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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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Epic Fantasy

Val Arques Caelan (of The 19th Bladesman, by S.J. Hartland)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a bladesman – a master swordsman. He’s here to tell us about a life of training young men bonded to the ancient gods to fight and die in a malign, centuries-old war against the inhuman followers of a fallen ghoul god.


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

They call me lord of the Mountains, lord of the grim, forbidding fortress of Vraymorg which stands as sentinel to the great gorge and the dead cities beyond. But the Lord of Vraymorg is just a name I took when a queen banished me to this dismal outpost of the kingdom of Telor.

In truth, I was born many centuries ago in the sun-drenched lands of the Isles. Once an Isles man, always an Isles man, they say. Though I can hardly remember who I was then, before my life, my position, my wife and son, were all stolen from me.

Now, I am a captive of miserable duty, a captive of my past. I cannot escape it, nor the shameful secret that festers like a wound within.

Did you have any cherished memories?

I grew up under the shadow of defeat, when Telor had been conquered by a sorcerer-king who took the name “Mazart,” or overlord. Even so, life was good. I wed a woman I had been betrothed to since birth. Odd though it sounds, I was content. Until my reputation as a bladesman reached the Mazart. He invited me to compete in the prestigious Contest of Swords. I was nineteen. My life, that life, ended at nineteen.

What do you do now?

My duty is to train young men chosen by the ancient gods to fight and die in a malign, centuries-old war against the inhuman followers of a fallen ghoul god. I can’t afford to care about these young warriors, especially Kaell, the 19th bladesman bonded to the gods. For love means loss.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

In the latest book, The Last Seer King, I’m a prisoner in the Icelands, outmatched in a dangerous game with a clever, but cold and ruthless sorceress. The only way I can get to Kaell is to reveal to her a secret that will destroy me. But I’m running out of time. With my unique blood, the rulers of the Icelands intend to auction me to the highest bidder.

Continue reading “Val Arques Caelan (of The 19th Bladesman, by S.J. Hartland)”
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Fergus of Weirdell (of A Ritual of Bone, by Lee C Conley)

Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a support-cast character, who seems to have taken the place of the scheduled protagonist!

He’s here to tell us about his world, where forgotten Dead Sagas talk about the rise of the dead and the coming of great evil.


You are not quite the person I was expecting.

‘Not what you were expecting, eh? Expecting Arnulf, or the famous Bjorn perhaps? I read some of what that scholar wrote. True, there are others who play the bigger part in his Saga. That scholar… Conley, what does he know anyway? If you ask me, he wrote about the wrong man for our part in it all. So I’m here. I am Fergus, lord of Weirdell. You’re best off speaking to me. I can’t say I know some of the others he wrote of, but Arnulf, his man Hafgan, the lot of them now… a bunch of grim, stoic bastards – You’d get better conversation out of that old hound of his. Ha! If you want the real story, sit, listen to Fergus. We’ll have a drink and I’ll tell ya true.’

Okay, fine. If you don’t mind I’ll start at the beginning. So, Lord Fergus, tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up. What was it like there?

‘Where did I grow up? Well, you must know who I am? No. Ha! Eymsford, lad. In my father’s halls at Eymsford. What! You’ve not heard of Eymsford? New to these shores, eh? Well, Eymsford is the seat of the high lord in the Old Lands of Arnar – my father, Lord Angus – he answers only to the king. So, Eymsford, a great place, and very old. A place of warriors. It was we who held the borders in the wars of forging, we who bore the brunt of old Cydor so our brothers could forge a new realm. It’s all in the old Sagas, you should hear it sometime.’

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

‘Do whores count? Ha! Aye, I remember when I was a lad. With my father being the man he is, I had a good childhood, better than most. I remember my first time on his ship, the spray and wind battering my face. I remember the feasts, the melees, basking in the valour and renown of some of Arnar’s finest warriors – it was a good way to learn honour. My most cherished possession though… I remember my first sword, the real thing, the steel, you never forget. But I always loved my first wooden sword. The old bastard had us training from the cradle with the Master-at-Arms. It’s how I met Arnulf in fact. We’ve been as close as brothers since we were young. Training hard with him and the other noble lads, good times, bashing up that sour bastard.’

