Shine Cycle Background: The Academy

In today’s background essay for the Shine Cycle, my fantasy series in preparation, I’d like to talk about the Academy, an educational institution that is quite important to many, and centrally important to a few, of the planned books in the series.

The Academy is located in Capitol, the capital of the Sunshine Kingdom and of the Shine and Wild Empire, or perhaps in one of the nearby towns. It was founded as a military academy soon after the kingdom was settled. In the following years its graduates proved demonstrably superior to other commanders, so attendance was made compulsory for officers. But as time progressed—and with the frequent need for commanders with trained and tested expertise in other fields—it expanded beyond that focus to other subjects and became a “school for advanced studies” in general.

The curriculum is designed to move at the students’ pace and as quickly as possible. Not that students are required to master advanced levels of subjects outside their concentrations, but courses are designed to help students learn as well and as quickly as they can, and as soon as a student demonstrates mastery of a concept, method, etc., he or she moves on to the next. On the other hand, if a concept proves particularly vexing to a student, he or she is given more individual and intensive help until achieving mastery.

The Academy is the Empire’s premiere educational institution, but it is not the only one. Its closest competitors are the Bardic College and the College of Mages, each of which is specialized and superior to the Academy’s relevant department in its field. There are also universities and colleges in many major cities throughout the Empire, some of which provide an education of similar quality, and most countries within the Empire have their own military academies. Most coursework from these other schools transfers to the Academy.

The Academy is the setting of most of my novel-in-progress An Internal Conflict, which is what makes me want your help designing its curriculum, but I invented it for a conversation in an early draft of The Invasion.



3 thoughts on “Shine Cycle Background: The Academy

  1. The Academy should be divided into smaller schools like: Strategy, Medicine, Exploration, Study, Technology, Magical Combat, Survival, Philosophy, History, etc. Once you determine the schools the characters (teacher’s and students) will write the curriculum for you.


    • I’m actually trying to avoid the university model of essentially-independent schools; while there are concentrations (from the students’ perspective) and departments (from the faculty’s), it’s deliberately “the Academy” first and “such-and-such department” second, aiming to produce well-educated, successful leaders (and generals who won’t get their men killed) and ground-breaing interdisciplinary research, even if that means bringing in someone from another department—or letting another department start teaching classes about a subject that’s traditionally been in yours—rather than the territorialism and isolated ivory towers that characterize too many multiple-college universities today.

      And while “seat-of-the-pants” worldbuilding has worked well for many writers—and I’ve used it myself in the past to good effect—I don’t think it’s such a good idea here. The Academy is to be the setting of much of at least one planned book, and is described somewhat extensively in the current draft of another, and will probably turn up all over the rest of the series; for something like this, and given the attention to detail I feel I need to pay, that kind of spontaneous worldbuilding doesn’t seem like such a good idea. (There’s also the problem that the one book set at the Academy is told from one student’s point of view, and the school is big; designing the whole curriculum based on the needs of her story would lead to an entirely implausible result.)


      • Then perhaps you should do some research on real Military Academy structure and then change the details as much as you need to so that it fits the your direction and vision.


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