VAMPIRE DOWN is now available!

The wait is over!

VAMPIRE DOWN, the final volume of the BLOOD SKIES series, is now available!

And through July 4th, volumes 2-6 are all on sale for just $2.99 each on Amazon.com, so if you don’t own them already go get ‘em now!

Also be sure to check out the VAMPIRE DOWN Blog Tour (see schedule below)!

vampire_down_final_rgb

Who ever knew the end would come so soon?

In this final volume of the BLOOD SKIES series, Eric Cross and Danica Black find themselves facing impossible odds in the desolate ruins of the world they once knew.  Hunted by the mercenary forces of the newly formed East Claw Coalition and desperate to find the elusive White Mother, the two refugees will be pushed to the limits of their abilities and sanity as they struggle to survive.

Meanwhile, in the near future, the undead hunter called Reaver searches for the lost city of Bloodhollow, the place where humankind will make its final stand, while the undead of New Koth and the rebellious White Children make their push to end the reign of the Ebon Kingdoms once and for all.

As timelines collide and the spider weaves her web, the battle for the fate of the riven world will come to its violent conclusion in the depths of a forgotten city, where unlikely heroes will emerge and hidden evils shall finally be revealed…

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

 

THE VAMPIRE DOWN BLOG TOUR

Vampire Downbanner2

Vampire Down Tour Schedule

 

June 25th – Kelly at Paperback Cowgirl Reviews – Review Blood Skies

June 26th – Jasmine at Book Groupies – Soundtrack, Spotlight, Dreamcast

June 27th – Meg at Heart on Fire – Guest Post

June 28th – Toni at My Book Addiction – Guest Post

June 29th – Megan at Megan’s Blog – Author Interview

June 30th – Danielle at Consuming Worlds – Character Guest Post

July 1st – Scott Moon at Scott Moon Writer Blog – Review Blood Skies

July 1st – Katheryn The Perks of Being a Book Nerd – Spotlight

July 2nd – Lou at Relaxed Reads – Review Crown of Ash

July 3rd – Stephanie at The Book Hipster – Author Interview

July 4th Michelle at In Libris Veritas – Top Ten

 ****

About the Author

Steven Montano was something terrifying in his previous life.  Now he’s an accountant, so not much has changed.

An avid hiker, reader, San Antonio Spurs fan, goofball husband and father of two, Steven writes novels (the seven volume Blood Skies series, the Skullborn Trilogy, something black…, and the upcoming thrillers Blood Angel Rising and Colder) and drinks a lot of wine when he isn’t busy pulling his hair out over payroll or trying to balance the company books.

Visit the author’s website.

 

Advertisements

When villains aren’t evil

by Autumn Birt

Here on the Guild of Dreams, we’ve written about common fantasy tropes quite a few times. But I think one trope we haven’t covered yet is villains. Specifically, that villains are always evil, especially in the fantasy.

It is simply a fact of life. There are the heroes who must struggle against evil. Why?

Sure, I could get philosophical that we as a species are constantly searching for a way to simplify the problems faced every day. And nothing is simpler, or more validating, than good versus evil. So of course, stories are crafted to follow this formula. And it is a formula. One of the oldest.evil character

But there is so much more…

What makes a villain evil? That she/he will stop at nothing to achieve a goal? What if that goal is necessary to save the lives of friends or family? That is a lot less evil to me. The same could be argued with the idea of a villain that is willing to send people to their death to reach a goal. But what if the villain believes in the goal so much they are willing to risk and potentially sacrifice her/his life?

Honestly, what is so wrong about a villain that earnestly believes what they are doing is right, that it is necessary to save lives, and is willing to sacrifice everything including their lives to meet their goal? Oh wait, are we infringing on the role and story of the heroes?

Isn’t history written by the victor? Whose point of view do you think the villain has? They are the hero that doesn’t win.

evil_is_a_point_of_view____by_savagewolf93-d4mi7tbThis is the concept I’ve found myself writing in my most recent work in progress, titled Friends of my Enemy. There are no ‘bad guys,’ just a lot of people trying to solve some massive problems, each with a unique view on how that can be done. Who is the villain depends on events, reactions, and ultimately whose POV controls the story arc.

