If you haven’t signed up for our mailing list, you might not
Sorry, nervous tic.
Let's try this again.
If you haven't signed up for our mailing list, you might not know that when you sign up, we give you the Heroes by Necessity prequel, Beginnings, for free.
The prequel contains a lot of worldbuilding and background that you might not get elsewhere in the series (or might only get hints at), and while the stories themselves are focused on the characters and their actions, that worldbuilding is definitely fun to explore.
Let's specifically talk about the worldbuilding in Athala's story.
For the most part, Athala’s story talks about things you probably already knew about her and her past.
It’s no secret that her family’s business is potion making and she has a conflict with her brother, and while we may not have explored that in Ancients to the same extent as in Beginnings, there’s more going on in Beginnings than just Athala’s story.
Athala is the only one of the trio who interfaces at all with normal society, and hints at concepts like a work week, business ownership, and nobility.
Worldbuilding is the most feast or famine aspect of fantasy novels.
Some authors spend literally years designing and planning every aspect of their world, writing backstories for characters who never appear in the stories, and decades of history about every place or nation. Other authors just have a concept of the story they want to tell now, and instead focus on that and make up the worldbuilding as they go along to fit that story.
I think most authors fall into the same camp we do; we build enough of the world for our story and characters to make sense, and then fill in the other details when they come up. Otherwise books would never be written, as we'd all be busy building epic worlds for the next 50 years!
And while we knew Athala would be nobility with a background in potion making, as well as her younger brother’s actions that led to her running away to go join the Wizard Tower in Khule, we didn’t have a lot of clear plans for how life works for non-adventuring people.
It wasn’t until writing Athala’s story that we had a situation that forced us to think about it.
The worldbuilding for Athala’s story basically ended up somewhere that I’m not sure makes logical sense without an explanation.
The economy is, effectively, a fusion of a feudal and capitalist system, where people are employed and are paid, but businesses and wealth are controlled by noble bloodlines. Furthermore, the story in Beginnings includes more modern concepts like weekends alongside outdated policies like corporal punishment in the workplace. The worldbuilding behind those choices comes from the idea of wizards being able to act as skilled labor to imitate real-world innovations like machinery workers. And in the long term, that would have created a situation where those wizards, who can’t be easily replaced, have the power to enact labor strikes and unionize, campaigning for the weekends, wages, and fair hours.
Socially, some archaic practices can have easily slipped through the cracks just by being something so prevalent that no one has questioned them, or perhaps they were the concessions given by the unions with the idea they could be addressed later. Someday we may revisit those strikes as as a topic and explore the worldbuilding more extensively, but for the most part, we feel like you don’t read our books looking for a history lesson.
But if it gets touched on in a future book, it might be worth another blog post!
Ultimately, Athala's story is about finding the strength to escape a bad situation, but it was a great excuse to explore just what that bad situation entailed!
With that, Heroes, we end the fifth edition of Inside View! Check by on the 15th of every month for new posts that give a glance into the hows, whys, and whats of whys of Riley's Heroes by Necessity series!
Until next month!