Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post (Verisimilitude) by Rowena Cory Daniells.
Rowena Cory Daniells is the author of the King Rolen's Kin fantasy series, The Outcast Chronicles and The Fall of Fair Isle trilogy (previously published as The Last T'En Trilogy).
Click here to visit the author's official website.
GUEST POST: VERISIMILITUDE BY ROWENA CORY DANIELLS
If something has verisimilitude it has the quality of appearing to be real or true.
Sami ("Seregil of Rhiminee") asked me to write about the magic and world building in the King Rolen’s King series. It’s very dangerous asking writers to talk about their books and it is even more dangerous to ask them to write about the craft of writing. They go into so much detail, it’s almost as bad as Vogon poetry. Before you know it, you feel like gnawing your leg off.
I’ll try to restrain my inner-writing nerd.
I find world building fascinating. You can go overboard and make up lists of rules for everything, but the most important thing is to know how the characters feel. For instance, when he was 18, Byren’s father looked on helplessly as his father and older brother died in their tent the night before the battle. They were killed from afar by a power-worker and, from that day forward, King Rolen decreed that all those with Affinity (the ability to manipulate power) were banished unless they joined the abbeys and served the church.
So Byren grew up with no direct knowledge of Affinity and he discovers that half of what he has been told is either wrong or outright lies. Think about the things we’ve believed to be true, only to learn we were mistaken or misled.
This is another thing about world building. Nothing is ever simple. If you look at the real world, you’ll find it is full of contradictions. You’ll see modern buildings next to buildings that are hundreds of years old. Except if you live in Australia like I do. The oldest building in my city is the windmill.
(Built by convicts in 1824. For punishment they were forced to walk the treadmill to grind grain)
So just as your character’s city will be cobbled together from old and new (unless they’ve arrived in a new country), your character’s society will be an aggregate of history, lies and misconceptions, held together by customs, the origin of which may have been forgotten.
If a king makes a law, then he must follow his own law or his lords will accuse him of being above the law. And King Rolen was faced with this when his youngest son tested positive for Affinity. Byren never forgave his father for sending Fyn, to the abbey and breaking his mother’s heart. Naturally, when Byren’s little sister, Piro, discovered she had Affinity she tried to hide it.
Having an affinity for power is like having an extra sense. Just as you can’t stop yourself hearing the timer on the oven or smelling the biscuits as they bake, you can’t stop yourself being aware of sources of power. Or, if you are like Byren’s best friend Orrade and you get flashes of foresight, you can’t prevent it. The trick is to correctly interpret what you see.
If there’s magic in your world, then it has to be integrated into the customs and laws to give it verisimilitude. After the king dies., Byren’s cousin uses King Rolen’s laws against Byren. The cousin accuses the queen of having Affinity, which annuls her marriage to the king and makes Byren and his siblings bastards. Seizing the opportunity, Byren’s cousin claims the throne.
Magic must cost the user and it must have a source, if not internal, then external. In Byren’s world some people are born with Affinity and it can be triggered by a traumatic event like a near-death experience. And there are other ways to become tainted with Affinity.
Just as oil used to bubble out of the ground, in the KRK world power finds its way to the surface from the land’s heart, infecting both people and animals who stumble across these Affinity seeps. In fact, over time some animals have adapted and become Affinity beasts. Smarter and more dangerous than their normal counterparts, they are attracted to power and when a seep occurs they will seek it out and roll in it.
The people whisper of this and fear what they don’t understand.
If you give your world verisimilitude, you’ll make the reader feel as if they are really there, living the narrative through the characters. I hope the world building and magic make King Breaker a rich fascinating read, but more importantly, I hope the reader gets swept away with Byren in his quest to win back a throne he never wanted.