Welcome back to World Builders 2.0, the bigger, better reincarnation of the popular World Builders series that ran from August – December last year.
Stay tuned every Monday and Friday for a D&D-style tour of new and exciting fantasy worlds from some excellent fantasy authors. (Click here to view the schedule.)
Today, we enter the world of Craig Munro, author of Bones of the Past.
Craig has spent his whole life exploring the world. He has lived and studied or worked in nine different countries across four continents and has travelled extensively beyond that. His professional background includes work for the Canadian government, teaching both English and French in South Korea and Hong Kong, writing for a tech blog, and pretty much everything in between; none of which has anything to do with the studies he completed in Molecular Biology. The Bones of the Past is his first novel.
Now, prepare yourself to enter Craig’s world!
Geography and Nature: the big picture
Overall geography: The continent that is central to the story is a temperate area with a number of mountain ranges. The world itself is vast with tropical islands to the south and another continent beyond, an icecap to the north, and vast “uncrossable” oceans to the East and West.
Special features that makes your world unique, exotic, or strange:
The Eastern end of the primary continent is an unusual desert. Though located on the same continent as the temperate Kingdom of Bialta, and neither farther north nor south, it is an extreme climate – blistering hot during the day and freezing cold at night. A network of rivers keeps a surprisingly large number of herd animals alive throughout the area in addition to a number of more exotic creatures that have evolved due to the singular conditions. Human tribes living in the area are also affected – bony planes on their bodies or scales are not uncommon and are more prevalent the deeper the tribe lives in the desert. The coastline is the only area with any significant sentient populations (the Free-Cities).
Special features that make your world familiar:
The Kingdom of Bialta and to a lesser extent the city state of Sacral, offer a fairly standard medieval fantasy flavor complete with swords and kings, and a very large wizard school – the Arcanum.
Magic and how it is defined in your world:
Magic is primarily a skill. The power has to come from somewhere whether it be a deity, a mage’s own life force, or a secondary source – it is easier for a mage to pull lighting out of a storm cloud. Power is knotted into patterns or weaves that create the effect the caster is looking for. In the case of priestly magic, the power and weave itself are created by the deity and the priest acts as a conduit for the power. Mages are classified by order, with each order being determined by the complexity of the weaves they are able to create as well as the number of simultaneous magical tasks they are able to complete. Each order is roughly ten times stronger than the order below. A mage in Bialta is considered an apprentice until they reach the first order when they are formally inducted into the ranks of the Arcanum as a novice. A fourth order mage receives the title of Archmage, though older texts shows that this was once the requirement to become a full member of the Arcanum, and the Archmage status was reserved for those of the sixth order and beyond.
Races and cultures: your world and its people
Races or dominant species:
Humans in all their forms and varieties are the dominant species in this world.
The Gling’Ar are a tribal race that inhabits the mountain forests on the east coast of the continent. A typical Gling’Ar adult ranges from about 2 to 2.5 meters in height, is very solidly built, and has four fully functional arms. They are not so dexterous that they can use all 4 arms independently and tend to use them in pairs on the same side. In war they generally use a two handed weapon with a curved or bent handle on one side of the body and a large shield held with the two arms on the other side. They are also famous for huge longbows that they use all 4 arms to draw.
The Dreth are a reclusive race that inhabit the city of Dreth. They look quite similar to humans but have a faint bluish cast to their skin and their limbs are over-long. Beyond that their proportions are just off compared to a human standard. They are exceedingly long lived and known for the superior quality of the weapons they produce. Every society in the known world scrimps and scrapes to curry their favour as a consequence. Their city looks like nothing more than a giant black wall from the outside. Located near the edge of the Great Desert, but strangely, not on the coast.
How animals and fauna relate to the sentient species of your world:
One of the more unique examples of fauna relating to humans are the Korant ants in the free city of Tolrahk Esal. The Drokga (local tyrant) of the Tolrahkali is able to control the local population of these giant ants – roughly the size of a bulldog – and uses them both for building and mining what few resources can be found below the desert sands. This gives the city a smooth organic look, as all of the buildings have been molded and maintained by these tireless workers.
Politics and origin: how the world is knit together
What are some of your major nations?
