Dietrich’s Way, The Broken Lance, is the first novel in a series. What began as an exercise soon spiralled away from me and took on a life of its own, the characters I had created demanding that their stories be told and often taking the story into directions I had not intended.
The story follows a man called Dietrich. He is not a young man, nor is he innocent and optimistic. Rather the opposite in fact. He is a product of his society and while he tries to be the best man he can his idea of what a good man can be is drastically limited by his upbringing, cultural view and personality.
When we first meet Dietrich, he is living with the consequence of the biggest decision in his life, one which has taken a severe toll on him. He is very much a man trapped by choice and struggling to conform to societal norms. In short, he is a barely restrained, self-destructive loner.
My main aim in writing the story of Dietrich was to create a world unlike other fantasy worlds I had read and to follow a hero unlike others I read about.
Dietrich’s world has no name, it has no maps with neat borders and establish kingdoms. These are both deliberate decisions. I wanted to create a world that, whilst established (in the context of the story), was also unlimited. If you need to think of a map imagine one that is largely empty in a world that is largely unexplored. There are huge expanses of empty paper in which lurk cities, forests, villages, mountains, lakes, rivers and the lairs of monsters.
I wanted to create a sense of real adventure, of the unknown. I wanted my characters to be very much on their own as they head into the unexplored and unknown wilds.
In being ignorant of the world they are venturing into the characters will find themselves truly adrift and mired in a real adventure. Something that the reader will hopefully get a sense of as well.
Dietrich is very much a product of his society. To put it simply I wished to create a morally ambiguous and belligerent city-state. Not a kingdom, with power and money behind it or an empire but rather the seed of both. Har Nast (as his city is called) is a state in the process of becoming something more, something bigger. Its strengths lie in its vast army and the fanaticism of its citizens. In a world in which gods, faeries and demons roam freely, a militantly atheist state is something to be wary of.
There are two terms which are used repeatedly throughout.
The first is; Fey.
The Fey are people who willingly, or out of necessity, worship a god/s, spirit, faery or other entity. Some are granted powers in return, the vast majority are left alone. The Fey form most of the world’s population and Har Nast is at war with all who will not relinquish their beliefs.
The second is; Other.
The Other is anything un-natural, supernatural, divine, demonic and strange. It is a blanket term used to label anything from beyond the borders of reality. In the mouths of the people of Har Nast it is a curse and an insult.