The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books


Assaph Mehr

Felix the Fox is a failed magician (not his fault he couldn't pay tuition and got thrown out), a discharged legionary (honourably discharged - even if the dice were loaded), and a full time investigator of crap no one else wants to touch. Assaph is just the guy putting words on paper for Felix.

Ornithez (of Three Shades, by J.D. Grubb)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a vulture, guiding an unwitting a warrior on a quest on the behest of the Wind Maker.

Tell us a little about where you grew up.

I was born upon the wind.

Gliding through the sky, my untrained strength carried by a warm, soft air current, a voice called to me: “Welcome to Rühílawé.”

I turned my unfocused eyes down to see another—one who has been carrying me on his back.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I am.” The voice is like a whisper of the air. “Power.” Thunder rumbled from dark clouds hovering over the span of Oceanus below. My heart shudders. “Presence.” The form of the speaker becomes clearer in my sight. “Unity.” His brown feathers shimmered with sunlight, their white tips translucent. “Breath.” He smiled, gliding playfully up beside me. “Könethel.”

The Wind Maker.

This was my beginning.

From there, he taught me to read the sky and navigate the present. I learned to cherish the shelter of the trees, their firm branches and rough bark the foundation of my rest. I do not hide in the shadows of the woodlands, however. My wilderness is the sky, my perspective keenest from above the cacophonous, cluttered lowlands with all their walkers’ comings and goings. My domain is freer, simpler, and at peace.

Until the dragon came.

The realms above and below collided with war. The sky became dangerous.

“You must leave Rühílawé,” the Wind Maker told me. “I need your eyes elsewhere.”

What do you do now?

I was sent across Oceanus to a land even more tarnished by war. In its northernmost reaches, beyond the Mountains of the Crescent Moon, a dry sandy desert stirred with factions of a warring race. The Wind Maker charged me to observe one particular tribe.

“They are called the Thraz,” the Wind Maker explained. “One day, a warrior will rise from their ranks and see the world clearer than the rest. Befriend and watch over him. You have my sight and an echo of my voice. He will need both.”

Continue reading “Ornithez (of Three Shades, by J.D. Grubb)”

Charon Antares (of Bloodstained Skies, by Dagmar Rokita)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a rebellion leader, a shrewd warrior struggling for years to liberate his planet. He’s here to tell us about disastrous missions and conflicting loyalties in the quest to save his people.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I was born on Zetherion. This planet isn’t a friendly place. The land is covered by dead deserts, and the seas are too salty for many aquatic animals. Basically, the only living organisms you can see here are insects, little reptiles and parched bushes. There are only two sources of potable: very deep wells and melting snow.

We live in caves, houses made of mud bricks or tents. I spent my childhood in a pretty big city. A city with over 70 000 inhabitants is pretty big for this planet. I had a room in a two-story brick house. It was poorly furnished, but also very cozy and warm at night.

My relationship with neighbours was just alright. The Zetherionian folks are stubborn and tough-minded but also helpful. The harsh environment forced us to be like this but I’m proud of this place and these people.

Any cherished childhood memories?

My childhood was completely dull. Wake up, do housework, read some textbooks (since schools weren’t very common) and go to sleep. My father used to live with me but he’s not worth mentioning here. He was nothing more than a flatmate. I was the only child and I’m not sure what happened to my mother. My father said she died during childbirth. There were no doctors in my neighbourhood.

The first memory I can call “cherished” was meeting my cellmates when I was 17. One of them, Khatesios, gave me his blanket and tried to talk with me. I regret fobbing him off. Khaty was the first person there who offered me help.

What do you do now?

I’m fighting for my world, Zetherion. Since I’m the leader of this rebellion unit, I cannot afford to make mistakes. I’m also the owner of the biggest spaceship ever built, so my missions usually focus on space battles and special land operations. I’m used to living in hard conditions too and sometimes I support special land operations. In my opinion, my most important duty is supporting my people, giving them hope and motivation.

