Get to know the Character in Dytin’s Stones: Windrider
Height: Approx 5’9” – 6’2”
Body Type: Athletic, start scrawny labor worker to warrior build
Eye color: Blue
Hair Color: Blonde then Blue then White
Profession (Party Role): Warrior (Tank)
Weapon Style: One Handed Sword and Shield
Keirsey Temperament: Champion
Alignment: Neutral Good
Motivations: Sam is motivated mostly by those he cares about. Despite having responsibilities that heavily influences his race and Teva as a whole, he thinks surprisingly very small. He can see big picture consequences but that doesn’t weigh nearly as heavily as the consequences to those he cares about or travel with him. Sam is much more likely to be uplifted or utterly beaten by what happens to those he cares about than anything else. Making decisions that positively impact his friends and family over what may be more logical for the public as a whole. It’s what makes him warm and approachable, but not suited for critical decisions for things like war. He is a hero to the people, an everyday guy, but not a commander.
On People- Sam is an Idealist. He believes people are genuinely good at heart and will do the “right thing” when the time comes. When approached or challenged by a paragon, people will flock behind them and serve a grand purpose. Corrupt or Unjust people can be changed and shown the “errors of their ways” and ultimately people mean little to no harm to one another. Basically, Sam is a “boy scout” type.
On Attitude towards others- Sam WANTS to believe that all people are in essence, good. Despite everything he experiences in the first series, he still wants that to be true. Throughout the first series, Sam continues on this belief. He parades through his quest and the setting thinking he is enacting true change and inspiring people. He surrounds himself with supporters and genuinely good people (he thinks), but slowly he feels that he is in over his head. Only too late does he realize that he will never complete the great feats he thought he would once accomplish. By the end Sam is utterly broken and doesn’t know what to believe. He feels betrayed and used, despite anything to the contrary. Sam is the purest example of youthful naivety turned sour by harsh reality. He is left bitter and that bitterness turns to anger and vengefulness. In the coming books Sam must learn acceptance, forgiveness, and practicality. (The Serenity Prayer)
On Society- The intricacies of societies and their varying rules and traditions doesn’t really interest him. He feels his position helps him rise above such frivolous things. Some amuse him, others impress him for a little while, but few keep his attention for long. He thinks in much simpler terms. Morality, justice, fairness, these things matter to him. As long as these values are followed, Sam doesn’t involve himself further unless his friends seem to get involved.
On Religion- Much like society’s rules, Sam has little time for rules from a church. He has seen more miraculous and incredible acts to rival any theological text. Sam is also well travelled and very accustomed to all sorts of races, thus making him far more open minded. He doesn’t have to believe in any deity, he’s seen the face of the Architect, he knows he’s real.
On Politics- Sam doesn’t have time for them, he is above them. He feels that the Guardian of the Wind is a position that rises above any one kingdom of man. However, he does recognize the importance of Kings and Governments. As such, he is respectful and sometimes inspired or intimidated by government officials. Ultimately, he uses them to his advantage, unwittingly playing the political game without realizing it. Sam continues forward still believing he is above it all, when he’s really not.
Likes: Time with loved ones, Attention (though he is humble, he does enjoy it), freedom, adventure, the outdoors, the smell of leather
Irritants: People being disrespectful/hurtful to those he cares about, nagging, injustice or hatred of any kind, unfairness
Fears: Losing the ones he loves (them dying)
Pros: Decisive, Brave, Relatable, Charismatic, Strong, Gentle-hearted, Noble, Honorable
Faults: Anxious, Self-deprecating, Egotistical, Impulsive, Short-tempered
Thematic Journey/ Struggles by Book:
Windrider- Who am I?
Dragonfire- What is my purpose?
Jewel of the Surf- Will anyone take me seriously?
Peacekeeper- Can I stay true to my promises/convictions? Can I make sacrifices? I want to see the world.
Night’s End- Can I handle loss/failure? What do I do now?
April- She is the oldest friend Sam has ever had. She is the “Girl Next Door” for him. His original cheerleader, April becomes much more than that as the book progresses. Initial attraction isn’t enough for him to truly pursue her at first. After he and Haven fall apart, April seems the logical choice. (Kind of dickish of him really. She’s second string in his mind). Once he decides he wants her however, April doesn’t immediately cave. Her independence challenges him and he continues his pursuit. Eventually she gives in and they become involved. April challenges Sam more than anything. She is his constant motivation. Eventually, everything he does on his quest becomes about what she would want, not necessarily what’s best. (Thankfully the two tend to be the same most of the time.) Sam is in awe of her. Infatuated and borderline obsessed. He emulates her strength and work ethic. April tries constantly to make him the hero the people need, not necessarily the hero Sam needs to be for himself.
Haven- She is the most beautiful thing Sam has ever seen. She is like a precious flower that he wants to touch but knows if he does, she may wither and die. Sam is immediately attracted to Haven and the two share a deep emotional connection from the very beginning of the quest. Haven confides in Sam, Sam confides in her, they compliment each other. Sam is enamored by her beauty, innocence, and drive for helping others. He feels she shares the same views as he does. Unlike April, who is negative and strong, (Something Sam thinks he wants to become) Haven is positive yet fragile. Sam wants to protect her, which makes him feel heroic, something everyone tells him he should be. But something is different with Haven, he doesn’t have to try so hard. With Haven, things are easy. Comfortable. Things get difficult for them when Haven grows too attached. Every time Sam willingly places himself in danger Haven lashes out at him. Sam finally has enough and ends the relationship before it can manifest into anything serious. Causing them to each gravitate towards the Aidyn twins.
Cain- Enemy #1, Cain is the antithesis of everything Sam hopes to become. Cain is controlling, dominating, and without mercy. Cain inflicts many atrocities against Sam, at first Cain seems like some overwhelming horror that Sam must level up to approach but soon he becomes a real rival that Sam is personally invested in defeating. Cain toys with Sam through every book, Sam again and again foiling the Dark One’s plans only to realize that there is another fire to be put out further ahead. When Sam and Cain finally meet face-to-face, Cain does everything he can to utterly destroy him. Cain captures and tortures him, and tries to even convert Sam to his side/views. For Sam, Cain is many things, and his quest to stop him teeters back and forth between a personal vengeance and a sacred duty. Sam risks and eventually loses everything in his quest against the Dark One only to realize that it was all fruitless and taking down Cain requires much more than just his own efforts. Instead of changing coarse, Sam loses hope, exactly what Cain wanted him to do all along. It takes many more years for Sam to really discover what will need to be done to conquer the Dark One, and for him to realize that a hero cannot exist without a villain.
