They’re tough subjects, and I don’t know how well they’re generally understood by modern audiences, but human sacrifice and cannibalism are a big part of history and mythology. Many historical accounts might actually be propaganda, though there’s evidence for practice. Some of the worst diseases we know result from cannibalism.

If it sounds like I’m hedging, it’s because I am. It’s a pretty morbid subject.

…And fascinating. I accepted a number of challenges when I started researching Rumors of War, and one of those challenges was tackling sacrifice – human or otherwise. Animal sacrifice is well-documented, but human sacrifice is something that only “the bad guys” do, whoever that may be from the perspective of the narrative.

Even the “bad guys” had a reason though, and it usually wasn’t solely “for the evulz.” Human sacrifice appears in Greek mythology, though usually it is punished by Zeus (see: Tantalus and Pelops and Lycaon of Arcadia), but it also factors into the Trojan War: Agamemnon must sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to appease Artemis.

I’m really not sure where to go with this, but I’m most familiar with South American practices, what with movies and such, so that might well be a place to start. I figure I’ll read about the history and practice, and get an idea for how it might be expected and justified. Death was a constant companion of many early societies, which may help.

The out-and-out fear of death may well be a modern concept, such that people are driven to hide it, deny it, or dress it up as something else. Sure, primal fears of causes of death are one thing, but death itself as a concept may not be the most obvious of things to fear. Of course people die. It isn’t about the why, it’s the how.

So yeah. Heady subject. Diving in headfirst.