Continue reading “Charon Antares (of Bloodstained Skies, by Dagmar Rokita)”

Camilla (of Heart of Fire, by Raina Nightingale)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a woman who never believed that humans can’t bond with dragon, and has thought this was just lies spread by elves. She is here to tell us about the unique opportunity presented to her when she found a dragon’s clutch ready to hatch.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

It was one of those Wood Elf communities in Ilesh on that other continent I have to go back to – I don’t remember or care if they had any names! They kept us humans as slaves for generations and generations, and I would rather not talk about it. It was really unfair, because we have such short lives compared to them already, stealing our lives so they can have even more luxury is just atrocious! They deserve what happened to them when the Northern Horror came, but I also sort of wish it hadn’t, because that makes rescuing Mom and freeing my people something that might not happen. If they are all dead.

But the seasons were a lot milder over in Ilesh. I don’t ever want to be in Ilesh again, but I like the seasons there a lot better, especially since the cold hurts Radiance’s wings.

Is there anything about your childhood you can enjoy talking about? Any special memories?

Not really. Because everything reminds me either of those cursed Wood Elf slave masters, or of my Mom and the fact I might not be able to rescue her, and everything that’s lost! I don’t have a lot of really nice memories, but one thing that really helped me at times was I can do this thing only Wood Elves are supposed to be able to do: I can shadowblend, so you don’t really notice me. I wasn’t nearly as good a mage then as I am now, so I couldn’t do it well compared to them, but enough for a moment of quiet sometimes, and enough to make me laugh inside at all that stuff they said about humans being inferior and incapable ….

But a memory I like? Mom showing me Dad’s favorite constellation, the Dolphin. He died in an accident before my brother was even born, so Lavilor never knew him at all, and I don’t remember him very well. That’s about all I have of him. So it’s sad, but also special.

What are you doing right now?

Right now, Radiance is carrying a clutch of eggs, so we have to wait for her to lay those and for them to hatch before we go off and do anything. We can’t even fly off to find  the potential riders for her eggs! It’s really unnatural, by the way. Dragons shouldn’t  have to hatch until they want to, and the only reason these do is because those cursed Wood Elf life-mages changed them! But we want our hatchlings to be able to choose riders who are suited for them, unlike so many others, so other Dragonriders are helping to gather as many children and young people as we can for when the eggs are ready.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

That I wish it had never happened, though maybe it was a good thing and showed me that I’m not really ready, so I can become ready. But I do not know, and I do not want to talk about it.

What did you first think when you saw the Wizard-King?

Oh, so you know about  that somehow? Because that really is the thing I do not want to talk about! But, I guess I’ll give you an answer anyways, though who let that out? Or was that me? Seriously, how many people know about that? Did my scream reach everyone? Oh no!

He looks dead. Not just looks dead, but feels dead, too. Not he. It.

What’s the most frightening thing to you?

Will you just leave that alone already? I don’t know why you are interested in this! But to me the most terrifying thing is that some powers – like the Wizard-King – seem to be able to violate other’s free will. But it’s really not something you  or I should be thinking about. I got so many things wrong in my relationship with Radiance by letting these kinds of questions and concerns shape my thinking into something that wasn’t really what I believe, though it sounded so much like I was deceived for far longer than I should have been.

What is the worst thing about being the Dragon-mage – that is you, right?

<An exasperated, angry sigh> Some people have called me that, yes. Are they really doing it out in the world so everyone can hear them?

The worst thing about it is that it’s really confusing. Power should come from loving and being free at heart. I am certain that’s where my power comes from, and from how I and Radiance love each other. Yet other people, who I’m sure, don’t love any less than I do, or desire freedom any less than I do, and maybe even better, don’t have this power! I shouldn’t be more powerful than anyone else, unless they’re evil. No one should be! Just let me stop thinking about this stuff, would you?

Well then … what is the best thing about being a Dragonrider?

<A smile> That Radiance is always with me. We’re two different people, and yet we’re one, too. There’s some things I sometimes find difficult about figuring out how to respect her, but it really is the best thing ever. We share everything, and that when we share what makes us happy, it makes us even more happy! It really is everything I ever dreamed, and so much more!

Tell us a little about your friends.

I’m kind of confused about what I even think about friendship, or if I want it, outside of Radiance! I suppose my little brother, Lavilor, is a good friend, though he doesn’t seem so little anymore. He grew up a lot while I was away for a short while, but it seems to be all in good ways, and he really cares about me. There is also this other Dragonrider named Teladri. She’s trying to be a friend, and she’s nice, I think, but I’m not even really sure what that means or how I feel about it!

If you don’t have friends, is there any romance in your life?