What do you do now?

‘Well, now I’m the lord of Weirdell. I am lord and law-giver of the town, one of my father’s bannermen, perhaps one day I’ll take my seat in his stead.’

What can you tell us about your part in this Dead Saga I’ve been hearing about?

‘Well, let me tell you this. Times have grown dark of late. It’s grim news whenever you hear it. So you want to know about the passes – I take it you wouldn’t be asking if you hadn’t heard rumour of the deeds written in the Saga. For our part, it’s true, lad. It’s all true. I saw it with my own eyes.’

Continue reading “Fergus of Weirdell (of A Ritual of Bone, by Lee C Conley)”

Igmar (of The Ashen Levels, by CF Welburn)

Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with a member of the supporting cast of a fantasy novel. The interview was conducted on his home fantasy world by native crones, and discusses the protagonist and the Good Company, swords and sorcery, and the ashen.


Igmar blinked.  “Where am I?”

“The island has no name. Though, some call it Coal.” He squinted as two figures swam into focus before him. The one who had spoken was a withered crone, all crows’ feet and brown teeth; the other, a girl of about eight winters, sat wide-eyed, clasping a doll.

“How did I get here” he asked, frowning.

“Storm.” the crone said, as though it were as natural an occurrence as another dawn. “Drink your tea.”

Igmar looked down at the steaming mug beside him. He raised it, sniffed and was about to take a sip when he paused.

“Who are you?”

“Heggerty.” said the crone. “Welcome to our abode. This here is—”

“Belitha!” shot the girl, enthusiastically, her small feet kicking, making her chair wriggle and creak. The crone smiled fondly then turned her eyes upon him once more.

“Now you know our names, and since you’re our guest, tell us of yourself?”

“Guest?” he repeated absently, rubbing his head and staring down at the tea in his hand. He took a sip. Strangely bitter and sweet at once; quenching his thirst to leave him parched once more. He took another and sank back into his chair. After a weary sigh, his words seemed to drift unbidden from his mouth.

“My name is Igmar. I recall no storm… perhaps a boat…” he searched his weathered boots for an answer, before giving up. “Anyway, I’ll need to get back soon.”

“Back where?” Heggerty asked.

“Back to the wilds, of course. The north. The sea is no place for me. I’ve duties to uphold.”

“The wilds are vast—compared to our small island, at least. Might you be more specific?”

“I roam. I’ve no home. If I were to name my origin, I suppose I’d say Warinkel. You’ll not have heard of it.”

“We know of it.” she said, surprising him. But just then his gaze was drawn to the doll Belitha was caressing. An uneasiness grew within him.

“What’s that you’ve got there?”

“A doll.” she said, turning it until Igmar looked upon his own likeness. Bald head; large, hooked nose; long, dark beard, streaked with as much grey as black; a missing ear; small, black ashen eyes.

“What’s that for?”

“Just a souvenir.” Belitha said, sweetly. “For my collection. I hope you don’t mind.”

Igmar was about to say that he did mind. That he minded more than he could reasonably explain. But just then the crone broke in, as if reading his thoughts.

“You’re not the first ashen we’ve met. One of your kind caused us great distress, in fact.”

Igmar swallowed, something in her tone threatened.

Continue reading “Igmar (of The Ashen Levels, by CF Welburn)”

Halea (of Torn Apart, by J.M. Riddles)

Dear readers, tonight with me is Halea, a priestess in the service of the dragon goddess, roaming the land hunting demons and sealing tears caused by the Chaos Dimension.


