In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, I want to tell you about how Warlords of the Sandsea was inspired by Mesopotamian lore and history.
I want to clarify that Warlords of the Sandsea is NOT historical any more than Lord of the Rings is historical.
I was however, greatly inspired by historical elements. When I was first coming up with the premise and setting of the Sandsea stories, I had a day job that involved a lot of waiting at a desk. This left me free to discover a wonderful resource: Ancient.eu. I highly recommend the site for anything to do with the Ancient World (and I mean the WHOLE world, Oceania to Rome to Japan to Africa).
I spent hours reading on this website and others, as well as books and educational films, on Ancient Mesopotamian cultures—the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Persians, Babylonians, and more. My mind was fairly blown.
The Middle East made massive contributions to the arts, sciences, and civics that are often omitted here in the West—I do not want to omit how it inspired me.
The Middle East is not called “the Cradle of Civilization” for no reason.
What do the number zero, public schools, the 60-second minute/60-minute hour, the army boot, and the first accredited author (a woman, FYI) all have in common? They were all from the Ancient and Medieval Middle East.
If Warlords of the Sandsea gets anything “historically accurate,” it is complex cultures with written laws, planned cities, flourishing arts/sciences, and organized centers of learning—not just military might.
The Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians were so successful in war because they were successful in other areas.
In Warlords of the Sandsea, I worked to communicate that the various cities have developed art and science sectors. Ilios is the most fearsome city militarily, but it has the economic, scientific (I think of the magians as scientists), and civic advantage.
It takes approximately 100 civilians to support a single full-time warrior. War was and is a universal trait of societies. There have been few and far between exceptions and in the ancient world, as it is in the Sandsea, the rule was kill or be killed.
Many Fantasy books try to eliminate “softer” professions from “warlike” cultures to brutalize them—but YOU NEED BOTH.
Every day civilian life always went on and from that side of life, I found inspiration in elements of the ancient religion. The Ilian war/fertility goddess Anakti, is based on a pre-Islamic deity, Anat. (There’s evidence that the Greek Athena and the Hindu Kali/Durga are both derivatives of Anat, but that’s for another time.)
Many of the names of characters—Talitha, Naram, Sargon—are from the region. I tried to make sure that all the names had a similar sound to create an atmosphere in the reader’s mind. The names don’t all come from a single language or period or culture, but that’s why this is Fantasy.
The Sandsea stories came to my mind as seeds from many places. The Middle East doesn’t get much credit for good things. I just want to give credit for how reading about Mesopotamia set my imagination on fire—with some unanticipated side effects.
Reading just a little about the culture and history of the Middle East did the impossible—it made me even more upset about what’s happening there today.
I don’t purport to be an expert on the Middle East or its struggles. Far from it. But you don’t need to be an expert to realize that the way the West sees the Middle East is—at the very best—not a complete picture.
If you would like to support culturally sensitive peace efforts and aid in the Middle East, please check out the Preemptive Love Coalition.
You can find the first Warlords of the Sandsea book here: