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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Adventure

Silhouette (of The Alex Caine Series, by Alan Baxter)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a gifted martial artist, a non-human, shape-shifting Kin who fights the supernatural elements in our world.


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

Well, not to be evasive, but a lady should never discuss her age. And while I’m really no lady, I’ve been around for more than a few normal human lifespans, me not being human and all. Well, not all human, anyway. So where I grew up is hard to describe. It was rural in a way nowhere really is any more, on the west coast of Scotland. My childhood was one of pastoral bliss, really, with my mother. I never knew my father, but if I ever find him, I plan to kill him. My early years were spent crofting, living with the land, and I had no idea of the greater world out there. I heard talk of the English and how they weren’t our friends, but I was too young to really understand. Too young to care, I suppose. It wasn’t until I hit puberty that what I am became apparent and then my mother sought help. We ended up in London and that’s when Joseph found us, and explained what the Kin are. What I was. In truth, that’s the point at which I really grew up.

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

I never had much as a child, we were dirt poor. But I did have a carved wooden cat and I think that maybe I was so drawn to that toy because of my inner nature. I didn’t know it yet. But every Kin has a preferred shape. Mine turned out to be feline, a kind of panther is the best way to describe what I shift into, and I think somewhere deep inside I knew that. I’ve always had an affinity for cats. There was an old tabby at the croft and when I was only about 5 or 6 years old she had a litter right under the hay in one corner of a small barn. I didn’t tell anyone, just protected her, and watched those kittens grow. So very long ago, but I still miss that cranky old tabby like a lost limb. Not counting my mother, she was the first thing I ever loved. When Albert, a crofter across the valley, heard about my love of cats, he carved me that wooden one and I treasured it, made it smooth and shiny with handling.

Do you still have it?

I do, but I’ll never tell another soul where it is. Actually, that’s not true. Alex knows where it is, because he saw it when I moved down to the south coast with him. He asked about it and I told him what I’ve just told you, then I put it safely away. It’s the only thing from my pre-Kin life and it’s special.

What do you do now?

Well, since we signed up with Armour, every day is a new adventure! That’s not entirely true, of course. I mean, I know you’re really interested to hear about the great Alex Caine, right? He’s all stubborn and not especially talkative, which is why you’re talking to me. But I’m afraid that whether it’s about me or Alex, I can’t tell you much. I shouldn’t even admit that we work for Armour, but you already knew so it seems pointless to deny it. But let’s just say the threats that occasionally rise up, the weird and supernatural stuff that regular police and governments can’t handle, are infrequent but all too real. Alex and I are among many who deal with them, as best we can.

Continue reading “Silhouette (of The Alex Caine Series, by Alan Baxter)”

Arubah Arruroe (of Galaxy Pirates, by Tamuna Tsertsvadze)

Dear readers, tonight with me is the emperor of the galaxy pirates. He is here to tell us about a future where reptiloid aliens have enslaved Earth, and about the bureaucracy of running an empire.


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

I grew up on a ship, obviously. Back in those times, there was just one spaceship at our disposal – the very original Shark Tooth, crafted by my grandparents. My uncle was the captain, managing a crew of pirates from across the galaxies. Mother was treated like a princess since my uncle was very fond of her. Naturally, he adored me too. He even made up a nickname for me – ‘Aya’. Sounds weird, eh? Nay, for the Herminoids such as my uncle and mom, it is a usual thing – they double the first syllable of a person’s name and there you have it, a fresh cuddly nickname! Like, take a usual human name, ‘John’. For Herminoids it’d be ‘Jojo’_ Yeah, I guess it didn’t come out as neat… whatever.

But I figure you humans want to know more about my human father? Well, as long as he stuck beside my mom he was fine. Uncle didn’t really fancy him around, to be honest. Humans were considered weaklings by all the alien races, and my uncle was definitely not an exception. From that very moment, I decided to make sure no one would ever dare call me a ‘weakling’, even if I was half-human from father’s side. To be fair, humans aren’t weaklings at all. My father is one of the strongest people I know. Strength is not only muscles – that’s a fact.

