The problem with being the most powerful political figure in a nation is that all that power gives its wielder a lot of enemies. Some of those enemies may raise armies in rebellion while others take a more subtle approach. Even the mightiest ruler is vulnerable to an assassin’s blade. I am planning to include a scene that involves an assassination attempt against the Imperial Dynasty in my third fantasy book. I will be drawing inspiration from Jing Ke’s assassination attempt of China’s first emperor.
I discovered a new Netflix documentary series that talked about the century-long civil war in 16th century Japan that ultimately led to the country’s reunification. During this time, warlords such as Oda Nobunaga, Date Masamune, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu all competed for the title of shogun, which would make them the absolute ruler of Japan. All of these men were prolific butchers who put thousands to the sword in their quest for total domination. Despite their immense military and political achievements, these warlords had many enemies who coveted the power they accumulated with each conquest. All of this information has given me an idea for my fantasy prequel, which will depict how Galen the Bull conquered the nine kingdoms of Gradaia and became its first emperor. I will be drawing inspiration from the reunification of Japan for my prequel fantasy book.
Everyone remembers the experiment where Dr. Frankenstein gave his monster life with a bolt of lightning. Believe it or not, a similar experiment took place in real life. In the early 1800s, there was a man named George Forster, who murdered his wife and daughter. He was sentenced to death and would have his body dissected. In these days, the bodies of murderers would be dissected to prevent them from rising during Judgement Day. However, George Forster’s corpse was not dissected. Instead it was acquired by a scientist known as Giovanni Aldini, nephew of fellow scientist Luigi Galvani. Galvani developed a method to stimulate muscle movement with electrical currents called Galvanism. Aldini would take his uncle’s research in Galvanism progress to the next step. Aldini would use Forster’s corpse in a public experiment that attracted a crowd of thrill seekers. Aldini would subject the body to wires and cords that were hooked up to a specially made battery. When the electrical current went through George Forster’s body, it produced results that both intrigued and terrified the surrounding audience. The lips and jaws began to grimace, the left eye flew open, a hand formed a fist and punched at the air, the back arched violently, and the legs and feet banged against the operating table. This unnatural display was so horrifying that one man in the audience literally died of fright from a heart attack. Ultimately, Aldini’s experiment failed to bring a man back from the dead. In a dark sense of irony, the experiment was intended to bring back the dead yet it killed a man instead. It was this real life experiment that gave Mary Shelly the inspiration she needed to write Frankenstein. The battery that was used in the experiment would form the groundwork for our modern cell phone batteries. Back in the 1800s, electricity was relatively hard to come by. However, in the 21st century, electricity is super easy to access. Due to this, I wonder how the experiment would look like if it was done with 21st century technology. I will ponder this as I write my reimagining of the Frankenstein story.
For some time, I have been searching for authentic inspiration for an elite personal guard for the Imperial Dynasty in my third fantasy book. At first, I thought of basing it on the Roman Praetorian Guard, but I think I will turn my attention to the Swiss Guard, the Pope’s personal guards. Last night, I watched a documentary that talked about how 189 members of the Swiss Guard defended the Pope from an invasion force of 20,000 mercenaries. Also, their armor and weapons would be more on the same level of my fantasy world than those of the Praetorian Guard. I think I will base my guards’ armor and weapons on the Swiss Guard, but with a number of modifications to make them stand out more. Just as the Swiss Guard are fanatically loyal to the Pope, my imperial guards will be fanatically loyal to the Imperial Dynasty in my fantasy series.
I have decided to create a unique army in my third fantasy book. Last night, I watched a historical documentary that talked about the mercenary army known as the White Company and their commander, Sir John Hawkwood. They were called the White Company because they all wore white surcoats over their armor. The White Company were battle-hardened veterans of the Hundred Years War and participated in the feuding wars of the Italian city states. The White Company were known to utilize guerrilla and psychological warfare to devastating effect.
I believe that the White Company was the inspiration for the Golden Company in Game of Thrones. Like the Golden Company, the Sir John Hawkwood and his men never broke a contract even when bribed. Both the White Company and Golden Company were the largest and most effective mercenary companies in their respective universes.
The sense of loyalty that the White Company and Golden Company had towards their clients reminds me of the Mandalorians from Star Wars. Both in Legends and Canon, the Mandalorians were formidable part-time mercenaries yet they had a rugged sense of honor. The most prominent example of the Mandalorians’ sense of honor revolves around their ruler, who holds the title of Mandalore. In times of war, when the Mandalore calls, all Mandalorians from across the galaxy would answer.
This loyalty to a single ruler reminds me the Army of the Dead from The Lord of the Rings. Long ago, when these warriors were alive, they swore an oath to the King of Gondor to come to his aid and fight. However, they broke their oath when the King of Gondor called and fled into the mountain from whence they came. As punishment for breaking their oath, these warriors were cursed to never rest until they fulfilled their oath. These damned souls were able to break their curse when Isildur’s Heir, Aragorn Elessar. When this undead army joined Aragorn, they were able to turn the tide during the Battle of Pelennor Field, resulting in Gondor’s salvation.
For my third fantasy book, I am planning to create several armies of mercenaries who fight for coin yet are loyal to a particular individual. When that anonymous individual calls, these various mercenary companies gather to form one massive private army. Compared to normal mercenaries, these men would possess a certain balance between greed and loyalty. I will be drawing inspiration from the White Company, the Golden Company, the Mandalorians, and Army of the Dead.
