Friday, May 20, 2016

Building the Briznomian Culture - Espionage by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

Worldbuilding is an essential part of fantasy writing. I’ll just admit it, worldbuilding is generally my least favorite part of writing. I get a random culture idea here and there, and that’s fun, but filling in all the gaps gets really tedious really quick. Briznom, however, was a little different.

I had a general idea of what Briznom was like before I started work on Espionage from previous versions of the country, but things changed drastically under Vannie’s story. Originally, Briznom was a pretty typical medieval fantasy monarchy. Ruled by King James, the country was populated with peasant villages.

I think I decided to change their government about the time I came up with the idea for Espionage. Honestly, Vannie was the catalyst for much of the worldbuilding. Briznom is divided into twelve vassalages: Wyland, Yoland, Maitland, Leland, Kirkland, Morland, Devland, Cumberland, Durland, Strickland, Stipland, and Roland. Each one is its own sort of district, ruled by a vassal lord. Each vassal lord can set some rules for his own vassalage, but his primary role is as a member of Court. The vassal lords meet regularly in the Capitol. They conduct business similarly to Congress, but on a much smaller scale, and since they don't have a bicameral legislature, legislation only has to pass through one vote. Not exactly the best for preventing bad bills, but that's how it goes. The king's role is far more similar to that of a president than that of a traditional king. He also presides over Court.

There are a few traditions that came with the political worldbuilding I did. One particular vassal lord tradition is infant betrothal. Because the title of vassal lord passes to the oldest son or the husband of the oldest daughter if there are no sons, they secure a match for said heir in early infancy. Both Vannie and Kyle, my two main characters, are caught by this. They’re still just kids, but infant betrothal already has potential to cause them major problems in the future.

The peasant villages stayed within the worldbuilding. I love villages almost as much as dungeons, so I had to keep them at the base of common society. How well off the villagers are depends on the vassal lord, as each one can control their own villagers however they want, so long as it is within national law. One thing that was added to the villages spur of the moment while writing is the emergency bell. In the center of every village, there is a bell to be rung to gather the villagers in case of emergency. It was a very useful addition.

Briznom is no more perfect than any other country. It has its good points, but it has other points that are rotten inside. Fixing those rotten points, well, that’s a job for the yet to be written (and yet to be plotted) sequel.

“Sir Roland has invited us to visit for the Autumn Feast.”

“Do we have to go, Papa? I couldn’t feast with the most crooked politician in all of Briznom.”

As the daughter of a Briznomian vassal lord, Vannie Cumberland has spent her childhood immersed in the world of politics. Relations between Briznom and the neighboring country of Calhortz are strained due to the tyrannical rule of the strytes. A proposed alliance could calm relations between the two countries, but would come at the cost of Briznom’s freedom.

When her father’s political archenemy invites them to the Autumn Feast, Vannie uncovers an evil scheme endangering the life of someone close to her. Personal enmity comes to a dangerous head as Vannie struggles to expose the corruption and stop the alliance. Time is running out.

Events are becoming too big for her to handle. Will Sir Roland’s son help or will things finally spiral out of control?

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Character Spotlight


Appearance: Dark hair and eyes, fair skin, thin, average height.

Age: 12

History: Kyle Roland is the only son of Sir Roland, vassal lord of Briznom, and heir to the vassalage. He was raised at Roland Castle primarily by servants, and rarely ventured anywhere else. His castle is at the seaside, and he always liked to watch the ocean from the tower. At age four, he was betrothed to an infant named Rosie. His father was always very particular about what he was taught academically, rendering him ignorant of the true workings of history and politics. However, Sir Roland had little influence over Kyle’s character, and so the servants were careful to teach him about God and how to be a proper gentleman.

Author’s Notes: Kyle is one of my favorites. (I know, I say that about a lot of my characters, but they’re all my babies.) For one thing, he’s a proper gentleman after the manner of Felix Walker. He’s a bit better developed than Felix, however. He also, according to a quiz, shares my personality type. He’s rather more levelheaded, though. Kyle was in the dream that inspired Espionage. Two things I remember about him in the dream are that he had dark hair and was really nice. I loved writing his role as the calm and collected side of the coin. Kyle and Vannie are really like two sides of the same coin. They work very well together. I love Kyle Roland, and I hope you will too.


Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing the piano and violin, and politics.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest.


Join in the excitement of Espionage and enter to win a special prize! The first prize winner will receive a signed copy of Espionage. The second and third prize winners will receive an eCopy of Espionage in the eBook format of his/her choice. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.


Morgan Huneke said...

Thanks for being a part of my blog tour, Rachel!

Rachel Rossano said...

Thank you for letting me help! I hope it makes a big splash!

Medieval Girl said...

Interesting. Though of course, not all Medieval socieities were simple affairs consisting of the feudal system of Lords and Peasants. The political and governmental system of Medieval England was pretty complicated and the relationship of the King to nobility and subjects was also more complicated.
Just for a start there was Parliament consisting of the Houses of Lords and Commons, as well as various departments and offices too. Worldbuilding is always interesting, but sometimes the reality can be headache-inducing.....

I will look up the book.

Morgan Huneke said...

Medieval Girl, you're right, real life medieval government was more complicated. Medieval fantasies, however, generally have a simple monarchy and that's what I was referring to.

I hope the book interests you!