Middle Ages Crisis: Apocalypse Then

by Gail Z. Martin

Usually when we think of a middle age crisis, we picture sports cars, trophy wives or plastic surgery.   And when we think of apocalyptic adventures, they tend to be set in the here-and-now.

I tend to like my crises on an epic scale.  So while a lot of apocalyptic fiction is set present-day or in the future, I like the idea of tackling a post-apocalyptic scenario medieval style.

Here’s where my liberal arts education comes in handy (I was a history major, and now I’m making a living with what I studied.  Woot!).  The real Middle Ages had plenty of end-of-the-world events, times when people really thought that the end was near.

Of course, the Black Plague probably tops the list for real-life apocalypses.  Not only was the disease itself fearsome in its savageness, but the sheer magnitude of the death toll was the death knell for feudalism and fundamentally altered European society and power structures.  Let’s not forget the “Little Ice Age” when temperatures across Europe were much colder than usual, with devastating impact on crops, economies and health.

Natural disasters can also be cataclysmic.  Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, heat waves, droughts, floods and pestilence (think swarms of locusts or potato blight) have humbled empires, killed millions,  and made entire civilizations vanish.

In many cases, the people who experienced and fought to survive these apocalyptic events were very similar to our oh-so-modern selves.  Many of them lived in empires or kingdoms that were the pinnacle of political power and technological sophistication for their era.  Since humanity has a bad track record for acknowledging what they don’t know, these ancestors thought they had everything all figured out—before war, disaster or bad luck rocked their world.

Modern-day cataclysms don’t interest me much.  Maybe that’s because I grew up in the Cold War, just after the duck-and-cover days, when we were all looking over our shoulders for the “big one.”  Maybe it’s a defensive mechanism in an era of AIDS, Ebola, Bird Flu, Mayan Calendar fears, Y2K hysteria and the general Internet “sky is falling” crisis du jour.  I grew up with people who were certain that catastrophic death was imminent—and they were wrong.  So maybe my nerve endings are burned out for modern doomsday scenarios.

But Medieval apocalypses—now those intrigue me.   And in Ice Forged, I’ve found a whole new “end of the world as we know it” story.  Hang on.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Please enjoy this excerpt from Ice Forged: https://www.4shared.com/office/cmGO132M/Ice_Forged_Excerpt_4.html

And an excerpt from “Buttons”, my short story in the Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane here: https://www.4shared.com/office/20nwnf1S/Buttons_excerpt_1.html


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