Crossing "Gates of Vasharia" with HBO's "Rome"
A year or three ago, I brought several chapters of my unfinished novel The Gates of Vasharia to my Kennesaw writing group. The story is set in the world of Vasharia where over the course of millennia various human cultures have come in through permanent Stargate-type gates or wild tears in space-time, leading to a patchwork of different nations.
(The dominant political force is an empire founded by a lost Roman legion, while other cultures are descended from Viking expeditions or Nestorian missionary endeavors.)
The story takes place during a civil war between the Imperator Marduk Kabon and his father's former general Patrick Rassam, the latter of whom was cast into the dark spaces between worlds (inspired by the "Todash Darkness" of Stephen King's Dark Tower universe) and has returned with demonic forces from said realm. Adding to the fun is an invasion from a parallel world by a gigantic cyborg Russian despot.
The technology of this world is roughly at the level of the Persian Gulf War. However, all of the point-of-view (POV) characters (protagonist Calvin Grenville, anti-hero Patrick Rassam, the antagonistic Czar, and on-the-protagonist's-side-but-still-a-tool Marduk) who participate in battle are very high-ranking--they're either corps commanders if not outright commanders-in-chief. In a Gulf War-type setting, someone of that rank is not going to be participating in active combat unless something has gone very, very wrong.
I've tried to "hang a lampshade" on that issue by depicting Cal only participating in direct combat twice (once leading the reserve forward at a critical moment in person to inspire his men--and being chastened by Marduk for unnecessarily risking himself--and later when the Czar's army overruns his headquarters), depicting Patrick and the Czar as both being Blood Knights who simply don't give a rip, and Marduk getting caught in a Czarist raid on his headquarters rather than anything he sought out himself. However, some members of my writing group suggesting leaving the combat scenes to lower-ranking characters.
Although I was resistant to the concept because that would require rewriting much of what I've already written, I just had a realization that HBO's television program Romeoperated on the same principles. Legionaries Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus are the ones who, most of the time, are the ones getting their hands dirty. You might see someone like Mark Antony and Marcus Agrippa dusting it up, but even at that level of technology, they wouldn't be part of a shield wall like a common soldier would be.
Perhaps the revisions wouldn't be as radical as I fear. Like Rome, this can be a "buddy story" of two lower-ranking guys who keep finding themselves involved in power politics. This way I can save most of the already-written material and just add new stuff.
*GOV begins with Cal awarding medal to survivors of a failed campaign across the Inner Sea against Patrick's stronghold in the western continent of Mahonistan. One of them can be a low-ranked POV character. I can keep the first scene where Cal and his entourage are heading to the arena on a train and have the second half of the scene from the low-ranked guy's POV.
*The other low-ranked POV character can be present when the Czar invades the eastern continent of Trydonia and be among the survivors that retreat. That would require redoing about the first two-thirds of the chapter.
*At the first big battle with the Czarist forces, the two characters can get thrown together. Maybe they're part of a mishmash of survivors that are about to get curb-stomped by the Czar when suddenly Cal and the armor reserve have a Big Damn Heroes moment and kick the Czarist forces in their metaphorical groin. The chapter begins with Cal POV doing the battle-planning and high-level management stuff, then the actual combat can be from the lower-ranking guy's POV. We switch back to Cal's POV for the aftermath of the fighting and then back to the lower-ranking guy's POV for some post-battle leave.
*A major part of the story involves Marduk dispatching Cal (and his wife Eva, who has a bit of a history with Patrick) to territories under Patrick's control in hopes of negotiating an alliance against the Czar. One of them is assigned to be part of Cal's escort, while the other stays behind to fight the Czar. The one who travels can provide a lower-ranked POV (while Cal parleys with Patrick, he can see the armies building for Patrick's planned invasion of Trydonia and the reader will think Patrick will stab Marduk in the back), while the other can be part of the breakout where the bloodied Czarist forces shatter part of the Imperial army and march for the sea, toward the area Patrick's planned invasion will land.
*When Patrick's army lands and Cal returns to command of his army, the two characters are reunited. They'll be part of the counteroffensive that pushes the Czar back toward his incursion zone. They can be present when the Czar overruns Cal's headquarters and is about to personally dispatch him when he's set upon by Patrick. That particular fight would be a seven-alarm SNAFU--three corps commanders, their respective bodyguards and whatever equivalent to "household troops" would exist in this world (I'm thinking Patrick would have a force nicknamed "Rassam's Fist" in the style of the 501st Legion), and significant quantities of three armies' air power going at it in an area maybe about 1-2 square miles.
You all probably won't be seeing this anytime soon. This story deals with issues that I don't really have a lot of personal experience in, so I figured I'd set it aside and return to it once I've written some more books and have lived more.
(There's also the possibility I might simply put together the Patrick-POV parts of it into a new first-person fake-memoir entitled I, Dark Lord, but I've written some very good character moments that aren't from his POV and I'd rather not waste those.)
Hmm...if it weren't for the budget costs of Patrick's demonic henchmen, armies of tanks, etc., this might make a spiffy television series. Maybe it could be animated?