As part of my author guest blog series I am proud to present another guest blog spot.
I am very excited andthe author of The Godserfs Series
Are out NOW!
So go get your copy!
How I Choose Names
by NS Dolkart
When it comes to the use of invented languages in fantasy world-building, Tolkien set an extremely high standard for the rest of us to fail to live up to. Who among us has taken the time – let alone achieved the erudition – to construct an entire brand-new language for our fantasy setting? The closest most of us have come is to invent a few words here and there. How then to come up with convincing names for characters and locations?
For the Godserfs series, I started with the question of what kind of mood I wanted to evoke. My setting is mostly based on an Eastern Mediterranean climate, with venal gods not unlike the ancient Greek pantheon. As such, I decided to give most character and place names a Greek vibe, favoring K’s, CH’s, and PH’s over C’s, Q’s, and F’s, adding the occasional silent P at the beginning of a name, and ending most names with vaguely Greek-sounding suffixes. Here and there, I added an actual Greek name such as Phaedra.
But that’s just the beginning.
The world of the Godserfs series is deeply religious, with active gods who use humans as pawns in their heavenly struggles. Many names are derived from a region’s patron god or goddess. Hence, the protagonists’ homeland is full of people and places named after the goddess Karassa: Tan-karas the blacksmith’s apprentice; Kataras the nobleman’s son; Karsanye the capital city; the ancient sage Katinaras. The mountain god Caladoris lends his name to calardium ore, the Calardian mountain range, and the girl’s name Caldra.
The real world is full of this kind of naming, from place names like Bethel, Christchurch, and Ramallah, to scientific terms such as vulcanization and hermetic seals, to person-names such as Elizabeth (“oath of God”), Michael (“who is like God?”), and Hannibal (“Baal is merciful”). While I don’t delve too deeply into the etymologies of my world, I consider these hints at etymology to be a real part of the setting’s plausibility, contributing to the feeling that this world has been lived in.
Besides the people and places that are named after gods, the gods themselves have names that signal their relations to each other: Mayar the sea god and Magor the wilderness god are brothers and allies, as are Atun the sun god and Atel the messenger god.
(An aside: Atun’s name is a sort of multifaceted joke – he’s a sun god reminiscent of the Egyptian god Aten, but the city named after him, Atuna, is just the Hebrew name for Athens, Greece.)
One of the difficulties of writing a fantasy story full of travel is that you end up having to invent a lot of names. But even when I’ve completely run out of ideas, there’s another trick I can use: I look up the scientific or Linnaean names for words that might be thematically related to a person’s heritage. Thus a daughter of farmers is named Tritika (triticum = wheat), and an elderly sea god worshipper ended up with the name Scypho (scyphozoa = jellyfish).
Of course, that sort of naming happens in the real world too! Plenty of people are named after animals: Caleb (“dog”), Philip (“fond of horses”), Jonah (“dove/pigeon”), Ariel (“lion of God”), not to mention more obvious ones like Wolf and Phoebe, and the list gets even longer when you include obscure biblical names like Nahash (“snake”), Hamor (“donkey”), and Nun (“fish”). So consider that the next time you snicker about indigenous American names like Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull. Chances are, you know somebody called Horse-Lover.
NS Dolkart is a graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. By day, he leads activities in a nonprofit nursing home; in the evenings he cooks with his wife and plays with their two children, and only late at night does he write his tales of magic and Godhood. He doesn’t sleep much. Among the Fallen is his second novel, the sequel to 2016’s Silent Hall.
Author hometown: Massachusetts
The Gods are Drawing Battle Lines
In wake of the battle of Silent Hall, the city of Ardis is reeling, its leaders frightened and disorganized. The remaining oracle of the god Ravennis has resurfaced there and is spreading a new gospel – one in which Ravennis is the new Lord of the Underworld. Narky is swept up in the promotion of his religion, even while the prevailing church of Magor tries to put down its upstart rivals.
In the meantime, Criton and Bandu discover a community of Dragon Touched that has survived in hiding, and with Criton’s leadership, they begin a campaign to retake their former territories with the power of God Most High at their backs.
Left to their own devices, Phaedra and Hunter go on a quest to rediscover the secrets of academic wizardry. But they soon discover that all five islanders are needed to prevent a true worldwide catastrophe. If only Criton and Narky weren’t already on opposing sides of a regional war…
Silent Hall by
Five bedraggled refugees and a sinister wizard awaken a dragon and defy the gods.
After their homeland is struck with a deadly plague, five refugees cross the continent searching for answers. Instead they find Psander, a wizard whose fortress is invisible to the gods, and who is willing to sacrifice anything – and anyone – to keep the knowledge of the wizards safe.
With Psander as their patron, the refugees cross the mountains, brave the territory of their sworn enemies, confront a hostile ocean and even traverse the world of the fairies in search of magic powerful enough to save themselves – and Psander’s library – from the wrath of the gods.
All they need to do is to rescue an imprisoned dragon and unleash a primordial monster upon the world.
How hard could it be?