Genealogy in Fiction

I read a lot of fantasy series, and some of them span centuries.  But for those series, they often use ancestors to continue on the story.  So, understanding the genealogy of the characters is very important.

In Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, the story mostly follows the Ohmsford family, and to a lesser extent, the Leah family.  A Song of Ice and Fire has an extensive list of family members, so keeping them straight is a must.  There’s also a back story with ancestry, so George R. R. Martin probably needs to understand the family tree.  In J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and The Children of Hurin, an extensive family tree was made, and is even in The Silmarillion.

In real life, I find royal family trees fascinating.  My aunt is researching my maternal grandfather’s ancestry.  My paternal grandmother is possibly a descendent of William Malet, though this is not confirmed.  This is all very interesting stuff, if you ask me.

For Ariadne, I’ll be doing an extensive genealogy, as a few families will remain quite prominent in society on the new world.  So far, I know who is in Journey to Ariadne, as well as the following duology.  The duology has the second generation and features many of the same characters as Journey to Ariadne, but also their children.  However, the following planned trilogy is far in the future, and I will do a very extensive genealogy, so I can keep track of who’s who and which families have become related through marriage and children.

Another thing I find interesting is when playing The Sims 2, I can follow the families and see how the traits of the parents are passed down.  That’s one of the most fascinating things I find about the game.

How about you? Do you have an interest in genealogy in fiction?

19 thoughts on “Genealogy in Fiction”

  1. It’s funny to come across your post right now. One of my current projects is an 8-generational collection of stories set in Scotland and Ireland during the 10th and 11th centuries (I’ve got a thing for Viking-Celt relations). And you’re right – keeping track of lineage and who birthed whom, and when, is monumentally important. A story can “have it all”, but understanding the ancestry can confuse not only the reader, but the writer, as well.

      1. Been a long day, Jay 🙂 If the ancestry isnt clearly defined, it can get be confusing. I’ve had to go through my own stories a few times because I couldnt remember which young person was the child of the previous generation.

  2. I’ve been working on this with the fantasy world I’ve been working on, which spans several generations. I’ve found that a vital part of getting the genealogy down for your characters is to keep track of the passage of time. How long does the time period for your story last? Years? Decades? Centuries? Millenia? How long does each character live? Some good timeline software would be excellent for this, if only to keep track of the lifespans of several generations.

    1. I was thinking that some kind of software would be useful, whether it’s timeline software or family tree software. I’d like to find something that’s useful and easy to use.

  3. I’m fond of genealogy, but unfortunately I’m the kind of writer where the characters’ family trees tend to dead-end suddenly… *cough* Whenever I manage to get into my second series, though, a bit of that will come into play, since I do plan for some family lines to start splicing together.

  4. I’m working on a genealogy for my WIP. It’s really important to their society in order to prevent inbreeding as they are a colony that was started with 50 couples. Then all hell broke loose before more colonists could arrive.

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