I’m halfway through reading Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel. It’s a fascinating exploration of the physical causes behind history. In particular, it looks at why society developed so differently on different continents.
I’m not flagging this up for history readers. Honestly, I’m behind the curve on this one, and most of you have probably heard of it already. But for the fantasy writers, especially those interested in world building, I really have to recommend this book. It looks at how physical geography can lead to differences in technology that shape almost everything in society. It’s a lesson in cause and effect on an epic scale. Thinking about how the world works in the way that Diamond does could help you to flesh out complex and convincing worlds. And like any good history book, it’s full of interesting examples to be stolen and adapted for imaginary worlds.
Of course, history fans should read it too. This is a book that’s deeply shaped our perspective on history over the past twenty years. Much as I’m enjoying it now, I wish I’d got to it sooner.