The Madion War Trilogy is based in a world torn apart by war. But as with most wars, it’s not just about the land and the resources. Any student of history can tell you that conflict is rarely black and white, and ending conflict is even more murky. This blog post talks about how I managed the political worldbuilding in the trilogy.
Designing the Players
For the Madion War, I drew on several real-world conflicts. Kylae, I see as the traditional European/American country. One that has a lot of wealth and military power but whose people are too preoccupied with other matters to really pay attention. You can see a bit of that in Galian, who has a very blasé outlook about the war at first. You can also see it in Olivia Collins, who has the simple idea that if the Ravens would stop fighting, things would get better. (Sound familiar?) Much like in the US, most Kylaens have little interest in the war.
The Ravens, for all their justified grievances, are not completely innocent either. They’ve elected exactly the same number of presidents as Kylae has had kings. Bayard, the current president, has been in power through three elections. There’s also a clear difference between the haves and have-nots. For someone like Theo, born in an orphanage with no name or parentage (hence the Kallistrate last name), she had no choice but to enlist. On the other hand, Emilie, the Raven president’s PR lead, was sent to a private school.
Give War a Chance
Creating a believable war means creating believable reasons for it. For Kylae, they use a material called barethium to strengthen their buildings. Problem is, barethium in Kylae is buried deep in the mountains. But in Rave, it’s much more accessible. The other downside of barethium is that it’s highly toxic when inhaled. Kylae wants to reclaim the hundreds of thousands of Raven laborers who used to work for them in the barethium mines. It was this abuse of their people that finally pushed the Ravens to declare independence in the first place, and why they still fight.
So now we’ve got a war that’s been raging for 50 years. Logically, this war has also sprouted a war industry in both countries. Industry, as a whole, is slow to change, and even slower to give up its steady income stream, which complicates any push toward peace. The Kylaen war machine accounts for 30% of Kylae’s total economic income, and realistically, it comprises 70-80% of Rave’s economy. Detangling the war must account for the impact and the players that might not want that to happen.
Looking At All the Peaces
No war is resolved overnight, especially one with so many industries and players involved. Therefore, when Galian and Theo finally step up to the conflict resolution table, they find that there’s already been a great deal of activity done. Kylae is establishing new industries around shipbuilding, incentivizing the barethium miners to step up and join. This is a nod to the real world, oil and gas companies are starting to invest in renewable energy). Things go awry when Rave takes action in The Chasm that indicates they’re escalating the war, rather than drawing it down. Among those in the know about the escalation, there’s an unwillingness to come together. What happens in The Union is pure political backroom deals, sometimes the only way to get anything done.