One thing I love about big fat fantasy books is the histories. The creation of a world, of a universe, often depends on building a rich history. Whether that be a few decades, centuries, or millennia, there can be just as much backstory put into your writing as the stories you actually reveal. Eventually, you may want to share your whole history with your readers. (Not too much now, you wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.) Tolkien had The Silmarillion, George RR Martin now has The World of Ice & Fire, while The Wheel of Time Companion has just come out, revealing more of Robert Jordan’s epic masterpiece.
These histories help develop the flavour of a world, but it also helps keeps track of events for the writer(s). The Elder Scrolls video game series utilizes this as well, building a rich history upon which the current games can site actions and events that happened in past games, creating another level of immersion for the player. (Or, while I’m on the subject of video games, consider The Legend of Zelda and the Hyrule Historia…) I think of the level of detail that would have gone into the Malazan series, or the way L.E. Modesitt Jr unfolded the history of his world in The Saga of Recluce.
These are few examples of how a well developed history can influence and enhance the fiction. I know, I know, there are TON more. And not that I am comparing my own work to any of these, but I feel it is worthwhile to note the rich complexity of a world that has this background firmly rooted within the author’s mind. I took a lot of this into account when Chris and I were developing (and as we continue to develop) the world of Calus Rukan and the Legacy of Ash.
The Rukaran Calendar
Calus Rukan has a history which spans thousands of years, built atop the ruins of another fallen civilization, Aul Rukara. The Rukaran calendar begins at this moment, after an event known as the Sundering. The Sundering destroyed one civilization, bringing about vast changes to the continents and races. Since that date, the years have been counted using the abbreviation A.S. (After Sundering). You’ll notice on our maps that the stories currently take place around the year 3409 – 3410 A.S. (With Grim Drifts of Sand & Fate set in 3401 A.S.) Redfall was set a little before, and Soldier, Kraken, Bard a little bit after. As we write, we’ll unfold stories long before, as well as years after.
The world was ripped apart, cultures and countries divided. In the three thousand years since the fall of Aul Rukara, much has changed. Radiants, auls, marauding demons. The world was broken. This allows us to develop our own stories, our own heroes and villains, while building off of a common (yet ancient) base. For the most part, the languages we use can have a common ancestry, like Latin influencing so many of our current languages and writings. (Though there are other races and other cultures yet to be revealed which have remained separate from Rukaran influence.) Countries have ancient ruins that link the separate stories together, no matter how far apart they are. Art, history, religion. Each of these can be developed and worked into our work, our own stories, but at their roots we know we can always draw on the ruins of Aul Rukara.