And yes, this time it’s another book from Writer’s Digest, but I think that this one is far more comprehensive and useful to fantasy writers. A note though: For those who are planning to create their own worlds, be it fantasy or science fiction, would do well to read pages 92-95 especially, which deals with the limitations of magic. However, magic is not the only limitation. :)
The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference
Clark, et. al
I find that for a writer, the Writer’s Digest books are often well worth their money, though it takes a bit of delving into before you buy them. For Malaysians, the average price goes to RM60 plus, minimum, so you should always take a good, long read before you buy. Now, here’s why I’m recommending this book:
1. Character costumes are given in fairly good detail. You have a list of materials, who’s most likely to use them, and a short description of them. This is then followed by the popular costumes of the times. For instance, did you know that sleeves in the Middle Ages (for the wealthier patrons at least) were detachable so as to keep up with the changing fashions? It was to save on costs and the expensive dresses.
2. Magic and religions are covered, with particular attention paid to the Wiccan sect. Those who’ve read Elizabeth Gilligan’s Silken Magic Series and Anne Bishop’s Pillars of the World would find lots of similarities. Both writers seemed, at some point in their writing, taken a good look into this book. What I like most of all is that they give brief descriptions and details of what literature influenced the current practices. Good stuff, and leads to something more, which is exactly what a book should always do.
3. The price. At RM52.90, it’s cheaper than the other book I recommended, but it’s going to save you a LOT of time when it comes to fantasy reference. Might I also mention though, that it’s best for those writing Western with a slight Oriental influence? It deals mainly with the West, but it DOES have a lot of good information on other cultures.
By the way, this is also going to appear on the Writing.com review board. And my blog, of course. :)