I watched an intriguing documentary that talked about the Anglo-Saxon king of England, Alfred the Great, and his battles against Viking invaders. At some point during his war with the Vikings, the Alfred and his army were celebrating Christmas in his royal palace. Meanwhile, the Vikings surrounded the palace and ambushed Alfred and his men. Most of Alfred’s army was slaughtered and his palace was taken over, but Alfred himself barely managed to escape with a hundred members of his personal guard. Stripped of his seat of power, control over his kingdom, and most of his army, Alfred turned from a king to a fugitive. For four months, Alfred and his followers were hunted across Wessex by the occupying Vikings. Throughout that time, Alfred waged a guerrilla warfare campaign against the Vikings, sending a message to his subjects that he was still a viable king. Thanks to his efforts in his guerrilla campaign, Alfred was able to raise a new army of 3,000 men. With his fresh troops, Alfred was able to turn the tide in his favor and eventually regain control over his kingdom. During the war against invaders in my third fantasy book, my main character will be in a similar situation as Alfred the Great where he is an emperor who becomes a fugitive.
During the 5th century BC, Greece and Persia were at war with one another with Persia attempting to conquer Greece. One of the main turning points of the war was the Battle of Marathon, which was when the Persian armies were defeated by the Greek army and driven out of Greece for a decade. The battle unfolded as the Persian army tried gaining a foothold on the Greek mainland. Then they were ambushed by the Greek army and forced back into the sea. Since the Gradaian Empire will be invaded by an army from the sea, I am thinking of drawing inspiration for one of the third fantasy book’s battles from the Battle of Marathon.
Easily the most famous mass extinction would be the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. Ironically, right before their extinction took place, the dinosaurs were at the zenith of their reign over the planet and would have continued to evolve and diversify if they were left alone. Sadly, all it took was one bad day to wipe all that prosperity away.
The asteroid that caused the dinosaur extinction was roughly 15 kilometers wide. When it crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula, it created a crater that was over 150 kilometers wide. If you were anywhere near the impact, you would see a flash of light and die instantly. After the asteroid landed, the impact produced an explosion of molten debris that was hurtled into space before being caught in the Earth’s gravity and crashing back down in a series of firestorms. Not only were landmasses set ablaze, but the flying reptiles such as the pterosaurs died out as flaming debris rained down on them in flight.
In addition, the asteroid’s explosion launched several gases, dust, and smoke into the atmosphere. This blocked out the sun for years and prevented plants from growing. This would be similar to what would happen during a nuclear winter. With no plants, the herbivores starved to death. Initially, carnivores and scavengers were given a banquet from all the carcasses. However, when all the corpses were picked clean, the carnivores inevitably starved as well.
The asteroid also caused a massive tsunami that exterminated all the marine reptiles. When the tsunami reached the mainland, any animals that survived the initial calamity were drowned. The fiery debris the asteroid launched into the atmosphere also produced acid rain to fall on the oceans, causing more destruction to marine ecosystems.
When the dust settled, over 75% of all life on Earth died out. The death and destruction was so immense that the planet could only sustain the smallest of life forms. These life forms include mammals no bigger than rats, dinosaurs that were no bigger than chickens, and whatever marine life survived. The rat-like mammals would waste no time filling the power vacuum the dinosaurs left behind. They would grow, evolve, and diversify into all shapes and sizes. The few dinosaurs that survived the extinction would evolve into birds and would never be restored to their larger size.
Not only was the dinosaur extinction the most famous mass extinction of all time, but it altered the course of natural history forever. If it was not for that asteroid, the dinosaurs would still be ruling the Earth right now and humanity would still be rodents cowering in their burrows. Unlike other mass extinctions in the past, which took place over many centuries, the dinosaur extinction was instant and global.
As I continued to research the experiment that involves turning birds back into dinosaurs, I discover that similar reverse engineering experiments have been done in the past on different animals. One example involves the creation of the Heck Cattle, which were a failed attempt by Nazi scientists to bring the aurochs back to life. These Nazi scientists made the Heck Cattle by back breeding various kinds of cattle in an attempt to recreate the aurochs. Some of these animals were even hunted by German aristocrats for sport in an attempt to reenact an old myth regarding the aurochs. In addition to their Nazi origins, the Heck Cattle were mired in controversy. Not only were the Nazi’s breeding methods unethical and rushed, but the resulting creatures looked nothing like the aurochs of the past. Descendants of the Heck Cattle can be found in Europe to this day. Now, seventy years later, other organizations are trying to restart the aurochs resurrection experiment. However, these groups do not intend to use the methods that the Nazis did when they created the Heck Cattle. Overall, this historical example of reverse engineering proves what I have been wondering while writing my dinosaur book. If birds can be turned into something resembling their prehistoric ancestors, then other animals can be as well. Also, when you take a modern animal and try to turn it back into its prehistoric ancestors, the end result will not be what you intended. This was the case when cows were turned into something that resembled their aurochs ancestors.
One of my favorite dinosaur documentaries would be Chased By Dinosaurs, which is a spin-off of Walking With Dinosaurs. The show was presented by zoologist Nigel Marven, who seems similar to the late Steve Irwin. The documentary consists of five episodes. One episode depicted Nigel traveling to Argentina during the early Cretaceous, one depicted Nigel visiting Mongolia during the mid-Cretaceous, and the other three show Nigel taking a dive in the seven deadliest seas in all of prehistory. In general, this documentary series shows what could happen if someone like Steve Irwin went on a prehistoric safari. I have learned a great deal from this series and I will definitely use the knowledge I have gained for my dinosaur series.