Every choice has consequences and are made with purpose, even regretfully at times. People die if they do nothing. The character might die if she/he choose to save others. It is complicated, entangling, and quite addictive to write. Even though I have favorite characters, there are no evil ones. And no perfect ones. Which brings us to the other side of this ancient trope’s coin.

Why are the heroes always good?

Okay, this one has been touched on a lot more. Flawed heroes are found more frequently, though most fiction is peppered with pretty perfect ones… at least once they find their heroic niche. But I like the idea that someone with very good intentions can make a wrong decision, one where the consequences aren’t so nice.

I used this a bit in my recently completed epic fantasy trilogy the Rise of the Fifth Order. The first person to die in book 1 is at the hands of one of the heroes. Sure, maybe heroes are supposed to slay the foe. But in the story they don’t check to see if there are other options. In the heat of a battle, they go for death. I was a little shocked!

640x828_20572_Glory_Glory_2d_fantasy_knight_girl_woman_hero_picture_image_digital_artOther heroes make bad choices too. The Water Priestess Nirine traps her foe in a sunken Temple, leaving him to his fate. And he was a Fire Priest, of course. Trapped underground in a flooded temple with little air… no wonder he is a little grouchy for the next two books… It was a cruel decision though Nirine didn’t realize the consequences when she made it. Just like the choice of another character later who restrains an enemy with vines, ones that he doesn’t’ realize will grow roots into the prisoner’s skin, the heroes make mistakes resulting in unintended pain. Maybe that is why they are still the heroes. They don’t mean harm.

Do you like your heroes perfect and villains beyond redemption? Or are your favorite books a little more in between?

– Autumn has finally recovered from the release of the final book in her epic fantasy trilogy and is on a writing binge involving two WIP, a bit of editing, and some reading thrown in just to mix things up. Her husband misses her. Find out more about Autumn and her writing at her website www.AutumnWriting.com or find her online on Twitter at @weifarer or on her Facebook page.

Clout or Doubt

by Chantal Boudreau

Power, or lack thereof, can decide where a story will carry a character, or even where a character will carry a story. All you have to do is think about a classic story and reverse the position of power of the protagonist to see what I’m talking about.

If Bilbo Baggins had been an influential, confident and heroic hobbit member of the nobility instead of a humble ordinary member of the shire with little influence to speak of, think of how that would have changed his story. He probably wouldn’t have been selected to play the role of “thief,” too important for such a lowly and suspect role. Had he gone along, he would have had enough political clout and wealth to travel with the dwarves well-guarded and unimpeded. More than likely, he may have decided to keep his nose out of the entire affair for diplomatic reasons and been able to stand his ground on the matter in the face of coercion from Gandalf and the other questers. He certainly wouldn’t have let the dwarves push their way into his home and ransack his kitchen.

On the other hand, look at the tale of King Midas and the Golden Touch. Part of the heft of the story comes from depicting the King as greedy despite vast wealth, a man elevated who has that much farther to fall than say a successful merchant or tradesperson experiencing the same greed and consequence. Perched on his high roost, he manages to lose everything without actually losing his wealth and the message as a result carries more meaning and greater impact – a lesson on appreciating what we have and recognizing the true value of things in life. A lowly servant stricken with the same affliction wouldn’t carry the same warning. He would be more likely to already value what he possessed and while he might opt for a golden touch, it would be out of despair and real need. It would make the reader more sympathetic to his plight and poor choice, marring the message in the process.

When writing a story I try to consider how the protagonist’s position of power will play into the story. Sometimes it will be important to build on power as the character becomes more competent and confident, so it makes sense to start them at the bottom. This way, there is more room to depict the character’s struggle and rise. It also helps to get the reader on board, rooting for a character who has received an unfair lot in life but who persists thanks to a heroic spirit and a resilient nature. It’s a great way to build investment. This is commonly seen in stories involving reluctant heroes like Bilbo or what I like to refer to as the “mouse that roars” type of hero, like Anna in my novel Prisoners of Fate – characters who don’t recognize their own potential for power until the pressure is on.

