In Cradle of the Gods, the first book in the Soulstone Prophecy series, I only needed to hint at the world outside of the Cradle. This allowed me to focus on the characters and only develop the setting as the need arose. But, with the second instalment of the series, Time of the Stonechosen, the characters are leaving the Cradle and exploring other parts of Allwyn (The world). Specifically, one of the primary antagonists from book one, Knight Justice Finngyr the dwarf, returns to the capital city. This required a lot more world building on my part.
I am most interested in writing a story, so I don’t want to become lost in world building to the point I am no longer working on the story. Even now, there is a voice in the back of my head tapping on my brain and pointing out I could be working on my next chapter.
But, unless I get these details down on paper, there isn’t going to be any consistency to return to while typing away. I found once I have a piece of the underlying setting locked down, there is a satisfying click in my head which allows me to focus on the story.
I want an interesting background for the setting without feeling the need to get my “Tolkien” on and detail out a timeline since creation or create a new language in hopes I’ll someday hear Liv Tyler speaking it at ComicCon. Give me a sec, just got goosebumps.
So, I’m want to flesh out the Dwarves of Allwyn. I’m still going to use a wide brush and make broad strokes on things, but this should be enough to help me flesh out my individual dwarven characters and more specifically any conflicts they encounter brought on from the setting.
Note to self: Some things I want to avoid is an entire culture of stereotypes, races that are solely ‘good’ or ‘evil’, or focusing too much on background to the detriment of the story.
The Soulstone Prophecy happens at a time when an exiled god, Haurtu, is trying to orchestrate his return. You can read the synopsis here if you haven’t already read the first book. Even better buy the first book. Go on, I’ll wait.
Anyway, I wanted Daomur, the god of the dwarves, to play a huge part in who they are. Thus, I chose to make the primary government a Theocracy in which Daomur is recognized as the state’s supreme civil ruler. Now, even though this is fantasy and I could have Daomur sitting on a big chair and spouting off rules to live by, I’m not going to do that. Boring. I have chosen to have the God In absentia, (reasons to be revealed in Time of the Stonechosen) and have him govern the dwarven empire via religious institutional representatives, replacing/dominating the civil government.
So, I need a rigid church structure. I had already created a portion of it in Cradle of the Gods, the Knights Justice, those members of Daomur’s clergy travel the empire and cull (kill) those humans who show signs of being a potential instrument in Haurtu’s aforementioned return. But, what about the rest of society? What about commerce or the judicial system? They should have their grubby little hands in there, too. Most importantly, I need them strewn with conflict I can use in the story. Nothing is perfect, I need some cracks. I want the High Priests of Daomur to be political advisors, not run the government, but also have overruling say and be referred to in all things. In other words, meddlers.
So, here are the three Holy Orders of Daomur as I see them right now:
Ritualists of Daomur
(Temple of Law) Titles: Initiate, Novice, Adept, Priest, High Priest
Standard church clergy. Responsible for overseeing ceremonies and advising on the law. Work closely with government. Currently the largest of the three temples, keepers of the Book of Hjurl, the words of Daomur. Their secondary role in society is to interpret laws. Some refer to them as the Lawgivers, but this is an insult to the Ritualists since they only help interpret laws already passed by government (At least that is what they want society to believe)
Artificers of Daomur
(Temple of Art) Titles: Apprentice, Journeyman, Master, Grand Master
Worship Daomur through creation, building and enchanting. This sect will work with tradesmen and craft guilds. Responsible for the creation of the Underways. The empire is connected by these long tunnels. Every settlement has a bastion/stronghold in which a passage connects. The passages are a tribute to Daomur, their creation being a thing of pride to the Artificers. Apprentice Artificers constantly roam the tunnels, maintaining them and collection tribute from all who use them. They also enchant items dwarven society uses, from glowstones to the weapons and armour used by the Knights Justice. They also build to excess, the bigger the better.
Knights Justice of Daomur
(Temple of Justice) – Titles: Page, Squire, Knight, Knight Captain, Lord Knight
Warrior sect specific to the culling of humans. They are a declining sect, their numbers few. They work closely with the military. They refer to the power of the Ritualists and Artificers and depend on them for support. Their job is not seen as important as it was in times past as dwarven society has forgotten the lessons learned from before the Great Purge.
So dwarven society in Allwyn will be a society of laws. I established dwarves are not as emotional as humans in book one. They are stubborn and once set to something, do not change directions easily. Honour and ritual are very important to them. They experience all the same emotions as the other races, but it is considered socially unacceptable to show emotion. All dwarves were taught from an early age that emotions cloud judgements. Daomur’s laws are to be weighed in a clear mind. Even open expression of emotion is considered rude behaviour.
Family hierarchy is important. So, they use Patronymic naming (ex. Getchkin son of Glern) At least until they reach adulthood and can establish themselves and their place in society. In the same vein, acknowledging their betters through bowing, the deeper the bow the higher the station.
As the antagonist race of the story, I want the reader to understand the society, even relate to it, but I also want them to chafe at its rigidity. I want it to be a tightly wrung spring that will eventually snap under the very laws that are suppose to hold it together. The story is ultimately about finding balance and this should make for a fine underpinning to the main story.
Would love to hear thoughts.