What?!  … Oh, that! Ask Radiance, maybe! Not in mine, and I don’t want to talk about it, but I told you she has eggs. So you know that means there’s someone.

But you probably can’t talk to her anyways. Most people don’t hear dragons, at least not most of the time. But that’s her life, her choices, not mine, and it’s one part of her life that I prefer to be left out of.

What’s your favourite way to relax?

It’s not very relaxing most of the time, but I am trying to make art! Right now, I’m trying to do designs with sand. I might get into carving, because I just really want to depend on other people’s help for this as little as possible. It’s a lot more frustrating that I imagined it would be to get what I see in my thoughts to come out, though I guess I didn’t really imagine how it would be, only realized I might be interested in it!

But flying with Radiance is pretty relaxing when it is warm! Splashing with her in the hot pools all over Aros Cor – at least the ones we’re both comfortable in – is the best thing when it is cold.

What future do you see?

What do …

Oh, Radiance is answering this for me. She says we are definitely flying to defeat the Wizard-King, and it is unlike me to be concerned I can’t do it. But  it won’t get away with hurting her rider like that, and every doubt or fear I have only makes her more determined that we will destroy it.

Besides, she would never leave that sort of thing in the same world as her hatchlings and their riders. They must grow up free and safe and  it is the greatest threat.

So if I listen to her, we’re going to sit these eggs until they hatch, make sure all the hatchlings and their riders are happy and healthy, and then we’re going to destroy the Wizard-King and come back alive!

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

I already have – how many people do you think have heard about Dad’s constellation? And you are asking for more? What do you even want? I don’t have a lot of secrets! And certainly don’t expect me to share a secret that Radiance and I don’t share! There are very few of those, none really, and certainly none either of us would share with anyone else! At this point, I do not like you anymore!

Raina has been writing fantastic tales since she could write stories with the words she could read. She writes dawndark fantasy with rich world-building, characters who feel like real people, and a touch of the philosophical or spiritual! She believes that the magic of fairytales does not need to pass away just because of modern beliefs about the universe and galaxies. And she definitely loves dragons and volcanoes.

You can find Camilla on the pages of Heart of Fire.

Browse our archives for past interviews, or follow the site by email (bottom-right) to know immediately when your new best-book-friend makes an appearance.

Aurelia Peri (of Of Starlight and Bone, by Emily Layne)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young woman, dealing with the stigmas of being part machine and adopted by the galaxy’s most powerful man. Working as an agent of law enforcement and investigating a murder, she is here to talk about uncovering a secret of crimes and darkness hidden in the depths of the galaxy.

Tell us a little about growing up in the Ancora Federation, an entirely different galaxy from the one we know. What was it like there?

I grew up on planet that was beautiful and structured—but not all were like mine. As the daughter of the General-in-Chief—think of your president, just in a society run by the military—I traveled to many different planets on the “civilized” side of our solar system. Most of my childhood, from age six, was spent on Aurora, the governing planet.

Want to know what it was like? Close your eyes. Imagine the most beautiful landscape your mind can create. What did you see? Wildflowers? Towering pine trees topped with fresh snow? A pristine lake? Or maybe a far-off mountain peak? Or even a futuristic city with the latest technology? Aurora has them all. The natural and architectural wonders are limitless. But those wonders mask so much corruption and so many lies. Or so I came to learn…

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

My memories begin at six-years-old. Everything before that… darkness. The General-in-Chief saved me from a (supposed) wild animal attack that left me near death, paid for the best cyborg surgeons, and then adopted me. While he lavished me with every luxury, my favorite belonging was an earring that he he found with me that fateful day.

 And cherished memory? The day he adopted me, as tarnished as it might be after everything I learned. I know, I know. I’m a bleeding heart, or so my adoptive brother says. Ugh. Him. Forget I even mentioned Ty.

Do you have a job or are you still in school?

Everyone in my system is required to serve two years in the military. One year in basic. The next in the service. Most people stay enlisted and make the military a career. I chose the path of a DISC agent, which some people call bounty hunters—though not fondly. DISC agents and their assigned canine partners are sent after defected Ancorans that the typical police can’t capture. I’m in my second year of required service. After that? I don’t know.  So much has changed…

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I screwed up. Badly. Made a charlie foxtrot out of everything. It was my first mission. But instead of catching, detaining, and transporting my target, he slipped through my fingers. Literally.