Other times it is important to allow a character a lofty position at the start. They already have wealth, status, strength or political power and are either abusing these things or failing to appreciate them. More common in tragedies, it serves the purposes of allowing for a greater decline and a demonstration of hubris, like Midas. This is why Far-Runner in my Snowy Barrens trilogy begins that story with so much. He has friends who support him, status within the tribe and physical adeptness. When the incident happens that begins his decent into madness and powerlessness, he is set for a comeuppance, a punitive counter to his jealousy and arrogance.

It all comes down to what a writer is trying to say with their story. A character is a vehicle and choosing the right position of power for that character will drive the point home more effectively. If the writer makes the right choice, the story will be that much better for it.

Readers? Writers? Both?

by Bruce Blake

—–

More than once, the collection of writers who make up this little Guild have engaged in conversation (the typed on Facebook kind, not the face-to-face variety; to the best of my knowledge, none of us have ever met any of the others) regarding appropriate topics for posts. If you’ve been following us for a bit, you’ll have noticed that the majority of our posts tend to lean toward the ‘for writers’ style.

I guess we all believe in the old adage that tells us to write what we know. When you’re a writer, it follows that you might know a little something about writing.

So what’s the trouble? Simply put, every writer writes about writing. The interwebs are positively cluttered with authors pontificating on the correct usage of adverbs, where to place your participles, best character traits for both characters and traitors, and how to create realistic dialogue, amongst a plethora of other subjects. All interesting, to be sure, but the subject we invariably come to during our social media fueled keyboard tap-fests is:

What sort of people do we want to draw to our blog?

Readers? Writers? Or both?

I’ll concede, there is certainly a great deal of spillover between the two. There is nary a writer who isn’t a reader (and if there is, perhaps they should rethink their vocation), but there can still be a division between the two. Me, for example, I’d consider myself a writer. I read, of course, but if you took a look at my life over the past few years, you’d find that I’ve spent a great deal more time spewing words out than I have gobbling them up. Truth be told, I’ve never been a voracious reader. I read too slowly to get through books quickly (you may have read about that some time ago on my blog), and I don’t have enough patience to stick with things that don’t interest me (I might have said something about that before, too).

My mother falls firmly in the ‘reader’ category. She has an unquenchable thirst for words that has led to a dwelling so packed with books, I worry the fire marshal might swing by and declare it a danger to the neighbourhood. As far as I know, she has never wanted to be one of the people who creates those paper thingys full of mystical runes that tell stories, teach lessons, and impart opinions. She has always been content to devour, not to be the chef.

So my questions to the readers of this blog are these:

Where do you fall? Reader, writer, or the mythical hybrid who squeezes enough time into a day to do both equally?

and

005What do you want to read about in our virtual pages? More on writing? Details about the writers? Perhaps you’d like to know what I had for dinner or that my small, white dog has a fetish about licking his paws or how my cat likes to sleep in a pose reminiscent of Superman flying through the great blue yonder?

You tell me.

—–

Bruce Blake is a writer. Sometimes he reads, too. Very rarely does he do both at once. If you want to find out more about his writing, you can check him out here. If you want to see how much he reads, drop by his house about 11  pm as he climbs into bed and struggles through a page or two before nodding off.

 

Cover Reveal: VAMPIRE DOWN (Blood Skies, Book 7)

VAMPIRE DOWN

Blood Skies, Book 7

Coming June 27th!

vampire_down_final_rgb

Cover Art by Barry Currey

Who ever knew the end would come so soon?

In this final volume of the BLOOD SKIES series, Eric Cross and Danica Black find themselves facing impossible odds in the desolate ruins of the world they once knew. Hunted by the mercenary forces of the newly formed East Claw Coalition and desperate to find the elusive White Mother, the two refugees will be pushed to the limits of their abilities and sanity as they struggle to survive.

Meanwhile, in the near future, the undead hunter called Reaver searches for the lost city of Bloodhollow, the place where humankind will make its final stand, while the undead of New Koth and the rebellious White Children make their push to end the reign of the Ebon Kingdoms once and for all.

