Influences of the Imagient King
The Imagient King is a series that I have worked on and off for about ten years now. It has changed multiple times, and in this first set of edits, I see that I have been influenced by a lot of mediums. The three most consistent influences to my work are fantasy novels, anime, and live-action films. There are other smaller influences like my knowledge of history, my love of video games, and a few other things that have inspired me over the years, but for the sake of keeping this a bit more precise in this blog post I will talk about how literature particularly fantasy books, anime and a special anime influenced western cartoon as well as live action films and tv series have inspired and changed the way that this book was written.
Imagient King is a coming of age/high fantasy series so it is no surprise that I was inspired by fantasy books. The four big ones are probably Lord of the Rings by Tolkein, Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, and most interestingly Journey to the West the great Chinese epic. Each of these have contributed as an influence to me in multiple ways, some more than others.
My earliest literary influences come in the form of the Star Wars novels that I read as a small child. I mostly read nonfiction in elementary school, and most of that was dinosaur books since I wanted to be a paleontologist at a young age. The in middle School I picked up and read The Hobbit for the first time, partial inspired by Lord of the Rings which came out around the same time. I also remember watching The Hobbit animated film in one of my classes for some reason.
Tolkien is one of my first memories when it came to literature that was of the fictional variety. I had read monster and mystery novellas as a child, and even read Harry Potter, but Tolkien particularly The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are still series that I really related to. The journey of a hobbit and dwarves across Middle Earth helped carve in my imagination the idea of a journey that needed to be completed.
In middle school I read beyond fantasy an that included a lot of scientific and philosophy books. I encountered C.S. Lewis a contemporary of Tolkien and author of the Chronicles of Narnia. It was my love of fantasy and medieval combat that I made friends in both middle school and high school. One such friend introduced me to the works of Robert Jordan, and from there I started to read The Wheel of Time series. I also read the Ranger's Apprentice series around this time, but The Wheel of Time has a much more important role to play in terms of the development of The Imagient King.
I was so enthralled by the world that Robert Jordan created in The Wheel of Time that it consumed me. I loved the characters, I loved the world building, I could see the influence of Asian philosophy and culture interwoven into Robert Jordan's material that it influenced me a fan of Japanese video games and anime to delve deeper into epic fantasy for more reads and influences.
This love of Jordan along with my love to create my own characters and my own worlds would be the basis for me created the story of The imagients, and the Imagient King as a whole. The early ideas of a princess from the east meeting up with a blacksmith from a farming town was birthed in high school, and the original idea for the story was eerily very similar to Jordan's Wheel of Time series.
So one could say that Jordan is the first and biggest influence on my writing and of the developmental process of the Imagient King as he inspired me to write. Although, I would leave the basic manuscript and ideas that I started in high school, the basic plot that revolved around a blacksmith who has a destiny being reveled by his mixing of paths with a princess from the East became the inspiration for Imagient King in the future.
After high school I went to college and it is here where I for the most part stopped reading fantasy. I was a history major, particularly interested in Asian culture. I read tons of Asian primary sources in my courses and developed an appreciation for Asian storytelling. I was already a fan of Japanese anime, but most of Japanese literature is based on Confucian and Buddhist teachings from China. The biggest of which is Journey from the West, and it would be my next biggest influence.
Journey to the West is an epic tale of a monk who sets forth on a journey fighting monsters and traveling to India to get the sacred texts of the Buddha. That by itself is similar to the story of the first Imagient King book- A blacksmith along with a princess from the East travels west to a library to find out about his past and his destiny. I won't say that I stole that from Journey to the West, as Journey to the West is a very spiritually themed story, and that summary is not necessarily what Journey to the West is about, but the influence is supposed to be there. Just like Dragon Ball author Akira Toriyama was inspired by Journey to the West, so was I, and the first book which is pretty much a giant chase scene, but inspired by Journey to the West structurally.
The Chinese have inspired many Japanese and other Asian films and books, but we don't see a lot of Western fantasy based on Asian history or culture. Most fantasy is European based, due to the Tolkien worship, but Jordan defiantly influenced by Hindu and Buddhist religions used those inspirations to create the religion and culture of Randland or whatever you want to call his world he created in Wheel of Time. I was more of a fan of Confucian views, which ironically Journey to the West satirizes. So, you will see probably some very Confucius principles in my writings.
