I envision Cedeira’s culture as, essentially, Theme Park Germanic Medieval Europe with some actual historical tidbits. It’d be more accurate to say that it’s analogous to northern half of Europe in general (including northeastern), but dominated by a minority of quasi-Anglo-Saxon elite from northern Cedeira.
(That is, they’re concentrated in northern Cedeira now. Originally, they weren’t from there at all; their ancestors lived in what is now central Marelia, and were driven out first by dragons, and later by dryads and Elentians.)
One of the things I did to underscore the association was to use Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Saxon-inspired names for the Cedeiran characters, usually with an eye to meaning. So, the children of the Poldan family:
I use outlines, I depend on outlines, I would never have gotten this far without outlines.
Also, I am terrible at outlines:
álat or alant is an old word for sibling (neut. where xiaçant is f., but fell out of use as xiaçant become both f. and neut. in usage, aided by its similarity to male form: originally xiaçálant, girl-sib, vs xiaçúlant, boy-sib, so the contracted xiaçant functions for both)
Note: none of these words have above three syllables.
Teenage self: And their language will be CONSISTENT and REGULAR! It will be great!
Current self: Haha, what if it has a terrible deep orthography and erratic word order? AND compounds? And multiple plurals?
Arceptra nodded, then shook her head. “A cousin. Distant cousin. But everyone knew of her. She was the favourite of Princess Evadne, and a captain in the war like Aunt Ariana, and … ” She swallowed again.
I almost asked about that, but I found it so easy to believe that Alaia Cordell had been a soldier that I didn’t bother.
I am increasingly aware that I don’t want to write a fantasy novel so much as a domestic novel that happens to be set in a fantasy world.
CHARACTER RELEVANT BATHS. CHARACTER RELEVANT HAIRBRUSHING. I WANT IT ALLL
But really, I’ve always been annoyed when authors barely touch the interesting stuff-of-daily-life to focus on drama, even though … that’s where the story is. So I tend to linger on ‘okay, this language has so many irregular forms, it’s very hard’ and ‘OH MY GOD PUBLIC BATHING???!’ more than the devouring roses.
We’ll see how it fares in editing, of course. But that’s where my instinct lies.
I occasionally feel daunted by the sheer breadth of other people’s fantasy universes. Much of Lhûn is vague to me—I’m not a visual person at all, beyond the occasional vivid scene (roses!). Even in terms of cast, mine seems narrower than so many other series. There are various major characters, to the point that I worry about the lack of focus, but the sense of a wider world … I don’t know.
So I actually went through the first half of the novel to see how many people are mentioned at all.
It’s, uh, fifty-one. Of these, seventeen actually appear. Only seven are more or less major characters: Arceptra, Loraya, Giva, Ariana, Tal, Lian, and Rei. Another is slated to show up in Chapter 9. That gives us ten minor characters (people like Giva’s father or Magister Nolani), and thirty-four mentioned but not actually showing up.
The ghost characters include a theologian, offscreen Alayr, the queen, various other students, and members of the Elentian pantheon, among others.
Well, it’s not Tolkien (or Martin, for that matter), but … I wouldn’t say narrow. Comforting, anyway.
To this day, I’m deeply torn over Xanth (despite liking Incarnations of Immortality better). I’ve never thought Piers Anthony a particularly good writer, and he has the depressing anti-ability to start each series on its high point and get worse with each book. And Xanth was always a fairly shallow farce that essentially repeats one joke—the literalization of puns—over and over.
That said, I did read it well past the age bracket the author talks about. I only discovered the books when I was thirteen, actually.
I’d had a near-fatal asthma attack and was hospitalized for a week, then isolated inside my air-filtered room for three months. In the hospital, I had exactly one book—Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, which I’d been given over the summer and was re-reading when I went into the hospital. (Another, uh, problematic text, though McCaffrey was a much better writer and less fratboyish about her issues in any case. I adored Lessa and re-read it countless times.)
While I was still hospitalized my dad bought a box of twenty-odd Xanth books to give me something else to read. I did, and I enjoyed them, despite not really caring for farce. But by “them,” I mean the editorialized version in my head more than what’s actually on the page. I completely agree with the horrorshow that is the Chameleon arc; I would skip over her scenes as much as possible on re-reading. Iris is written in repellent terms, yet I loved the character, and her daughter Irene after her, along with Trent, Vadne, Jonathan, and Murphy.
I’m not quite as harsh on it as the article writer (I don’t think the downplaying of the critical importance of magic in-world is really in good faith), but fundamentally, I can’t disagree. The Xanth I loved wasn’t the Xanth that Piers Anthony wrote, so much as a mentally corrected Xanth with its intolerable aspects excised or ignored, and its good parts vastly amplified.