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Novels That Served as Major Influences.
Chronicles of the Great Peninsula
is inspired by the events that took place in Britain during the 5th
and 6th centuries – the so-called Arthurian Age, when Britain
was transitioning from the Roman era to the medieval era. The
Three Lands centers primarily upon the Roman period, while The
Thousand Nations centers primarily upon the period after the
fall of Rome.
However, the Great Peninsula is much larger than Britain, and its topographies and climates are much greater in variety. If you were to place the Great Peninsula onto a map of eastern North America, the Great Peninsula would cover an area from the St. Lawrence River in Canada to the bottom of Florida.
Because of this, I have drawn my research from two time periods and locations: Arthurian Britain and 17th-century North America. The events and technology in the Great Peninsula are based on those of 5th- and 6th-century Britain. However, the climate, geography, flora, and fauna are primarily based on those of eastern North America in the 17th century, with a special emphasis on Maryland, whose climate matches that of the Great Peninsula's borderland. (I'd love to have made use of 5th- and 6th-century North America, but it's too hard to pin down information on that specific time period in North American history.) There is considerable overlap between Arthurian Britain and 17th-century North America, since much of eastern North America was settled by people from Britain, who adapted their ways to the new landscapes. Likewise, the societies of the Three Lands combine features from those two time periods and locations, mixed in with a healthy dose of my own imagination.
It should also be mentioned that the Koretians and Daxions in the southern Great Peninsula, as well as the people of the nearby eastern mainland, are descended from a "desert people" of the east – presumably people from their world's equivalent of the Ancient Near East. The desert people migrated to their current locations thousands of years before the cycle begins, but the Koretians, Daxions, and eastern mainlanders still retain varied elements of their desert culture. Similarly, the Emorians in the northern Great Peninsula remain culturally connected with their far-north mainland ancestors.
Finally, the Great Peninsula's borderland has preserved the most ancient language and customs of the Great Peninsula, as well as serving as a place where Emorians, Koretians, and Daxions intermarry and mix their cultures.
I began reading about history during my teens, in the 1970s, which is also when I began writing Chronicles of the Great Peninsula – hence the age and apparent quirkiness of some of the titles below. This bibliography will be updated as I continue to research.
(Those of you who are interested in American history may also enjoy my Turn-of-the-Century Toughs bibliographies, which cover the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the USA.)
RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST AND ANCIENT EUROPE
Note: It's really difficult for me to pin down where the varied religious and philosophical beliefs of the inhabitants of the Great Peninsula came from. The beliefs just came to me when I was thirty-two, after years of being heavily exposed to Christianity, ancient paganism, and Unitarianism. Then a couple of years later I became an interfaith news reporter and covered a whole variety of faiths and philosophies. No doubt that entered into the shaping of the cycle as well. So this is simply a list of some of the writings that might have had an impact on me at some point.
The Avesta (1898 translation by James Darmesteter).
The Bible (Revised Standard Version). One of my original sources of inspiration for the cycle, when I was sixteen, was the Roman-Jewish conflict in the New Testament, which I was reading about at the time.
Cotter, Wendy. Miracles in Greco-Roman Antiquity (1999).Hamilton, Edith. Mythology (1969). This book, first read in my early teens, was my gateway to the topic of classical mythology.
Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles (1993).
Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain (1996).
Sears, Edmund Hamilton. The Fourth Gospel (1873). This book by a Unitarian minister provided me with a plausible "theology" for the melding of divinity and humanity in my cycle.
Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologica (c. 1265). Specifically, I borrowed his argument with Aristotle regarding natural law vs. divine law, when I was writing Law of Vengeance.
Vitae Patrum (translated by Benedict Baker) and The Rule of St. Benedict. A monastery entered into Chronicles of the Great Peninsula when I was eighteen – I've no idea how, since I didn't even have any religion in the story at that point. These are two of my later readings on this topic, which continues to remain central to the cycle's storyline.
Alcock, Leslie. Arthur's Britain (1971).
Allason-Jones, Lindsay. Daily Life in Roman Britain (2008).
Apicius. The Roman Cookery Book (1958 translation by Barbara Flower and Elisabeth Rosenbaum of the late-Roman book, The Art of Cooking).
Ashe, Geoffrey, Leslie Alcock, C. A. Ralegh Radford, and Philip Rahtz, editors. The Quest for Arthur's Britain (1968).
Cool, H. E. M. Eating and Drinking in Roman Britain (2006).
Fleming, Robin. Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise (2010).
Fleming, Robin. The Material Fall of Roman Britain, 300–535 CE (2021).
Hagen, Ann. Anglo-Saxon Food and Drink (2006).
Macaulay, David. City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction (1974).
Morris, John, translator and editor. Arthurian Period Sources, Volumes 1–3 (translations of the writings of three early British writers: Gildas, Nennius, and St. Patrick).
Quennell, Marjorie and C. H. B. Everyday Life in Roman and Anglo-Saxon Times (1959 edition).
Ullman, B. L., and Norman E. Henry. Latin for Americans (1950 edition). Another of my original sources of inspiration for the cycle when I was sixteen. I was taking Latin in school. Britannia est insula, I was informed in the first sentence of the first lesson. However, it turned out that Paeninsula Magna est paeninsula.
Ward-Perkins, Bryan. The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization (2006).
(In addition, here's a list of most of the classical and medieval books I read in college. What's mainly left off the list are a few more Roman books I read. But the Ancient Greek and medieval books really had the biggest impact on me during my college years; bits of them made their way into Chronicles of the Great Peninsula.)
Carr, Lois Green, Russell R. Menard, and Lorena S. Walsh. Robert Cole's World: Agriculture & Society in Early Maryland (1991).
Dankers, Jasper, and Peter Sluyter. Journal of a Voyage to New York and a Tour in Several of the American Colonies in 1679-80 (translated and edited by Henry C. Murphy).
Foodways at Colonial London Town.
Hall, Clayton Colman, editor. Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633-1684.
Maryland Online Encyclopedia articles (2004-2005):
Miller, Henry Michael. Colonization and Subsistence Change on the 17th Century Chesapeake Frontier (1984).
Narrative of a Voyage to Maryland, 1705-1706.
Smith, John. A Map of Virginia. With a Description of the Countrey, the Commodities, People, Government and Religion (1612).
Cooper, Susan. The Dark is Rising series.
Christain, Catherine. The Sword and the Flame aka The Pendragon.
Le Guin, Ursula K. The original Earthsea trilogy.
Lewis, C. S. Till We Have Faces.
McKillip, Patricia A. The Riddle-Master trilogy.
Stewart, Mary. The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills.
Sutcliff, Rosemary. All her novels set in Roman and early medieval times.
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