Nathaniel- Nathan and Sam are not enemies, in fact many times they consider each other as friends. However, their personalities are so similar that they tend to butt heads a lot on grander issues and things like duty, sacrifice, and patriotism. Nathaniel is the man who always wanted to become a hero, knowing full well what that entailed, Sam on the other hand is the man who played hero when he was younger and now has found the duty thrust upon him. Sam’s insecurities are highlighted by Nathaniel’s lack of them, and that makes Sam feel like the lesser man sometimes. The two hold a deep respect for each other, but at the end of the day they each covet something the other one holds. Sam covets Nathan’s valiance while Nathan covets Sam’s birthright.
Sam’s character arc and developmental journey coincides directly with the overarching theme and philosophical questions I wanted to address with this series. The question “What is a Hero?” or “What makes someone heroic? Actions or Intentions?” How I see it, (at least in American society post-2001) there was a drastic misdirection in why we worshipped heroes. I experienced this first hand as I was adorned with praise and attention for being a veteran of OIF yet it didn’t seem accurate why people were praising me. They called me a “Defender of their freedom” when I hadn’t done that at all. Later, when some started stating “Thank you for your service.” it dawned on me. They weren’t thanking me for my actions, they were thanking me for my intention of doing something they never had the want or intention to do for themselves. It was service that had made me a hero in their eyes, not my actions. They couldn’t care less what I did, in fact most people became increasingly uncomfortable when I told specific stories of events and actions done overseas. I started looking at other forms of “hero worship”, where people were idolized for standing out from the masses and looked at their intentions. I started becoming disenfranchised with society being so liberal with the word “hero”. It was true many people were performing admirable feats. Great discipline in mastering a sport, or courage in changing their gender or coming out to the world as homosexual, even great cunning in becoming accomplished artists or musicians, but these are not heroes. These acts, while admirable, are in the end selfish by nature. Raise them as examples of idols, sure, but not heroes. Their intentions make all the difference. When I set out to look into this question of “What is heroism” further, I felt that in order to theoretically see it from all sides, as well as come to grips with my own experiences, I needed to work through these questions and others in a fictional setting.
Sam begins his rise by being given a huge responsibility and title, yet isn’t told exactly what it all entails. He is given broad, vague guidance on how to complete his job. Sam, being young, struggles with the concept of self. He doesn’t know who he is, what he is meant to be, and being given a title he hopes that these questions will be answered for him by his “role”. Many young people hope their jobs or roles will help answer these questions for them, help them define themselves, that they then aren’t responsible for their actions or decisions. Sam, like many young people in our world, discover quickly that we aren’t necessarily defined by our careers, or roles, or even preferences. It is our choices that define us. Sam’s role as Guardian doesn’t define his self, as the Sprite doesn’t tell him how to be Guardian, just that he is.
After the incident at Cortendale, Sam retaliates against Cain out of vengeance. The retaliation was successful and that makes him a “hero” in the people’s eyes, yet even Sam is confused by this. Sam went into battle with selfish intentions (the desire for revenge). April tells Sam that it doesn’t matter why he went in, but that his results make him the people’s hero. What April fails to realize here is that intentions mean everything when it comes to heroism. Actions can be misinterpreted and even misconstrued, to the point that they can benefit any one argument or political system’s agenda. Intentions, however, are all our own. Only we can affect them. Only we can decide them, within our individual mind. In this, one can be a hero by doing “unheroic” actions, if it is made with good intention. Heroes can be subverts, supposed antagonists, or perform unpopular actions all for the sake of better intentions down the line. The parent who punishes her child for the sake that he be a decent person later, the police officer who writes you that speeding ticket with the intention of keeping you safe from yourself. Altruism takes many forms, not always the most overt. Not all heroes wear capes.
Sam’s struggle to find his inner self doesn’t end with just the first book. As he is thrust further and further forward, he continues to question what he is and if his actions have any real impact. He continues to pass off recognition and titles as a result of further “heroic” acts, because deep inside he feels he has never earned it. He never had altruistic or selfless intentions and therefore isn’t a hero. He eventually turns jaded and angry at his position, feeling victimized by society and by Dytin himself for bestowing such faith in him when he never even had such faith in himself. Suffering from PTSD, Anxiety, and immense guilt at the lives spent in his (what he feels) futile attempt to stop Cain, he runs. Sam will have many further struggles in the future to find himself and his true place in the world. Sam is indeed a heroic person, with honorable traits that should be idolized, but he has to discover the right way those values can be displayed. People are fickle, and don’t think about the deeper intentions behind other’s actions. Only we have to live with the consequences of our actions, even if the world never finds out what we’ve done. We must hold ourselves accountable though, as no person or deity ultimately will.
Of all the characters in the Dytin’s Stones series, Samuel is probably the most autobiographical. I didn’t set out to make the character that way, I actually always thought I identified with David more. In fact, there are a number of his traits that I don’t share (mainly his extrovert nature and charisma) but as the drafts continued and the series really found its voice, Sam more or less became my projected image. This wasn’t pointed out to me until my wife read the books, but once she said it I couldn’t stop seeing it.
The old “what would I do in this situation?” had become the question for most of his actions in the books. Sam also begins to suffer from many of my own issues later in the series. Survivor’s guilt, PTSD and Paranoia, along with the abundant anxiety and insecurities all mount in his mind until the breaking point. Whereas I was able bounce back, (mainly thanks to writing this series) Sam isn’t so lucky.
Perhaps that is why this story is so personal, where as other projects I’ve not felt so attached/dedicated to. I never set out to make Sam noble or heroic, I simply tried to think of what would happen if you put an everyday guy in extraordinary circumstances. It just turned out that if you put the right person in the right place at the right time, amazing things can happen.
Sam’s overarching idealism, this feeling that “all we have to do is work together”, has been my life philosophy since before I can remember. Unity has always been my hope for the world. Perhaps that is why the books focus so heavily on that.