As timelines collide and the spider weaves her web, the battle for the fate of the riven world will come to its violent conclusion in the depths of a forgotten city, where unlikely heroes will emerge and hidden evils shall finally be revealed…

****

Available Friday June 27th in Ebook and Print format.

****

About the Author

Steven Montano was something terrifying in his previous life. Now he’s an accountant, so not much has changed.

An avid hiker, reader, San Antonio Spurs fan, goofball husband and father of two, Steven writes novels (the seven volume Blood Skies series, the Skullborn Trilogy, something black…, and the upcoming thrillers Blood Angel Rising and Colder) and drinks a lot of wine when he isn’t busy pulling his hair out over payroll or trying to balance the company books.

Visit the author’s website and check out the Vampire Down page on Goodreads!

Burning Stars: An Ode to Indie Artists

Artists are crazy. You need to be, in order to stoke the fires of humanity.

Wait.  Allow me to elaborate.

I’m an artist, and Indie author. As usual, I have a bunch of projects on my plate. Too many, without a doubt, and this is really nothing new.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay focused. Sometimes I find myself wanting to drop one project in favor of some new and shiny idea that comes bouncing along and dares me to try it out. Like a Golden Retriever with ADD I scurry off after this squirrel of a project, completely forgetting what the hell it was I was doing until…

OH CRAP I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT IN 2 WEEKS!!!!

Me, when I think about writing.

Me, when I think about writing.

So I swing back, desperate to throw together promotional posts, understanding how little time I actually have to work on writing with a demanding 50-hour per week accounting job (though, to be fair, having a house account at  two bars is kinda cool…). I realize I still need to send out covers for the reveal and book blurbs, that I need to give out free copies to people helping me out and finish formatting the paperback version of the novel, that I need to get the draft of the next book onto the editing table…

…oh, yeah, and I need to write. There’s that.

****

Writers are a little insane. I don’t think there’s any denying it (and, to be fair, I haven’t met many writers who’d dare to try). We spend many (if not most) of our hours away from our tedious day jobs writing and editing novels; we have trouble reading a book or watching a show or even stepping outdoors without trying to find some way to blend all of that sensory input into our next story; we plan our free time, our weekends, and sometimes even our jobs around when we’ll get to work on our next book; we pour our hearts and souls and energy and minds into producing these piddly assemblies of a few thousand words knowing damn well that this will only ever be a hobby, that we’re not in this to try and get rich or become Stephen King but because we love it, because we’re addicted to it, because if we weren’t putting all of those explosive mental energies into our stories we’d probably be coming up with a plan to conquer Wisconsin or break the barrier to the 8th dimension or invent the better bowling sock.

Welcome to the world of writers. We’re all crazy here.

Have no illusions: being a self-published author is a lot of work. If you break down how much time you spend brainstorming, writing, editing, coming up with cover concepts, proofreading, social marketing, re-reading, formatting, publishing, and panicking over whether or not people will like your book or not, you end up making about 4 cents an hour. Underage factory workers in third-world countries are laughing at you.

My brain on deadlines.

My brain on deadlines.

It takes a special sort of insane to be an artist, and I use the broader term here because illustrators, musicians, comedians, dancers, and every other creative wacko out there suffers from this same malaise, this drive to expression that becomes an obsession. We all ride the pendulum, swinging back and forth.  We want that crazy, the highs and lows, the rush and fears, the anxieties and the satisfactions.

Because those energies have to go somewhere. I honestly believe artists have a special spark in them, a boiling presence deep in their soul, a tortured and explosive star that’s either in the midst of a supernova or about to burst into one, except it does it all the time. Every new project, every late night spent bent in front of the keyboard or scribbling things down by hand or walking back and forth in the coffee shop talking to people who don’t exist but who happen to be half-elf strippers named Raul, every time you slap your hands together when a new idea bursts through your otherwise debilitating consciousness, every time you get that dangerous sparkle in your eyes that means you either a) have the MOST BRILLIANT IDEA EVAR!!!! or b) are about to fly into a homicidal rampage…every time that happens it’s a new star, a new supernova, a new explosion of life.