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

I don’t remember much about where I was born, but I was brought to the holy city of Ruinac after my father died when I was quite young. I’m one of very few born blessed by the dragon goddess, Tiamet, which means I’m far faster and stronger than an average human, and I also have the power to purify evil.  That was a bit much for my poor mother to handle all on her own, and it just so happened my paternal grandfather is a cleric of Tiamet who lived and worked in Ruinac, so we joined him, and he mentored me on the path to becoming a priestess. Tiamet worshippers are tasked with fighting the evil of the Chaos Dimension that seeks to converge with our world. As for Ruinac, it wasn’t so great, just a crowded seaside city and it was hard to fit in because there weren’t many children like me. Sadly, when I was about twelve years old, a convergence destroyed the city, killing everyone in it, including my mother, and at the time, I thought it had killed my best friend Varg too. A convergence is a massive dimensional tear that can only be banished by sacrificing the life of a priestess, and let’s just say the ritual didn’t go as planned.

Did you have any cherished memories from your youth?

My fondest memory will always be of the day I first met my best friend, Varg. He was in the form of a wolf when I first saw him, and then he turned into a scrawny little wolf boy and threatened to eat me. Those were good times.

What do you do now?

These days I am an official oath-sworn priestess of Tiamet. Priestesses are given immortality in exchange for serving the goddess. We roam the land hunting and slaughtering demons and using our powers to seal dimensional rifts called tears. The work hours are kind of crazy and we’re not allowed to put anything or anyone above our duty, so no marriage, love, children, or anything else that can distract us from our calling. Kind of a thankless job, but it pays well, and if the demon’s don’t kill you or you don’t get chosen as a blood sacrifice, you get to live forever, so it’s not all bad.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Well, it would seem my long term career plans didn’t turn out as I expected and I’ve been unwittingly thrust into a managerial position for which I’m vastly under-qualified. I’ll make the best of it – somehow.

Continue reading “Halea (of Torn Apart, by J.M. Riddles)”

Jame (of the Kencyrath Chronicles, by P.C. Hodgell)

Dear readers, tonight we are extremely excited to host a character from a fantasy series we’ve been following since childhood (ours, as well as hers).

Jamethiel’s Priest’s-bane, known as Jame to most, comes to us from down the chain of creation, where her people – the Kencyrath – have been fighting the encroaching evil of Perimal Darkling for millennia. She is here to tell us about her adventures, and about the thin and blurry line between life and death.


Jame:  Oh, my head.  What happened to me?

Voice out of the shadows:  You stormed the priests’ subterranean college at Wilden, tripped, and fell down the stairs.

Jame (sitting up, grumbling):  I’m usually more agile than that although, admittedly, prone to accidents.   Kindrie.  I came to rescue my cousin Kindrie.   Your voice is familiar.  Who are you?

Voice:  We met in Tai-tastigon.  You were hunting demons, also dead gods.  Some of them, in turn, were hunting you.  See if you can remember yourself first.  Where were you born?

Jame:  In a keep in the Haunted Lands where my father, the Highlord, had gone into exile.  I suppose it was a terrible place, but then it was simply home.  The gray grass cried.  So did the vegetables when put to the knife, and they tasted of watered blood.  Nothing was properly dead there, nor properly alive.  That’s what it means, to live under shadows’ eaves, because Gerridon’s monstrous House loomed over us, day and night.  He sent our mother, the Dream-weaver, to us.  After we were born and he reclaimed her, our father went mad.  He tried to kiss me once, and ended up smashing his knuckles against the stone wall beside my head.  Father hated me because I was Shanir, also because he said that I was too like my mother.  He must have known that my brother Tori was Shanir too, but he never admitted that.  Tori was his favorite.

Continue reading “Jame (of the Kencyrath Chronicles, by P.C. Hodgell)”

Kara Tanner (of Glyphbinder, by T. Eric Bakutis)

Dear readers, tonight with me is Kara Tanner, a recent graduate of the Magic Academy of Solyr. What follows is Scribemaster Tarano’s interview with Kara several days before her planned graduation.

The chaos that unfolded on Kara’s graduation day is still unclear to many, but we do know the academy came under attack, a number of students were injured, and that Kara and several of her friends (including an amnesic soldier treated for his wounds at the academy) disappeared. Their current whereabouts are unknown.


