it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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there came a killing frost

One of my real challenges with the Eternal Sky is going to be in undermining the (largely erroneous) assumptions of a lot of readers as to what Steppe cultures are like. Now, the world I'm working in is not our world, thankfully, and I'm not trying to write historical fantasy here (I've done my time in those mines) but one of the things that is true both in our world and the world of the book is that a pastoralist empire is, in fact, an empire. And specifically, it's a trading empire.

With laws, and culture, and trade, and travel, and cosmopolitan cities where people from all over the world rub elbows. Empires have economies. The Khanate is just as interested in enforcing peace, stopping banditry, and collecting taxes as ever Rome was, or the Macedonians. That's their primary goal in conquering territory. Money.

Not, you know, rapine and pillage. That's just what keeps the army motivated.

But this contradicts the popular image of "nomadic" culture, and the common tropes in fantasy. Those "barbarians" were just as civilized and sophisticated as the Romans and the Greeks, and at many points were in command of larger swaths of territory. Chinggis Khan was one hell of an administrator.

Scythians, Sarmatians, Mongols--the peace their empires enforced is the reason trade routes like the Silk Road (probably the longest overland trade route on Earth) existed. Could exist. Why it was possible--profitable!--for people to travel from as far away as Sweden to Byzantium and Constantinople to trade in silk. (Some of these Swedes--Rus(sians)--settled in Kiev.  Really, all of my ancestry comes back to Kiev.) The evidence of cultural exchange is everywhere. For example, some 2400-year-old Chinese jade plaques in the Sarmatian style.

There is a 2,000-year old Western Han dynasty rhinoceros that looks like a (humorous) portrait from life.

Compare this circa-1460 European rhino and ask yourself which artist had seen the real animal.

Dude, these people got around. Kara Korum boasted a Parisian silversmith.

And yet, I'm going to have to convince people, because "everybody knows" otherwise. And what everybody knows just ain't so.

By god, this fantasy novel is at least going to have the faint overtones of an economy. I will probably fuck it up, but at least I will have tried.

Yeah, yeah, nearly a thousand so far words. Now back at it.
Tags: blood rhetoric & love, cut ripped fantasy, eternal sky, range of ghosts

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