For many, that star does eventually fade. It’s fading for me even now – I don’t believe it will ever go out, not really, but as I get older and the time I spend at work and trying to take care of my family expands and my energy level at night gets less and less, I know I can’t keep up the same hectic schedule I’m used to, and while I’m still capable of being terribly productive in short bursts it takes a little more for me to want to sit down and write that blog post or work on that new project, to hit that editing goal or to organize that blog tour after I’ve already been organizing and reconciling and counting and working for ten hours, only to come home to an Autistic boy who had a bad day and a pair of beautiful ladies who for some reason like to spend time with me. There’s only so much of me to go around.

But that fire still burns. With any luck it always will.

The fires of creativity.  (Also, I want marshmallows.)

The fires of creativity. (Also, I want marshmallows.)

****

Around this time you’re probably wondering to yourself: “Does this blog post have a point?”

It does, and it’s this: Indie artists, whether you be writers or musicians or mimes or sword swallowers or any of the other countless souls with the fires burning in you, who work ridiculous hours and pour your heart and soul into your craft, who know deep down you might never “make it” but who carry on anyways because that fire drives you, because your passion drives you, because you live and need to create, to express, to craft, know this: I admire the hell out of you. I understand what it takes, I understand what you give up, I’ve worked those hours and burned that oil and battled those demons, and still do.

We may not be job creators, but we change the world in our own way. We stoke the fires that burn in humanity’s soul. They’ve burned for a very long time, and thanks to people like us they’ll keep on burning for a long time after this.

Come with me and stare into the flames. We’ll get lost there together.

****

Steven Montano has been stoking the fires for over 20 years. He gets burned quite often. Check out http://steven-montano.com/ to find out more.

Archetypes, with a dash of numerology

Icarus falling from the sky

Daedalus and Icarus

By Scott Bury

In the last couple of blog posts, Autumn Birt and Joshua Johnson have been writing about archetypal characters in fantasy. As this will be my I thought I would take the opportunity to delve a little deeper into one particular archetypal character: the father.

As much of a planner as I am, one thing I have learned from writing fiction is that your characters teach you. Another is that the archetypal role a character begins with can change, depending on circumstances and the needs of the plot.

The father figure is very important in every genre. The good father, bad father, the limited, damaged, drunken, evil or absent fathers all have a distinct yet equally vital impact on the hero and on the development of the story.

Three parts, three fathers

In my first full-length novel, the historical fantasy The Bones of the Earth, the number three plays an important role in its own right. I originally envisioned the book as the first volume in a trilogy called the Dark Age. Each book would be divided into three parts.

In each part of the first book in The Bones of the Earth, a different character is a father-figure to the protagonist, Javor. In Part One, Initiation Rites, Javor’s literal father is the father figure.

I presented Swat (all names are historically accurate) as realistically, rather than mythically or fantastically, as I could. Javor’s father is gentle and kind. He raised his last surviving son more by example and demonstration than through instruction or command. He’s also practical, instead of heroic. He literally holds Javor back from a fight he cannot win.

I this sense, Swat is the opposite of the legendary heroic father figure, the kind who, like Zeus, sets up challenges that will reveal his son’s heroic nature. Instead, Swat acted like I hope I would if my son wanted to attack armed men with nothing but his bare fists (formidable as they may be).

Finally, Swat dies—typical for a fathers in fantasy—defending his family against a foe he could not ever hope to match. But literally backed against a wall,he had no choice. So that part was true to character as well as to archetype.

A character’s shift

In Part Two, Tests, the character introduced in Part One as the Mysterious Stranger, the interloper with arcane knowledge who is both a threat and a guide, fills the father figure role. Photius guides and instructs Javor in fighting, languages, philosophy and in knowledge about the world. He also imparts his own values.

Image of the mysterious stranger

The mysterious stranger

At the end of Part Two, Photius dies protecting Javor. Hmm. I seem to be very hard on fathers. Nothing personal, Dad!

The father-figure in Part Three, The Mission, is the most aloof and formal of all. Austinus is the head of a religious order and, despite objections of his advisors, accepts Javor into this faith family. He is protective of Javor and spends a lot of time teaching him philosophy, history and religion.