To start, Kara, I would like to congratulate you on your nomination as Speaker Supreme. You must have worked very hard to get here.

Thank you. I’m honored to be chosen, and will absolutely not make a wreck of my speech.

I’m certain you’ll do fine. To start, what do you most enjoy about your studies at Solyr?

Everything. Where else can you learn to set someone’s hair on fire and talk to the dead?

You set someone’s hair on fire?

Really? I honestly expected you to be more concerned about the other thing.

Well, you are a Glyphbinder. Soul glyphs are one aspect of your training, are they not?

Oh, right! This is an opportunity to promote Solyr to our patrons in Tarna. Five know I love promoting our academy!

If you could simply answer the questions as you would for someone outside Solyr?

Of course, Scribemaster. Forgive me. I’m practicing. For my speech.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your studies at Solyr?

The variety. Every week offers new aspects of glyph magic that either complement or contradict what’s come before, but wielding the power of The Five Who Made the World is inspiring. The Five made literally everything … the world, the sky, us … so channeling their power? Nothing compares.

Now that we’re into advanced glyph combinations, I find the more esoteric mixes fascinating. A week ago we learned the proper Life glyphs to form ice sculptures based on glyphs of idea, and there’s been no shortage of gorgeous and occasionally obscene ice sculptures popping up since.

Occasionally obscene?

Well, you taught us to create ice sculptures … with glyphs of idea. Look, I’m eighteen, and many of my peers are as well, but I imagine girls mature faster than boys. If I come across one more ice peni—

Why don’t you tell us more about your particular school! What’s it like to be a Glyphbinder?

Challenging. We teach Firebrands, Lifewardens, Soulmages and others, but Glyphbinders learn tricks from them all. Every school is scribed differently, and remembering how the lines work is a chore.

I won’t horrify you with what happens when you scribe Rannos the Wolf on a squirrel and accidentally use a Firebrand’s blood lines, but it’s not a mistake anyone makes twice. You never forget the smell.

Continue reading “Kara Tanner (of Glyphbinder, by T. Eric Bakutis)”

Jarrod Torrealday (of The Outworlders Saga, by Joseph Malik)

Joseph Malik - Outworlders banner

Dear readers, tonight with me is a cross-dimensional champion. Taken from Earth to a strange new world, this former Olympic saber hopeful and medieval weapons expert was tasked to be an adviser to the war council for a magical realm teetering on the edge of collapse.

We wanted to meet Jarrod Torrealday since we first read his book, and finally caught up with him at his castle home in the Wild River Reach at the end of this past autumn, between his two book adventures.

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

I grew up in Connecticut, on an estate called Knightsbridge. Our house was one of these castle homes, with stone turrets and everything. (Laughs) I guess it kind of warped me. My family owns Eastern Technology Bank. We mostly handle hospitals and big tech campuses. We had a few hundred acres of woods that butted up against a huge green belt that went right down to the sea. I was much more into getting into adventures out there than I was ever interested in playing with toys.

What do you do now?

I’m part of an order of knights here in the kingdom of Gateskeep. Our order teaches hand fighting and military science to the troops, but also serves a counterespionage function, as well. We keep an ear to the ground and keep an eye on the fighters in the castles where we train other knights and soldiers. We find spies, and disrupt plots against the crown.

I’m also a Lord Protector of the principality of Falconsrealm, which means that I can be called upon—and have the right—to settle affairs of the crown in personal combat. A lot of the time, here, they’ll settle small wars and grievances with just two guys beating the crap out of each other, sometimes not even to the death. It’s a pre-industrial, mostly feudal society—interlinked fiefdoms of regional lords and magnates operating under privatized rule—but it’s technically possible to take over a castle and lands in a fistfight. Which keeps the afternoons interesting.

It all just goes to prove that we never really know where we’re going to end up, I guess. It’s a good gig.

What do you find most surprising about living here? Compared to Earth?

