Yes – it’s tag time again and todays ‘perp’ is yours truly. But before I kick off here’s a final doff of the cap to Mary Patterson Thornburg and her character Alyssha Dodson (so tempting to slam a ‘g’ into the middle of that and take it all into Wonderland territory ) for dum… erm choosing to pass the torch in this direction.
Characters maketh the tale of course and it always helps to have some kind of framework on which to hang the bare bones so to speak, so Mary’s also given me the dubious opportunity to flesh out a bit more on a lady that I’ve really only just started to write in the last few months, although I’ve had her in mind for quite some time now. But I digress of course – let’s get on with…
Introducing ~ Feyæth the Murrighan
… which means Battle Queen and she nods towards Morgan Le Fay, but any other relationship with Arthurian legend is twisted and blurred to the point of fragmentation. Her story will be a science fantasy fusion treatment set in the far future but with archaic cultural elements that look to the mythic realms of Northern and Western Europe for inspiration, with some classical overtones concerning the natural world and sciences (birds and the weather play a big part here).
The action takes place after the end of the Universe as we know it – it’s a kind of cold climate Eden revisited in the ‘Shadow Galaxy’ where humankind is rebuilding itself from the ground up on a terra-formed world with genetically enhanced flora and fauna, as well as the native paranormal species that inhabit it.
Feyæth’s a metamorph – a form-changer and the most adept of a predicted mutation that is emerging from the Allfolk but, unlike the two other male metamorphs of her generation who are destined to consort with her, she struggles to keep some of her more lethal powers under control. In addition to being able to change into aggressive and powerful predatory animals Feyæth and Ruarghan (the Mærllenn, or Skymaster) can control fabulous beasts and birds and overcome the will of less supernaturally gifted individuals. However they both have lesser powers as Seers and it is Feyæth’s future spouse and Ruarghan’s Lord, Ærdhan who is the prophesied Jænys (the Path), who will lead the Allfolk into the fabled Age of Unity, where The Worlds Without and Within will finally be… united!
Undermining Feyæth’s role in the social and political upheaval preceding the new world order is her broken relationship with the renegade Cloudfolk Wardmaster, Belænn, a powerful mage-like Wose, who believes he is her father and blames her for the death of his beautiful, doomed love Lysul, in childbirth. Always struggling to please the only father she has known, Feyæth constantly fails to live up to his expectations until the purification rites that mark the beginning of her nuptials, when Belænn descends into all-consuming fury and seals both their wyrds with bloodshed and destruction.
In the years that follow Feyæth struggles to make sense of Belænn’s insane ambitions with regard to her and elder half-brother Nuithen, and to seek the truth behind her own heritage from what little they know of their mother’s final days. When their clan seeks alliance with Ærdhan’s Bayfolk, Feyæth also begins to crave a ‘normal’ spousal relationship with Ærdhan who becomes a kind of touchstone for her and, in time, the main hope for reuniting with her son, who is cast out by the Glasfolk after the death of his horselord grandfather. However, from the first, she has more affinity for, and is inexorably drawn to Ruarghan, who is her only peer when it comes to changing forms.
While Storm Shadow (first in a projected series of at least two trilogies) has a toe in Arthurian landscapes and powerplay, the main inspiration for Feyæth’s character comes from the more ancient Celtic world and in particular to the female battle deities or water goddesses of Irish and Welsh legend and their predilection for transmogrification. Chiefly, the Morríghan with her various war-like forms of raven and wolf and kinship with the Norse Valkyrie, but also with Sulis and triple-goddess Brighid and their generative and healing powers. For this approach I’ve also finally given up on reining back my ongoing fascination with how the ‘classical’ and newly Christian Roman world merged culturally with the so-called barbarian peoples on their north-western borders in Spain, Gaul and Britain, adopting feast days and seasonal customs consonant with their own. Within the story arc, the Murrighan has more in common with historical Boudicca of the Iceni in terms of political clout, than with Morgan le Fay, despite all her supernatural powers.
Storm Shadow should be well into editorial tweaking some time during 2015, so it’s a few years before it hits the book shelves, but Feyæth’s a character who’s been lurking at the back of my mind for some time, perhaps even back to teenhood, as she has some character traits in common with one of my favourite Tolkien characters, Eowyn the spear-maiden of Rohan. I’m already pretty fond of her despite her propensity for tragedy and messing up big time with her relationships – I’m still going to have to kill her at some stage however, but she’ll be a tumultuous, driven character all the way there so it’ll be great to write her story. Especially the bits I haven’t dreamed up yet…
And now I’ve got to pass the baton to… the inimitable Tara Sparling, blogger extraordinaire, doyenne of the genre title generators and lady most likely to literally combine the talents of Susie Dent and Rachel Riley (to those who need an explanation go HERE :-P) who may or may not stick to the character brief – eventually!