Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Drawbacks of Peace

The book I am currently writing is set eight hundred years prior to the events in The Shard (my first fantasy novel). It begins with the event that destroys a peace that has been magically enforced upon the major civilized realm for more than five thousand years. This gives me the opportunity to explore some interesting ideas concerning this enforced peace.

The Peace Spire was a monument built to bring the races back together at the end of a terrible war. In this war, the races of elf and dwarf were tricked by an evil wizard (who nobody yet knew had gone bad) into going to war with each other. They went at each other with a vengeance until the evil wizard struck them with his armies of orcs, trolls, and goblins. The elves and dwarves belatedly realized they had been duped, but they put aside their enmity to join together to fight back, and eventually after years of bloody conflict they prevailed.

The council of wizards felt that something was needed to help heal the wounds of the war, so they helped the elves and dwarves construct an enormous spire, and on the top they placed a huge crystal that they imbued with powerful magic. The magic could look into the hearts of all living beings within its area of effect and see whether they were basically good or evil (since these are artificial constructs, it actually had a complex means of looking at various vices and emotions, such as empathy, jealousy, hatred, love, etc.). If one was good then at times of great need (when one's pulse raced, or as modern people would see it, when adrenaline was pumping) the person would gain courage and strength, while those with evil in their hearts would despair and feel weak.
The consequences of this are obvious. Anyone who was basically bad could not stomach living under such conditions and migrated to towns and cities that sprang up beyond the area of effect of the spire. Those who were good began, over time, to no longer choose on their own to be good, but were conditioned to be so.

So, what happens when the Peace Spire is destroyed? That's the big idea for this new book, and I am relishing the challenge. Can people conditioned to only peaceful thoughts and feelings defend themselves from evil? Naturally those on the fringes will gleefully take advantage of the situation. This is going on too long, so I'll reserve space to tell about the actual story line for the next post.


  1. Sounds intriguing and sets up a lot of potential conflict!

  2. first off- the pic in this post= SO GORGEOUS!!!
    second- i love the concept!!!
    would the conditioned people continue to be peaceful without the spire to pressure them into it??? very very intriguing! :)

  3. Sounds awesome. I would imagine that this kind of conditioning would somehow weaken the people in the long run. Of course I didn't imagine the construct in the first place, so it's entirely up to you, but I can't see messing with the natural order of things working out that well ...

  4. Yeah, and allows all sorts of delicious conflict!

  5. Wow Ted. You're always coming up with subjects that totally intrigue me. This sounds like an amazing premise for a story. I think about this issue a lot. I know it's really popular to think that "world peace" would be the ultimate goal that all people should aim for, and I don't totally disagree. It would be nice not to have to send people off to die. It would be really nice not to worry every night over my girls in Africa and whether war is going to break out there.

    But my fear is that if we stopped having conflict that we would stop evolving. (I'm a huge animal lover, and because of my volunteer position, I spend a lot of time studying the animal kingdom.) The thing with animals is that their evolution is strongly tied to their ability to compete, which in the case of humans is partly warfare.

    I've always wanted to try to think through a scenario where people were peaceful, ie non-competitive, ie not evolving. What would that look like? I'm glad you're going to answer that question for me.

  6. Melissa, I hope I can do it justice. I am excited by the idea and I have a lot of plot ideas for it, so I have to hope that I pull it off well.

  7. I like the idea of this! the spire reminds me of the conditioning in A Clockwork Orange. There's a lot of opportunity for conflict and character development. Will this give inherently 'evil' people to break the bonds put on them by the Spire and become something better? It sounds awesome :)

  8. I think this sounds like a fabulous set of circumstances to write about. People not exposed to evil would be a very trusting set and it seems would be baffled when bad dstuff started to trickle in. Adventurous sorts though, might occasionally travel to those far off places (and it seems the offspring of the bad, might not always be so, so maybe from time to time, new people come join them?). I really think it sounds fabulous!