The number of women in the ranks of the military, especially the knights, and how effective they are. On Earth, we’ve really underrated them. Our brightest military leaders, and some of our toughest knights here, are women. Continue reading “Jarrod Torrealday (of The Outworlders Saga, by Joseph Malik)”

Michel Anglo and Vipa (of God’s Forsaken, by David Brevik)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an angel and a human woman. This isn’t the first time we interview such a duo, but this ‘Angel of Death’ is merely the professional moniker of a ruthless assassin.

Together, and with some unusual friends, they had to destroy a forsaken god. They are here to tell us of their adventures.


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

Michel Anglo: Well, their isn’t much to-

Vipa: Me first, me first! I was raised on Congla island after the Guilty One stranded us on an isolated island. Father died when I was just a baby, but Mom was an incredible huntress. Taught me to waterbend, hunt, and all that fun stuff.

Michel: Which I assure you which is abnormal. Where we’re from most people are work in factories or farms. My aunt and uncle adopted me and we lived in Kalaim.  Almost became a factory work if it wasn’t for my… assassination skills. Good things too. Damn factory is as dangerous as this crazed huntress I’m working with.

Vipa: Says the guy who hunts the world’s most dangerous predator.

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

Michel: I’m talking first this time, Vipa! Our family was poor, so there wasn’t too many toys. Yet my uncle got me a gun and a knife. Good for hunting and my friend used to play games just as knocking over cans who can piss off demons.

Vipa: That’s mean.

Michel: Hey, as my aunt said, ‘Demons have granite skin. You have easier time breaking iron.’

Vipa: Wow, that depersing. I used to have tons of friends and toy to play with.

Michel: I thought you lived on an island alone with my mother.

Vipa: Not just my mother. I have old Nubby the goat. Oh, we used to play tug war all the time. Oh, and then there this one time where mother left me alone in the woods when I was five. I cried so much, but then I made a doll and it kept me company. After surviving in the wilderness for a day, she gave me honey as an award.

Michel: *Stood dumbstruck for a bit.* Please never leave my children along with your mother.

Vipa: Why? She’s a good person.

What do you do now?

Michel Anglo: My real job is assassination, so I go around killing people. Not that complex, though I tend to spend week researching my target before going after them. Knowledge make life easy. As for my day job, I’m a sugar merchant. Spices and sugar are expensive and pay good.

Vipa: Now Michel help me hunt down the Guilty One.

Michel: Against my will! This crazed huntress is dragging me along for her crazed adventure.

Vipa: Which isn’t easy. You try tracking down a living island. Continue reading “Michel Anglo and Vipa (of God’s Forsaken, by David Brevik)”

Dembrek (of the DRUX series, by S.P. Joseph Lyons)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a man with a misty past, torn between heroism and rebellion. He is here to tell us about the power of love, as well as the power of heroes.

Note that we’ve previously interviewed Oreunasis, the Lord of the DRUX. It’s rewarding to see characters out of our earliest patron-books returning to the interview couch.


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

I was born on the home of the Original People. We were the first created beings of the Great Voice. We lived in harmony with nature, and our surroundings. Simple homes among the vast trees under a sea of stars at night. We were a peaceful race but were always ready for war if it should ever come to us. Though our home had been decimated by the men with hands like lightning and thunder, then by Mordrin and his slave army of Gaunlar, we always rebuilt. Stronger. Better.

Any cherished memories of your home?

My mother. She was everything to me in the absence of my father. When she was killed by Mordrin, I…I just, I don’t know. Losing her was the hardest thing I ever had to endure. I miss her terribly. She always saw the best in me, and always had a way of seeing the beauty in everything. When my father left for the stars, a part of her went with him. She’d often look to the night sky, wondering if he could see us. I hated him for leaving, even if he didn’t have a choice.

What do you do now?

After being exiled from my home, I went to the universal Arena to become a champion. In a fight to the death, it was no easy task standing against the greatest warriors in the universe. After winning, I became a legend. I was feared in every section of the universe. I guess having these powers, and being fearless, has its advantages in battle. Continue reading “Dembrek (of the DRUX series, by S.P. Joseph Lyons)”

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