Height: 5’6”- 5’8”
Body Type: Athletic, small to medium bust
Eye color: Light Green/Emerald
Hair Color: Brown
Profession (Party Role): Rogue
Weapon Style: Dual-Wield blades (Knives and/or short swords preferred)
Keirsey Temperament: Crafter
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Motivations: April is a very complex person. She has a lot of traits that contradict each other, such as she has an inherent belief in doing right morally yet legally she feels she doesn’t need to follow any law she doesn’t agree with, and she doesn’t agree with a lot of them because she feels they are oppressive of the poor. She is selfish in her desires to become the best at pulling things over on others, yet she thinks it’s cruel when people use power to control others, and then again she contradicts herself further by constantly manipulating and nagging her friends to do what she wants. April’s motivations sway back and forth many times based on the subject at hand. She is firmly loyal to Sam, almost to the point of forsaking anything or anyone else. The only exception would be her twin brother, David. If something needs to be done for either of them, she will do it, regardless of the consequences or morality. April delights in anything of the criminal element and she is exceptionally skilled at problem solving, critical thinking, and improvising her way through practically anything. April is also fiercely independent, using sarcasm to broadcast any disagreement with other’s decisions. April is highly motivated by an interior set of scales, that balances everything in her mind according to her own chaotic equilibrium. She very much holds a “Ends-justify-the-means” kind of philosophy. She believes in fairness in the classes and so steals from the rich to give to the poor. She detests anything frivolous or high end, she steals simply for the rush of stealing and to somehow balance the world in her mind. A rich man loses his favorite painting, a poor family eats for a week, that’s justice to her. April is also fascinated by puzzles, feeling an insatiable need to solve everything she deems one. She is also a strong feminist, feeling women deserve equal rights to men in everything. This causes her to be very disconnected to her feelings at times, growing agitated as they make her feel weak and “girly”.
On People- April doesn’t believe people are very intelligent. She expects people to act selfishly, and therefore continue self-depricating or foolish behavior. She does however feel people can change once they are provided good leadership, sometimes having to forcibly be shown the errors of their ways. She knows she can never be that charismatic, inspirational leader but perhaps Sam can be. She’s a realist who is optimistic towards the future, even if she is afraid to admit it to herself.
On Attitude towards others- April is in flux on ho to act around other people. She generally feels those not associated with her group are stupid and not worth her time; however, she does not feel that people should be wasted or generally abused. She doesn’t trust anyone easily, and it is very difficult to earn back her trust once its lost. She assumes that everyone is ignorant and selfish and expects the worst in people so she doesn’t get surprised when they ultimately show their true colors. This makes her appear prickly and is generally unliked unless you get to know her.
On Society- April feels that society is like a giant wall, no matter how large or powerful or pretty, she will ultimately find its weaknesses and use them to scale over it. She understands that society must exist to keep the masses in line, but it doesn’t have any affect on her. She glides in and out, using the crowds to hide her while she accomplishes her own goals. When Sam gains his power, she feels it is his responsibility to change society for the better, but his, not hers. She helps out of loyalty to him, not because she she wants society to necessarily change. She wants the poor and downtrodden to be taken care of and the rich and entitled to be borought down a peg or two.
On Religion- April knows that there are spiritual beings that created the world, hold it in balance, and through questing with Sam sees first hand that these beings exist, but they hold no control over the decisions she makes in her life. She is very Deist, feeling that mortal creatures need to forge their own destinies. She doesn’t put much faith in prophecy, except to use it as a tool to motivate others. Personally she forges her own path and doesn’t abide some priest telling her how to live her life, but knows it is necessary for the simple minded to be directed towards good morals and hard work.
On Politics- April has no time for it, nor patience. She knows that when nobles clash, it’s the poor that die. She doesn’t abide by it and is uncomfortable amongst posh living conditions and fancy feasts. She would rather keep to the gutters and to those things that are real than two-faced people who say anything to get what they want. Ironic, since it’s precisely what she does to manipulate and get her way.
Likes: Bluntness and Truth, Blades, Black market skills of any kind (Archery, lockpicking, thievery, stealth, explosives, etc.), travelling, thrill-seeking, flowers
Irritants: Hypocrisy, Unfairness, Stupidity, Lack of Common Sense, Redundancy to the point of futility, anything rich or pompous, weakness, emotions
Fears: A cage (Literally and metaphorically)
Thematic Journey/ Struggles by Book:
Windrider- I need to get out of this Valley
Dragonfire- I need to make my brother better
Jewel of the Surf- I need to learn all the skills I can/ take these capital snobs down a peg
Peacekeeper- I need to see all that I can
Night’s End- I need to free the Lycan
Sam- Sam is and always was April’s only love. As self focused as she was growing up, trying to make a name for herself in the man’s world of the Cortendale Valley, Sam was the only man she wasn’t related to that she grew to trust. As they grew up together, April’s feelings of admiration and respect turned to affection and love. She doesn’t realize her own feelings towards him until another woman, Haven, enters the group. Being as April was the only female for so long, she could easily manipulate the boys to do whatever she wanted. Now, April had competition. April initially challenged Haven, but when Haven pushed back, April was thrown for a loop, never having to fight another girl in their passive-aggressive style before. Lucky for her, Sam and Haven call it quits before April has to do much unfamiliar quarrelling. Though her feelings towards Sam were unchanged, her respect for him did take a bit of a hit. April always considered Sam as honorable, but seeing him run into a strange woman’s arms so quickly made her lose trust in his judgement. She clearly defines their relationship to Sam when he comes towards her with romantic advances, telling him that she wants something serious, not a flirtation or temporary arrangement. Sam eventually agrees and the two begin a romance. The two are inseparable and powerful together. Being life-long friends they can read each other, know each other, and can think in tune with each other as no one else can. They become so intertwined that Sam nearly forgets who he is without her. When Sam is taken by Cain in Nightshade, the experience changes him. April, for the first time, is at a complete loss. Emotional and Psychological scars are not something she is used to. She often buries her feelings and seeing Sam suffer from such things makes her uncomfortable. She starts to lose respect for him at the same time pities him. She feels that leaving will do them good and so she “saves” him by whisking him away into the sunset.