Any cherished memories?

Memories… Aye, I remember everything from the second I was born. I’ve a lot of cherished memories. Family and friends are my treasure. All the time I’ve spent with them, is treasured time. The way papá would read me Hispanish books and tell human tales… I used to close my eyes in order not to read my father’s thoughts, and would instead let my own imagination run loose. Damn, so many adventures, and all that while lying in a dark cabin, not sticking my nose out! If you humans possess any magical powers, the broad imagination should definitely be one.

What do you do now?

There’s been a long time since I’ve taken my life in my own two hands. I see to it that all of my plans are thoroughly executed. I am the Galaxy Pirate Emperor. I’ve got a whole empire under my rule. That’s a lot of work, be sure of it. There are many planets under our jurisdiction across the Seven Universes. As I want to be a benevolent ruler I have to consider every citizen’s opinions and feelings. That’s not all – constant disputes in my own crew and fleet, over trivial matters… Some are such fools they can’t even follow a single damn rule! Nay, management is certainly not something I’m fond of. If I weren’t a godly being I’d immediately resign from this tiresome post, trust me. But when there’s no one else to take up the role of a saviour, what can I do?

What can you tell us about your latest adventure across the galaxies?

Every day is an adventure, especially to such free-spirited people as I. But I’ll tell you of the most important one – it was the conquest of a maiden’s heart. Her name is Violet. She is a human like you guys. I adore her – her very essence elevates my crimson spirit. Aye, nothing can be better than an adventure of a passionate heart!

Continue reading “Arubah Arruroe (of Galaxy Pirates, by Tamuna Tsertsvadze)”

Larkh Savaldor (of Keys of the Origin, by Melissa A. Joy)

Dear readers, to night with me is the son of an admiral who grew up amongst pirates. He’s here to tell us about being thrown together with a law-abiding righteous citizen, into a struggle to bring the world back into a state of balance from the precipice of madness and desolation brought on by a renegade sorceress hell bent on reviving the greatest threat of all.


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

I was born an’ raised in Saldour, the largest port city in Faltainyr Demura an’ the home of the navy. My father was an admiral an’ his father a shipwright after an accident an’ illness early in his career that forced him to retire from working at sea. Later, my entire family was murdered; I spent the rest of my childhood among pirates.

Did you have any favourite things to do as a child? Any cherished memories?

Liri an’ I used to play together on the meadows surroundin’  the noble estates around Saldour. I was also rather fond of sneakin’ into my mother’s secret library.

What do you do now?

I’m a pirate; an’ a captain at that, though it’s a bit of a long story how that happened. Ask me later over a drink of Tourenco Dark rum.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Which one? There’ve been quite a few of them lately. There’s the one about the “unrequited love” of an obsessed an’ extremely stubborn elite mercenary? Or perhaps the explosive reunion between myself an’ a friend of my late father? There’s also the one involving a dubious encounter with a leviathan…  Oh, the best one has to be how Zehn an’ myself turned out to be tools of the gods… Wait, all of that’s connected isn’t it? It’s a little past noon; how long’ve you got?

Continue reading “Larkh Savaldor (of Keys of the Origin, by Melissa A. Joy)”

Tomas Piety (of Priest of Bones, by Peter Mclean)

Dear readers, tonight we bring you an interview with a priest more interested in his various businesses, from taverns and gaming houses. He’s a man who came back from fighting one war to find another at his doorstep, living in a grim and dark city.


The Royal Steward Samuel Lan Dekanov to one Mr Tomas Piety, of Ellinburg:

 You’re obviously not a Dannsburg man, Mr Piety. Tell us a little about yourself. Where you grew up, perhaps, and what it was like there?

My name is Tomas Piety. I was born in Ellinburg, and I lived my whole life there save for the war years. My father was a bricklayer, and I grew up in the alleys of the Stink with my little brother Jochan at my side. The Stink’s a poor place, down by the tanneries and the river, and working folk stick together there. Da was a working man, when he was sober enough to work, and Ma died when I had barely six years to me. I’d like to say “times were hard but we were happy”, but that would be a lie. We weren’t happy, Jochan and me, not with what went on in that house of a night.

