All things having to do with writing and researching history for the purpose of writing historical fantasy.

Censorship in Imperial China

In my books, the government of Serica has been under the control of the Kitran Empire and they don't bother with censoring books. If someone writes something they don't like, they sent a detachment of their feared cavalry to the town where the author is said to live and they burn the place down. The new ruler of Kunhalvar province, Lord Vaina, would likely censor works which advocated support for the Kitran Empire but - they are at war with the Kitran Empire. Censorship in a time of war is commonplace, every nation does this. But what about censorship during peacetime? My books don't talk much about the times of peace but this is what I learned... Censorship in Imperial China was a very complex phenomenon. I think most Americans…

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The Manchu Military and Government

Here is an eye-opening essay on the Qing Dynasty military from the Cambridge Journal of Chinese History - Qing Military Institutions by Yingcong Dai. I have been gradually changing my mind about the Manchu government of China, at least up to the year the Qianlong Emperor resigned his office (in 1797). I used to be highly dismissive of the Manchu rule but the more recent scholarship I have read in over the last decade has changed my mind. I now believe the Manchu ruled China wisely and well. They made a few but significant improvements over the Ming Dynasty, most in the area of military organization, and in other places as well. The Qing paid laborers, they kept taxes low, and they maintained the prestige of the army. Even the…

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The Battle of Talas

The Wikipedia has a good article (as of mid-2019) about the Battle of Talas. This was a battle fought by a Tang Dynasty army operating in the far west (modern day Kazakhstan) in the year 751 A.D. They were fighting against an army from the newly formed Abbasid Caliphate. The Tang army was defeated and the Tang did not return to this part of central Asia, because of the massive disruption caused by the An Lushan revolt which began four years later. For a thousand years, the Chinese stayed east of Transoxiana (as the region is called). Eventually, the Chinese reasserted their power against the Khans of this region, starting with the campaigns of the Kangzi Emperor against the Dzungar Khanate (in 1687). The Dzungar were eventually annihilated by the…

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A Great Map of Medieval Trade Routes

This map was created around 2012 and it shows many trade routes and important cities that existed in Eurasia and Africa circa 1200. There are lots of small inaccuracies so the specialists get to nit-pick. Medieval Trade Routes of Eurasia and Africa - circa 1200 My world is not the same as the real world but I draw a lot of inspiration from the world of our past. Medieval World Trade Routes

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Hello world!

Welcome to my world. The Secret Journey series is what I call "historical fantasy", much like the later novels of Guy Gavriel Kay (my favorite: A Song for Arbonne). Most fantasy novels are set in worlds which are very much like our own, but with various unreal elements added in. My books are like other fantasy novels but with a bit less of the unreal elements and a bit more grounding in the real world. Its all just a matter of degree. Tolkien was famous for his highly limited use of magic in both The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. The same was true of E.R. Edison in his novel The Worm Oroborus. This is my preferred style as well. The more magic there is, the less I…

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