At this point you’ve seen the birth of an idea, the basic setting (an Earth-like world), the characters, and some things about how the plot works. This post is a list of bullet points as I summarize some concepts useful to understanding the story. If part of the story was explained in previous essays it will not be covered here.
- You can trust the science in Do-Over. If you catch me in an error please let me know, but it’s likely from an oversimplification by JD trying to explain something complicated to a person who has no experience with the concept.
- Ajadi weaponless combat is kung-fu with minor variations. JD’s style is Jeet Kune Do, the style of Bruce Lee.
- Swordsmanship is medieval English-style. I debated using samurai style with the katana but decided against it because a) I know more about English sword fighting than using the katana or fencing, and b) I know more about how to build an English-style longsword than any other.
- Domesticated food and livestock are a cross between East Asian and European styles. Lamb, goat cheese, and grape leaves come from Greek cuisine, rice is grown as it is in Japan, etc. I didn’t get too complicated here, but the first time JD uses a wok Mya has never seen one before. Another fun circumstance is the first time a trading caravan brings in two new vegetables: tomatoes and potatoes. JD goes into an ecstatic state as they were among his favorite foods on Earth.
- Wine is the staple drink with a meal and in inns. It is considered unusual for anyone over the age of 12 to abstain from wine; one of the connections between JD and Mya is that neither drinks alcohol.
- The land of Ajad is a hybrid of European and Japanese (about 70/30) feudal times.
- Lukanah’s home country, Jonaheim, is based on Scandinavia when the Vikings ruled.
- The antagonist of Last Man Standing, Alden, is loosely based on Alexander the Great; his men are a mix of Alexander’s men, the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan, and the Norman invaders of 1066.
- One and One Make One is primarily about JD’s internal struggles, therefore JD serves as his own antagonist. The few villains each have a particular and limited purpose; most don’t even have names.
- Names are a key point in any story. I use the following naming conventions.
- Ajadi names are always two syllables. Female names end in short vowels “a” or “u” (“ah” or “oo”); male names end in long vowels “e” or “o” (“ee” or “oh”). There are no last names, although a profession may be used. Children’s names resemble that of the parents (mom Mira, daughter Mya, granddaughter Mora).
- Jonaheim names are based on German names. For example, Lukanah derives from the German Ludkhannah, “graceful battle maiden,” and Johanah’s name means “shield maiden.”
- Names of the invaders in Last Man Standing are the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of Greek or Mongolian names. For example, Alden is one English equivalent of Alexander. Why Alden and not Alexander, a perfectly fine English name? Two syllables read faster, and take up less room, than four. It’s a comic, not a prose work, and such things make a difference.
- The calendar (yes, I have a calendar) is a pure lunar calendar. The year is 364 days divided into 13 months of 28 days each. That makes counting days, and knowing the day of the week, far easier (Sundays are always the 7th, 14th, 21st, or 28th of the month). Time is very important when your characters have to walk everywhere and the province is 180 kilometers (over 100 miles) top to bottom.
- Speaking of distance and location, the province of Ajad is the northern half of Italy, bounded by mountains to the north and ocean on the other three sides. Main villages correspond to Italian cities; here’s a list, counter-clockwise from the south.
- Port City, on the southern tip of Ajad, is the equivalent of Terni. In real life Terni is inland; I’ve chopped off the lower part of the boot and made “Terni” a coastal village.
- Central Village is Florence.
- The “final battleground” is just north of Bologna.
- Eastern Village is Venice.
- Ruko’s mine, the resting place of the Red Dragon, is half-way between Padua and Verona.
- North Pass Village is Milan.
- West Village is Genoa.
- Herndo’s hut is situated roughly where Pistoia would be.
Why Italy? Its geology and geography work for The Dragon Core. Other lands are through the North Pass, a fictional Grand Canyon through the great mountain range which otherwise cuts Ajad off from the rest of the continent.
To make the story distances less of a problem for walking, actual distances are halved for the book. For example, it’s about 210 kilometers from Terni to Florence; in Do-Over, the distance from Port City to Central Village is 100 kilometers (still a 5-day journey on foot).
That’s pretty much it without spoilers. For the rest of the story you’ll have to watch it unfold on its own. I may have a script, but I’m finding as I write, and then rough-sketch, each page the characters take on lives of their own (even the setting does so!) and things won’t be as cut-and-dried as I originally planned. But then that’s part of the fun.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing and drawing it.