Not what you’re thinking though. He didn’t escape. Unless you consider hurling yourself off a skyscraper to a watery death ‘escaping.’ Everything since that moment has been one adventure after another.

Continue reading “Aurelia Peri (of Of Starlight and Bone, by Emily Layne)”

Solana Sina (of The Scarab Mission, by James Cambias)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a interplanetary scavenger, salvaging wrecked and abandoned space habitats. She is here to speak about space pirates and explosive secrets.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I was created in a space habitat called Kumu, out in the Kuiper Belt. My early childhood was . . . well, anyone who didn’t grow up in Kumu would think it was bizarre and horrifying. You see, Kumu’s main industry is the creation of Qarinas — genetically-engineered sexual slaves. I thought that life was normal because I never knew anything else, but then a task force of Salibi soldiers invaded Kumu, took off all the Qarina slaves, and destroyed everything else. I spent the next few years in a Salibi habitat, learning how to be a person with free will.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

I don’t want to talk about the “toys” I was given as a child. My most cherished possession is the set of goggles I was given when I left the Salibi habitat: they filter my vision to thwart the hard-wired programming in my brain, which would otherwise make me willingly obey commands from any other human.

What do you do now?

I’m a scarab — we salvage abandoned space habitats and get them ready for recycling. It can be dangerous, though I didn’t expect anything like what we encountered at Safdaghar.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

We went to an abandoned hab called Safdaghar, which nobody had visited for sixteen years after some disaster wiped out everyone there, including the main AI which controlled the place. We planned to loot as much valuable stuff as we could find, before boosting the wreck into a trajectory which would take it out to the Kuiper habitats, where metal is really valuable. My boss Yanai got paid for moving Safdaghar, but all our salvage would be pure profit.

Continue reading “Solana Sina (of The Scarab Mission, by James Cambias)”

Stacey Roberts (of The Green Girl and The Serum, by Sean Armstrong)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a young woman who was injected with a serum that transformed her into the Green Girl, to be used in warfare by the British Military. She is here to tell us about strife within the Mega Human community, and with society at large.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I grew up in inner city Manchester England where I lived with my mother and younger sister and older brother it was quite hard as we weren’t a rich family.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

As I mentioned earlier I lived with my family my father wasn’t always at home as he worked away from home as he was working on some top secret science project which I learnt about was call the Mega Human program.

What do you do now?

When I was in my late teens I volunteered to become injected with the first strain of the Mega Human serum this transformed me turning my once pale skin green I developed heightened senses and decided to escape from the lab I then moved to Florida USA where I became a model hiding under the name the Green Girl.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

In Florida I met my former boyfriend and lover Ben Fox who had also been injected with the serum and formed his own Mega Human group. Together we launched an attack on a military base and defeated both the US army as well as Doctor Sarah Young who had taken credit for my fathers work. Currently we are fighting the outcasts another Mega Human faction lead by Surge a vile and hatefully Mega Human who plans to use the serum to create an army of Mega Humans loyal to him.

How is it like, being a Mega Human?

As Mega Humans we are hated due to how the media and the worlds governments portray us as we were created only for the use of warfare nothing else.

Continue reading “Stacey Roberts (of The Green Girl and The Serum, by Sean Armstrong)”

Sarge (of Underground Planet, by Cindy Tomamichel)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a female mercenary taking on the odd, risky jobs across the galaxy. She is here to tell us about a planet wide labyrinth of mining tunnels, metal processing, acid waste levels, where abandoned cities are thriving with a genetically engineered ecosystem of predators, prey, and mutant humans.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

Geez, I haven’t thought about that hellhole since I left. I grew up in an orphanage on a slum planet. There’s a lot of bad places to live in the universe, and I was lucky enough to born on one of the worst. Mind you, they are good recruiting grounds for the Academy. I was fast and homicidal as a young girl, and it was my ticket off planet before I ended up in a whorehouse. Woulda made more money there than the military, I reckon. But I’m kinda choosy.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

The cook at the orphanage – Ella – she taught me to cook and knocked off a few of the rough edges. Most kids there couldn’t read, so I got lucky with Ella. She was a bit tight lipped about her past, but I learned to read from old weapons manuals, so some sort of past she was probably hiding from. She gave me my first weapon  – a knife that I could hide in my sleeve. Saved me more times than I can count.

