Please welcome Lindsey Byrd with
On The Subject Of Griffons
18th Century Fantasy
Most fantasy stories that I’ve read have been set around a medieval setting. As a medievalist, this usually suits my fancy just fine. However, I feel like it misses a lot of chances as well. The technological advances that happened between 1500-1800 add more dimensions to what life could be like in a fantasized setting. It’s one of the reasons why I set this story in an 18th century-like world. Below, is a list of some of the elements I focused on in this story.
Yellow Fever: in 1793 an epidemic swept through the newly won United States. Focused primarily in Philadelphia, this epidemic claimed upwards of 5,000 lives before it finally settled. Quarantines were set up, to try and contain the epidemic leading to many families attempting to evacuate Philadelphia. In Griffons, Kera’s family experiences a similar circumstance once her son falls ill.
Medicine: some of the earliest known, established, medical schools were built in the 16th century. By the time the 18th century rolled around, physicians were apprenticed and trained before going into their practices. Although their work wasn’t necessarily the healthiest way to go about something, bloodletting was still considered a cure for ailments, great strides had been done in the medicinal field. Inoculations, vaccines, and nutrition were finally getting the attention they needed. Griffons shows various scenes with physicians trying to treat the plague and it also goes into detail for some of the known cures/reliefs for ailments that were known to them at the time.
Politics: 18th century political upheavals rocked the world so profoundly we’re still feeling the aftershocks of it over two hundred years later. Between the end of Britain’s colonial rule over the Americas, to the revolution in France: the exchange of powers and the installation of new governments marked a turning point for these countries. The excitement of building something new is something that isn’t often seen in fantasy novels. Instead of focusing on the rise of a monarchy, the political structure of Griffons is the rise of a new republic. An elected official and the new formation of that government. There’s a dark side to the formation of a new government, and Griffons addresses how that dark side can affect a family.
Weapons: One of the most distancing aspects of a medieval fantasy to me is the weapons. Although sword fighting is beautiful to watch, the added element of distance a gun can bring to a conflict is far more relatable to a modern audience. Bows and crossbows can help address this in pre-gun time periods, but I’d argue that the sound of a gun adds more to the distress of a scene. 18th century firearms weren’t known for their accuracy, and so the element of uncertainty helps drive up the tension. Adding this element also offers the opportunity for mistakes: the misuse of firearms, the consequences of using those weapons, etc.
I look forward to sharing this world with you. I hope you enjoy spotting these, and other, 18th century moments as you read.
About the book:
Kera Montgomery is still mourning the sudden death of her husband, Morpheus, when her youngest son falls victim to a mysterious plague. With no medicinal cure, Kera must travel to the Long Lakes, where magical griffons capable of healing any ailment reside.
As an heiress unused to grueling travel, Kera struggles with the immense emotional and physical strain of her journey—one made more complex when she crosses paths with her husband’s former mistress, Aurora. Aurora’s daughter is afflicted with the same plague as Kera’s son, so despite their incendiary history, the two women agree to set aside their differences and travel together.
The road is fraught with dangers, both living and dead. Each night, old battlegrounds reanimate with ghosts who don’t know they’ve died, and murderous wraiths hunt for stray travelers caught out after dark. If Kera, Aurora, and their children are going to survive, they’ll need to confront the past that’s been haunting them since their journey began. And perhaps in the process, discover that old friends may not be as trustworthy as they once thought—and old enemies may become so much more.
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About the author:
Lindsey Byrd was brought up in upstate, downstate, and western New York. She is a budding historian of law, medieval, and women’s studies and often includes historical anecdotes or references within her works. Lindsey enjoys writing about complex and convoluted issues where finding the moral high-ground can be hard to do. She has a particular love for heroic villains and villainous heroes, as well as inverting and subverting tropes.
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