The World of the Wizard Slayer – The Last Age

It’s a staple of escapist fantasy to have a fleshed-out world with an extensive history, yet another element of the genre that can be traced back to J.R.R. Tolkien. While most authors won’t make languages of their legendarium first, they at least have a detailed map. It isn’t necessary to do this, but it has an enchanting effect on the reader. Instead of the setting being comprised of flat scenery used in a stage play, there’s a sense of deep reality behind every detail. Every aspect of the world has its own story. Because of this, the setting doesn’t merely serve the plot; the plot of the work delves into and is enriched by the setting.

The way I approached the setting of my own book was different, but that’s because I intended to craft a whole different animal. The Wizard Slayer Saga at its core is a story about striving for good in a hopeless world. That being said, what I had in mind couldn’t be a fantastical realm that invites imagination and inspires, it needed to be depressing. At the same time, it couldn’t be so melancholy and barren that it wasn’t interesting. I was walking a line, and I needed to tread carefully. What I came up with first was the name: The Last Age. Normally, I am terrible at naming things, but The Last Age seemed to simply come to me. This, of course, also came with its own problems. How would people in that time know their time was the last? Does this imply the world is about to end and therefore saving the world doesn’t matter? For these reasons, I never explicitly name the setting in the book. Where do I go with just that name, though?

I decided that this setting would be the sad remnants of a typical fantasy world. Tolkien’s 3rd Age of the Sun may have been somber, but I wanted to take my own Last Age to the nth degree. The few elves that haven’t mingled with humans have been hunted to extinction, and their race is shrouded in myth and superstition. Dwarves have degenerated into a race of foul troglodytes. They are closer to Robert E. Howard’s Worms of the Earth than any of their fantasy counterparts. Instead of noble kingdoms and empires dominating the land, warring city-states are the closest thing The Last Age has to civilization.

The most poignant element of this setting is that magick is inherently evil. Gone are the benevolent wizard-mentors with their pointed hats and flowing beards. This isn’t out of spite of those tropes, as I do personally love them, but that kind of character would go against the themes I’m attempting to intertwine with magick. The archaic spelling of magick with a “k” isn’t just a stylistic flair; I am definitely stealing this from Aleister Crowley. The whole “Do what thou wilt” aspect of Thelema is something I disagree with on a fundamental level, as it feeds off the cardinal sin of pride. Magick, as a power in my book, allows people to exert their will in a way they shouldn’t be able to naturally, and as a consequence their will becomes self-corrupting. If I am legitimately offending any practitioners of the occult, Wicca, or Thelema by doing this, I will say honestly, and from the bottom of my heart, that I could not care less.

Without normal fantasy magic, I’ve found that The Last Age becomes a more interesting and distinct place. Superstition blurs the line between science and legitimate magick. By keeping that nefarious force in an unknowable state, it comes across as more dangerous. Hard magic, as in the kind that is defined by a standard set of rules, is in vogue these days. I’m personally not a big fan of it, but I know it has its place and that it allows interesting concepts to be carried out. I aim to make magick more like medieval witchcraft than a flavor of superpower.

Something that has seemed odd about the setting to people who have read early drafts and short stories is the inclusion of science fiction elements. Scattered in the wilderness are the unrecognizable remains of fallen, advanced civilizations. Rusted, warped metal and obsolete machines are commonplace in the world, and often wizards supplement their magick with the knowledge of arcane devices. While the majority of the world is set in a vaguely medieval level of technology, empires of the past have left behind things that surpass our own real-world sciences. The fact that this withered technology exists is my attempt to make the Last Age seem dispiriting. People assume that technological development improves over time, but this is not the way it has always been. Dark ages have existed in the past, and the terrifying thing about it is that the records of such times are often lost since the methods of recording disappear. How good is all the information on the internet if there are no computers left to access it? Where a typical author may describe the history of such fallen civilizations, I do so sparsely. The unknown is always more terrifying than the known, and such should be the downfall of empires.

Hopefully, I’ve been successful in creating a world that seems hopeless. The Wizard Slayer himself, as savage and ferocious as he is, embodies a grim and unforgiving pursuit of what is good in a morally gray world, and he could only have his mettle tested in a setting such as The Last Age. Perhaps it can be likened to stars in the night; they only shine when the sky is at its darkest.

The Wizard Slayer will be released October 13th of this year, but you can preorder the ebook here.

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