Before writing the first draft of “War of the Seven”, I drew the gods of Ethasar and their champions. The drawings helped me design the novel’s world and build its key characters, and led to important plot points.
These were my initial drawings. Note that the giants (the purple characters) are not drawn at scale, you’ll have to imagine them being ten feet tall (or three meters tall). Examples of character-building decisions follow after the images (no major spoilers).
Examples of how the drawings influenced the book:
- Marion, the Verdant Queen, and High Priestess Sandra are identical in face (except for the hairstyle) and body shape, which makes them twins. So their kingdom’s noble class has a high rate of giving birth to twins, and places them in positions of power.
- Sandra’s hairdo covers her right eye. Which means she can’t see with that eye. Which means she lost that eye in a childhood accident. Oh, but was it really an accident? Read and find out.
- The orc Krakkar the Fist is a legendary warrior. He fights with axe, mace, and two swords, and tries to bloody all of them in every battle. He’s named his swords Left Fang and Right Fang. Orcs have tusks and vampires have fangs, but Krakkar the Fist has both.
- The seafaring Islanders worship Njord, the sea god, and dye their hair blue to honor him. Except for Gunnar, who doesn’t; and that’s a sign of disrespect toward his god. But why does Njord tolerate this, and why does he value Gunnar highly enough to name him as his champion? And what’s Gunnar’s problem with Njord?
- Eldris the Duelist has a great sword. It’s as long and he is tall — and since he’s a giant, that’s very long indeed. So let’s make it the Reaping Blade, the only weapon that can kill a god.
And so on.