So I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy novels lately and beefing about the lack of nuance in the way that characters navigate the political systems of the world, and the way that politics and power are used in the plot.

Then I thought to myself: self, you are a political scientist by training, a public policy wonk by trade, and an amateur historian and writer of political fantasy. Of course you are going to beef about that stuff; but more importantly, maybe you could produce something that would be of use to other writers dipping their toes into these muddy waters.

So, in the hope of providing something useful, and to service my obsession, let’s talk about ~*politics*~.

Man is by nature a political animal. – Aristotle

What is politics? Politics is a game of the getting and keeping of political power, played out in different ways, on different boards, by different players, over the long centuries of human existence.

Politics is not a game. It is an earnest business. – Winston Churchill

Your dissenting opinion is noted, Mr Churchill. Let’s get on with the metaphor. In this post I am going to talk about the game, which is to get and keep political power. In particular, I’m going to look at the sources of political power, and how these may manifest in your story. Subsequent posts will deal with the board (i.e. the political structures, diplomacy and what not) and the players.

I am going to travel quite widely across my experience of contemporary politics, history and fantasy world-building in the hope of producing something that is useful across a range of genres, but also because the basics of this game really don’t change regardless of the setting.

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