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

We had no money for toys when I was a lad, but I’ve got a cherished memory alright. That one night, that night I made it right between Da and me for what he had done to me, and what he had started to do to little Jochan. That was the night my cold devil woke, and spoke to me. That was the night I became The Devil Tomas Piety and no mistake. If I were you, my friend, I’d change the fucking subject. Right now.

Right, well. Ahem. Moving on – what do you do now?

I’m a businessman, and I’m a priest. The army made me that, but I’m not exactly what you might call godly. I own a number of businesses in Ellinburg. Various interests that bring in a substantial income. I own inns and taverns and gaming houses, and I have an interest in a number of…  vassal businesses, as you might say, such as factories and tanneries and forges. Those I don’t own, as such, but they pay me a consideration for protection and respect

Mr Piety, that makes you sound like some sort of gangster!

I’m a fucking businessman. You listen to me now. There’s a way that respect works in Ellinburg, and I don’t think that you understand what that is. I’m a prince on my streets. I collect taxes, aye, and I see that they’re paid, but in return for that I look after my people. No one goes hungry on Pious Men streets, not anymore they don’t, and no one robs or steals from my people either. Not more than once, anyway. Anyone tries it, me and my brother go and show them how unwise that was, and they don’t do it again. There was a time a woman couldn’t walk down those streets alone at night, and I put a stop to that too. Those who are sick and can’t afford a doctor are treated at my expense. It’s a closed system, to be sure, and participation isn’t optional, but once everyone understands that it works well enough. It’s just business, do you understand me?

Continue reading “Tomas Piety (of Priest of Bones, by Peter Mclean)”

Kade Traskel (of The Brightest Light, by Scott J. Robinson)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a man back from a decade of exile. He’s here to tell us about a world of death, corruption, shady deals and dirty deeds — just like old times — and of the Skyway Men that set him up.


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

I was born on the skyland of Hassan but I can’t remember much about that because, when I was five years old, my parents sold me to the Skyway Men and I moved to Girindult. I guess they needed to money but I don’t know for sure.

Girindult is a tiny skyland that’s been part of the Last Chance Archipelago for fifty years or more, moving between Rookery Reef, High Plain and Wind Haven. It’s known for metalworking. Up top is foundries and smithies and silversmiths and what-not. It’s hot. It stinks. It’s noisy. There’s smoke and acid and a constant clatter. Endless, deafening clatter. It keeps away the tourists, I suppose, which means the real purpose of the skyland is easier to hide. Down below, in the tunnels, it the main training center for the skyway men. With all the noise above the tourists couldn’t hear the gunshots and the screams even if they were paid to.

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

Favourite toy? The skyway men teach recruits to make their own weapons for some reason; I was quite fond of the first throwing knife I made. I lost that when an older boy fell off the side of the skyland with it still stuck in his throat.

What do you do now?

I screwed up a mission. I mean, it wasn’t my fault. I was young and had too many people telling me what to do and I couldn’t please everyone. But I took the blame and they shipped me off to rot on Whiparill, an insignificant farming skyland where, funnily enough, I ended up doing metalwork. I guess the training paid off after all. I waited ten years before they finally came looking for me for another mission.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I really wasn’t expecting to be given another job. I thought if the Skyway Men ever came looking for me it would be to make sure they wouldn’t have to worry about me ever again. But when I got the chance to get back in I was not going to screw it up. It seemed to be a pretty simple job. Break into a laboratory, steal an experimental crystal-machine and post it to the local Operations Manager. Of course, if it had been simple I wouldn’t be here.

Continue reading “Kade Traskel (of The Brightest Light, by Scott J. Robinson)”

Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a former painter turned master swordsman. He is here to tell us about his adventures, about swords and sorcery, sabertooth tigers and bizarre blades.


