So, I finally managed to have one of my dreams come true, getting art by Michelle Hoefener. This character isn’t part of the Ancient Dreams trilogy, nor any of the books on my immediate calendar for the future. In part this is because Jacqueline is one of my ultra-villains on the continent of Kavarn, in the world of Senkar. I’m not certain how to work her into a story as of yet, but rest assured, I plan to do so. In the meantime, I’ll give you a bit of background on her. Not everything, since I haven’t decided how much of my old plans I want to stick around, but some of it. Some names may change, but Jacqueline’s name is set in stone. There are two versions of this art.
Jacqueline was born in the sleepy elven country of Erinith, a realm most well-known for fine woodworking and wines. The second of three children, she was not set to inherit the throne, and was learning magic instead. Everything changed the year that Erinith was invaded by an army of mercenaries.
The mercenaries were an eclectic lot but skilled in warfare, more skilled than the vast majority of Erinith’s defenders. The capital was sacked, and Jacqueline doesn’t care to remember how her father, mother, older brother, and younger sister were murdered before her eyes. She only escaped being forcibly married for threadbare legitimacy when Koral the Crimson, the most skilled mage-knight in the kingdom, broke in and rescued her. But even so, Koral was just a few hours too late, for something within Jacqueline broke that day.
Forced into exile, Jacqueline focused entirely on training with Koral to strengthen her magic. She was determined to reclaim her kingdom and protect it from any attacker, no matter what price she, or others, had to pay. Any sense of sympathy she had was lost, her morality gone with it. Eventually, unable to deal with her frustration at how slowly she was gaining power, she entered the sinister depths of the Thorned Wood, on a quest to reach the World Tree in her pursuit of power. Not even Koral knew what she encountered there.
When Jacqueline returned at last, she came with an army at her back. The Illisyr, or dark elves, had sent a group of elite bodyguards with Jacqueline despite their legendary derision of other clans of elves, and even considered it a high honor among their people. A dozen dragons had pledged fealty to her, and she had conquered several clans of hobgoblins, ogres, and other monstrous races. Her eyes, originally soft blue, glowed with ruby light, and in her hand was a stave carved of one of the World Tree’s own branches. Her power had grown to immeasurable heights, and she forged her army into a disciplined weapon.
The decade of rule by the mercenaries had left Erinith in shambles, and despite their skill in battle the defenders had no chance against such an army, many of them attempting to flee. Tracking them down mercilessly, Jacqueline reclaimed her throne and forged a new crown of floating rubies, one which she imbued with a terrifying amount of power. For a short time, it looked as though everything would end at last.
The next five years plunged into chaos as Jacqueline conquered every neighboring realm to Erinith, and fortified them to protect her homeland from invaders. She ruthlessly destroyed those who resisted, and only Koral could calm her rage, and keep her from doing too much harm to those nations she’s conquered. Only when Erinith no longer had open borders that she did not control did Jacqueline halt her expansion, and many neighbors live in fear of the army that she has forged. Even more are terrified of the woman whom many consider to be the most powerful sorceress Senkar has ever seen.
8 thoughts on “Art & Story: Jacqueline Heartreaver”
Awesome. So this is a book series already or just a ot in the mind as of yet?
Jacqueline is a series of natural disasters in my world’s history. I would really, really like to write a story or series of stories about her, or about characters who oppose her, but I’m not sure I can do it justice. If I do anything with her, it’s going to be after I do the novels for Born a Queen, Through the Fire, and Sisters of Radiance, so sometime next year at the earliest.
Nice art. How much details do you give with this sort of thing, if you don’t mind telling?
With art? It varies dramatically. With Jacqueline I did a fair bit more than usual, but it’s long enough I’m leery of putting it in a post here. Instead, let’s go with the picture for Halls of Power:
‘Tyria Description: Tall and shapely, Tyria has wide hips, a narrow waist, and large bust. She stands about six feet in height, and has the long ears of an elf, with pale skin that glows with an internal radiance. Her color is Eminence, a deep purple, which her long, wavy hair matches, as do her eyes and lips. An oval amethyst gem, perfectly smooth, is set into the middle of her forehead. She also has another three gems of this type set into her skin, just above her cleavage and below the collar bone, in her navel, and in the middle of a purple tattoo above her genitals, but they are covered by her armor. She has a pair of feathered wings, which have thin purple bands near the end of the feathers.
Tyria wears gleaming full plate with purple highlights that match her hair. The armor hugs her body, but has a lock set into the collar and belt sections as if it could be locked onto the wearer and imprisoning them within the armor. She has a large sword, almost two-handed, that is wreathed in purple flames.’
Now, I also had a different background in mind than what we ended up going with, but Jackie pointed out that having the picture looking down on a battlefield wouldn’t give as good of a picture of a character. Commissioned artwork is, in my opinion, best done by giving the artist enough details they get close to what you’re looking for, while still giving them freedom to change details and be creative. Though occasionally you get things like Tyria’s cleavage-exposing armor, which is much improved over the sketch. It’s pretty, though!
Yepp, that’s what I was curious about. Thanks ;)
It’s actually kinda amusing, thinking about it, since I talked with some of professionally published fantasy writers and the art for their characters (usually on the cover) quite often doesn’t fit with their vision (or heck, the description in the novel) at _all_. You’d think publishers had set up something that was careful with stuff like that (also funny to compare if novels have alternate covers. For Daughter of the Empire for example, well, she’s an “Egyptian-like” black-haired woman, and there’s a cover where she’s a blond Caucasian, and another where she’s a redhead. How does that even happen?)
From what I’ve heard, professional authors often have no say whatsoever on the cover of their books, and often don’t see the art until its been finalized. In my case, I deliberately changed some aspects of my descriptions to match the pictures.
Something like you described would just frustrate me. For instance, I’m sure that people have misinterpreted them, but in my entire trilogy, there are only 4 or 5 pale-skinned characters. It wasn’t intentional on my part, but it happened.
True. Most people in the West, just by habit, would assume protagonists are Caucasian/pale. Probably also heterosexual, monogamous and a bunch of other things.
Can be fun to play around with. Like the Ancillary Justice “gender? I don’t get it” thing. Or Baru Cormorant’s “woah, pale skinned people! How weird is that?” Or Sisterhood of Suns “heterosexual? What blasphemy, kill them!”
I’m not too interested in the politics behind that sort of thing, but fantasy/scifi I feel are good places to explore different ideas, so (unless it’s all preachy) I really like it when authors try something different.
*nods* It is what it is. The characters I can think of that were described as having pale skin are Sistina (patterned off an aspen, so pure white), Medaea, Nirath the Adventurer, Kassandra, and Elissa of Silence. Now, I’m certain there are others among the Adventuring Guild, as I know I mentioned a few elves and those that aren’t dawn or dusk elves tend to be pale, but in general the region tends toward more tanned skin tones. Which is amusing since it wasn’t intentional on my part.
I’ll admit that I’ve had particular ideas on what sort of skin tones and that are for the different species in Ancient Dreams as a whole, but I’ve been trying very hard not to say what they are because it might sound like I’m stereotyping, and I really want to avoid that.