on an age of colonisation, conquest and slavery. Elenchera begins the First Shard as one large landmass but by the end of that first period of history the land is torn apart by earthquakes and while some segments drift across the sea, others rise from the water to help form the twenty-three individual lands that make up Elenchera from the Second Shard onwards. When all the lands have come to rest there is a huge gap between them effectively splitting the world into East and West Elenchera. It is in the middle Shards that colonists from East Elenchera reach the lands in the west and the brutal age of colonialism begins.
The later Shards are all about technological advances and a breakthrough in science that finds multiple uses for magic. Towns expand into vast cities and with the increasing knowledge of magic, its benefits and dangers, available to everyone this is a time of great fear for the likes of monarchs who now have subjects just as powerful as they are. The temptation to revolt or incite revolution has never been greater and Elenchera doe see some kingdoms replaced by republics as power is inherited by the people. As with our own history, modern warfare in Elenchera is more brutal than ever before and in these later Shards no fewer than three global wars are fought, each one proving more costly than the previous one.
That’s a very brief summary of Elenchera and some of the key themes involved in the history. My aim is to write self-contained novels set in an area of my choosing and to offer as wide a range of the history as possible as the Elencheran Chronicles grows. My debut novel, Fezariu’s Epiphany, takes place in the Fourteenth Shard when the Merelax Mercenaries, that Fezariu joins, are struggling to cope with the demands for their services, especially from colonists who are struggling to repress insurgence from slaves. Fezariu’s Epiphany gives you a taste of East Elenchera but also an insight into the western colonies of Emeraldon and Himordia where Fezariu is sent to fight.
My second novel, A World Apart, is set in the Sixteenth Shard so definitely not a sequel to Fezariu’s Epiphany as many people have hoped! The novel is primarily set in Himordia, a militarised island that is the only land in West Elenchera that has managed to withstand colonial oppression. Though the Himordians enjoy freedom from the colonists they are subject to a fiercely strict regime in the junta that controls the island – the Order of Libertine. The novel focuses on three friends – Demetrius, Eleyna and Halcyon whose peaceful idyll is torn apart by a love triangle in their teens, which prompts Demetrius to join the army. Eleyna and Halcyon go down a dark path that leads them across the ocean and when they are finally reunited with Demetrius a decade later they are no longer friends but enemies!
A World Apart also explores the lucrative trade that is piracy on the open seas with colonial trade ships being primary targets. Magic also features in the novel and when it came to introducing this mainstay of fantasy I was careful. Wielding magic in Elenchera is certainly possible but at the same time it can be very dangerous. Readers will learn in the novel just how damaging magic can be to some users. It’s certainly not pretty!
I’m currently deciding what my next novel will be but I am leaning towards a story set in the Eighth Shard. I’m a little wary as it involves vampires which seem to have been everywhere these last few years. I believe what I have is a good story and that the vampires in question are different from the likes of Twilight. They’re certainly not sparkly, that’s for sure! If I don’t write the novel now it may be at least another decade before I tackle it again. I’ll give it some more thought for now and decide real soon. In the meantime I have many options for future novels and I want to give readers a taste of different Shards in Elenchera. It’s a world that is changing all the time and I want people to be able to dip in and have a new experience each time.
I would never expect Elenchera to be spoken of in the same breath as Middle Earth, Narnia or Discworld, but if people enjoy being immersed in Elenchera then I can’t ask for any more than that. I’ve spent more than ten years building 47,000 years of history, which includes 500+ hand drawn (very badly!) maps. At the same time I don’t want the world to be the defining factor of my novels. That’s not why I spent so long building it. Novels set in Elenchera are first and foremost about the characters and the stories they have to tell. The zeitgeist of the Shard will be there in the background but it will not intrude on the characters whose journeys you will share. I always said that I wanted to do something different with fantasy and that will never change. I want to make this genre more accessible for other readers as I believe it’s a wonderful one to lose yourself in.
So far I’ve had some positive feedback about Fezariu’s Epiphany, certainly better than I could possibly have hoped. I’m not an arrogant person. My hope was that the novel could manage an average of 3/5 and I’d be delighted with that. So far the average is 4/5 so that means a great deal to me. With A World Apart I want to go one better than Fezariu’s Epiphany and with every novel that follows I will be determined to keep improving. I never want to be a writer who reaches a certain level and is content to consolidate that standard. Each time I want to push on and keep getting better. 2012 is an important year for Elenchera with the release of A World Apart and I can’t wait to see what happens.
About the Author
David Brown could be considered a fantasy fanatic, especially since he has spent the last 10 years developing a 47,000-year history for his fictional world of Elenchera. When converting his obsession into literary form, David commits himself to a rigorous writing and editing process before his work can meet his approval. Combined with the critical eye of his wife and a BA Honors in History and English, David’s dedication leads him to his goal of inspiring readers through heartfelt stories and characters.
Although David is inspired primarily by fantasy fiction, he also finds his muse in the form of anime, world cinema, history, and biographies. His own books, Fezariu’s Epiphany and the in-progress A World Apart, combine aspects from worlds both old and new into compelling tales of a world not soon forgotten., David himself certainly does not lack a spirit of adventure; in fact, he left his job in 2007 in order to spend a month traveling. Second only to meeting and marrying his wife, David counts this as one of the most amazing experiences of his life.
About Fezariu’s Epiphany
12-year-old Fezariu thought his mother died when he was little, but when his beloved stepfather dies the boy discovers she is alive and well – and working at the most famous brothel in all of Elenchera. When she cruelly rejects him it’s more than he can bear, and he runs away to join a band of ruthless soldiers for hire. The Merelax Mercenaries will fight for anyone who can pay them, no matter the justice of the cause.
Fezariu grows up among the soldiers and becomes one of them. He thinks his time with the mercenaries has hardened him. But a campaign in his old home town pushes him too far, and he discovers what really happened to his mother. Maybe there are some things money shouldn’t buy… and maybe it’s time Fezariu took his revenge.