What do you do now?

I left the Academy to look after Johanna. She needed me, poor little thing. Abandoned on a planet and trying to feed other kids on scraps from bins and avoid the slaver gangs. She’s done me proud – we run a tight ship as a small mercenary team with Daisy and Jasmine and Jock. We’ve made some money and had some fun raiding the military. Can’t ask for more than that.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, it was no picnic, that’s for sure. Our last job was for Chagar, a mutant human. He’s a good bloke, even if things on his planet tried to eat me! We helped him look for some old treasure, and lordy, we had the richest man in the universe – McAllister – and his team of thugs on our tails the whole way.

And the planet! A maze of critters that want to eat you, acid levels, shark filled lakes, and don’t get me started on rockfalls. Or mention ladders. Nice people, but seriously, I don’t know how they survive, or how Chagar expected us to survive and protect him. It was a hell of an adventure.

Continue reading “Sarge (of Underground Planet, by Cindy Tomamichel)”

Rogan (of Forward Banners, Jamie Powell-McCrae)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a recently ascended prince, here to talk leading his people against ruthless invaders to his kingdom.

Tell us a little about who you are and where you grew up. What was it like there?

I’m Rogan, Prince of Blythinia – the central kingdom of Elyria, and younger brother to Rodar.  We both reside at the capital, Blythia, the seat of power of our late father.  It is a pleasant place: a sprawling city atop a hill, that sits both overlooking the upper lake of the River Slow Water and nestled beneath the first marches of the Spine mountains that separate the kingdoms of men from the north and the distant elurons.  Blythia is both rugged yet beautiful, modern yet old.  I’ve spent all my life there, apart from following our father to neighbouring Courlan to visit the Rennes, his – and now our – great allies.  Other than that I spent my three years at the Citadel like all of my rank and birth, learning the ways of war, courtly affairs and scholarly, educated strands.

You mentioned your father; what happened there?

He passed away nearly a year ago.  Unfortunately, I would be lying if I said I was stricken about it.  He and I never saw eye to eye.  Rodar was his favourite son, the very image of him in fact: cock-sure, confident, a talented soldier.  He decided to take Rodar with him to Sacaria during the troubles with the Avonners, whilst I was due to be married off to some merchant’s daughter.  Rodar would rebuke me for saying, but I think things have turned out for the better, despite King Jaime being perhaps the best military leader we need against this invasion plaguing Elyria.

What will you do now in light of your father’s passing and this invasion?

My brother and I will share rule and forego the expected passing of power to the eldest son.  Rodar’s a capable military man and will be able to lead our forces against this new threat.  I have confidence in him, and so too do the generals.  We have mustered all our strength and marched south to meet this invading force of ‘Bronzemen’ as they are commonly called.  The pride of Blythinia has ridden out: the White Lancers, the Retinars, our personal Blue Cloaks.

What has been your greatest achievement?

I suppose it would have to be ascending Retinars’ Rock, the lower peaks of the Spine that tower over Blythia.  It’s the final hurdle to pass into the ranks of the Retinars, one of our elite cavalry orders where any man can join despite his birth or heritage.  There upon that frozen precipice I carved my name into the rock amongst the hundreds who had surpassed me.

And a more recent affair would be the recent peace that was forged with Avon.  It wasn’t all my success, but I played a significant part, and I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that it was my words at the end when our treaty was looking to fail that saved it.  I think it was a great achievement nonetheless; we couldn’t march to war without securing our western border.

Continue reading “Rogan (of Forward Banners, Jamie Powell-McCrae)”

Charles and Jake Dawson (of The Heights of Valor, by David Tindell)

Dear readers, tonight with us is a Special Forces soldier — together with his distant ancestor. They are here to talk about combat and the bonds of men, and how the Army changed in over a century.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

CHARLES DAWSON: I was born in Platteville, Wisconsin, in 1876. My father, Jeremiah, became an attorney after his service for the Union Army in the Rebellion. As a center of lead mining activity in that part of the state, Platteville is a bustling town with much to offer a young man, including a Normal School and a Mining School. Much of my childhood was spent with Father, hiking and riding among the ridges and coulees, hunting rabbit and deer and fishing the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers.

