I’ve got several
favorite authors and influences/themes that I want to discuss in this
First up is my
favorite author, David Weber. Been reading his works since 2002.
Story behind discovering him is that I saw Honor Harrington novel #7,
In Enemy Hands, sitting on my dad’s bookshelf and it looked
interesting when I picked it up. My dad went, “No, Osage, don’t
start with that one- you’ll be very confused.” He then went and
picked up the nearby On Basilisk Station copy he had and said, “Read
this one first, then the ones leading up to the one you just picked
up, and everything will make more sense.” Thus, I was captivated
by Weber. These series chronicles the time of Honor Harrington, a
navel officer of the Star Kingdom (later, Star Empire) of Manticore.
The next author is
Naomi Novik, author of the recently completed Temeraire series,
wherein the Napoleonic Wars ware reimagened in an alternate universe
with Earth being inhabited with dragons as well as humans. I found
this series after going to a doctor’s appointment and visiting a
nearby Barnes and Noble location, and when I saw the first novel, His
Majesty’s Dragon, I was curious started reading it- I was taken by
the novel and bought it. It features the tales, adventure and
travels of Captain William Laurence and dragon Temeraire, as they go
through the timeframe of the Napoleonic Wars.
Another author is
JRR Tolkien, and his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings, which
needs little repeating here. The movie series inspired me to read
the novel, which is quite a good (but long and very thought
A recent addition to
my favorite authors is L.E. Modesitt Jr., with his Spellsong Cycle
series (I’m certainly reading the last novel in this series as of
this journal). Again, I found out about this series on my dad’s
bookshelf, and he said it was also a good series to read. Set in the
world of Erde, it features those who are able- sorcerers and
sorceresses- who are able to use magic in the form of spellsongs to
effect the world around them, sometimes quite dramatically. Its into
this world that Anna Marshall is taken, and how she sets in motion
events that will change the world.
A final “duet”
of authors are Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton, in a joint venture,
The Halfblood Chronicles. In a world where elves that are “evil”
dominate one part of the world and have human slaves, some secret
half-elven, half-human offspring, known as wizards and led by
“elvenbane” Shana and her dragon allies, fight to remove the yoke
of the elven overlords over humans.
So, with these
authors in mind, its time to go into a number of the influences and
themes from these writers that I would like to use in some way.
01. The cost of war:
This is shown in Modesitt and Weber, there is the cost of war- how
many lives are taken or altered, how much is destroyed, etc.
Basically, how does war- or even large of amounts of more localized
fighting- factor into changing places and people, and the various
effects on them. The length of fighting, how much and what types of
fighting also has an influence on characters behave and act in the
scenarios presented to them.
02. Fighting for
beliefs: Here, Tolkien, Modesitt and Weber are leaders, with some
inklings from Norton/Lackey. As a general train of thought with
these authors, the protagonists fight for their beliefs, mostly
because, while they may not be perfect for everyone, they would
benefit the whole society. While some hold themselves to beliefs
that might be a bit much, they try to bring about a change to the
society, or individuals, that would help improve society.
03. Military: This
applies mostly to Weber and Novik, in as far as they have
military-based organizations whom one if not more of the major
characters are apart of. They are often realistic, but with some
differences, of course. Some parts are more ficitonalized that what
they might actually be or are of course. Lackey/Norton show up with
battles between the elven and wizard/dragon/free human factions, and
Modesitt also shows with the military units needed to help protect
the sorceresses, as well as project the power of pre-industrial
races/species/breeds/ethnicity: Here, Novik, Lackey/Norton, Tolkien
and Weber are dominant. The first four have a number different races
or species of sentient beings- dragons, elves, dwarves, humans,
half-elves, trolls, orcs, ents, etc. They play for good or ill, depending on
the story. Novik further describes her dragons by different breeds,
some with special abilities. Weber shows different species, ie,
treecats and Medusans, are sentient. He also shows different ethnicity for some
characters- Honor Harrington and her mother Allison are described as
of Asian decent; Allison's surname, Chou, would indicate Chinese
Throughout all the authors and their writings, relationships are a
key aspect. Many of the relationships are tested in some fashion-
many time and time again. Some are strained, even broken. Other
relationships don’t seem to work well, or aren’t well thought out
or written. Point being, many of the relationships are a prime
thread of any writing.
history/universes: Here, Novik and Lackey/Norton shine. Novik writes
as the dragons that exist on Earth are major part’s of a nation’s
military forces in many cases, but fulfill other roles as needed. In
the Halfblood Chronicles, dragons, humans and elves are, based on
references from a few characters, originally from three separate
worlds, but ultimately have interactions on the human world.
07. Travel between
universes/dimensions: Here, Modesitt and Lackey/Norton are prominent.
In the case of Modesitt, Anna is taken from Ames, Iowa to outside of
Loiseau, Defalk by a rote sorceress and musician, the latter
desiring vengeance against the lord sorcerer of Loiseau for killing
his father. Anna is later able to send messages across dimensions to
her daughter Elizabetta. As for the travel between dimensions in the
Halfblood Chronicles, both the dragons and elves migrate from their
homeworlds to the world that’s inhabited by humans- the former
because of the world’s hostile climate, the later because of the
warful nature of the elves that made their home planet a barren wasteland.
Both do this through separate portals.
concern: This is primarily a theme of Tolkien and to a lesser extent,
Modesitt. For Tolkien, the environment is more than something that
is to be used and abused- it is to be respected, revered in a way.
Tolkien wanted us to understand that by using the world the way we
do, we slowly kill ourselves by our own waste. Similarly, Modesitt
shows the effects of extreme battle sorcery. In the parts of the
country of Ranuak, there are large areas where the countryside that
are completely devastated because of sorcery, ranging from blackened,
radioactive-like hills to swamps and pools full of noxious waters, soils
person/group/race/species/modified organism dominating others:
Another grouping of Tolkien, Weber, Modesitt and Lackey/Norton. In
many of these cases, it about conquest or domination. In the case of
Tolkien, its Sauron, with his orcs, trolls, nazgul and other forces
that want to dominate the world in darkness. For Weber, its
genetically engineered humans based on the planet Mesa who want to
overturn existing social structures. In Modesitt’s writing, the
Sea-Priests desire to conquer Liedwahr and chain women. For
Lackey/Norton, the elves desire to conquer in order to get more human
slaves and, more importantly, keep them under control and wipe out
the half-blood wizards that have been eluding them.
10. Price of
power/magic: Here, Modesitt and Weber are shown. On Erde, the use of
too much spellsinging, especially Darksong (which effects living or
once living), can result in being rendered unconscious or even dead.
For Weber, he follows the maxim, “With great power, comes great
responsibility.” Some characters use their power to aid others and
get peace, whilst others use their power to sew discord and war.
A big topic for Weber in the Honorverse. In an interview I saw, he
summed up his logic of responsibility thus: The good guys take
responsibility, the bad guys don’t take responsibility. This makes
for a good way to drive characters and the story, for one thing Weber
does is that there are irresponsible characters working for the good
guys, and responsible characters working for the bad guys.
Next month’s topic
with be about environmental destruction.