Author Topic: How does an empire emerge?  (Read 3205 times)

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Offline Johnnyfirs

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How does an empire emerge?
« on: December 05, 2014, 05:45:35 PM »
+1
Hello my beloved ones.
I'm currently starting a novel project as a hobby-thing because I have a lot of free time currently.

I'd like to build a faction that will, in time, become an empire. I thought it would be interesting to actually capture that transition within the book's timespan, instead of starting off with an already established empire.

So what is an empire before an empire?
What would I call the faction before reaching that threshold?

Thank you.
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Offline Johnnyfirs

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2014, 07:17:40 PM »
0
Depends, before it's an empire do you want a Monarch? A democracy? After the Empire is formed to you envisage an emperor or monarch?

Not too sure yet, I'm still on the drafting board with this empire. I'm thinking an emperor, but the idea of a sort of council (republic-ish) is actually intriguing and then there's some obvious opportunities for some political intrigues.

And what sort of transition are you anticipating? A faction that claims additional land through conquest and imperialism, thus establishing their Empire? Or a faction that undergoes a purely political transformation and becomes an Empire?
Conquest, definitely.

Thanks for shedding some light on it. I felt stupid asking because I guess it's a pretty straight forward answer, but you know... It's important to get it right and not to mention I needed some inspiration for the origins of this faction - something to play with  :D
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Offline Johnnyfirs

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2014, 06:57:17 AM »
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How a nation would see itself in terms of this foreign empire, I guess, comes down to how strong it already is. I mean, smaller nations with no chance of defeating an invasion might as well willingly join and save the ressources and casualties of war, whereas stronger nations which already got something going for them might think differently. I don't know if you can put it like that?
I think tho I might stick to a sole emperor, but perhaps he's overthrowing an existing council in the transition from republic to empire. Lots of stuff to play with here for sure.

Oh and a vital question. Why does an empire want to conquer nations and expand through the sword? I mean 'power' is definitely the keyword here but to make an interesting faction I gotta have some more here. Trade alliances with conquered nations? Wealth? An ideology within the empire they believe to be the right one for the world?

I'm from Denmark by the way.
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Offline Osiris

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2014, 03:24:49 PM »
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Quote
Why does an empire want to conquer nations and expand through the sword? I mean 'power' is definitely the keyword here but to make an interesting faction I gotta have some more here. Trade alliances with conquered nations? Wealth? An ideology within the empire they believe to be the right one for the world?

You should come up with a morale excuse like the ones often used in the Roman and British empires :D you will bring civilisation by the sword. You will bring light to the dark regions, They are better off under your rule as they dont have the ability to govern themselves. You are helping them by conquering them, also gives you the ability to introduce some pretty fanatical characters ^^
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Offline Tomas_Miles_again

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2014, 04:31:35 PM »
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Also thinking about your characterisation, remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. The founder of a small faction isn't going to live to see an empire rise. You'll see dynasties and usurpers and mergers and all sorts, over the course of several lifetimes.

Offline Osiris

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2014, 04:55:31 PM »
+3
Also thinking about your characterisation, remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. The founder of a small faction isn't going to live to see an empire rise. You'll see dynasties and usurpers and mergers and all sorts, over the course of several lifetimes.

he could go for the Alexander approach and lead a smaller faction to take over a massive failing empire. Could be interesting
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Offline Osiris

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2014, 06:47:17 PM »
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It's tough isnt it, you'd need a narrative that somehow encompasses a large period, and it's hard to tell a story if every few chapters you jump decades forward with new characters (the classic 'Foundation' series by Asimov does it well and to good effect, it follows the collapse and rebirth of a  Empire). Unless i guess, if the Empire is formed by 2 or more moderately powerful factions unifying, in which case the foundation of the Empire could be faster but would be less transformative.

I like the idea of how the spread of territory would transform the Capital, Rome became a huge consumer society and essentially a blackhole for raw resources, goods and food. It's the only way to sustain such a large urban populace. I'd expect any Empire to see a similar change to their Capital if not already following that model, Empire can bring a natural flow of goods/loot and slaves to the capital through simple expansion and conquest, or more exotic goods if you find resources not commonly found in your homeland, these all bring merchants and traders to the city, and people looking to set up businesses to take advantage of the high traffic through the city. All those people would need accommodation, food and water.

Then again, perhaps not everyone gets as excited by the idea of growth and developing infrastructure within a budding empire xD i'm getting old.

