World-building Maingard

World-building Maingard

A look at creating the world of Maingard

All authors need to breathe life into their characters, build the narrative and piece together the plot into (hopefully) something coherent and exciting. At some point though, that author needs to world build to some extent. Some elements of the world will already be built, a contemporary crime drama, such as Broadchurch for example, will already have part of that world in place. The reader or viewer will know that police constables wear uniforms, detectives don’t, children go to school, people drive cars and murder is wrong. Behind all that, Chris Chibnall still had to create the fictional town of Broadchurch and the immediate setting.

The Fantasy author doesn’t always have that luxury – or boundary. The whole world will need creating, often from scratch. Whilst that means masses of work in the background, it also allows the author to be completely wild and let their imagination run amok with no needs to comply with the laws of science or logic. Climate and geography, government and society – all the way down to what beasts inhabit the world, what the characters eat and even down to words and phrases used need to be created. Often, the notes made in the background can equal or exceed the size of the manuscript itself.

Last week, I was asked what was my first step in creating Maingard. Apart from the genre, main plot and main character – the very first step I made was Religion. After all, for a mere mortal, creating something god-like before breakfast is a major achievement. On the more serious side, whether you agree with it or not, Religion is one of the defining blocks of society. It has been a driving force or an excuse for conflicts over the centuries but also a factor for good. Today, it is a major part in the lives of many of the world’s population.

I decided that the Gods of Maingard won’t play a part physically in my series, they won’t be shoulder to shoulder with my heroes in standing against the invasion or appear to any of the characters. But they still needed to be there. I needed to know who they were and what they stood for. That is evident from the first few pages when Gudnar the tramp finds himself visiting the Street of Souls, home to many of the temples to the various dieties of Maingard. It wasn’t just me who needed to know the Gods. Bolam, the God of Agriculture, and Tobes, Lady of Luck and Chance are important to Bex, Bryn, Garlen and the princesses Ingren and Moren. They know the stories of them, they visit the temples, and they swear in their names and pray to them.

These are some of the notes made years ago when the story was untitled and in its infancy. Some of the Gods made the cut and are in the novel, some of the others will be introduced, and also the mysterious Maester Huthenor, who penned the history may make an entrance at some point.

It was as you know, the Gods created Man thousands of Summers ago. The Gods had wandered the land, marvelling at their creations; the mountains, rivers, plains, seas and forests. They walked amongst the trees and animals, at one with the nature they had crafted.

It was then that Tomnar, the eldest of the Gods had called the others together. “We have created a wonder, brothers and sisters.” The other Gods nodded in agreement. One of them though, Edom the Proud added, “However there is something missing.” The others pondered and looked about them. They could see nothing that they had forgotten. The trees grew tall and green. Deer roamed the forests and horses and buffalo ate the grass on the plains. Eagles soared in the heavens above and fish swam in rivers, lakes and oceans. “What have we missed, brother?” they each asked Edom in turn.

“We are immortal and can wander this utopia we have created without end. The animals we brought forth eat, sleep and live as we do. But they are immortal in a way different than ourselves. They will all die and return to the earth, but they all live on in their offspring. That is what we have missed. Offspring. We should fashion another race, in our image, to be our children. To think and create as we do and to wander our land.” Some of his brothers and sisters nodded in agreement but Tomnar shook his head.

“My brother. I think you are wrong. You wish this race of children because you desire adoration and worship. Our world is balanced and true. We have no need of anything else.” Edom felt crushed, his dreams swept away. They carried on wandering the land they had made, enjoying their majesty over all. Many times after that Edom asked Tomnar again about his desire to fashion another race but each time Tomnar disagreed, shaking his head and turning away. Edom became more withdrawn and left the company of his brothers and sister and meandered though forests and dales. He came upon a place that we now know as San, high in the mountains and there decided to sit and ponder his dilemma.

In his absence some of his brothers and sisters thought also upon his words and called out to Tomnar with their concerns regarding Edom. “Brother Tomnar, Edom has gone.” Tomnar looked upon them and it was then that Kani the Hunter stood forward. “Edom was correct; there is something that we have missed here.” He stood tall and muscular, his arms folded across his chest as he stared his older brother square in the eye. As the other Gods came forward to speak in their brother’s defence, a tear came to Tomnar’s eye. He felt for their world they had made, afraid that the natural order would be upset and destroyed. Helleq the Destroyer came forward and held his fellow God. “Do not be sad, brother. Everything needs to come to an end at some point, but this world we have crafted will outlast even us.” Helleq took Tomnar to one side and spoke again. “Our brother is sad that you do not honour his requests. He has had little to do in this world we have fashioned. Bolarn and Noona have created many living things here, Kani formed many of the animals, Sithra has sovereignty of the skies and you have breathed live into the plants and animals of our world. Tobes has given chance to our world, the chance that a seed will germinate, the chance that a deer may look up just as a wolf stalks upon it. But our brother Edom has nothing.”

Tomnar bade the others to come with him and they searched for Edom. They found him high in the mountains, sitting still as death. He had not moved for three summers and dust and dirt had laid upon him and spiders had made their webs upon him. He stared straight ahead not noticing his fellow Gods as they approached him.

As they saw him, Tomnar cried out and nodded to his brothers. Bolarn took some dirt and stones from the very ground he stood on and held it in his hands. It was to this dirt and stones that Noona added water, bringing forth a spring from the ground to do so. With Kani helping, the three of them fashioned the mud and stones into small figures similar to the Gods in shape. As each figure was finished it was held out to Tomnar who breathed into its mouth. As each Man took its first breath it screamed out also and with each scream Edom stirred. And as each Man or Woman was laid against Edom he cried out in joy at the gift of his brothers and sisters. And the Gods wept with joy at their brother’s new found happiness.

Man enjoyed his early years in the wonderful world that had been created by Tomnar, Edom and their siblings. They walked with their Gods and the Gods experienced the worship from their new offspring, none so as much as Edom the Proud. All was happy in the lands that man now called Maingard.

From History of the Peoples of Maingard  by Maester Huthenor 1787

2 Replies to “World-building Maingard”

  1. Absolutely brilliant! I love how you used religion as a base, it was one of the first the ‘political’ systems back in Mesopotamia too.
    Your view point that it is the non -fantasy writers who have the luxury of boundaries is interesting, it is those boundaries that make reader shout and curse and email when we do something wrong, believe the pressure is real to make it as accurate as possible. At least, in my eyes. For fantasy writers there is no right or wrong, its simple what you make, as an authorial god, make it.

    1. Thank you! I am glad that you enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong though – The lack of boundaries is fantastic (in every sense!), it is the way to weave the background information into the story which needs to be done well in order to stop the reader from losing patience or becoming annoyed. I do sympathize with non-fantasy writers who can’t have a talking cat or magical belt come to their antagonist’s aid!

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