Austinus is also closest to the archetypical father-figure of legend and myth. He ensures that Javor learns military fighting skills and brings Javor into danger, putting him in a situation that will bring out Javor’s true heroic nature.

Three stories, three different takes on the father character. They in no way exhaust the subject of the father-son relationship, but I found their creation rewarding.

In my next contribution to the Guild of Dreams blog, I am going to ask the bigger question: do we need archetypal characters, or should we be reaching further and digging deeper when creating characters?

 

Playing the General

A lot of fantasy, and a lot of good, popular fantasy, focuses on the individual and/or the small group. As we saw in Autumn’s post (here) there are many different archetypes that may be included in a small group of adventurers out to complete a quest.

But not every story focuses on this facet of the story. In fact, there are a bunch of Epic Fantasies that turn this around on its head by focusing on the “General” and the large group action.

Now, this character doesn’t necessarily have to be a “General”, a King, a High Lord, an Admiral, or even a somewhat lesser ranked official or officer, just as long as they have some level of authority.

What separates the General from the Singular Hero is their responsibility and how they handle it. Like the Small Group dynamic, there are different kinds of Generals. Some of them will overlap with aspects of the small group, but others won’t.

1. The Field Commander (Lead from the Rear)

tywinWhen looking at possible roles for a “General”, the Field Commander’s job is the most daunting. It is their responsibility to orchestrate and coordinate the movements of an entire army on the battlefield. It is the Field Commander that gathers reports from all parts of his/her army and moves each piece in the way he/she thinks will best suit his/her goals.

Field Commanders very nearly never get their hands dirty. They sit in their tents, reading reports and moving markers across a map, trying to see their enemy’s moves before they happen and shield their own motives against discovery.

In a non-military setting, the Field Commander would be seen as the person who sends the small party on their quest. They have something that needs to be in order for the rest of their plan to be successful and they accomplish this through a mission given to a willing party.

A good example of a Field Commander is Tywin Lannister, from A Song of Ice and Fire. Tywin is not the sort to ride valiantly into battle and seek out the enemy face-to-face. Instead, he schemes and coordinates, plans and executes.

A challenge in writing the Field Commander is that there typically isn’t a lot of action to be had when you’re sitting at the back of the battle, watching things unfold. I have a character in my upcoming novel who fits this role and it was a struggle sometimes finding things to maintain interest. Interpersonal stress with advisors and the mental weight of the role are good ways to maintain tension and interest when writing these characters.

2. The Tactician (Lead from the Front)

tacticianThe Tactician, on the other hand, is going to be down in the mess of battle or the mud of the trenches, risking his/her life for the cause. Whether its a drive for personal glory, or an attempt to rally his/her men in a time of desperation, the Tactician feels right at home among the rank and file of the army.

Tacticians have a lot in common with the Hero (from Autumn’s post). They dash into battle without concern for themselves and lead their soldiers right into the heart of the fight. It is in the frenzy that they are most useful and at their best. They can see the ebb and flow of battle with their own eyes and, if they can take time away from killing an enemy, can micro-manage their forces with incredible precision.

This role is much more common in a lot of fantasy because it can still focus on the individual while they play a larger role in the fight. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings; Jaime Lannister Robb Stark from ASoIaF, all fit this role. They’re generals, but they lead their men rather than direct them.

3. The Strategist (Lead from the Middle)

king_in_forestStrategists are a much different breed than the Tacticians. They may still find themselves in the heat of battle, but when they do it is because they choice to fight, rather than felt the need to. Where a tactician makes adjustments on the fly, manipulating the flow of battle as it happens, the Strategist has planned everything out and knows what needs to be done.

The Planner and the Strategist find themselves in very much the same role. Both will lay out what needs to be done and will direct their assets towards the completion of the task. Strategists are methodical about how they will complete their task, sometimes to a fault. If there is a downfall with being a Strategist, it is that every plan must be fluid, because not even the best laid plans entirely survive first contact with the enemy.

Tyrion Lannister is definitely a Strategist. He lays things out and then waits for them to come to fruition; sometimes he finds himself at the sharp end of a weapon.

