word building: troglodytes

Troglodyte: someone who dwells in a cave [syn: caveman, cave man, {cave dweller}]
(Pulled from http://definr.com/ — very cool site for quick definitions)

The Mordache have decided that anyone who does not live under their rule is a troglodyte. The common (erroneous) belief is that all troglodytes are roughly similar.

It is a tradition in the Mordache cities, Vastii included, that every first day of the new year celebration a large Mordache city will hold an event where a wild troglodyte is pitted against a fresh tiger, where they will fight to the death. If the tiger wins, which it usually does, the celebrations continue unfettered. If the troglodyte wins, it is an omen of change and a testimony to the strength of men. The troglodyte is freed afterward (the Mordache require their slaves to have sold themselves into slavery through debts, oaths, or as a criminal punishment, so stolen cave-boys must be released by law). Then the Mordache conduct a religious ceremony to strengthen themselves for the days to come. Some Mordache believe that this is just a form of entertainment. Others take the event as a way to test the waters for the next year.

At the start of the novel, Rylan (my protagonist) admits that he did not live in Renideo when Princess Arielii died, twelve years prior. He arrived in the city several months after the princess’ death for the new year’s ceremony. He does not elaborate, though he could have; he had been the troglodyte thrown to the tiger that year. He had been fifteen, married younger than was generally accepted, his beard thin and half-grown, and his training in local medicines had been incomplete when he’d been stolen from his tribe. He’d never been able to find his home again.

Rylan is one of two (known) troglodytes in the novel. The other is a woman from another tribe, and though she is Rylan’s companion and ally Rylan tries to avoid her whenever possible.

Saffira paints her face with purple cream and wears colorful, loose robes, dozens of beaded necklaces that clank when she walks. Her command of Danache (the Mordache tongue) is so minimal that only Rylan’s companions can understand her. Rylan and Saffira are similar the same way that all the different Native American tribes resembled each other (not at all). Saffira’s people practice cannibalism and are notoriously more war-like than Rylan’s more agricultural community. Her sort of tribe was a subject of scary bedtime stories when Rylan was a boy.

Each tribe speaks its own language, and most troglodytes are recognized by their inability to speak Danache clearly. By the time the book starts, Rylan has completely shed the last vestiges of his accent and has largely forgotten most of his original language.

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5 thoughts on “word building: troglodytes

  1. Wow… I’m absolutely stunned at the depth and amount of world building you engage in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thoroughly impressed, but if you applied this amount of time and word-count to the novel itself, you’d be on your fifth book by now. 😛

  2. Actually, this part is mostly old content. I already knew about the cave-boys… it’s just that writing it down forces me to embellish and think it through more clearly, add details, ect. And I think those details are really what will end up making the novel shine.

    For example, I’m not going to explain that Saffira is a cave-girl (directly). Nor am I going to explain why she decorates her quarters with broken human skulls. My readers are smart. They can figure it out.

  3. I love this concept, Eliza. One of my preoccupations these days has to do with the construction of the Other in society, and figuring how cultures interact (or don’t) with one another in spite (or in light?) of their differences. Though some fantasy touches on the subject, few explore far because it’s difficult territory. But this sounds like it’s right on track, and quite fascinating.

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