Lord of Columbia Series

The Story of Columbia

What the Hell’s the Sword of Stoicheion?

I’m often asked how I came up with names of people, locations, and objects that are present in Lord of Columbia and Neo Skyehawk. You have Sword of Stoicheion, Ddraigoch, character names, and more.  Some of which I touched on in previous posts and others will be examined in future articles.

Coming up with unforgettable names was something I often asked myself as a kid when I played Pokemon games, wondering how the creators came up with names like Gyarados, Pikachu, and the other original 151 creatures which now number over 700 if I’m not mistaken.

When I researched how the creators of Pokemon came up with names, it was to play to the tastes of American and other English-speaking audiences worldwide, giving them “clever and descriptive” names.

Knowing this, I wanted to do the same with my own names.

For instance, Cain Riscattare’s name in Northern Knights displays irony. You have Cain, who in the Book of Genesis in the Christian Bible, committed the first murder in human history while Riscattare is Italian for redeem.

For those who’ve read Northern Knights, Cain’s personality fits his name. He’s an immature, arrogant hothead who goes out of his way to make life hell for those he doesn’t like or for anyone who annoys him. However, he’s fiercely loyal to his friends and family, doesn’t tolerate discrimination, sexism, or racism, and is the type of person who will invite an outcast into his circle of friends.

As stated in previous articles, Rand Jefferson, Cain’s mentor, is named after Rand Paul and Thomas Jefferson.

Savannah Rivers is based on a girl I met whose first name is after a city and last name after a river.

The most unique might be Ddraigoch, which is basically a combination of the Welsh translation of The Red Dragon, ‘Y ddraig goch.’

The most notable and common term is Stoicheion, which is the subject of this article.

 

The Classical Elements

For those who grew up watching Avatar, the Last Airbender, you know how important element-bending is to the series. And those of you who don’t know, the four elements mentioned are water, earth, fire, and air (wind in Lord of Columbia).

In The Last Airbender, only the Avatar has the ability to master all four elements while in Lord of Columbia, anyone born with ability can master the five elements, as I added Spirit to this mantra as well. Each character born with Stoicheion ability (about 1 in 25, while 1 in 10 are born with any type of ability) can master the elements, which I refer to as the Stoicheion elements, separate from those with ability in the Philosophic elements of metal, blood, and wood.

Those born with such ability begin by controlling one element before learning others, just as Aang had done in the Last Airbender, where his original element was air before learning water, earth, and fire. Only those whose original element is Spirit will likely control only one element, due to Spirit’s complexity, which I’ll dive into in a later article as many have asked me why this is the case.

Anyway, back to the talk of the Classical elements.

Basically, I wanted to pull a Pokemon and give… I don’t know about clever, but I definitely wanted descriptive and unforgettable names, especially for those who possess the ability to give the reader something to identify with.

 

That’s the Name!

Not only was it important to give a descriptive name that readers could identify with; I wanted a name that was memorable, one that would walk into a reader’s mind anytime they heard the word ‘element.’

Wikipedia of all places led me straight to the name.

While conducting initial research for Northern Knights, then under a completely different working title, I wanted accuracy when it came to element control and what to refer to the elements as a group.

Sword of the Elements just didn’t sound right, lacked creativity, description, and to be honest, was just forgettable.

Per Wikipedia, I read ‘the ancient Greek word for element, stoicheion…’

It was right there, sitting in a personal training office and awaiting my next client I gasped and said to myself, “That’s it, that’s the name!”

I went into my first draft and replaced ‘Sword of the Elements’ with ‘Sword of Stoicheion,’ and the rest is history.

The most common, and perhaps most mysterious unique name found in Lord of Columbia derives its name from Ancient Greece, where the classical elements also played a massive role.

 

Gaia, A World Quite Like Our Own

It was due to the Greek nature of the term ‘stoicheion’ did I decide that in Gaia, in which the entire world’s landmass is similar to our own landmass on present-day Earth, that the Greek-like region must play a massive role in both Lord of Columbia and Neo Skyehawk.