Haven- Haven is the only other human female of the group. Not only that, but the two fight over Sam’s affection early on. Haven is everything April isn’t, and that pisses April off to no end. Haven, to her credit, continually tries to connect with the rogue and the two women slowly, and I mean slowly, become friends. It is uncertain whether April actually grows to like Haven or simply calculates that it is less painful to give in and allow the blonde-haired woman in. Perhaps it is a little of both.
Ah April. This character has gone through a lot of changes, but in every single draft of the stories, April was the tomboy character. She actually died at the end of many versions of the story, meant to completely pull the rug out from everyone in the group, but as time went on I felt that killing her off only cheapened her character (also she’s my wife’s favorite soooo, kinda put an end to that plot twist).
April was always meant to show that women didn’t have to be “maidens”. I’ve always based her off of many of my female friends growing up, that frustrated side we all share when we just want to shut the world out. Strong, courageous, but also caring. April’s tenacity is also something I wanted to showcase. It’s not so much from a desire to have a feminist stance (even though I feel that is very important) but more from trying to depict a realistic female character. Haven and April are opposite not because I wanted to make one “strong” and the other “weak” but that I wanted to show different kinds of women, just as Sam and David show different type of men. April is simply a female character to me, not a symbol of a “strong female archetype”.
In the final draft, a lot of her sarcasm and wit came from me trying to poke fun at my own outlandish ideas. I would think “Yeah, let’s have ____ happen!” to which I would immediately think that April would be the one character to point out how weird the whole scenario would be. Her character grounded me, kept me focused. In many ways she began to resemble my wife in that way.
That said, she was probably the most fun character to write, especially when she punches things.
Height: Approx 6’0”
Body Type: Thin, scrawny
Eye color: Dark Green/ Deep Emerald
Hair Color: Brown
Profession (Party Role): Mage (Elemental)
Weapon Style: Staff and Spellbook
Keirsey Temperament: Mastermind
Alignment: Complete Good
Motivations: David is motivated immensely by an insatiable pursuit for knowledge. When Sam’s adventure begins, he and April, David’s twin sister, bring the young apprentice mage into the adventure because of his knowledge of magic, history, and languages. David has a talent for study and research, being able to retain a great wealth of knowledge. It is commonly thought that David might have an eidetic memory, with a genetic knack for puzzle and problem solving much like his sister. David has a growing interest in Sam’s pursuit, not necessarily through a desire for good things to happen (albeit that is a strong motivator) but more as a means to witness and study magical and spiritual events and people first hand. His experiences with the group give him invaluable information that other Mages can only read about. His first hand accounts and observations of spiritual behavior help rocket him to a higher magical power than his peers. Also, when the Cortendale Keep, a school for mages, collapses, David is one of three magi left in the kingdom of Lochkary. This, though tragic, forces David into the limelight and makes him test his knowledge and gain power much more than what would normally be asked from a younger Mage. David rises to these challenges, showing that he is not only capable of handling pressure, but is easily adaptable to any given situation. David will use this adaptability to further his own goals of establishing the Magi as a world power.
Another thing to note in David’s motivations is his ability to detach. David’s able to look at the world very logically, removing emotional ties that would normally be a large motivator for a normal person. David has a bigger picture mentality, easily noting grand consequences to actions. When he is younger this ability makes him unapproachable and it is noted David can come across as snobbish for knowing things that others have not been able to figure out. This makes it difficult for David to be social, maintaining a solitary lifestyle through most of his time with the Cortendale Keep. It is why he can tear himself away from the keep so easily when his friend Sam and April call for him. They accept him, always have as long as they’ve all grown up together, and so his loyalty to them is higher than to his magical peers.
On People- David thinks people are generally uneducated and therefore unaware of the larger world. David sees selfish behavior as a reasonable outcome to sheltered existence, and feels that through a complex educational system then people will inevitable think of others like they do themselves. He feels people have the capacity for intelligence but need a guiding hand to get them there.
On Attitude towards others- David treats people indifferently. Almost like a scientist looks at the creatures he wishes to study. They are living beings, in the great scheme of things essential to maintain magical and elemental energies. He feels that they should be preserved and their lives meaningful however personally he wants very little contact with them. Aside from the feeling that people won’t “understand” him, David also takes an observer standpoint on life. He constantly desires to be a fly on the wall instead of a player, except when it involves specific things he wants to improve or feels needs to be adjusted in order to maintain a social homeostasis.
On Society- Societies intrigue him. He notes that they are all creations from the children of the sprites and therefore each is important. He likes the complexities of society and wants to learn everything he can about each one. He will often ask and listen to long lectures on politics, culture, and life for the races well past the point of sheer boredom. He feels, as with life and people in general, that societies must be maintained and bolstered in order to further the evolution of the races.
On Religion- Religion is an odd topic for David. Faith is not necessary for a relationship with the Sprites. Magi study, experiment, and commune with spirits. Magic to them is a social relationship, not a faith based ritual or ethics code. David doesn’t connect with religion like someone who is faithful would. He sees church and the concept a facet of a society or subculture and therefore should be observed and maintained without his direct involvement. David realizes its importance but doesn’t partake personally, though encourages others that it may hold the answers they seek.
On Politics- As a facet of culture and society, David knows politics matter a great deal and delights in the tales of great political intrigue. He realizes that through deceptive and gentle pushes in various directions, he can change outcomes and balance events that he might have noticed originally sat unfair. He plays the political game well, able to remove personal feelings from the equation and use knowledge and secrets to his advantage. These skills are not necessary in most of Series 1, but become invaluable for his goals in Series 2.
Likes: Learning, Knowledge, Privacy, Anything magical or historical, lore, the color blue
Irritants: Closed-mindedness, Loss or obvious waste of resources knowledge and life,
Thematic Journey/ Struggles by Book:
Windrider- What is the truth behind Sam’s heritage?/ What are we going to do now? (After Cortendale)
Dragonfire- I must learn everything I can about these dragons.
Jewel of the Surf- Who is this Lilith?/How are we going to protect Lochmare?
Peacekeeper- I must learn everything I can about these other races.
