A steady flow of good writing, meaningful dialogue, and great action is what makes any book worth reading. In fantasy, action scenes are full of combat and I for one, love it. This world of FOTS is full of life and death. In times of serious conflict, decisions and deeds of people have huge impacts on the present and future. I also believe some of the most pure, beautiful moments of life are possible only when they are surrounded by struggle and death. That is what I want readers to feel. I want them to cheer on their favourite characters as they rush into battle and share in the one-of-a-kind feeling that is glorious victory. I want them to be worried for them when times get rough, when the odds are stacked against them. And then at those rare and special human moments, I want them to be truly moved by someone’s last words, a sacrifice, a friend saying farewell, etc.
Well, enough with all that sappy talk. What will war be like in this story? I think I’ve given you a fairly good idea so far. War in this world is old-school. Men (and sometimes women too) stand in rectangular box formations with spears, shields, and short swords in their arsenal. It is what you would find in ancient Greece, Rome, etc. There are some distinct fighting styles used, however. If you haven’t read my Races post yet, I’m about to reference the three races I mentioned there.
First off, we have the mainlanders. These five nations use similar tactics and weapons. Their standard soldiers are hoplite footmen, armoured with a shield, a spear, and a short sword at the hip for when formations break, packed into phalanxes. Units vary from light, heavy, archer, scout, etc. The differences between armies are subtle preferences in weapon choices, tactics, command structure, and unit focus. By that last item, using an example, one nation uses heavier, better armour while another oppositely focuses on speed with smaller shields and hybrid ranged units.
That second race of people I mentioned in RACES are as unique in their military ways from the other mainlanders as they are different from a moral standpoint. Their focus for wars is all out attack. They will strike until the front lines have been forcibly moved to the back of their enemy’s borders, leaving them utterly destroyed (well, that is the plan at least). Their weaponry reflects this strategy: no shields. They choose to use the Macedonian phalanx, however, their spears are not quite as long and are tipped with a blade, making it resemble something like a longer, pointier, two-handed naginata, capable of use in one-on-one situations if need be. Their training starts from a young age and is brutal compared to their neighbours’. Taking all these things into account, then adding the fact that their army population is far larger than any other one nation’s, you can start to see how they might be an enemy worth avoiding, if possible.
The third race’s style of war is something truly special. As I noted, they have been at war almost continuously for a long time, some one-and-a-half thousand years, actually. These are people whose way of life has been surrounded by war for so long, that with the aid of their passionate and gifted racial nature, it has become a sophisticated thing. However, this race is new to the mainland and are susceptible to confusion, even frustration with encountering new ways, as being so secluded in the past, their way of life has made them rely on a balance, a balance that has no meaning on the main continent. Their wars amongst themselves are bloodbaths and clashes of blinding speed and skill that are governed by an unwritten code. Both sides have a unique form of ‘elite’ soldiers. One prefers a larger special unit of talented warriors, which I’ll call ‘The Selects’ for now. They vaguely resemble the Immortals of Persia if you need a mental image, but to be honest they are way different. The other has a ‘pantheon’ of extremely gifted fighters, let’s call them ‘The Lieutenants’. They are numbered 1-11, the order changing only when one falls in battle. Each of these special groups serve as officers in combat, some even advisers to their respective Kings. There is also a far larger range of weaponry with this race as each soldier uses whatever they choose to use, whatever they’re best with. There are even a few smaller groups of soldiers who fight together in unison. Battlefield knowledge, or ‘feel’ is pretty much in-bred, and with their great talent in mind, this style of theirs gives them both advantages and disadvantages. They are impossible to predict and difficult to bring down, but might they find trouble dealing with organized ranks of greater numbers? Hmmm…
These odd customs are a source of significant intimidation to the mainlanders. Imagine a people who actually ‘love’ battle more than anything, and when you look across the front lines you see some of your opponents smiling with joy. Oh yeah, they’re more talented killers than you are too, and you know it. Yikes. And remember that these are not brutes, they are a fair and elegant people. This all creates a common fear amongst the mainlanders that begs the question, “how do we deal with them/could we stop them even if we wanted?”
© 2013 FOTS Fantasy