I left school with my history degree and Asian Studies minor, not really knowing what the future would hold. I needed to focus on my future, but I would eventually start to work on my draft for Imagient King I was interested in reading contemporary fantasy novels. The one that was recommended by a friend was Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. I didn't know what to expect as many readers either hate Erikson's books or love them. I became a part of the latter, and it is probably because we have similar backgrounds.
Steven Erikson is an anthropologist with an archaeologist background who fell into role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Gurps. I myself am a historian with knowledge in paleontology who loves playing role playing games. When I created lore for the stories I wanted to create as a teenager and young adult I obsessed over lore and setting. Erikson's first book in his Malazan series, Gardens of the Moon is very much so in this vein.
Gardens of the Moon was originally going to be a film script according to Erikson, and then after that was canned he was going to turn it into an RPG setting like Gurps or Dungeons and Dragons. Although, this could probably still be done, sometime later Erikson turned Gardens of Moon into a novel series and along with his friend Ian C. Esslemont would created the shared universe of Malazan.
This inspired me to continue building lore and focusing on making my world as realistic as I could, not so in the since of making it realistically based in reality, but making the characters feel like real people with something at stake. Creating a world and society that seemed believable, not just some fantasy fodder world that people had seen before. Erikson's attention to detail allowed me to continue with what I was doing and helped me craft my setting and tone in a new way.
Beyond literature my biggest hobby is that of watching animation particularly Japanese anime. I have been an anime fan since I saw Pokemon when I was in the second grade. My love or more realistically my obsession has just grown since then. Anime is an interesting medium, because unlike American animation which focuses on children anime focuses on genres and story arcs. If you watch adult animation in the states it is mostly stuff like Family Guy, The Simpsons, South Park which is mostly potty mouth humor. There are not story arcs, even in kid shows. The closest thing was the Justice League, Batman, and Superman shows in the nineties and early two thousands, and even then they don't concentrate on the story and plot like anime do.
Anime as a medium have characters and stories to tell that may seen strange and bizarre to a majority of westerners. Since I was enthralled early on, and loved the characters and stories presented and latter delved into Japanese culture I came to respect the medium even more. It became my main hobby, and more often not on my free time I am watching anime, it has become that important part of my life.
The anime that truly probably inspired me the most is actually in truth not an actual anime, but an anime influenced cartoon known as Avatar: The Last Airbender. Avatar actually does a lot of things superior to most modern anime creating a world that is interesting and characters who are instantly likable. It showed duality between two sides which was an inspiration for me to focus not just on my heroes and heroines, but show the side of the villains and antagonists as well. Both are proactive, and both have hopes and dreams. That is probably the biggest literary thing I learned from the Avatar series.
It is not the only inspiration I have taken from the Avatar series. The simple elemental system used in Avatar inspired my magic system of elementology that I use. My system is a bit more complicated that the one that is used in Avatar, but it is very similar in nature. The way that the benders in the Avatar series use their elemental abilities also inspired me when developing the abilities of my own characters.
My characters themselves were not influenced by Avatar, nor was my world. Although, it is anime influenced much like my own writings other anime series helped me influence my characters and world building. Moribito, in terms of my characters is probably one of the more obvious ones. Moribito is an anime series that is based on a novel of the same name that centers around a middle aged woman named Balsa. Not only is that quite unorthodox the characters in the anime series are quite complex. The complex nature of someone like Balsa who does jobs as a mercenary to redeem herself inspired me to make my heroes and especially my heroines have passions, dreams and be strong characters.
Moribito had a great Asian influenced fantasy setting as well, and helped me craft some of my lore and setting, but for the most part Malazan and Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere helped inspire my setting and lore. Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere is an anime series that itself is based off a light novel series notorious for not being so “light” in size. It is one of my most loved anime series, and despite the fact that it gets a lot of hate for it's use of fan service I still love it. The world building, the setting is grand in scope. Much like Malazan.
Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere is a science-fiction based light novel series that has a massive cast of characters much like epic fantasy. The characters are also a part of the smaller scale of the world and eventually involve themselves with the greater problems facing the world head on. That is the tone of my series as well. The first three novels of the Imagient King the main protagonists are small scale and only doing their own tasks and duties while a much biggest threat looms that they don't face directly. Eventually after Li and Tsuna form their destiny, they will tackle the larger issues in the last three books.
The big deal in Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere is the world is ending, the Apocalypse. It isn't that serious in my book series, and also isn't as weird and outlandish like Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere. It is a much more simpler tale than ending the Apocalypse. The first three novels follow Li and Tsuna's destiny, and then the last three show what they will do to carve their own path.
