I have 200 pages left in GRRM's ADWD and I'm really starting to get the itch to write my own medieval fantasy series. Really I have wanted to since I finished AGoT, but the itch grows with each book. Considering this is the first fantasy series I have ever read I don't plan on doing anymore than just outlining it for awhile until I read several other fantasy series. Otherwise it will come out as a lite version of ASoIaF
For example I'm sure if I sat down to write the series right now it would have my own version of The Wall and the Night's Watch, X number of Kingdom's, a land seperate and completely different from the main land, I really like the idea of seasons lasting several years, dragons, monsters, a similar transition from a peaceful beginning to chaos, a multi-sided struggle (ASoIaF has 7 or so different factions vying for the throne), and probably several other similar things.
But for the purpose of doing research so I can write the books and because I am interested in reading about it:
What non fiction books about medieval times would you recommend for me to read? I would really like to get a solid idea of how people lived in those days. And maybe even a source that lists words they used back then, if they aren't in the books.
How much of the content of ASoIaF is unique and how much of it overlaps with fantasy series in general? I would really like to come up with as unique of ideas as possible.
Another question is what about naming characters and naming lands, items, towns, etc? Would it be a problem to have some of them the same as in ASoIaF? I don't mean to do it on purpose, but the series is so massive you forget most of the unimportant names. I imagine this happens in fantasy, but is it a problem? Like, can I be sued for simply having a name of something in my book that just happens to be the name of some random village in ASoIaF?
My last question: Did people smoke tobacco or anything in medieval times? I don't recall it ever happening in ASoIaF. I'm wondering if any authors include smoking or is it left out because people didn't smoke back then?
Thank you in advance,