Night’s End- We must stop Cain
Haven- David is infatuated with the blonde haired healer from the first time he lays eyes on her. Haven is kind, outgoing, and magical. David feels a connection with her unlike any one else. She is the only other person in the group who uses magic, albeit a different kind. He is interested in learning about it and her. At first David appears to get “friendzoned” by Haven, as she starts to become involved with Sam, but when David continues to show his tender, sweeter characteristics to her Haven eventually realizes that David is the better man for her. The two of them are comfortable, easy, and when Haven gets emotional or dramatic (as is her character at times) David is there, level-headed and calm, to comfort her and bring her back down. The two become a powerful pair, eventually becoming the two most powerful magic users in the world.
Ahtash- David’s relationship with his dragon friend is not what people would normally consider a traditional romance. Ahtash and David perform an act known as a “Soulbond”, which links the two in ways that isn’t entirely clear even to them. They feel each other’s pain, emotions, and share thoughts. Eventually the emotions become so powerful and intermixed that the two can not easily decipher which feeling is David’s and which feeling is Ahtash’s. For example, when David begins to love Haven, Ahtash begins to love Haven too. David and Ahtash share a mutual love for self and each other, though not in a romantic sense. It is like loving a piece of yourself. You wouldn’t want to lose your arm, you love your arm. That is how Ahtash and David feel towards each other. Symbiotic, connected, one.
Prince Edmund- The second son of King Jeremy, Edmund is a conniving and selfish individual. Edmund plots early on to destabilize the region with the help of Cain, not out of loyalty to the Dark One but out of a selfish desire to further Edmund’s chances at becoming king. In this, Edmund kills High Enchanter Drakona, David’s magic teacher, to keep her from thwarting his plans. David finds this out eventually and makes it a personal mission to use the information against Edmund. David is not vengeful, he is logical. He waits until he can hold the information over the prince’s head to get something out of the royal family. He uses the information to help Haven and her brother, Nathaniel. David feels that the plan eventually backfires when his help leads Nathaniel to be sent to the front and die. David stops his blackmail, gets rid of the evidence over Edmund, but the two will forever be enemies because of it. Eventually (in series 2) David will need Edmund’s support but the prince will make it difficult for David to gain the political clout he needs. The two are rivals more in series 2 because of the acts of series 1.
Cain- Cain is destabilizing the entire world of Teva, offsetting the balance of the elements and trying to corrupt every living creature. The magical elements are stretched thin, close to breaking. Cain’s destruction of the Tevan Crystal caused the elements to get this way. David is one of the Magi, a caretaker of the elements and a preserver of the natural order of things. It’s obvious Cain would be someone David wants stopped, not to mention the atrocities the Dark One has committed to people and to David personally, such as burning his home valley to cinders and destroying his school, decimating the Magi order’s numbers.
So here’s where we talk about Magic for a minute. David was always the reader’s window into the more amazing side of Teva. I always wanted this series to be in a fantasy setting, but fantasy done “realistically”. I spent many years trying to figure out how to “explain” magic, because I felt that it’s used too often as a plot scapegoat. “Oh, the characters need to get out of a tight spot? Magic it. Boom, all problems fixed.” I didn’t want that to be a possibility in my world. I eventually settled on interpersonal relationships between casters and spirits, much like many ancient tribes felt they could do through shaman rituals and the like.
I said before that David was who I identified with the most. I’m a complete Geek at heart (total shocker, I know!) and David is my Geekier side. I’ve been a sponge for nerdy things my whole life. Fantasy and Sci-fi movies, books, video games, you name it I’ve probably at least looked into it a little bit. A lot of my world have aspects that are derivative of those experiences. I’ve even thrown in Easter Eggs to many of my favorites throughout the series.
I feel like David kind of got a bad deal through most of the beginning books, which is likely why he’ll take on a larger role in Series 2. Sam and David are very similar in morals and ideals, yet David isn’t as center stage as Sam. David prefers the limelight to be on someone else, which is indicative of how I spent a good portion of my Army officer career once returning from Iraq. I lacked confidence in myself and my skills, which David shares. This is why David mostly just follows Sam’s lead throughout the books and doesn’t take up much focus. With Sam and David separated however, I feel David will have much more focus.
David’s relationships with Ahtash and Haven are unique angles that evolved over time. I’m still not sure how the public will react to it. In one draft David and Ahtash became more intimate and romantic in their connection, which seemed to complicate their pairing. A healthy romantic relationship isn’t always rainbows and sunshine, arguments are normal, yet with the two of them bonded it made it difficult to realistically show them misunderstanding each other. Top this with the fact that they’re different species, I didn’t feel that the romance part was something the reader would believe. In a much earlier draft, Ahtash was male and more of a pet and David romanced Haven so I defaulted back to that. Yet, again as the characters evolved that romantic side started rearing its head again. Dragons adore romance and passion, and with their culture exemplifying this, it would easily be surmised that bisexual experimentation would be common. With that, as David and Haven became romantic, it stood to reason that Ahtash would become attracted and affectionate with Haven as well. Haven’s character would afford for such affection as she likes attention and has a great desire to be loved and appreciated. So, some readers have begun to theorize that the characters are somewhat of a threesome. I don’t go into too much detail into the personal lives of my characters on purpose, mostly because I don’t feel it’s necessary for the plot, but also because I just don’t feel it’s any of our business. It’s their relationship, we should respect their privacy. As of the end of Series 1, I haven’t explored the three enough to really place a definitive yes or no on their “status”, so at this point I will just leave it up to the reader’s imagination.
Haven Leigh Whitespell
Height: 5’2”- 5’5”
Weight: 100-120 lbs
Body Type: Petite, Busty
Eye color: Sky Blue
Hair Color: Blonde
Profession (Party Role): Healer (White Mage)
Weapon Style: None
Keirsey Temperament: Healer
Alignment: Neutral Good
Motivations: An angel in the body of a woman. Haven is far from perfect, but she certainly looks that way at first glance. She is fair skinned, gorgeous in complexion, sparkling eyes, silky golden hair, and a voice like a song. Haven genuinely cares for others, almost to a fault, and it stays her chief motivation and focus throughout the series. Haven decides with her heart, as oppose to her head. Emotional, she doesn’t shy away from showing how she feels, but is equally quick to console and comfort others. She is often criticized for being naive, her idealist views of people, and her “head-in-the-clouds” demeanor to the world. Haven is the “disney princess” type, girly, bubbly, and feisty. She is extremely non-confrontational. Despite a rough childhood, and numerous disappointments in her life, her optimism keeps her moving forward and is infectious. It is unclear whether she is honestly these things or feels she needs to act this way in order to lift others spirits. She often heals not just her friend’s physical wounds, but also their emotional and psychological ones. Haven wears her emotions on her sleeve and can get easily overwhelmed but can just as easily bounce back. Haven is the heart of the group, sometimes causing drama but more often than not lifting other’s spirits and being the light when most of the world is dark.
