Do you ever stop to consider the history that inspires fantasy books? 

Some obvious points come to mind. Castle defenses. Sword types. Tunics, armor, and breeches. But other setting elements are more subtle, more niche. That’s what I love to read. 

In my novel, PLAINS OF SAND AND STEEL, I researched fire pots and it sent me down a fascinating rabbit hole where I picked up countless hot (get it?) ideas. 

You know, our ancestors were not always freezing their important bits off as some may imagine. They were actually rather clever.

Nomadic, semi-nomadic, and occasional trip-taking peoples did not move from place to place, starting a fire from scratch every time. They knew how awful it was to get that thing going. All the rubbing and twisting and striking and blowing. No, they kept a low-burning fire in (usually) a clay container called a fire pot.

Using this baby fire, they created larger versions for cooking, warmth, and so on. En route, they held the fire pot under an outer piece of clothing. Sometimes they set it by their feet when working at the loom or doing other duties that kept them away from the main fire of the household.

Around 1300 B.C., a king in Turkey heated the floors of his castle with an early form of radiant panel heating that the Romans improved upon. The Romans heated their villas and baths using what is called a hypocaust. Tile pillars the floors and allowed heat from fires to flow underfoot.

Ancient peoples in Korea developed yet another hot way to keep things less smoky and much warmer. It is called the ondol or gueduel system. You’ll have to look further into each of these systems as I’m giving you just a taste or a jumping off point here, but basically the house had a cooking fire at one end, a room with a raised masonry floor beside it under which the smoke and heat flowed, and then an outlet for said smoke. Looks a bit like a chimney laid on its side with a room built on top. Pretty great.

When you read your next fantasy, consider how the people handle cold weather challenges. Do they use something similar to the above? Do they invent something new? Some books have great details like this. It’s fun to read about as long as the author doesn’t get too long-winded with it. Oh. That was almost a horrible pun. Ignore that. Carry on.



Alisha Klapheke is a USA Today Bestselling Fantasy author. Read her stuff here.