Bialta is the central Kingdom of my story. It is the dominant (but declining) power on the continent both in terms of military and magical prowess thanks to the presence of the Arcanum, the pre-eminent organization of mages in the known world being based in Bialta’s capital city of Darien.
Aboleth is a neighboring Theocracy. Once a part of Bialta before a civil war that saw it split off centuries earlier, this militaristic society has the sole focus of expanding its borders at any cost. It challenges every nation on the continent, but is held back in no small part by the rivalry that has developed between its 4 primary sects.
The city state of Sacral was once a neutral trading partner for all of the warring nations of the North. Located as it is in the one fertile valley in the middle of the blasted basalt plains known as the wastes, the city was torn out of the world for a thousand years. Upon its return, the citizens of Sacral find that the rest of the world has largely made peace and forgotten about them. Their stories of Sacral’s greatness are nothing more than old stories that few outside of the city remember.
Tolrahk Esal is a free city on the edge of the Great Desert. It’s a society where nearly anything is acceptable. It’s most common exports are mercenary companies and pleasure slaves. The city clings to life on the edge of the great desert that is far from any of the rivers that run from the Icespine mountains to the coast, and thrive thanks to their ruler’s mastery over the giant Korant ants that perform much of the construction for the society, not to mention dig the exceedingly deep wells that are needed to bring water to the growing city.
How does the world economy work?
Bialta, and more specifically Darien city, is one of the largest trading hubs in the north. The presence of the Arcanum means there is always a market for exotic supplies and whatever new magical toys the mages decide to make. In Darien, everyone’s coin is welcome, so it’s not unusual to see trading ships even from Aboleth arrive fairly regularly despite the fact that the two countries are technically at war. Various goods also enter Bialta overland from Keral to the South, renowned for its artists and artisans.
What is the overall history on which the present world is built?
One of the main premises of the story is that the world is OLD. Each society has built on the ruins of those that came before.
Religions, language, and recreation: expressions of your world’s people
What are your dominant faiths, beliefs, and religions?
There are a staggering number of faiths in my world. Mortals can rise to godhood given the right circumstances or be forgotten and die; the fight for pre-eminence among the temples is one that never ends. Religions tend to vary wildly over time and geography.
Examples of a few Bialtan gods: Helual – god of science and healing, Bastet – god of pleasure, Bernolk the Golden – god of merchants and marriage.
There are also the greater gods – ancient deities that are to the gods as the young gods are to mice. Prayers to these gods are less frequently answered, and they are less involved by far in the lives of their followers, but some have found power in devoting themselves to them. The most common example is the Silent God – the god of Death. While some of the god’s followers have been gifted with power, none have ever heard any clear words or instructions from him (or her). This has spawned a huge number of death cults that all claim to praise the same god (or goddess). While difficult to count and fluctuating in number, they are generally referred to collectively as the 1001 cults of death. Many of these have taken on a darker cast and have been outlawed in the more civilized nations (outside the Free-Cities and tribal lands). Examples of death cults include the Lady of the Silent Sleep (most common in Bialta), and the Red Slayer (Gling’Ar death cult).
What are your major languages? How extensively have you worked your languages out?
Most of my countries and species have their own languages, but Bialtan has become the unofficial common tongue of the continent due to the dominance the Kingdom has shown over the rest of the continent.
Want to know more about Craig’s world? Why not enter it by pre-ordering a copy of his book:
Life twisting magic, demonic possession and immortals who have outlived many of the gods themselves come together in this epic fantasy inspired by the likes of Glen Cook and Steven Erikson.
“I’d barely read the first couple of chapters that I was already hooked. The characters are unexpected and compelling, a nice breath of fresh air after so many stereotypical sexy-and-witty warrior/princess, etcetera. The Bones of the Past universe is full of surprises and opportunities, with magic, demons and mighty warriors coming together to add mystery and adventures to this epic novel. I cannot wait to see how this all ends!”
— Sara García Hernández
“In just two chapters, The Bones of the Past shows the promise of a sweeping and expansive setting, but with characters that resonate on a personal level. Look forward to the rest of the book and the rest of the series to follow.”
— Shawn Davy
Buy the book!
PRINT BOOK: Inkshares
Connect with Craig in the following places!
Facebook: Craig Munro
Email: thebonesofthepast “at” gmail “dot” com