An important note to make is Daisy, Haven’s dog. A black labrador retriever breed, Daisy is often an overlooked extension of Haven’s character. The dog is always by Haven’s side unless otherwise instructed. The dog is a symbol of love, innocence, and the magic of animals. The dog is also the vessel for a Divine, a celestial healing spirit, literally showing the healing power of animals.
On People- Haven feels that every person and soul is an individual, complex and in need of love and nurturing. She feels that every living thing has something to benefit this world and shouldn’t be snuffed out, put in danger, or threatened. Cruelty saddens her, and she feels that people are genuinely kind and helpful towards one another if there are no negative examples to “corrupt” them. She genuinely deplores violence, rudeness, and the like because she feels it is a negative influence on people’s characters and can steer them down the wrong path. She feels leaders should be kind, considerate, and devoted to their subjects to instill a good example to others. People are unique, some smart, others not, but all valuable.
On Attitude towards others- Haven LOVES people. Every fiber of her being is devoted to their welfare and their happiness. To say that she is a humanitarian would be an understatement. Often her desire to help people shows her true selflessness. Haven rarely gets involved in deeper special interests when it comes to societal rules and freedoms, as she is content as long as people are safe and happy.
On Society- She rarely troubles herself with “rules” as many would see them. Haven follows an internal moral compass which keeps her from ever harming anyone in any way, as again she is motivated to bring light to everyone’s life. She feels laws and rules have the right intentions, but generally fail people by making things more complicated than they have to be. She believes and hopes that people would simply know and want to do good things rather than bad to one another and that would be enough for life to work. She has little patience for things that keep her from providing people aide, such as her major dispute with the Followers (more on that later). Any government, social organization, or individual who harms or hinders living creatures of their happiness and health is automatically on Haven’s naughty list, but, unlike her comrades, Haven has the best ability to forgive previous transgressions.
An important thing to note here is Haven’s feelings on the Military and the like. Haven is whole-heartedly against anything to do with harming others. She’s a true pacifist, and she detests weapons, combat, and the need for such things. She understands (obviously) that such things are necessary in the dark post-Cain world she lives in, but nevertheless hates that it exists. This is very important for her relationships with Sam and her brother, Nathaniel. Both men are fighters and combat leaders, and it strains her feelings for them that they partake in such things voluntarily, even though she can see the need for them to do so.
On Religion- Haven’s struggle with religion is a core aspect of her character. Haven believes that everyone has the right to health care. She wants to help any and all who come seeking aid, and she feels it is her duty as a healer to provide that aid uninhibited. Haven once felt religion (mainly the Followers) was the greatest way to progress her humanitarian goals. She soon discovered however after her training as a priestess of the Followers of the Light that organized religion was a lot more complex than simply making the world a better place. Haven began to feel disenfranchised, feeling the bureaucracy and business side of the organization took too much focus away from helping others and spreading the message of coexistence and peace. When her superiors kept her from healing a wounded man because of lack of payment, she left the Followers. Haven never returned to the church, healing others for free wherever she went and eventually becoming the healer for Sam and his group. Haven feels closer to her true purpose and the Sprite of Life by doing this, eventually forgetting about the Followers altogether.
On Politics- Haven’s father was a Senator, and so she was taught about politics, coercion, and the like while growing up. Haven enjoys the extravagance and grandiose of government and politics, but ultimately feels that it is a overly-complex distraction from what is truly important. In Haven’s idealist and conservative mind, government is unnecessary. If people always thought of others as she does, then there would be no need for rules or order. People would be kind and helpful to one another and would not treat each other with prejudice or indifference. Haven likes to focus on helping others and doesn’t really let the other stuff enter her mind.
Likes: Peace, Kindness, Nature, Dresses, Jewelry, Love, Animals, Expensive shoes
Irritants: Cruelty, Abuse by those in Power, Pain, Rules that Hinder Her, Those who encroach on others.
Fears: Rejection, Being unloved
Thematic Journey/ Struggles by Book:
Windrider- Where do I belong?
Dragonfire- Will David be ok?/Have I failed?
Jewel of the Surf- Coming home after leaving, am I ready for this?
Peacekeeper- Nathaniel’s fate, how am I to continue?/I have to heal this plague.
Night’s End- How can I help heal something I don’t understand?
Sam- Haven’s relationship with Sam is reminiscent to puppy love or a summer fling. Her initial attraction is purely physical, as he and David both are enamoured by her and she genuinely enjoys the attention. Her and Sam have a lot in common. They’re both idealists, both have humanitarian motivations, and have both had troubled childhoods. Haven falls for Sam probably too hard. After the events at Cortendale, she feels great pity for him and wants nothing more than for him to be happy and safe. When Sam, being who he is, puts himself in danger as a result of the events, she lashes out. Her distaste for battle and war strains her relationship with him, especially at such a crucial moment in Sam’s life. Sam is in a very extreme frame of mind and Haven doesn’t agree with his actions, therefore he sees her almost as an enemy. As Sam is forced to mature quickly and take on his role as Guardian, he ends up leaving his relationship with Haven behind. Haven clings to what Sam and she might have been had Cortendale not burned, but is forced to forever wonder as Sam ends things with her before their relationship can really take off.
David- David is Haven’s rock. While Sam was Haven’s initial attraction, its David who she has a deeper emotional connection with. David is very sweet, kind, and comforting to her, which is something that Haven has rarely had in her life. She gives everything she is to others so it’s essential that she have someone taking care of her. While David seems distant and detached from the world, he is never detached from her, and she realizes the gravity of that eventually. Haven leans on David extensively, and he always seems there ready to catch her, which she eventually realizes and dotes on him for. The two of them are magical together, each becoming more powerful as they try to lift their partner higher than themselves. Their relationship becomes so powerful that in future books they will become a symbol of the coexistence between different belief systems, a coexistence that Haven has dreamt of her entire life.