I don't watch that much films or television anymore, but I do enjoy me a good fantasy film. Lord of the Rings as a film franchise influenced me to read The Hobbit which kickstarted my love of fantasy so film as a medium has influenced me. However, the biggest film series to influence my writing is probably Star Wars. It is obvious that something like Star Wars would influence me, I loved the Star Wars children books when I was little, I loved the first trilogy, and I love the new series of films and lore.
Star Wars has inspired me to write strong characters and always have a bit of mystical and magical qualities. Unlike, George Lucas I know I am writing a fantasy series and won't ruin it by bringing in midoclorians. But, despite my personal misgivings about George Lucas as a writer, his writings and lore that he built for Star Wars are inspirational. Star Wars doesn't have a great plot, it is just stole from films and myths.
It is the characters that are most important in Star Wars, we care about Luke, Leia, and Han Solo. Yes, the characters are essentially tropes, but they are at least written well. We don't delve too much into character development with these characters, but it is interesting to see Luke follow the heroes journey.
The Force is an interesting and unique in it's implementation in the original Star Wars. Instead of just using magic, although the Force is essentially magic, it has it's own rules and boundaries. In tern this inspired me to develop imagitechs. Imagitechs started out trying to find a way to over power saiyans from DBZ, but thanks to my love of Star Wars lore, and creating the elementology system I would create a magical system of my own with it's own rules and boundaries similar to that of the force.
Star Wars was great, but as I have already stated it is a pretty generic story told in a very unorthodox way. I still love it, but I began to understand that in high school Lucas was partiality inspired by Akira Kurosawa. The Hidden Fortress is one of the most credited films in history, and is a huge influence to Star Wars particularly A New Hope. The Hidden Fortress is told by the perspective of two peasants who are pretty incompetent, but there is a princess, a samurai and a journey.
I won't really say that The Hidden Fortress has inspired me beyond that. The princess in my story is the driving force, and one of the most proactive characters. The samurai or bodygaurd could be seen in both Li and in Tyvan. But I don't really have peasant characters who goof off like in The Hidden Fortress.
When it comes to Akira Kurosawa my main influence is that of Kagemusha, which is one of my favorite films ever. Kagemusha is partially inspired by the tale of Shingen Takeda a warlord or diamyo in the Japanese Warring States period. It helped me envision how life in an asian culture and land would be like. Kagemusha helped create the idea of the Omi Empire, and the culture that lived there. Although, the Omi Empire would evolve to be a very Japanese influenced culture I would add a very Chinese bureaucratic system and have some Korean motifs such as a strong navy, strong walls, and Korean architecture.
Kagemusha also helped shape a political and historical based drama that was different than anything I saw in modern fantasy. It inspired me to take from asian history and culture to create a world that was not like anything in contemporary fantasy. Asian politics and culture is something that interests me, so as I researched it using Kagemusha as a basis it helped me draft a better understanding on how a culture like that would work in a fantasy setting.
The fantasy setting that I ended up crafting for the novel was one that had multicultural influences, the Imagients were a culture of invaders, warriors and aristocrats. They fought with each other as much as they fought with the native Imagient mianthi. It was a chaotic struggle for life and death in the Imagience inspired by historical fiction, fantasy literature, anime, and television. Many might see influence from Game of Thrones, and I won't detract that I have not been influenced by the tv series or even George RR Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, but these other influences outweigh I think any comparisons between Martin and me.
My writing was influenced by fantasy novels, by anime and animation in general, by video games, television and by Asian films. I crafted a world based on these influences. I made characters to inhabit this world, and The Imagient King is the series that is dedicated to telling the stories of the Imagients and humans who live in The Imagience. It is just through the lens of a blacksmith who has a heroic destiny and of a runaway princess who will soon face her own destiny.
Introduction Blog Post: The Imagient King- Journey with the Princess of the East.
The reason why everyone is probably reading this blog, and coming to this site is because this is the official blog site for my books. The stories that I want to tell can be summed up in grandiose style, and I have a lot, and I mean a lot of ideas. I want to turn these ideas into stories and tell them to people across multiple multimedia platforms and genres. Then I thought I needed to start somewhere, so the best way to introduce you into this universe I want to create to tell these stories is with the Imagient King, a story that has grown and evolved to it's own monster over the years. In this blog I will discuss the Imagient King, what it is and what it means to me. Then I will talk about it's own evolution as an idea and what the book itself is about. Finally, I will attempt to explain what I want to do with the series, and this blog.