A bit of a foreshadow will come in Neo Skyehawk upon the release of Fighting the High Seas, and in Lord of Columbia’s Trilogy II, not only will the story take place in Columbia, but our characters will set sail across Gaia later in the trilogy, unearthing a mystery that is thousands of years old, a mystery that originates in the Greek-like region of Terrain, close, very close, to the Heart of the World’s Island, which is eerily identical to our own world island.

For that, I’ll leave you with this teaser quote:

“Who controls Eastern Europe controls the Heartland; who rules the Heartland rules the World-Island; who rules the World-Island controls the world,” – Halford John Mackinder, 1904.

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24 Comments

  1. This was a very intriguing post!  I think you were extremely brilliant to come up with such memorable names for the characters in your books like you did.  This way, your readers will be able to remember and relate to a memory when they hear the names of your villains and heroes!  After all, names are how we place character traits with certain characters.  Quick question…I am an avid reader, and also teach kids of varying age levels.  Would this series be appropriate for high schoolers?  I’m always looking for books to recommend to my students!  This sounds like a great series of books to check into!

    Blessings:)

    Suzi

    • Todd Matthews

      May 18, 2019 at 9:36 pm

      Hi, Suzi, if you’re teaching juniors or seniors, I’d say you’re good to go. There’s language, violence, and other suggestive themes, but nothing crazy adult-oriented. Freshmen and Sophomores, I’d tread water with caution, but you’ll be great with the junior-senior crowd. 

  2. Salvatore V Jenkins Jr.

    May 18, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Don’t know how I came across this post but for some reason, I started reading and the subject matter is extremely interestinging. There are many times where I find myself curious as to how creators, developers, and storytellers come up with the names for characters or places.

    I really like the name Cain Riscattare that you created, how you created it and what it means. It is amazing how life works out and the answers are always in your face but we are just to blind to see sometimes or it just takes time to notice it. I will definitely have to read Northern Knights in my free time, seems like an interesting story…

    Great read… Thanks!

    • Todd Matthews

      May 19, 2019 at 12:44 am

      Thanks, Salvatore. I got a lot of inspiration for names from J.K. Rowling, who did something similar in the Harry Potter Series. From there, I vowed to place meaning behind the names of my main characters and select locations. It’s challenging, but also a lot of fun, too. 

  3. I’m impressed with how you go about finding names for characters. It takes a lot of creative thinking to come up with memorable names for characters, objects and so forth. I do love the name “Sword of Stoicheion”. It does have a cool ring to it. I also like it when there is “meaning” to the names chosen for characters and objects in books.

    • Todd Matthews

      May 19, 2019 at 11:47 pm

      Thanks, Nate. It takes a lot of thinking, but really a lot more research and once your vibes tell you something’s right, it always is. Finding meaning behind names, objects, and locations bring a sense of relation between all the elements within the work, allowing the reader to further make a connection to the story at hand. I’ve always loved stories even more that have gone this route, such as the Harry Potter Series and Chronicles of Narnia. 

  4. I love reading these posts and how things came to be. Or as the “roots of all things” supposedly what was used before Stoicheion for the elements. I’m old but not that old to know for sure. Great post as usual and can’t wait for more. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Jason! I had to do much due diligence to find some solid names here; months of researching and working titles in the work, that’s for sure!

  5. Holy cow, I was really impressed with your article. It grabbed me right from the beginning and didn’t let go until the end. I actually have not run across that series of books before, but your post was definitely enough to intrigue me. It was great to hear about your process for finding names and I really enjoyed hearing about your sources for inspiration. 

    • Todd Matthews

      May 21, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks, Stormy, I’m glad you enjoyed the post and hopefully you’ll like the books, too! The process was tough but worth it in the end. It was a lot of fun, too. 

  6. Hi Todd, all your names are really cleverly thought out and very memorable, and of course a good name conjures up the character in the readers mind better than anything (well, it does me anyway).
    Yes, names are so important in story telling. Look at the amazing names that J.K. Rowling came up with in the Harry Potter books; and the Star Wars movies, again, amazing names that shaped an era. Nobody will ever forget the names from these movies and books;in fact, I would go so far as to say that the names were one of the biggest contributors to their success.