April- At first April and Haven’s relationship is defined by their rivalry over Sam. Eventually it’s more about the fact that they are polar opposites. Though their personalities are different, April and Haven both come to an understanding that they each have good intentions regardless of how they rub each other wrong. Haven, to her credit, tries to bridge the gap first. She strains to be friendly and kind to April, the brown-haired rogue eventually giving in and becoming Haven’s “friend” though it’s never quite proven that April actually likes her. Though their relationship will never be anything close to best-friend or sisterhood status, they do eventually respect and admire each other.
Ahtash- To call the dragon one of Haven’s rivals is somewhat of a stretch. When Haven starts to feel attracted to David, it’s at a time where Ahtash enters the picture as well. Ahtash and David spend a lot of time together and eventually a magical bond. Haven doesn’t fully understand the bond and is uncomfortable with another female being around her love interest. Though the bond isn’t necessarily romantic in the traditional sense, Haven becomes accustomed to Ahtash being an extension of David as Daisy is an extension of her. In a way, they become sort of a threesome, as David’s emotions are shared with Ahtash. The dragon eventually feeling just as devoted, loyal, and protective of Haven as the Mage does.
Haven’s struggle with religion vs. faith is very similar the interior struggle I had with Christianity growing up, where I gravitated towards the original message but began to feel disenfranchised over the politics and general hypocrisy of many churches. Her eventual decision to break away from the religion entirely is also reminiscent of a similar decision I made. She misses it, truly, and so do I. She can’t; however, bring herself to go back unless there are massive and fundamental changes made which she knows won’t happen in her lifetime… and neither can I.
Haven also shares my feelings on healthcare, personally I always felt during my time in medicine that everyone had the right to free medical care and equal treatment regardless of social status. Everyone’s body is the same, regardless of how much money one has. Health care should never be a business and someone’s quality of life shouldn’t be determined by how much money they have. I felt that it was easier to combine these views on both religion and healthcare together under her character as it would create less controversy amongst readers. Perhaps if it is done in a fantasy setting with such a sweet character, perhaps people will see the message without too much noise to distract them. Guess we’ll see.
Haven’s a deceptively strong character. Amongst so many physical characters, I felt it was important to have one who did no fighting whatsoever, to show that sometimes it’s the bravest choice of them all. In the end, with her insistence that everything is about selfless-service, she ends up showing she is the strongest of them all. It is the strongest person who dedicates their lives completely to others. Haven is also more emotional than most of the others, which again isn’t a sign of weakness but a reminder to the others that it’s ok to feel every once and awhile. Originally Haven Leigh was named “Rachel”, but as she developed I thought the heavenly word play would fit her well. Leigh is also the middle name of my sister, who has always been a staunch supporter of my writing and has read literally every draft of these books as they developed over the years, so there’s where I pay homage to her. In the first draft, Haven didn’t go on the journey with the others; However, as later drafts developed her personality better, I felt she was just too good to leave behind.
An interesting thing happened when I had my first few readers go through the books’ earlier drafts. Most if not all of the male readers adored Haven when she entered the series, whereas an overwhelmingly large amount of female readers REALLY hated her. Like, violently so. Which by itself was, to me, hilarious. The fact that Haven came across so well that readers felt such strong emotions against her didn’t discourage me, but in fact invigorated me. It’s easy to make a character that someone hates for hateful reasons, like Cain. It’s another thing entirely to make a reader hate a character who is nothing but sweet and kind, if admittedly a little bit bratty. I was overjoyed that Haven was a realistic enough character for women to actually get jealous and scornful of, not to mention many women sided with April on the whole Sam, Haven, April love triangle. I made sure to leave that beginning section of Haven’s story alone as much as possible so that the final draft continued that roller coaster. I liked having a main character that some readers learned to appreciate instead of just identifying with them right away.
One last thing on Haven. Her dog, Daisy, pays homage to my own black lab of the same name. In 2009 I picked her up from under an acquaintance’s back porch, and we were practically inseparable from then. I love animals. I actually prefer their company over most humans. My wife and I care for a great many of them in our home, but Daisy was the first dog I ever had to take care of as an adult. She and I bonded as I have never been able to with any other animal, before or since, and she helped me greatly when I returned from my tours in Iraq, along with the rest of my furbabies. The eventual discovery of her namesake’s inner powers in the books is a metaphor for this. Animals have healing powers, whether that be literal balls of light or otherwise. In my stories Daisy will live on forever, just as she will always live on in my heart.
Body Type: Athletic, Muscular
Eye color: Deep Sea Blue
Hair Color: Blonde
Profession (Party Role): Warrior (Tank and DPS)
Weapon Style: Proficient in many weapons, mainly uses swords (One-handed and Two-handed)
Keirsey Temperament: Fieldmarshal
Alignment: Complete Good
Motivations: Duty. This one word can accurately describe most everything to do with Nathaniel Whitespell. Nathan lost his parents when he was nearly in his pre-teen years. His mother to complications in child-birth and later his father in an attack by Cain. While Nathan could have attributed his mother’s death to higher powers and out of his control, he never got over the way his father was killed. Unable to shake his inability to prevent such an attack from happening, Nathaniel vowed early on he would join his kingdom’s army and defend the people from threats of the Dark One and others who would do them harm. Nathan, much like his sister, feels that he must work for the betterment of others. Unlike his sister, he feels the world is a dangerous and unbalanced place that must be put to order, sometimes through force. Nathan, in his military career, has seen great evils and suffering as well as victories and triumphs of the spirit. Nathan is motivated by these glimpses of success. He feels, deep down, that harmony of the races will bring the world of Teva to order and if they could just come together under one voice, that could be accomplished. The army built him into the man he is today, why couldn’t it do the same for everyone else?
On People- Nathaniel thinks people are sheep. He knows that people need protection, from outsiders, from those who wish them ill will, even from themselves. Nathaniel knows that there are some among the masses who have the capacity to protect the rest from these dangers, but not everyone is the same. Most are mindless, stupid, intent to live uneventful or useless lives and it takes driven and honorable people to ensure that they can have those kinds of lives. At times, people’s inactivity frustrates him, but ultimately he believes that people should have the choice of an apathetic life if they want it. No one deserves to be mistreated, regardless of their choices in life, yet at the same time, sometimes sacrifices need to be made in order to ensure a larger success. The needs of the many sometimes requires the cost of a few, Nathaniel would just prefer to sacrifice those who have chosen to take on that risk (i.e. soldiers, leaders, heroes, etc.)
