A fantasy novel that includes a convincing, original imaginary world AND a great story AND complex, memorable characters is a treat to be savoured. Sadly, for every one of those I discover, there are ten books I can’t get through. Poor research in fields I know about, such as music, is one major turn-off, and wayward choice of character and place names is another.
Hang on, you say – in an invented world, doesn’t anything go? If I make up a language, a mode of speech, a set of names, they belong to me, the author, and it’s not up to anyone else to say they do or don’t work.
Not so, at least not in the opinion of this rather picky reader. A slapdash approach to the linguistic framework of an invented world will turn me and others like me right off your book. The most basic tenet of fantasy worlds is that they should be internally consistent. You need not be Tolkien to achieve this in your naming. A philologist has the advantage over most of us in inventing languages. But I believe a basic knowledge of the way languages work is an essential tool for a fantasy writer. [Read more…]