Saturday, September 22, 2007

Main Characters


When Nitsur was a boy, about 8-9 years old, he was caught in a fire that left him partially crippled and also amnesiac. He's never regained his childhood memories. As a result he grew up somewhat isolated and alienated within his village. His parents arranged for him to be apprenticed as a drumspeaker. Nitsur's strongest emotional attachment (until he meets Mafileo) is to his since-deceased drum teacher; at the time of his capture by the Kesset, he has no close ties to anyone.

Nitsur's drum teacher is the person who first articulates the importance of communication to humanity. Nitsur will become the spokesman for this idea as the novel progresses.

Temperamentally, Nitsur is patient, phlegmatic, detached, and tends towards passivity. Because of the fire damage to his legs, he's physically restricted; this is one of the reasons he resigns himself to slavery among the Kesset; he has no real hope of escape.

After Nitsur meets Mafileo, she will become his main source of motivation. Later in the book, the survival of their friends and community will also become important to him. Nitsur's growth will be towards emotional involvement and responsibility. By the end of the book he should be developing into an important teacher and mentor.

Nitsur is a very aural person. In writing him, I have to remember to describe how things sound as much as or more than how they look.

Physically, Nitsur is below average height for his people, who average shorter than the Ta'arane and Kesset; his legs are short and twisted from fire damage. His upper body is disproportionately strong. He can walk, with some discomfort, but can't run. (Ride? We'll see if the occasion comes up.) Like most Woneiyal he's dark-skinned and has woolly hair.


Like Nitsur, Mafileo was set apart as a child; she was orphaned very young and was dedicated to the worship of the Mother. Unlike him, she was raised with very strong emotional ties to the community of priestesses at her temple. They are now all dead or enslaved elsewhere-- Mafileo's home is further south than Nitsur's, she was originally a slave in another city and was traded to Ahon ken Tai, while the village and temple were destroyed.

Since her enslavement, Mafileo has been repeatedly raped, branded, and suffered other ways. She has retreated into herself, doesn't speak, and is probably near-catatonic. The Kesset consider her an imbecile, but Nitsur elicits flashes of intelligent behavior from her that convince him otherwise.

After their escape, her true nature will begin to emerge. Mafileo is volatile and passionate. She is very intelligent, but her emotions sometimes get the better of her. She grasps new ideas easily. She is also a natural leader, and this becomes more apparent as she recovers from her ordeals: her upbringing has left her with considerable reserves of inner strength, but she needs to learn how to draw on them. She will never lose her corrosive hatred of the Kesset, but she'll learn to work around it.

Nitsur and Mafileo have complementary strengths, which makes them a good team. Her main motivations are similar to Nitsur's: the survival and safety of those she cares for. She's less idealistic than he is.

Mafileo has a dancer's trained body. NB: this means athletic/not bulky, but not skinny. Though when we first meet her, she's in physically poor condition and may be emaciated. The Ta'arane are darker than the Kesset but lighter than the Woneiyal; they have straight hair, and average slightly taller but less muscular than the Kesset.


Akshedhen, unlike the others, has grown up very much a part of his larger community. He's got family and political allies (at first). He's the only son of an important family and a recognized leader among his age group. He will suffer personal betrayal that the others won't; as political fortunes turn against his family, some of his friends will turn against him.

Akshedhen has a rigid moral code. Personally, he's disciplined and stoic; he has strong feelings, but will rarely show them. Akshedhen fears the influence of the Old Man on Kesset culture and on himself (he sees it developing in his father, who's an active member of the inner cult). He's also adept at the mental training methods of the Boy's warriors and these will help him maintain his sense of self and purpose.

He is curious and an innovator. He takes the initiative to learn more about the Woneiyal and the forest, claiming that it's important to the future of the Kesset. It is, but it's also to feed his curiosity. Akshedhen adapts quickly to changing conditions. His motivations initially are to support his family and his father's purposes, but he dislikes his father's methods.

Akshedhen's emotional ties are to his family (who are all killed) and his age-mates, who will either betray him or accompany him to the Delta.

Akshedhen learns that people he has considered his inferiors (the Ta'arane and Woneiyal) are of equal worth to him. After joining the refugees in the Delta, he will transfer his loyalty to them. At the very end of the novel, he will reject ethnic identity completely and identify himself as a member of his new community.

Akshedhen is a typical Kesset, olive-skinned, straight dark hair which he keeps braided most of the time. He has the calluses of weapons use and riding.

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