The Imagient King, a story within a story. The idea for the book series itself can go back to my elementary school years where my friends who pretend to role-play various heroes and villains during recess. Although, the term Imagient was probably manifested by me in middle school the stories and the games we played in my early years helped shape ideas that would later be used in the Imagient King series.
It is in essence my idea of going back to my childhood dreams and stories that I have always wanted to tell. I have tried to tell stories about characters in my head, as many friends now whenever I try to explain my “big idea” story Dino Wars Army to them, it comes off flat and they are confused. I have so much lore and so much to explain, that it goes over many of my friend's heads. But I am not here to talk about Dino Wars Army, although I can discuss that monster on another blog post.
Imagient King itself manifests itself as a dream to tell stories that I have wanted to tell my friends, and indeed some of my close friends now about Imagients, and a bit about them. They are magical empowered individuals very similar to psychics and psykers for Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons fans might know. I only use those terms because they are close to what Imagients are, but they really are their own thing that I have created over time. The fact that I am actually working on a series discussing the Imagients, and their own lore to fit my greater universal lore, is fitting and at the same time monumental to me.
It's a big task to explain Imagients, Imagientechs, and many terms that most people reading this blog won't understand. But, hopefully once I get this book written, rewritten and edited over a hundred times then this blog will be in retrospect something that is very powerful and representative of a big risk that I am taking in trying to tell a story of characters who are just stepping stones in more extravagant stories to come.
For me, Imagient King is the easiest way to explain and open the door to something greater. My idea of the Computus Lore, which is a huge set of lore and setting where all of my stories interconnect and relate to each other. Spanning millions of years, centered with thousands of characters I want to tell the story of these worlds and these people. And with Imagient King, I can finally do just that.
So you might be thinking, what in the world is Computus Lore? Well that is a story a bit more complicated that I might explain in a later blog post. For now the easiest thing to explain is Imagient King, the Imagients, and the Imagience where they live. And to do that I will first have to explain to you what in the world these terms mean, the origin of it, and in essence what you are all getting into when you eventually read The Imagient King: Journey with the Princess of the East.
The origins of Imagients as I so briefly discussed earlier comes from two different distinct sources. One is that childhood recess escapades where I took the stories and imagination of my youth and coined the term in retrospect Imagients. Me and my friends were the Imagients who fought against the Bullies and other bad things that all elementary aged boys fight such as cutties, aliens, and bad homework.
This is the origin of Imagients, but it is not what I eventually used as the plot of my book, Imagients in their more modern form came to me as a young anime fan trying to find a way to make individuals more powerful than saiyans. Yes, saiyans as in the alien race in Dragon Ball Z, which the main character Goku and many others are members of. How does one make something stronger than someone who can destroy a planet? Well, in my youth I decided that people who could manipulate reality using their imagination, just might be able to do that. Imagients evolved to be able to control the world we know it by tapping into their imagination and making it into reality.
Imagients were originally created in late middle school/early high school for a very juvenile purpose. So I created Imagients to fill my current stories at the time including Dino Wars Army. But, they didn't really have any lore or backstory at this point. So, after being inspired reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and a few other fantasy series I worked on the lore for the Imagients. Their origins, and their homeland. I created the Imagience originally as their homeland, a place between existence and parallel worlds.
This was eventually expanded upon a bit more in high school and it forced me to create a cast of characters to fit this world and lore. So all of the main cast of Imagient King were created for this world. A princess on a quest to find a lost heir, a blacksmith who doesn't really have any goals in life, his cousin who he sees as his sister, and his soldier friend who is really a spy. These archetypes and story was then created in high school in it's most early and archaic forms.
Then I got accepted into college, and my situation changed. I didn't work on my lore and stories anymore instead I wanted to graduate school and be a historian. My goals in life changed and I left these stories to the sideline. It became clear around my third year that I may not be able to get into graduate school so I needed a back up plan. My first back-up plan was to create a business to publish and support local artists, including my own work. This plan would ultimately be shelved DE.I.C.E still exists as a business plan, but it has been pushed back until I can get more content for it to be successful.
I returned to Imagient King briefly during this time to make a hit content idea. Here I worked on my 'big idea' Dino Wars Army again, and redrafted the whole Imagience making it more to what the story is now. But, it still wasn't there. I still had a lot of time before the story would become what I am working on now.