4. The King/Queen in the Castle

queenThe King/Queen in the Castle is much like the Field Commander, but on an even more grand scale. He/She manages the war, or the overall mission in a less-militant setting. The Field Commanders report to the King/Queen in the Castle and take their orders from him/her.

The King/Queen in the Castle truly sees the world on an epic scale. They don’t see the faces of their enemies or their allies, they see pawns on the playing board.

Sauron from Lord of the Rings is a fantastic example of this role. He sits in his mountain, pulling strings and manipulating armies on a vast scale.

 

In nearly every story some of the roles are present. They may not earn more than a mention as a hero and his small group set out on their journery, but they’re there, leading the rest of the world while our protagonist garners all of the glory 😉

What other roles do you see “Generals” fitting?

The Hero, the Know-it-all, the Partier: Who is on your fantasy quest?

by Autumn Birt

Stress and tension tend to bring out either the worst or best in people. Add fear to that and some people will freeze. Others will leap into action.

Which got me thinking about epic fantasy quests.

A post on small group dynamics I wrote for my blog really got me wondering why there is so much group cohesion during quests in fantasy literature. I was in a leadership class and, well… there were days it wasn’t pretty (it ended well, though!). A group of strong personalities sitting around a table is bound to spawn a diversity of opinions. And that is without life or death choices!

But it was the picture below and a desire to see a guy be the Crier (for once!) that got me categorizing the personalities found on quests and which ones I used in my epic fantasy trilogy, the Rise of the Fifth Order.

2013-10-14-small-group-dynamics-part-2

So for your fun and enjoyment: Fantasy Quester Personalities!

fantasy leader1. The Leader – The one who sees the end goal no matter what fate (or the villain) throws. Obstacles are mere setbacks. Giving up isn’t an option. They unite the group and drive it forward!

This is NOT necessarily the same person as the Hero. Rather, the Leader has a clear goal and her/his unshakable faith gets the questers through dark times. If they don’t have the answer, the Leader knows who in the group can find it. A bit of a strategist, a bit of a zealot, without the Leader the quest would end at the first dragon.

Ty takes the primary role of leader in my epic fantasy series. He’s an unlikely leader, one who sees himself as a failure but also as the only thing keeping everyone from making insanely stupid mistakes. Temperamental, self-centered… he’s also not the best leader. In book 2, an emotional shock sets him spinning and he winds up not as the Leader, but as the Doubter. It isn’t pretty.

2. The Hero – The fool who thinks a tiny sword will scare a dragon.

dragons monsters waves knight cliffs fantasy art creatures digital art mythical hero_www.wallpaperhi.com_63Every quest needs a hero to rush into battle when much saner people would prefer negotiations and a time-out. They are the brave heart of the quest. The women and men whose glorious victories (and untimely death) will be sung about for centuries.

There are a few people who take on the role of hero in my series (and not just because heroes don’t last long!). Niri is the first. Several times she takes on challenges to save the quest group before actually thinking things through. When faced with the enemy, she sends away those who could help her in order to protect them. Somehow she scrapes through… and graduates to a Leader role in book 2 (at the same time Ty falls to Doubter). Heroes are not often good Leaders, which is probably why she leads them straight into the home of the people looking to kill her…

1371028587_the_hobbit_the_desolation_of_smaug-oo3. The Crier – the one who is emotionally breaking down CONSTANTLY. Otherwise known as the damsel in distress or the frightened boy – The spoiled Prince or Princess. Often a bit of a drama queen. This character doesn’t run in fear… they fall to the ground and wail about the injustice of having to face such a horrible foe.

There is usually a crier lurking somewhere in the groundwork of a quest. Someone needs to be saved. The reluctant hero must be shown to be… reluctant. Often annoying (well, to me), this poor bloke or girl has the most opportunity for growth on the quest. If the group doesn’t tie them up and simply hand deliver them to the villain…

Ria. Hands down, Ria. She whines enough in book 1 that I was ready to chuck her into the Sea of Sarketh. She is positively terrified until the final scene of book 1, even though occasionally she tries to put on a brave face. But then, in book 2… ooooh. As I said, this is the character with the most potential for growth and when Ria’s greatest fear and greatest obstacle is removed, well, she grows. She rocks. Becomes one of my favorite characters, smoothly taking on roles as Hero and Leader and doing it with pizazz. Kinda glad I didn’t feed her to the Curse after all!