JAKE DAWSON: Man, I can’t believe I’m in the same room with my ancestor, the guy who wrote the journal that I’ve been reading. You really fought for Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba?

CHARLES: I believe this mysterious gentleman addressing us asked you a question. Are all 21st century young men so impertinent?

JAKE: Well, hell, are all 19th century young men wearing starched collars like that one? No wonder you’re sitting there, stiff as a board. Relax, Gramps! This is about the coolest thing ever, us being together like this. (To the interviewer.) Okay, I was born in 1990, and grew up in Minocqua, up in northern Wisconsin, where my mom and I moved after she and my dad divorced. He was a congressman, then a college professor. We didn’t get along for a long time, way different political views, but things have been turning around, I think. But anyway, in Minocqua we lived on a lake, so I did my share of fishing and hunting, too. You grow up in small-town Wisconsin, or out in the country, that’s what you do. My Uncle John—he’s my great-uncle, actually, Grampa Dennis’ brother—taught me to hunt and fish. When I was fourteen, we were out on the lake and I got a musky, a big one, about forty pounds.

CHARLES: Indeed? I’ve heard of the musky. On the Mississippi, it was catfish for us, and bluegills. Perhaps trout in some of the streams. My father and I brought in a thirty-pound cat one day.

JAKE: Hey, that’s a nice fish. Got a picture of it?

CHARLES: A what?

Did you have any favorite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?

CHARLES: My sister Margaret and I often played jacks, and at school it was hopscotch, and of course we played baseball. My favorite player was Hoss Radbourn, the great pitcher for the Beaneaters.

JAKE: Beaneaters? That’s a minor-league team, right?

CHARLES (indignantly): Of course not. They played in the National League, and at the time of my service in Cuba, they were in the midst of a strong season.

JAKE: Well, baseball’s fun, but I don’t know about this Beaneaters outfit. My team’s the Milwaukee Brewers. Growing up, my sport was wrestling. State champion my junior year at Lakeland Union High, then repeated my senior year, then off to Madison, All-American there before I left for the Army. My best memory? I’d have to say it’s a tie, between winning my second state title and getting a gift from Angie Egan a couple nights after I got back from State in Madison. (He gives Charles a wink.)

CHARLES: A gift? (He frowns, then smiles.) Oh, yes. I, uh, received such a gift myself, upon my return from Cuba. Her name was Leona. Would you like to see a carte de vesite of her?

JAKE: What’s that? (He is handed a sepia-toned piece of cardboard.) Oh, you mean “a picture.” Hey, she’s pretty good-looking, although that dress doesn’t do much for her. (He produces a cell phone, taps three buttons, and shows it to Charles.) This isn’t Angie, but it’s Sam, my wife, who’s even better-looking than Angie, and that’s saying something.

CHARLES: What a remarkable device. How does it—good Lord, she has hardly a stitch of clothing on!

JAKE (laughing): It’s called a bikini, Gramps!

Gentlemen, please! What do you do now?

JAKE: First Lieutenant, United States Army, 5th Special Forces Group.

CHARLES: My service was in the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry. After my discharge, I returned to my studies at the University of Wisconsin. Upon graduation, I shall enter the School of Law, and then join my father’s firm in Platteville.

JAKE (yawning): That sounds exciting.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

CHARLES (sitting up proudly): With my father’s blessing, and his assistance, I joined the Rough Riders, and served under Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt in Cuba, helping to free the people from their Spanish oppressors.

JAKE: Hey, I always wanted to ask you something. You guys deployed into a combat zone with what, three weeks of training? Just three weeks?

CHARLES: That was all the time we had, yes.

JAKE (shaking his head): Hell, it’s a miracle any of you made it home alive.

CHARLES: Indeed? What kind of training did you receive, might I ask?

JAKE: Hey, in our Army, you don’t get close to a deployment till you’ve been in for about a year. There’s a lot to learn. And if you’re in SF, like I am, or the 75th Rangers, like I was before SF, well, we’re talking six more months to a year before you go downrange.

CHARLES: My word…

JAKE (shrugging): Well, tell you what, Gramps, in my time we aren’t exactly going up against a bunch of Spanish draftees, that’s for damn sure.

Continue reading “Charles and Jake Dawson (of The Heights of Valor, by David Tindell)”

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