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.