2023 Reading Challenge in Tahuum Itaqiin | World Anvil

2023 Reading Challenge

As I mentioned in my post-Summer Camp journal update, I frankly had too much going on this summer, but I managed to at least get a copper medal, informally qualify for the informal Spooky Shenanigans Badge with my article on the Ashen Hallows, and lay plenty of groundwork for a trickle of worldbuilding through the fall and winter.   For reference, do have a look at my 2023 Summer Camp Plan if you so desire.   As is true of any writing, the WA team is right when they say the best way to improve as a writer is to read more. (Linguists and language teachers have shared similar findings when it comes to learning a language—we learn best from absorbing massive volumes of data [input through others' speech and/or writing], figuring out what works for us, and developing our communication styles with practice.)      

Reading Agenda:

Since worldbuilding plans for the coming months mainly involve Northwest Tahuum Itaqiin's pre-Revival Era history, quite a lot of which is buried under the ruins and ashes of past conflicts, I'll focus this month's reading on the hidden ancient secrets, complex histories, and direct or indirect conflicts in fellow WA users' worlds. (I'll add that I really love in-world documents, analyses written through the perspectives of in-world people, and unreliable narration.) Anyone who reads this is welcome to send me their relevant articles for review, whether they're simply proud of their work or they'd like constructive feedback.   On top of this, cross-cultural encounters with food and language are defining parts of my own life, and they can do so much to breathe life into a secondary world as well. While there were frankly surprisingly few language-related prompts for this year's Summer Camp given that communication was Week 4's theme, I'll gladly read any articles from Week 4 as well as any cuisine articles out there.      

What I've read (and critiqued):

Ritual: A cuisine from a sparse, barren or remote region in your world.

Iron Rations by Travakh in Creus. Certainly a novel way to make bland food rations interesting a post-food scarcity setting.
  Dallikton Fish and Fowl Stew by Malkuthe in Rivendom. A real merit of this prompt is that it encouraged us to showcase those cuisines develop under difficult circumstances rather than the elaborate meals worldbuilders might prefer to showcase. This article nicely ties in the logistics of supplying this community's needs at the end of a harsh winter.
  Cactus Fritters by EclecticExclamations in Tales from the Rookery. A cuisine that may seem ordinary to locals can be received very differently when it's introduced to another community.    

Ethnicity: A culture that has suffered under the rule of a stronger nation.

Diasporic Yashki by astervela in Babikiye. Gods in a number of mythologies are rather like unusually powerful humans, complete with all their vices. This combination of traits can lead to tragic results when such a god directs their wrath at an entire group of people.
  Dhadiz by barriesaxxy in Milon. It's a pleasure to read an ethnicity article that's so thoroughly informed by cultural anthropology and linguistics. In particular, it's worth considering how the conquerors of a land will try to impose their language upon their subjects, as language is so often a marker of group identity.
  The Hunger in Odyssey Earth. As this article nicely demonstrates, history may not always be written by the winners, but wherever there's a downtrodden or marginalized group of people, there is also someone who's actively trying to rationalize what's happening to them. (Also, SFF settings allow us to complicate these questions of whose side, if any, we should be on.)    

Settlement: An ancient city that is still inhabited today.

Kena Lau by Irately in Heimir. An abandoned city doesn't necessarily have to stay that way, does it?
  Wraith Guard by Steerpike1988 in Undinia. A telling of history after my own heart, as it presents historians' conflicting theories about the subject of study.   Bridge Cities by Orymith in Imboron. Settlements tend to sprout up around transit hubs, and the Bridge Metropolis featured here is a particularly creative take on the phenomenon.  

Bonus Reading

A workman's breakfast [material] by MissIzette in Kalan. Cuisines are inseparable from social class and external circumstances, and I liked seeing how these are reflected in the breakfasts of laborers in this setting.      

Reflections, Takeaways, and Worldbuilding Goals:

On a somewhat somber note, I sometimes wonder how much of an appetite readers have for low fantasy settings. (In low fantasy settings, such as Tahuum Itaqiin, magic tends to feature less prominently than in high or epic fantasy settings, and fantasy races, dragons and dragon-kin, and the like are less likely to show up.) I picked through this summer's articles for ones that aligned with my interests, but there sure were a lot of other articles featuring elves and dwarves, dragons and dragon-kin, pocket dimensions, and so on. There's nothing wrong with this, of course—it simply isn't the focus of my worldbuilding. Perhaps someday I'll share my thoughts about LotR/D&D-style fantasy races in more detail. Anyway, here's hoping I can still create enough cause for wonder in my setting, where it's mainly humans in conflict with each other or against forces greater than themselves.   That being said, I have been pleased to discover a number of other worlds here with richly imagined cultures and hints at the darker sides of life there, including social inequality and cross-cultural rifts. I've made a point of developing these aspects of the Free City of Andaen, but I think it'd also be fitting to spend more time developing the less prosperous towns and cities of Tahuum Itaqiin as points of comparison. I also imagine that to make my low fantasy, occasionally dark setting into something compelling to read about, it'll be essential to reveal the world as it's seen through the eyes of the people who suffer, survive, or somehow even thrive through it.   Near-term worldbuilding goals: At the moment, I'm just about up to my eyeballs in fiction and non-fiction writing projects. From September-onward, though, I'd like to write about bits from the Ancient Era and the Internecine Period that I didn't get around to in July. Since I mainly wrote for depth rather than breadth in July (oops), I don't have many plans to expand the existing Summer Camp articles, though I'm always happy to receive input and put it to good use! Be on the lookout for more about the Reborn Theocracy, its militant Order of the Returning Sun, and the protracted, decades-long Crusade and Reconquest revolving around the Theocracy.   Longer-term worldbuilding goals: (*cough* Worldember *cough*) Once I'm satisfied with the foundation (at least what I've shared here on WA) for Northwest Tahuum Itaqiin, I'm planning to expand upon the next super-region, namely the South and the Steppes, as well as offer some tantalizing hints about the Shadrusun and their corner of the world. Here, as in Vast Takhet, themes of settlement and colonialism will feature prominently, and generally speaking, things will look grimmer in the South and the Steppe than they do in the Northwest. (For a hint of what's to come, do have a look at the short story I shared here a while back.) Outside WA, with any luck, by the end of the year I'll have some published work out there that brings the aforementioned Ancient Era and Internecine Period to life through narrative.

Cover image: by Mohcen CH


Please Login in order to comment!
Aug 7, 2023 23:13

Thanks for including one of my articles! May you reach all of your worldbuilding goals this year (and the ones after that too)! :)

Aug 10, 2023 01:35 by Eric

I'm glad for the chance to read another thoughtful article on ethnicities and cultures. Happy worldbuilding to you, too!

Aug 10, 2023 19:08 by TJ Trewin

I loved reading your reflections about low vs high fantasy genres - I think that's an interesting observation!   Those are some great plans ahead for the short & longer term :D WorldEmber will be here in no time

Journals of Yesteryear

Please consider voting for me in the 2024 Worldbuilding Awards!
Aug 11, 2023 01:13 by Eric

Thanks for reading! I have loads of thoughts on subgenres of fantasy. For now, suffice to say I'm drawn more to low fantasy because I think it can serve as a better vehicle for reflecting on human experiences in secondary worlds. (Of course, plenty of this is up to the ability of the author as well; a thoguhtful author of high fantasy can certainly accomplish this, too.)