Monday, May 11, 2009

Making the King Interesting

When we think of a king (or queen), we usually think of a man who has the authority to do pretty much what he pleases. Historically, many kings have had the power and we tend to think that that is the only kind of king there is. Going from that assumption, we might look at the British monarchy, which has little formal authority and what it has is rarely exercised, and wonder why it still exists. We read through the Book of Daniel and see that the law of the Medes and Persians prevented the king from amending his own law. That seems to go against our concept of what a king is, but there it is. The law supersedes the power of the king.

In fiction, kings are often very boring creatures. The problem is that we often ignore the authority of the law over the king. Suppose the law requires the crown prince to marry before his twenty-fifth birthday. We say, “Change the law,” but that doesn’t make for a good story. Consider the real life King Darius from the Book of Daniel. He signed a law stating that anyone who prayed to anyone except him for thirty days would be cast into a den of lions. He becomes interesting because he realizes his mistake and is powerless to correct it. If you have a fictional king who is boring, create a law that he can’t change and watch him squirm.