1001st book worldbuilding

Thoth, god-king of Atlantis, as imagined by a contemporary Japanese artist. (From the movie The Laws of Eternity, although this is not about that.)

As if I had nothing better to do, I came up with yet another story. It has potential, I think, but probably not a lot of potential. We’ll see. As usual what I write about here is mainly the “worldbuilding”, the setting of the story, not the plot, if such a thing even exists. I usually leave that to the muses in my head.

The protagonist is a 15 year old boy, but that is kind of incidental. The point is, he has read 1000 books. He did not know the exact number, although it seems reasonable when he is told so by a new librarian at the town library. She gives him a book called The 1001st Book, which will probably be the title of my book as well if I complete it. Unless someone has used that name already, which is certainly possible: There is no end to the writing of books, according to Ecclesiastes.

The book he is given is a fantasy novel about some guy in a world where magic exists but modern technology does not. Magic is not something you are born to, anyone could become a magician, but it seems to happen only to bookish people. The reason, we learn from the book, is that you can only become a magician after having read and understood 1000 books. It does not matter what books. After this, you will be given the 1001st book, which tells you the truth about magic, and toward the end of the book, teaches you the Attalan Runes.

The Runes are a syllabic script (which I currently imagine to be similar to hiragana or katakana in Japanese, not that I am saying so in the text). Once you master the Runes, you can go on to learn the Sigils of Mu, representing words or concepts (which I imagine as similar to kanji in Japaese). It is in this script that the secrets of the world are written, which magicians need to know in order to master the forces of the world.

After reading the book, the main character (of my book, not the book he is reading) begins to dream that he is in that other world he read about. The dream is very lifelike. It is in this dreamworld that he will find the 1002nd and later books. Over time, it will become more and more uncertain which world is the most real.

The 1002nd book is the first of the 20 000 Books of Truth, written 12 000 years ago by Thoth, god-king of Attalan. It was also he who established the practice of offering the teachings of magic to those who had read 1000 books.  Thoth is believed by the locals to have been the incarnation of a god, not the Creator but the protector and guide of this particular planet. The line between gods and the most powerful magicians is somewhat blurry, but Thoth was more powerful and wiser than any of them.

It is said that this god incarnates in the world from time to time when history needs it, and if someone ever reads and understands all the 20 000 Books of Truth, that person will be proved to be the reincarnation of Thoth. But so far that has never happened. This is because there are many branches of knowledge, and they seem to be mutually exclusive: When you have studied one of them, the opposite branch becomes meaningless, mere incomprehensible babble. And the other way around: They who have studied the opposite branch, will not be able to study the first one.

(If you thought that last part far-fetched, you may want to lend a helping hand to the people teaching respectively quantum physics and relativity…)

Occasionally some magician is able to reconcile two branches of magic by seeing them both from a much higher perspective, and this person gains the wisdom and power of a god. But so far no one has been able to combine them all, or even nearly all. It is believed that only the Rebirth of Thoth can do that.

So, is my main character actually the reincarnation of Thoth? Perhaps not, but that is beside the point for now.  I am still just sketching out the world and some of the characters and some of the plot for the first book. You don’t become a god over the course of a single book, you know. Not even a small god. Definitely not Thoth, god-king of Attalan.  ^_^


In case it was not obvious, this is based on real-world legends. Thoth is an Egyptian god of wisdom and writing, which was later identified with Hermes Trismegistus,  Thrice-great Hermes. They were both renowned for having written thousands of books, although only a few scattered writings remain from Hermes. Of Thoth, as far as I know, only legends remain. A much more recent vision has placed his whereabouts in ancient Atlantis.

Whatever the historical events that gave rise to these legends, their now thoroughly mythical nature today makes them well suited to include in such a story, I think. Unless someone else has written it already. There is no end to the writing of books, after all!


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