On Attitude towards others- Nathan sees the people and races of Teva like blank canvases. Like untaught or ignorant children without a vision to follow, they must be protected. Nathan feels people are generally self-serving but not necessarily selfish. He feels most people think too small, focus on their families, their jobs, their lives. They will help others when they see a great need, but will not be overly motivated to help strangers or other races without someone in charge telling them to do so. Nathan feels that most people are like sheep, needing a shepherd and herding dogs to direct them to lusher fields and away from the wolves of Cain.
On Society- Nathaniel is a great fan of the establishment. Due to his view on people, he feels rules and regulations are essential to keeping order and peace among the populace. He doesn’t necessarily like democracy, as he doesn’t think the people know what’s best for themselves. He does believe that a honorable oligarchy, policed by honorable people, could steer the races to a noble effort. For much of his life, he felt that his home kingdom of Lochkary was that example that others could follow, but during his travels with Sam he starts to doubt his kingdom and his military’s ability to be that beacon. Nathaniel starts to lean more on the Followers to become that shining example as they lead the races towards living peacefully together.
On Religion- Nathaniel is extremely devout in his faith in the Light. He doesn’t feel that the Architect has done much to warrant the praise and worship of the people (mostly because he allowed Cain to form and wreak havoc). Nathaniel feels Hope, the Sprite of Life, is a much more deserving deity. Her message of acceptance and tranquility is exactly the way the world should be, and he will defend that message and it’s prophets with his every breath. The Followers of the Light is his church, and his go to guides in all things spiritual and moral. The problem with this is that though Hope is truly a deserving deity, her followers are not incorruptible. Putting the church up on a pedestal will make Nathaniel blind to those that might want to use it’s robes to hide dark intent.
On Politics- Again, Nathan feels the establishment and honor must be maintained, and all officials in offices of power deserve respect for their authorities. Now, Nathan does hold high expectations for those individuals. If one should not conduct themselves honorably in their job, Nathan has no problem removing them from their post, forcibly if need be. Nathaniel feels that lying, favors, and coercion might be necessary to get work done for some, but he has never been an “ends justifies the means” sort of person. Nathan feels that all problems can be solved justly and honorably if one simply takes the time to do the right thing, and anyone who gets in the way of that can and will be removed.
Likes: Order, Honor, Discipline, A fine crafted weapon, Cleanliness, Sunrises
Irritants: Disorder, Suffering, Disrespect for authority, Taking the “easy way” out
Thematic Journey/ Struggles by Book:
Windrider- I must protect the Valley
Dragonfire- I must find out who attacked the Guardian
Jewel of the Surf- I must protect Lochmare
Peacekeeper- I must defeat the forces of Cain
Night’s End- I must get Sam to confront Cain
None- Nathaniel is not interested in romance in Series 1 with anyone. While you could say that Nathaniel is very affectionate and protective of his sister, he doesn’t have any emotional connection with really anyone else. Nathan is a professional and has an extremely strong work ethic. His focus on his career takes precedence and he doesn’t have any time for love. In Book 4, he accepts a position that does not allow for him to keep romantic ties. Therefore, per his sense of duty, he abides by that stipulation unquestioningly.
Sam- See Sam’s Rivalry
David- Though at first Nathaniel and David did not interact much, as time goes on and the journey takes the group through its series of extraordinary events, David and Nathaniel start showing up on opposite sides of many debates. Mostly when it comes to their views on magic, Cain, and their impact on the people, David and Nathaniel start being the two extremes in many arguments while acting as advisors for Sam. This is mostly in Book 5, and starts the two of them on a collision course with one another that will have dire consequences later on in Series 2.
Nathan has had a long history in the series as well. He was originally named “Jameson”, and was supposed to be a naive version of Sam to ground the team in later books. It wasn’t until the final draft that he took on a stronger role. As I grew older and progressed further in my army career, I noted a significant change in my professional demeanor before and after my second tour of duty in Iraq. Once upon a time I was the tow-the-line, by the book, bleed green type in the military. Waking up to cadences outside my door and wearing uniforms everyday was my life, and I loved it. Nathaniel represents that part of my life. Always the Soldier, always the establishment, the beacon of control in the sea of chaos. Sometimes I wish I could still see the world as simply as I did back then.
Nathaniel is going to go through much more character growth in Series 2, but for now, his progression has been pretty small. I needed him to stay fairly consistent while everyone else was growing and changing. Like I said, the rock in the storm. I also felt that he didn’t need a romantic relationship of any kind. He’s gone from looking up to Sam in earlier drafts to someone Sam admires instead. I enjoyed the two of them playing off of one another and how easily he fit into the group’s dynamic. It was not a conscious decision to make him Haven’s brother in the final draft, it just sort of fit and I ran with it. It worked that she would have someone stubborn to bounce off of as she’s so flighty. Also, as they were orphans earlier on than Sam, it made sense that one of them would be the serious one.
In earlier drafts, the members of the group all started becoming Guardians of the Elements along with Sam. I enjoyed having a super group with a variety of awesome powers to play with in the narrative, but I felt that it belittled Sam in a big way. This was changed in the final draft as I started assigning different races to different Sprites, and by extension different Guardians. The entire world shifted with that decision, and I started focusing the other characters into their careers that they now hold in the books. Yet, with all that change, I really liked what Nathaniel had become when he went Guardian. Having, for all intents and purposes, an angel on their side was visually very exciting to play with in battle sequences and in the overall good vs. evil theme. Once I flushed out the Followers of the Light and started outlining what I have planned for Series 2, I decided that keeping Nathan the Knight of Hope was not only plausible, but even more necessary. I am very excited to see where this development takes the character.
When surrounded by constant war, the people are starved for a hero. Samuel Gale grew up hearing stories of epic warriors, fantastic sorcerers, and of his father fighting on the front lines. So, when magical spirits call upon him to discover old family secrets, the once farm boy from a sleepy village is thrust into events that will shape the world, and Sam must play a role he doesn’t completely understand. Join him on his adventures through magical ruins, bandit infested woods, and much more. Come see just how incredible the world of Teva can be…