Blog post Number 16 Written: 06-01-2021 Uploaded: 05-06-2022
For a long time, I called the Balaur “dragons”. It wasn’t until after the contract was signed and the book was less than a month from publication that the name was changed from Dragon to Balaur. This was the last significant change to the book that constituted more than a period or a comma worth of editing. Dragon felt too childish, didn’t feel right for the kind of energy I wanted the book to carry. Balaur is an old Slavic name for dragon-like mythical creatures, so in essence, it’s the same thing. After all, the human characters are all of Russian/Eastern European heritage anyway. So let me talk about them specifically a little more.
The Balaur are your typical old school sci-fi hungry man-eating lizard men, except they can fly. They are natives of the planet Kepler 452B. They are intelligent, sentient, and have language, they talk, think and make plans. They will co-ordinate and hunt you. They’ll eat you alive. They are not a foe to be underestimated and the various characters in The Descendant that are concerned about them are rightly doing so.
They live in clans, each clan a large extended family group, each clan has a territory and while usually done through violent methods the clans do interact and negotiate territory, hunting grounds, locations of roosts, and breeding grounds. They typically mate for life and each clan is typically lead by a specific mated pair, the “Alphas”. And those alphas are often challenged by younger counterparts, which usually must also be mated pairs. (Tarko was an overly ambitious exception.) Kind of like how the Starwarz portrays the Sith, with only two in power and the apprentice must overcome and kill the master to move up the ranks. They don’t build structures or shelters, and being carnivores they don’t really need tools beyond the teeth and claws they already have. So while intelligent, it is unlikely that they would ever become technologically advanced enough to become a space fairing multi-planet species. They are however the dominant force on their planet. And they are slowly advancing as a society. With a council being built as a collection of clans, about a dozen different clans are building a coalition of sorts. With peaceful cooperation and negotiation between all the different clans involved. The white Balaur serving as the emissary, the arbiter between the various clans. If you have read the 4 part series of vignettes, free on the Immerser’s website that recounts The Descendant from the Balaur Tarko’s point of view, you’d see. The white messenger Blalaur, later dubbed by the humans as Belobog features in those vignettes too. The Balaur might be the boogeyman of The Descendant, and Belobog may return in later books, partially just because the beta readers loved the Balaur so much, but beyond that, they’re not very important for the story, for the lore overall. They’re little more than a footnote, especially in light of the other galactic scale threats that are coming to loom over ZostaMax and humanity. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, and I love the Balaur and how they turned out in the book, and despite being little more than a footnote they are close to my heart, as I love the classic sci-fi tropes and feel, and what better way to pay homage to classic sci-fi, than with classic sci-fi bad guys, like big nasty lizard men. I had originally planned to give them their own stand alone novel, but it didn’t turn out that way, no matter how hard I plot, I didn’t go according to plan.