Sunday, July 20, 2014


In my novel School of Deaths, Suzie is the first Death in a million years.  Why a million? A million is a far longer time frame than most people can even comprehend.  This length of time boggled some early readers, including my wife.

For some comparasions to other fantasy novels, as well as historic equivalents:

500 years - length of time J.R.R. Tolkien's One Ring lies dormant with Gollum, between Sauron's rise and the War of the Ring.  *

500 years ago today, Henry VIII was negotiating peace with France, while Coppernicus published his theory that the earth revolved around the sun.

2,500 years - length of time CS Lewis's Narnia exists, from its creation to its destruction *

2500 years ago, nearly five centuries before Jesus, 300 Spartans fought at the battle of Thermopylae.

12,300 years  - length of time in George R.R. Martin's Westeros, between the First Men and the current events in the Song of Ice and Fire series. *

roughly 12,300 years ago, Ancient Engyptians and Sumerians used sickles (early scythes) as part of the Agricultural revolution *

30,000 years - length of the "Dark Age" in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series between the First and Second Galactic Empires. *

roughly 30,000 years ago, the first Americans crossed over a land bridge in the Bering Strait region.

1 million years - length of time between the War between Deaths and Dragons, and the events in School of Deaths.

I chose to set the prehistory of the novel this far back, so that it could account both for the creation of the World of Deaths as well as a flawed, obsessive narrative of the Deaths' own history.  I also wanted to heavily emphasize the idea that everything dies, not just human beings.

Dragons ferried souls for as long as there was life on Earth. The current scientific data shows the earliest life forming on earth roughly 3.5 billion years ago.  Dragons eventually learned to shape and create life, forming creatures similar to their own image, which accounts for 150 million years of dinosaurs.

Click here for an interative timeline of early earth history.

In School of Deaths, it's revealed that ferrying souls became more complicated when some souls gained self-awareness.  This event is impossible to date, however the genuses of early primates and hominids which eventually evolved into humans have been on earth for several million years.  The first tool use is estimated at roughly 2.6 million years ago, and the control of fire is estimated to be roughly 800,000 years old.

Click here for an interactive timeline (through the Smithsonian) of human evolution. 

A million years ago:

The Dragon's creations had vanished, consumed by shadows. Only the primates, pale shadows of the Donraki, the Dragons' failed experiment, remained. Calling themselves "Deaths" a war loomed. Rights to most precious commodity in Creation hung in the balance. 

Rights to the dead...

Can Suzie uncover the truth about what happened a million years ago, or has it been lost to myth?
What will she do when she learns the terrible secret? 

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