Potions and politics: How to change the world?

The novel on which I’m currently working is a fantasy, set in your standard quasi-medieval world, following the adventures of a young mage as he is a witness to, and participant in Historical Events. I’ve got a few different motivations for writing this story. The first, and most important, is that pretty much the entire plot just sort of came to me over a period of a couple weeks, and I wanted to see how it would actually turn out. The second is that I’d been looking to try out a different approach than the one I took with Exits and Entrances, to make for a more enjoyable read.

The third motivation is political. Well, sort of. Making a good story is my primary goal, but is it even possible for a writer to avoid putting anything of their own opinions into their work? Maybe, but I doubt it would be good. No, my writing is a part of me, so much of me will probably show up in it. Of particular relevance today, is the notion of regime change in fiction. I think it’s fairly common for a novel of this sort to tell the story of some sort of political crisis, by the end of which the world has either gone back to a desirable “normal”, or has changed for the better. The most common version of that that I’ve seen is replacing a bad monarch with a good monarch, and pretending that solves things.

I get why – it’s easy, it’s familiar to the reader, and it’s just how things have been done in the history we were taught. It doesn’t sit well with me, though, and I don’t particularly want to write a story that ends with “good” authoritarianism, so part of my work in writing this is studying the history of political change. How does it happen? We tend to think of revolutions, wars, and coups, all of which tend to have their own hierarchies, but are there other options?

Well, in my fantasy world, there will be, but while there will be magic, monsters, and mysticism, I find that that sort of thing goes best when it’s tethered to our day-to-day lives by threads of realism. Some of that lies in the sensory experiences of life, but I’m far from the first writer to include machinations of politics and power that resemble those of the real world in some ways.

All of that is why I’m glad we have people like Andrewism, exploring the ways in which a fictional society might go through major political change:

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