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

I grew up in the frozen wastelands of Shimoshimo. It’s absolutely terrible, especially for me. Everyone is brutish, rude, and primal while I’m… just different. Not saying I’m more artsy and sophisticated but… I am, which has been more of a curse.

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

My favorite toy would certainly have been a paint brush. I grew up with a painter for a father and a kind, intelligent mother who had the job of growing the few types of vegetation possible in Shimoshimo.

What do you do now?

I am fortunate (or unfortunate) to have become a Champion and a graduate from the Champions of Arbitration. I, and my team of Champions, help to keep the peace between Bizarre Blade wielders around the world as Champions can be either good or evil.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I recently just ran away from a massive T-rex that was bent on eating me for lunch! It wasn’t her size that scared me the most (which it certainly did scare the crap out of me) but that of her amazing intelligence!

Continue reading “Finn Featherstone (of The Bizarre Blades, by Stevie Collier)”

Kantees (of The Dragons of Esternes, by Steve Turnbull)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a slave responsible for a feathered racing dragon. She is here to tell us about how her life changed when she was forced to ride one.


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

I don’t know where I was born or who my parents were. I don’t really think about it. I was born a slave, as far as I know. It’s easier not to think about it. The only thing I’m sure of is that I am pure Kadralin. My skin is not as dark as some but, as far as I know, there’s nothing in me that looks like a Taymalin, and I’m grateful for that.

My first master was Kevrey of Tander. He kept a shop in Dakastown, on the south coast of the Isle of Esternes. He traded in knowledge, that didn’t make him popular with the Brothers of Taymar, of course, but he had lot of interesting visitors anyone from lords to ship captains to ordinary people.

I learned a lot there, even though slaves aren’t supposed to be educated. They think that if you’re educated you might rise up against them. And they’re right, of course.

Dakastown is very big, it’s home to the Otulain family and even among the lords they are very rich, because of all the trade from the mainland. Apart from the sea trade, it’s got a big ley-circle too.

I remember the sea and the gulls, but most of time I was cleaning or fetching and carrying.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

Being a slave means you don’t own anything, I didn’t have toys … but there were so many interesting things in Kevrey’s shop. I would play with them sometimes, in secret when I could find a moment. There were shells and different stones, the stuffed animals and insects. But it was the zirichak feather that I loved the most, golden and blue, as long as I was tall.

What’s a zirichak?

You don’t know?

I’m not from around here.

It’s what I ride now, a ziri, some people call them dragons. The racing ziri have beautiful feathers, not like the wild ones which are just grey and brown.

Continue reading “Kantees (of The Dragons of Esternes, by Steve Turnbull)”

Mrs. Mirskaya (of the Paternus trilogy, by Dyrk Ashton)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is an old slavic goddess from a world where gods and monsters, the heroes and villains of ancient lore, are real.

She is here to tell us about the rise of the gods and the coming war.


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

Why do you bother me with these silly questions, durak? I am busy and war is coming. No time for nonsense from crazy person. Now you are kidding. You are crying? All right, bezumets, I answer quickly.

My father is Father, all you need to know. My mother was Phoberomys pattersoni. Much like muskrat or beaver, but much bigger. Don’t give me that face, I peel it off your head. That is better. I was born in what is today called Orinoco River Valley, in country now named by the watoto—humans—Venezuela. I have been everywhere in world. Several worlds. I have lived in many places. After last Great War with Asura I lived in lands later called Russia. People knew my Truename, Mokosh, and worshipped me as goddess of weather, water, and protection. Yes I am goddess. Do I not look like goddess?

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

Toys?! I played with sticks and fish when I was young. I ate them. And I threw them at Father. Was fun.

I have enjoyed looking after brat child Fiona Megan Patterson and spending time with her uncle, Edgar. Do not tell them I said that, or I show you lightning from sky to your backside.

What do you do now?

I am answering idiot questions from beshenyy mal’chik! (Mutters again) I am sure u tebia ochen malenki hui

We are on invisible island, Kumari Kandam, to prepare for war. There are many Firstborn here, but not enough. We will probably lose. Mac Gallus plays terrible music. Fiona trains to be Valkyrie. Zeke has made himself stone clubfoot by accident and set his hand on fire. Stupid boy, but sweet. I am happy to have Leshy here now, someone to talk to from old country.