The main push to create the Imagient King that I am working on now, happened during the tail end of my college life. I shared script ideas of Dino Wars Army to animation and computer friends, and they still didn't understand it. It came to me that Dino Wars Army was too big of a monster to handle at the moment. After all it is my epic, my baby and I decided to shelf it for a bit. To improve my craft first I needed a guinea pig, and Imagient King would be that guinea pig.
Imagient King became my guinea pig out of necessity. I went to Indiana Comic Con 2015 and attended various writing panels and it was here that I was inspired even more so to write a story. I researched how to make books, what I was needing for my book and how to write stories. I am a historian by trade, so I built a new lore and a new infrastructure for the Imagient King universe. I tweaked characters, empowered motivations, and pretty much destroyed my existing Imagient King story and built a new one by scratch.
The initial plot stayed the same, the main protagonist was a blacksmith named Lee, now named Leonli has no motivation in life except to stay in his humble small farming town as a blacksmith, but this changes when a princess from the east named Sumi now named Tsuna Liang encounters him and by way of chance involves him in a chase where he faces off against demons, the inquisition and the Cyphic military. The first book is essentially a chase scenario where Leonli the main protagonist, his cousin and assistant Kerrin, and his soldier friend Tyvan all end up helping this mysterious princess from an eastern Empire escape the clutches of their corrupt government.
I decided to flip things on the readers head by making the corrupt government hunters all unique characters that were also relatable. A bastard general, who is the unclaimed son of the king of Cyphic Kingdom which is where the first book takes place. He has a group of individuals including two inquisitors, his own eccentric brother who is the actual heir to the Cyphic dynasty, as well as his own soldiers and officers.
The book is essentially a high fantasy/coming of age story with the main characters who are engaged in one long chase sequence from their pursers who are the Cyphic military and inquisition. Strong themes such as friendship, propaganda as prophecy, responsibility, and life motivations are discussed. The book sets up the Imagience world, Imagients, and their abilities called Imagientechs. Which I try to distinguish from magic in my universe by bringing in mages so that there is a difference in place.
The Imagient King series which will be six books in total, with the Princess of the East ending on a good note, where a good majority of the plot is contained into the first novel. Yes, there will be more books after the Imagient King: Princess of the East. Not everything will be ended nicely in the first book, but there is at lease a lot of closure that it can be considered almost stand alone. Or at least that is my intention.
The first three books in the franchise form a trilogy of sorts which showcases the main character Leonli and his female co-protagonist Tsuna on a coming of age story about both of them facing their destiny. Tsuna's main story arc is one of accepting her responsibilities as a princess and as someone who helps guide Leonli through the story. Leonli's arc itself is one of motivation, as we enter the series Leonli has no motivation and with Tsuna he is given that. But, that is not his ultimate destiny, as you will read in the book itself, there may be a few things about Leonli that I hint about, but will not spoil. But, let's just say it may or may not involve the series title.
My goal with this is to not only write six books for the Imagient King, but to use it as a stepping stone to write other novels I want to write, outside of the Imagience and throughout the greater Computus Lore. Stories on such far off worlds as Mithrenok, Avesauria, and Neona. These names mean very little to you readers of this blog now, but I hope in the future to greater explain these worlds, and the characters that dwell here. Imagient King will hopefully prove to be the catalyst for this greater lore I want to tell, because I have more in store for you, not only in this blog, but as stories that I want to tell readers as a whole.
So, in closing the Imagient King is a book series that I am going to write and I have wanted to write these stories for a long time. Through trial and tribulation I have created a world rich with lore that I hope many will come to love. Eventually, I want to expand outwards into other mediums beyond novels especially into animation to tell even more stories. These are my goals, and a little bit about the Imagient King as a whole. I hope you liked reading this actual very first blog post about my book series and for you to come back to my blog in the future.
Hello, and welcome to my blog
Well, I have finally decided to break down and get myself a blog. This is both of necessity just as much as it is out of pure happenstance. I have stories that I want to write, and this is a good way to interact with my fans. Additionally to the stories I want to tell, I want to write opinion pieces that probably won't necessarily be best for posting on social media. Facebook is not the best place to vent out one's frustrations, but this blog will allow me to discuss a variety of topics from history, religion, literature, politics, and more fandom based ones that I am highly subjective on including modern anime, modern gaming, modern fantasy, and modern comics. This blog will at least be an attempt to wrestle all of those topics at one time or another. But, only time will tell if this blog actually becomes something I can use once my writing career begins, whenever I can finish my novel and get it published.
A.L. Hornbeck, historian, author, metalhead, and all around geek.