Favorite Characters

There isn’t going to be a RPG Misadventures post today, as I’ve pretty well run out of ones that come directly to mind. Oh, there’re individual incidents that were hilariously bad, but I was trying to focus on when there were a series of unfortunate decisions for my prior posts. Instead, with Halls of Power coming out on Friday, I thought I’d go over my favorite characters from the trilogy, and why they’re my favorites.

Lily – First and foremost of my favorite characters is Lily. In a setting where gods walk the world, powerful warriors and magi abound, Lily is the one character without ambition and who wants nothing more than to live a simple life. She’s quiet, sincere, and (in my opinion) adorable. I love her attitude, and she has evolved in spite of herself over the course of the novels. We’ve not seen the last of her, for she’s in Halls of Power, and I have at least one short story in mind for her, though it may be some time in coming.

Desa – I’m not sure why I love super-competent bodyguards/assistants for major characters, but Desa is one, though she’s imperfect in her own ways, as evidenced in Ancient Ruins. I think that for me it’s the loyalty these characters portray, and in part what it says about the person they serve, which brings us to Phynis herself.

Phynis – It should be little wonder that Phynis is on this list. A princess who is in desperate straits, to the point that many people should break, yet with the courage to get back up and keep trying, I love that she’s willing to put in the effort needed. She follows her heart, tries her best, and tries to do what she can to help those around her. Perhaps I’m an idealist at heart.

Wenris – I really, really shouldn’t like Wenris as much as I do, and I can’t say much about her without spoiling sections of Halls of Power, but I do like her. She’s complex in her own way, and anyone who takes what she shows at face value is liable to be burned.

The Jewels – These seven are… under-utilized in the stories in many ways, and that frustrates me. The problem with the Ancient Dreams trilogy as a whole is that there are so many stories that I could’ve made the books 10 times as long (if I had the patience to write it out) and not detailed everything I wanted to show the readers. The converse problem is that the story would then take forever, and I don’t want that either. Each of the Jewels has their own unique outlook on how things progressed, and how the trilogy unfolded… and in the end their stories ended up on the sideline, much like my original plans for the Academy and dungeon as a whole.

Deities & Demon Lords – I can’t say anything about these characters, not really. They are too deeply embedded into the story of Halls of Power. What I can say is that how Tyria ended up developing surprised even me. I had to revise the outline of the book based on how her personality developed.

Sistina – Where would this list be without Sistina? I have a hard time explaining why I like Sistina so much. Sistina is a pile of confused tropes molded into a single whole, a character who has evolved and changed throughout the series, and yet who has been the bedrock of the trilogy as well. She’s amoral but loyal, kind to friends yet ruthless to enemies, brilliant and yet naive. Part of this is due to her previous lives, and yet… it’s what makes Sistina who she is. When I created her I gave her hard limits, because otherwise she’d be able to solve every problem too easily, for in many ways she is a minor goddess inside her dungeon. Some people think she’s too powerful, but in my mind she isn’t. Sistina prepares, she plans, and she does everything she can to protect those she loves. Even then, though, she has her limits.

You’ll see them in Halls of Power. I hope you enjoy it.

8 thoughts on “Favorite Characters

  1. “The problem with the Ancient Dreams trilogy as a whole is that there are so many stories that I could’ve made the books 10 times as long (if I had the patience to write it out) and not detailed everything I wanted to show the readers.”

    That was my thought as well. When I first understood this was “only” a trilogy I was like “…how?” There are like a bazillion things going on. But, on the other hand, I think it is also why I love this series so much. It’s varied and complex, but it stays focused nonetheless. When I was re-reading the books, I was stunned by how much was happening in so few words, and that without feeling rushed. It’s really good writing. Really good.

    PS: I’ve pre-ordered Halls of Power… and now I’m searching for a time machine. I don’t want to wait two more days. TWO!! *wails in despair*


  2. Deciding what to put in and what to cut was an enormous problem for me. The Academy of Everium was originally far more complex, but it didn’t fit the story, so it ended up simplified. There was an entire side-plot with Medaea’s church that I considered, but it was just too far away from the events of the story. Similarly, there’re entire sub-plots with the Adventuring Guilds, Yisara, the Serpentfolk of Sirshif, the orcs of the Bloodcrag Wastes, and others. But in the end, they didn’t matter for /this/ story.

    When I published Ancient Ruins I was determined not to let myself go on forever with the series. I first read books from the Wheel of Time in high school, about the time that Crown of Swords came out, and I remembered how the series started to drag on, and on, and on… and I didn’t want that. My model was actually R. A. Salvatore’s early books. He has several series, all based around the same characters. You have the Dark Elf trilogy, the Crystal Shard trilogy, and several others (not all trilogies, but you get the idea). My intention is that if I’m going to keep going with a particular set of characters, to keep each story in a relatively short, concise arc. Does this mean that there’re things that are unexplained? Yes, unfortunately it does.

    That’s what short stories are for, though. I can’t wait to do the one for Albert, explaining exactly why he was under house arrest.


  3. hi, it just means that you can come back and write more stories with different characters so that when the next generation read the stories if they want they can read it in publication order or follow a huge time-line chart so that they can read the different books in “correct” order, thereby getting the same effect as in wheel of time (lots of different characters that might sometimes intersect).


  4. One of the most striking examples I’ve read of the out-of-sequence bit is the aforementioned R. A. Salvatore’s Drizzt. Read him in the first trilogy and he’s mostly a cool swordsman with some magic stuff. Then he broke out as the star, had his own trilogy for the background, and suddenly he’s waaaay more complex and interesting than any of the other members of his party (for at least a few more trilogies, anyway).

    And Benjamin has the advantage of not having to change his whole world because of a new version of AD&D coming out!


  5. Yeah, I’ll freely admit that in some ways R. A. Salvatore was a major influence on my early reading. While I actually read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in 2nd to 3rd grade (not claiming I understood everything, just that I read them), the first real encounter with Fantasy I had was in middle school, reading Sojourn. So Drizzt has a special place in my heart.

    For magic… well, I’ve been idly building a magic system for ages from other game systems. It’s a combination of Anima: Beyond Fantasy and D&D/Pathfinder. I don’t have enough to actually play any games with, but I’ve got the basic concepts down, which helps keep things relatively consistent.


  6. Trilogies are good lengths for telling stories, given “modern” length standards (which seems to typically start at around 200 pages. So obviously a trilogy typically isn’t any longer than a 600-900 pages novel…).
    I wish more fantasy authors would stick to that (or do stand-alones). I can understand the temptation to try and create the next greatest, super-complex series, but sometimes a tale is simply better by containing it to something easier to handle.

    I’m for example not a huge fan of Sanderson’s larger stuff. But Emperor’s Soul is brilliant. It’s 200 pages, and does everything that needs to be done, and then its over. Not everything needs to be “epic”.

    As for characters – without having read #3 – gotta be Sistina for me. The rest of the cast on her side of the story are quite likable, but I can’t say any of them sticks out enough for me to single them out. Unless I forgot someone. But that’d be kinda contradictory to the idea in the first place ;)
    In a way I’d put her on the equivalent of “favorite characters” scifi fantasy spot for Justice of Toren / Breq. Arguably, a human turned space ship is the equivalent of a human…oid turned magic tree. ^^


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