Continue reading “Mrs. Mirskaya (of the Paternus trilogy, by Dyrk Ashton)”

Trilisean Conn (of Broken Crossroads, by Patrick LeClerc)

Dear readers, tonight with me are an acrobat turned burglar and a jaded former mercenary. They have been thrown together into an unexpected adventure involving deadly blades, subtle schemes, glittering treasures, dark sorceries and fell servants of forgotten gods. They are here to tell us about it, and of Fate’s sense of humour.


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

Trilisean: I grew up as a slave. I don’t know who my parents were, whether I was taken in a raid or sold as an infant or born to slaves. I have no idea what a normal childhood should have been. Eventually I learned I was being prepared to be sold as a concubine or to a brothel. So I escaped. I knew how to smile and put men at their ease, which was useful, and I knew dancing and etiquette, which would come in handy. I managed to join some traveling performers, learned to tumble and do sleight of hand and throw knives. When we made it to the big city, one of the leaders of the troupe got…presumptuous, so I ran away again. Knowing a bit about disguises and a lot about knives made it challenging for them to find me again. And made my living on the edges of polite society.

Conn: I grew up on a farm until the Jarvings invaded. I fought my first battle at thirteen. Then I spent a few years as a rebel until they finally beat us. I ran off to join a mercenary company, until I realized that I was just fighting for the glory and gain of the men at the top. Figured if we weren’t going back to liberate my homeland, I may as well fight for my own.

What do you do now?

Trilisean: I’m a thief. Don’t look at me like that. It’s true. I like the word “thief.” It’s honest. I’m a very good thief, and it’s hard to take pride in your profession if you won’t even say the word. Euphemisms make my eyes roll. “Acquisitions expert” sound like someone who works in a bank.

Conn: You’ve done some work in banks.

Trilisean: But never for banks. There are limits to my villainy.

Anyway, I can support myself picking pockets, but the bulk of my work is contract burglary. If somebody wants something stolen, word will come to me, and I’ll plan and execute the job. Quite a few come from a fence I know. People will talk to him about a thing they want, and he’ll pass that on to me, taking a cut for his services that he will lie to both me and the client about.

Conn: I’m along to carry heavy things, act as a lookout, and to deal with any guards she might have underestimated, including bloody demonic temple guardians that bleed fire. Just standard soldiering stuff, really.

Trilisean: That made us a lot of money, and you figured a way to defeat it. I had faith in you.

Conn: Aye, well, the prospect of a hideous death if I didn’t was quite the incentive to get creative.

Trilisean: You see? You get to expand your skills and challenge yourself an get paid for the privilege. I really think you should show a bit more gratitude for these experiences I’m opening for you.

Conn: I know I seldom lie awake in fear that I may die peacefully in my old age.

Trilisean: There you go.

Conn: And in between this one trying to get me killed, I run a fencing studio. Teaching swordsmanship and self defense in a city where that’s like to come in handy.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Trilisean: It’s…embarrassing.

Conn: We did save the city.

Trilisean: Working at the request of the Watch.

Conn: Not the Watch officially. Just one sergeant.

Trilisean: But it’s still the law. And we didn’t get paid.

Conn: True enough. But at least we didn’t get any credit, either.

Trilisean: Well, that was a relief. And I got my lip split. I’m sure we agreed taking punches is your job.

Conn: But you did get to match wits with a criminal mastermind and come out on top. Expanding your skills and – what was it – challenging yourself and all.

Trilisean: That was nice.

Conn: And you managed to only give the good sergeant half of what he wanted and survived.

Trilisean: That was even nicer. What kind of criminal would I be if I let the Watch dictate terms? If I’m going to do that I may as well just get an honest job. That was just a lesson he had to learn. Still can’t buy much with gratitude. Even less with grudging gratitude.

Continue reading “Trilisean Conn (of Broken Crossroads, by Patrick LeClerc)”

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