At the end of each book of The Darkest Hand trilogy, there is a brief resume of facts, thoughts and notes on resources and texts I used in the research of that particular book. For those interested, here's part of the NOTES for The Risen, which helps explain my perspective on the lead into WW1, my thoughts on the conflict and why it was such an apocalyptic event.
It hasn’t been lost on me that, by chance, I happened to write The Darkest Hand trilogy over a period of four years and five months, the same length of time over which that the conflict of World War One escalated and then raged.
That most terrible of conflicts, responsible for the deaths of, at the very least, 10,000,000 soldiers and 7,000,000 civilians, achieved no tangible benefits to mankind other than in the science of medicine. It resulted in the annihilation of an entire generation of young men, bankrupted nations, broke up countries, reshaped the contours of European countries, began the slow and ever steady decline in western religion and laid the foundations of resentment, distrust and hatred that eventually dragged the world into a second world war.
Whilst World War Two resulted in even greater slaughter on a far wider scale, one could argue, quite easily, that this conflict was a required and appropriate response to the rise of fascism from out of the disaffected melting pot of idealistic pride and anger resulting from Germany’s financial and territorial persecution after the Great War. No such excuses can be made for World War One. Its coming to be grew from the arrogant and warped ambitions of one arm of the same royal family, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, George V of Great Britain and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, all grandsons of Queen Victoria, all of whom controlled vast swathes of the world, all of whom eyed each cousin with growing suspicion and jealousy, all of whom, through industrialisation and mass production, were delivered the most monstrous killing machines ever known to man and the yearning desire the test them and their might against their kin.
Once unleashed, there was no way to hold back the tide of violence, destruction and hatred that swept across Europe, the Middle East and into Africa. The moment Germany advanced into Belgium and Russia into East Prussia, a series of events were set in motion which can only be described as apocalyptic. Millions of men, driven on by unscrupulous and arrogant leaders, implementing 19th century military tactics, whilst being armed with 20th century industrialised killing weaponry, resulted in mass murder on three fronts around Europe and on fields further away within Africa, the Middle East and the Far East. The result was utter carnage, a first world war, the largest and most terrible of conflicts in the history of mankind. A vision of hell.