Tag : character development
Traditional fantasy stories involving great quests and magical items have never really been my cup of tea, but I found plenty in Nat Howler’s debut novel to enjoy and I have no doubt that enthusiasts of the genre will eat it up.
Being his first novel Howler’s prose is wonderfully readable. He manages to brilliantly convey entire characters, landscapes and settings with the most minimal of descriptions, never allowing the galloping pace of the book to ever stumble into self-indulgence and ponderousness.
It’s clear that with its mostly clear-cut morality, action-packed story and “safe” language (there be no cussing or hanky panky here, ladies and gentlemen), Three Fugitives is designed to be devoured by younger readers and it will probably work best with them. I don’t say that dismissively, incidentally. Writing good “young adult” fiction that neither talks down to its audience nor bores them, is not something to be taken lightly and Howler does a fine job of that here.
Howler also takes the riskier road of making his characters more flawed than simply likeable, to the point that there will be times when you want to strangle every one of the stories protagonists. He does get the characters to ingratiate themselves to the reader as the story goes on but he makes them work for it. Not the safest way of doing things, to be sure, but it makes the characters more fully developed and some of the conflicts slightly less predictable.
I. Preskovsky – Cape Town
This entry was posted on Thursday, October 4th, 2012 at 8:17 pm
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Let me first begin by explaining how my book, and the sequels and prequels that will follow it, are unique.
The book is friendly to traditional values
Much of today’s fantasy and science fiction is full of sexually graphic material and profane language, making them inappropriate reading for children and adolescents whose families wish to maintain traditional values. My book, by contrast, is free of sexual content and profanity, and I intend the rest of the books in this trilogy, as well as those in all related trilogies, to be the same. Certain aspects of teenage angst come into the story, and there is even a little bit of romance, but nothing beyond the level of a little blush and an innocent crush.
Graphic descriptions of violence are minimized
Another aspect of much of today’s fantasy literature is its tendency toward the display and even glorification of graphic violence, with all of its accompanying gory details. To be sure, there are instances of violence in this book, for the story includes battles and imprisonment. Certain scenes even border on nightmarish, but I have attempted to deal with violence in the same way J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis do. Violent events occur in those classics, but the ‘blood and guts’ aspect is kept to a minimum. In my book, I do not want the focus to be on the violent event, but on my characters’ responses to that event. When violence takes place, my readers should be free to imagine for themselves as much or as little of the details as possible. What I want them to take away from the reading experience is the ways my characters deal with what happens. Some of what my characters go through in this book, I would not want anyone to go through, but what is important is how the experiences become catalysts for personal growth.
The book has a strong sense of right and wrong
Much of today’s literature presents the reader with a nihilistic universe, devoid of right and wrong, where might makes right. Heroes may exist, but they only prevail due to their own prowess, and not due to any sense of virtue or accountability. In my book, by contrast, there is a strong sense of right and wrong. There is accountability for one’s actions, and there are consequences for using one’s free will to make the wrong choices.
Those parents and educators who dislike pagan belief should not be put off by my books. True, there are gods and goddesses mentioned in the narrative, and certain deities are good, while others are evil. These deities, however, are merely powerful entities, worshiped by the simple, uneducated folk. They are not all-powerful or infinite. A Higher Power or Entity does exist, which far transcends these petty gods, but the role it plays in my storyline, while vital, is very subtle. I want the world I have created to mirror our world, where God’s presence is not immediately known and has to be worked for, if it is to be attained. What is most important here is a sense of personal responsibility, which devolves on my characters, and gives forth the message that to get results, one’s own effort is necessary.
Character development is paramount
Now that I have explained what my book is not, allow me to present what it is. The Six Stones Trilogy is a story of courage, loyalty, friendship, and faith. It is a display of willingness to do what is right despite enormous odds. Above all, it is a story that revolves around its characters. Most of the narrative is written from the perspective of Orren, an illiterate, uneducated boy in early adolescence. Some sections, however, are written from the points of view of Orren’s closest friends, Marett and Haxel. Through the eyes of the book’s protagonists, the reader experiences the entire adventure, as well as the thoughts, emotions, and insights that result from it.
I have even included a chapter written from the perspective of Berthus, the arch-villain of the series. In so doing, I have presented his side of the story, and allowed the reader to understand him, while not excusing or condoning his evil. Free choice is the essence of the story, so while we understand why Berthus is the way he is, in the end, he has no one to blame for his continued unhappiness but himself.