    • I think they’re just as important as the plot, names. We give our characters unique and descriptive names and our readers will remember them forever. As I said, in the case of Cain, not only whose first and last names dictate irony but they also reflect his personality. The same goes for many throughout the work. Another good example here is Adam Syndari, one of the main antagonists in the work.

  7. Very interesting post! I like how there is variety in the way that you choose your names. Combining past famous people, people you’ve met, nature and even Welsh is really intriguing. I never considered the philosophic elements of metal, blood and wood, and identifying with names as a reader is really important. Thank you for letting us into your world of name creation, well done!

    • Todd Matthews

      May 22, 2019 at 1:28 pm

      I actually got into those elements via The Legend of Korra, which succeeded Avatar: the Last Airbender, where bloodbending, I believe, was an illegal act. Xialon Showdown introduced me to the concept of the wood element, and The Legend of Korra also introduced metal bending as well. 

  8. Claude Langlais

    May 21, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    I am an amateur of urban fantasy stories and read them mostly in French because they are easier for me to understand but your way of choosing the name for your character just amazed me, I admire your imagination. Sword of  Stoicheion and Gaia when you know their meanings are strongly evocative and help to keep my interest in the story. Does anybody approach you for translations of your books?

    • Todd Matthews

      May 22, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      Thanks, Claude! Haven’t done any translation work yet, but I do plan on reaching out (or getting approached) down the road. 

  9. Thank you for sharing this with us. I was convinced and I was right that most of your ideas are coming from Celtic culture. Whenever I heard Stoicheion or Ddraigoch I always think of Irleand, Wales or Lord of the Rings. For some reason these words always ring in my mind as something from this part of the world.

    To me Gaia sound like something that would come from the African continent. But I am really glad you finally removed all the dilemma about the some names in your books.

    Strahinja

    • Todd Matthews

      May 23, 2019 at 2:59 pm

      Yes, Ddraigoch is (sort of) Celtic, but Stoicheion and Gaia are derived from Greece, as Stoicheion is the Ancient Greek term for ‘element.’ 

  10. Todd,

    Your creation of memorable character names in the writing of your books is genius compared to other writers way of thinking.  Pokemon was very popular when my children were growing up and to this day they can still name all of the characters from back then they collected how many years later?

    By creating these type of names people are going to remember you for many years to come leaving you with a great legacy.  I have had the opportunity to visit your website prior to today reading about your characters they are of very interesting diabolical personalities which make them unforgettable. 

    Honestly, I do look forward to visiting your website to see the new articles that you have added giving me more insight into the characters and places inside your books.

    Thank you,

    Susan

    • Todd Matthews

      May 23, 2019 at 2:59 pm

      Hi, Susan, I think many of us growing up in that era are still collecting!

      Thanks a bunch for the kind words a well, and definitely keep coming back, as things are just now heating up here as I’m setting up to unveil character profiles (without giving away any spoilers) as well. 

  11. This was really interesting to read! I love learning how people come up with different names for things. As a big fantasy enthusiast myself I also take great joy in flipping through books, pages, games, any sort of media or just using my imagination to come up with my own character’s and items for things like Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons games 🙂

    Reading about your process was really cool so thank you! How long has the Lords of Columbia series been around for?

    • Todd Matthews

      May 24, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks, Alex! I launched Northern Knights in August 2018, but the entire first trilogy didn’t come into existence until last month. Trilogy II’s first book should be out in January 2020. 

  12. Hi Todd, Your ideas to create names in the book are great. 

    My daughter in college is going through your readings and I was just surprised to see the catchy names of your characters, so I researched a little on Google and found this post.
    Now I can make out how JK Rowing and others are creating such interesting names of their characters and mystery places. Anyway, thanks for the in-depth details.

    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

    • Todd Matthews

      May 24, 2019 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks, Gaurav. And yes, Rowling’s method of picking names really appealed to me. At that time, I thought it was so clever that I’d never be able to duplicate it, but with modern technology, it was actually far easier today than it would’ve been when Rowling first penned the Harry Potter Series in the early 1990s. 

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