To be fair those kind of games used to be all the rage :D Even games like EU and civ seem to have been dumbed down so you dont have to do so much :D instant gratification gaming ftl
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Offline Tomas_Miles_again

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2014, 07:19:50 PM »
+1
Draw yourself some good old UML diagrams charting the historical arc of where you want your story to go, might clarify things a bit, or at least give a vague epic ambitious idea some more shape.

Edit: Also perhaps look at George R. R. Martin or Bernard Cornwall for a little reference in good characterisation, especially where Martin gets you attached to characters with uncertain lifespans.

With multiple generations over the course of the novel, it may be useful to really examine how to maintain links between the generations that are passed down and corrupted or changed or interpreted differently by each generation. A leader of a tight-knit faction is likely to have a very different perspective on individual importance than the Emperor of a machine-like system that is an Empire. We love seeing heroes fall. Power passes to the victors in conflicts and it may turn out that the antagonist usurpers of one generation of the faction produce a noble benevolent protagonist later on, etc etc.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2014, 07:27:05 PM by Tomas_Miles_again »

Offline Johnnyfirs

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2014, 02:22:55 PM »
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Alright friends, really appreciating your help.
I'm tinkering with the Alexander the Great model, where a smaller yet focused army overthrows an Empire long past its prime. Instead of ruining said empire after a bloody conquest, he would remake the infrastructure, keep some of the original ideas and basicly form a fresh version of the empire.
You could have PoVs from characters in the empire before this foreign army arrives, where the general atmosphere is that people are very unhappy with the government (of course people don't know that they're in the last weeks of this empires lifetime). Some like the news they hear about this foreign conquering army, some don't. Some rumors say that everyone will be slaughtered to make room for this unknown people, others again claim that the army is their salvation.

I really like this idea!
Btw my main inspiration source is Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series, I just finished the third book. Extremely epic (in every sense of the word) series that has basicly blown my mind.

Oh and Heskey, go for it! Writing is thrilling, especially if it's just a hobby with no deadlines etc.
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Offline Kalam

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2014, 06:17:52 PM »
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The funny thing is, when you mentioned an Empire in a fictional universe, the Malazan Empire is what came to mind. Erikson has his faults, but he's built a sound framework for the emergence of several empires in his fiction. K.J Parker's Folding Knife is pretty great about that, too.

However, I would recommend reading Guns, Germs, and Steel as well as War and Peace and War to get a broader picture of empire. If you prefer listening to reading, Dan Carlin's podcasts are pretty great.

Offline Tovi

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2014, 09:35:21 PM »
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They must like your culture more than their own.
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Offline Andswaru

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2014, 07:57:22 AM »
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If you want to have with political infighting, pain and suffering base it on the holy roman empire all those chimps did was run from one end to the other beating up whichever half the empire thought it could rise up in revolt while the army was busy fighting in the other half.
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Offline Johnnyfirs

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2014, 08:31:10 AM »
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The funny thing is, when you mentioned an Empire in a fictional universe, the Malazan Empire is what came to mind. Erikson has his faults, but he's built a sound framework for the emergence of several empires in his fiction. K.J Parker's Folding Knife is pretty great about that, too.

However, I would recommend reading Guns, Germs, and Steel as well as War and Peace and War to get a broader picture of empire. If you prefer listening to reading, Dan Carlin's podcasts are pretty great.
The post after I mention Malazan is from you! Hah, I'm glad you joined in. And I'm indeed inspired by the Malazan Empire but I'm also working hard on making it not just a ripoff of his series.
By the way, I see 'Linebreakers' in your signature. Is that something off the Malazan universe? I'm currently on book 4 so I wouldn't know really. I plan on implementing a division called Linebreakers, that's why I'm curious.
And thanks for the recommendations.
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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2014, 02:03:49 AM »
+1
The post after I mention Malazan is from you! Hah, I'm glad you joined in. And I'm indeed inspired by the Malazan Empire but I'm also working hard on making it not just a ripoff of his series.
By the way, I see 'Linebreakers' in your signature. Is that something off the Malazan universe? I'm currently on book 4 so I wouldn't know really. I plan on implementing a division called Linebreakers, that's why I'm curious.
And thanks for the recommendations.

It's from a K.J Parker novel, actually. The Company. Though I did consider 'Bonehunters' quite seriously.

Offline Taser

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Re: How does an empire emerge?
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2014, 07:51:36 AM »
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It's from a K.J Parker novel, actually. The Company. Though I did consider 'Bonehunters' quite seriously.

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