Each of my characters speaks with his or her own unique voice. They each have strengths and weaknesses, hopes and fears. All of them have stories of their own to tell, which are weaved into the broader tapestry of the book, thus enriching the story as a whole. The interaction between my characters is similarly rich, and features a great deal of dialog. The protagonists of the book have to learn to accept one another, and to understand each others’ needs if the goals of their quest are to be achieved.
The setting is LeFain, a continent very much like Europe circa 1000 A.D. Law and order have broken down, and there is no central authority with the power to organize society. LeFain is plagued by grinding poverty, occasional famines and pestilences, and roving bands of brigands and pirates. There is exploitation by the feudal nobility of the serfs and peasants, as well as racial tensions between different ethnic groups. This is a world of deep forests, castles, and knights. It is also a world of tension and peril. At the same time, however, it is a world of great cultural richness and beauty, and the descriptions of the landscape and its wildlife should give my readers an appreciation for nature and ecology.
A little bit of the fairy world of medieval legend comes to life here, in the form of sabes, or non-human races, which live at the periphery of human civilization. There are also magical objects, and both enchanted and cursed places. These things are more real in my books than they were in medieval Europe, but I have not created a purely mythological world. Things run according to recognizable laws of nature, and even the magic there has a rational explanation.
The most powerful magical objects in this trilogy are six stones, called gwellen. They are identical in shape, size, and texture, but differ in color. Each gwell has power over a different element of nature. The gwellen were created by the benevolent astral gods (which, as mentioned above, are powerful but finite), for use by an ‘elvish’ race that has since become extinct. The gwellen were lost long ago, in the vast wilderness, but are now being sought by Berthus, the arch-villain–a young lord who desires the stones, to buttress his own power.
Orren is Berthus’s abused half-brother. He decides to deprive Berthus of the stones, and thereby to save LeFain’s people from the suffering and tyranny that will inevitably result from the stones falling into Berthus’s hands. Orren sets off to find the gwellen before Berthus can, but he faces many obstacles. Orren, however, is a brilliant schemer and strategist, and is aided by Haxel and Marett, each of whom joins his quest and contributes greatly toward it.
Three Fugitives is the first book in the trilogy. In it, Orren and Berthus each embarks on his own quest for the gwellen. Berthus raises an army of brigands and cutthroats, and enlists the support of his fellow nobles, to find the stones. Orren, however, steals the first stone that Berthus finds, and thus initiates a wild chase across the wilderness. Berthus wants to find Orren and kill him, so he can take back the stone. During the course of his escape, Orren finds and rescues Haxel and Marett, each of whom is fleeing from an adversary of his or her own. Together they face the winter, bandits, wild beasts, and a strange heathen cult with a sinister reputation, called the Drammites. It soon becomes clear, however, that their quest is doomed, unless Orren can put a stop to Berthus’s pursuit of him.
The second book, Everywhere Foes Lurk, revolves around the message contained a dream, to the effect that all of Orren’s efforts to find the gwellen will ultimately be in vain, unless he and his friends find a sanctuary for the stones. There, the gwellen will be safe from anyone who wishes to abuse their power. The trouble is, Orren and his friends can’t imagine where such a sanctuary may be found. As their journey continues, they face numerous perils. Enemies, both human and otherwise, seem to come at them from all directions, though two additional allies also join their quest. Meanwhile, Berthus, while foiled, has not been stopped by any means, and the Drammites seem to be everywhere.
In the third book, Cursed Quest, Orren and his friends seem to have found the sanctuary they seek, in the form of the lost city of Wardolam. The city, however, is ruled by a stern council that places a burden and a curse upon Orren’s party. Orren and his friends, the council decrees, must continue with their quest despite the dangers involved, and all six stones must be brought to Wardolam within three months, and placed in the council head’s hands. If Orren and his friends fail, they will be transformed into ghouls–undead beings forced to guard the lost city for an untold amount of time.
I hope that you will enjoy reading Three Fugitives and the books to follow, as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I also hope that you will be able to identify with my characters and their struggles and triumphs. Finally, I hope you will find some inspiration from my story, that you can bring into your own life and to that of your family.
With much gratitude,
Tags: age appropriate, castles, character development, courage, deep forests, ecology, faith, fantasy literature, feudalism, freedom of choice, friendship, Higher Power, human civilization, knights, loyalty, magical objects, magical stones, moral accountability, point of view, struggles, teenage angst, traditional values, triumphs, wildlife
This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 at 3:55 pm
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.