I’m busy trying to frantically finish the current Heirs book which takes the future of some of the slightly lesser characters from the earlier books and builds on them. And of course the characters I have built in those more-than-a-million odd words. It’s really too long in a universe, for this author anyway.
It does however have some interesting challenges – because you are building on and shaping around the sins of youth (and sometimes the a little later)
One of the central characters in this book is Count Mindaug – the scholarly assistant to Jagellion in THIS ROUGH MAGIC and to Elizabeth Bartholdy in MUCH FALL OF BLOOD.
In both cases he plotted their downfall, while apparently ‘helping’ them.
Mindaug is a fascinating character to write, because he is… not a good man. He’s very much a product of his dog-eat-dog environment. He’s a schemer and a scholar, a man of considerable cleverness, and survival instinct. He is not a warrior, but he will murder most warriors. Calmly and with a knife in the back, before they know that the not particularly large, elderly and academic seeming man is anything but an object of disdain. He’s the product of a self-centered nobility, a stranger to any kindness, closeness or trust even from his parents and has spent his life expecting, and pre-empting the worst with callous efficiency. He had, in fact, done the West two enormous services – not for ideology or goodness, but for his own ends. He’s, as I said, not a good man.
He’s fled to the West, knowing Chernobog now seeks him in the ethereal, he faked his death and has magically, gone to ground, living as an ordinary man. A selfish, self-centered one, focused only on his own survival… and now finding himself in a society and among people who are as unlike his native Lithuania under Jagellion/Chernobog as possible.
A place where he can sleep deeply and easily without setting death-traps. He had not done that since he was a very small boy. A place where his outright evil attempts to abuse people fail… because they’re actually not trying to rob or kill him. A place where he suddenly meets loyalty, and shared interest.
I find him to be rather like those soviet KGB defectors (who had as part of the KGB done terrible wrongs against their fellows and quite possibly the people of the countries the sought refuge in)– some of whom became truly passionate about America, more so by far than those who had known freedom from that intrusive, all pervasive tyranny. Or those SS men – some who had been monsters reveling in the power and brutality, and others… young men too weak and caught up (ask me about this, I was a conscript soldier in a war I wanted no part in. I committed no war crimes, saved a few lives, but I could still be considered by some to have been one of the oppressors. And had I been less fortunate, slightly weaker and easier to lead, or in a worse place… I might have done murderous cruel things there – which were no less brutal than those done our enemies. I can’t easily point fingers at those who did). Men who ended up fleeing to far countries, fitting in quietly there, and often being – or showing –no shade of their former selves.
But does the past ever leave them?