4. The Partier – the one along for the food, to discover new local brews, and meet dashing men or exotic women (or both!).

tavern-clicheSelfish, self-centered, and often completely unaware that they may need to do something other than drink (such as hold a sword and USE IT). But when finally cajoled into action (i.e. sobered up), can usually accomplish something fantastic (in the nick of time, of course).

Oddly, this is Zhao. Or maybe, it is what Zhao is becoming (if for some odd reason I write another story or book with these characters). He leaves home because it is oppressive, especially for those with Elemental abilities. He already lost the girl he loved, so his heart is… maybe not hardened, but dense? Early in book 2, he nearly gets himself and Ria killed in Rah Hahsessah just because he wants to check out the town (and is quite conniving about convincing Ria to sneak into town with him!). Even in the end of book 3, he is planning visits to cities along the Archipelago. Though integral to saving many people, he’s become a bit more of a loose cannon by the end of book 3. I could see him breaking hearts and causing quite a bit of chaos in the future!

adventure_planning_in_solitude_map_room_by_tidmatiger-d4ywdup5. The Planner – this is the voice of reason without whom the questers would walk into the icky, dark cave without a torch (or a supply of water, some food, maybe bedding…). They are the person keeping the Hero alive One. More. Day.

The Planner could be a leader, and may fill that role at times, but also might not want to have that much responsibility. Which is probably a good thing. If she/he were in charge, the quest might take a very, very long time. After all, you have to wait for the weather, harvest, star alignment… But, of course, without their strategizing the best way to succeed, the quest would be very, very short (and end very unpleasantly)!

Darag fills this role nicely, though he might not see it for himself (despite being the youngest member on the Council of ‘Elders’ for his people!). The oldest of those on the quest, it is his worry for his new wife that leads to the discovery of who the true foe really is. It is his perceptive nature that smooths problems in book 1 and it is the LACK of his planning that adds to the chaos in books 2 and 3. Which is just a whole other issue (and potential plot technique!)…

6. The Doubter and the Know-it-All – the one who questions every decision, points out every previous mistake, who never has anything useful to say. Other than ‘I told you so.’

DoubterThey are not the Planner, seeing weak points in the plan of attack. The Know-it-All is superior, a hard shell of righteous intelligence over emptiness. But the other side of the coin is the Doubter, who is motivated by fear. And when afraid, problem solving abilities aren’t the sharpest. It isn’t that they want to give up, they just don’t want to die. Which might happen if they move forward. This is a character on the verge of coming unhinged.

And this is the depth Ty spirals into. Believing his decisions have killed a good friend, Ty stops making decisions. But he hates everyone else’s. Even knowing his arguments stem from deep suffering, it is difficult to not smack some sense into him. The need to take control shakes him out of it, but he never returns to being the same person that began the journey in book 1.

Hero-with-Sword-Heavenly-HD7. The Protector – the best friend, the lover, the mother-hen. This is someone who is motivated by a need to protect one person. Well, maybe two. But not everyone.

If they were, they’d be a Hero. But no, their universe narrows to a small focus when danger nears. A fierce fighter for what they’ve claimed by friendship, the Protector may let someone else die rather than risk what they love. A good friend and a danger to others, the Protector is both an asset and a threat.

Lavinia. She isn’t as heartless as a fierce Protector, but it is her goal to save Ria. And she takes Niri under her wing as well. And if you dare touch her husband… well, best not to. By the end of book 3, her sphere of protection has grown quite large. She may be working her way to heroic levels, maybe…

There are others too! Which are your favorites that I missed? And what personality types are found in your favorite fantasy quest?

– Autumn has just released the final book in her epic fantasy trilogy and has moved on to a new WIP, which has claimed her so completely she has written the year as 2058… on official documents. Oops! Find out more about her and her writing at her website www.AutumnWriting.com or find her online on Twitter at @weifarer or on her Facebook page.