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The Protagonist Speaks

Interviews with the characters of your favourite books

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High Fantasy

Vladimir Taltos (of Jhereg series, by Steven Brust)

Steven Brust - Vlad Taltos (Jhereg) series covers

Dear readers, we are excited and proud to host tonight a character out of one of fantasy’s longest running series! He is a wizard, an assassin, a crime baron, and a foreigner. He climbed his way to the top against all odds, in a society controlled by a different race. We wanted to speak with him since we first read his books. Please welcome Vlad Taltos!


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

I grew up in South Adrilankha, the Easterner’s district. What was it like? It stank, that’s what it was like. You had the slaughterhouses on one side, dead fish smells from the other.  You could sometimes find a witch to help you out when you got sick.  Sometimes you couldn’t.  Then we moved across the River.  That stank too, only in different ways.  Not so much in the nose, except when you got punched there.  It stank because I was short and weaker than everyone else, and some of them didn’t like Easterners much.  You could always find a sorcerer to help you when you were sick, but you couldn’t afford to pay him.  It sucked, okay? Can we talk about something else?

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

My favorite toy was a lepip, which is a piece of iron, usually about as long as my arm from shoulder to wrist, with some leather wrapped around it to reduce bleeding.  My most cherished memory is using it on some asshole of the House of the Orca who was expecting me to just, I don’t know, stand there and get hit.  Those guys aren’t too bright.  But they make these great sounds when you smack them really hard in the kneecap.  Ever done it?  Try it.  If it goes well, come and see me, I might have some work for you.  If it doesn’t go well, that’s your problem.

What do you do now?

There are people trying to kill me.  I thwart them.  I also travel a lot.  Sometimes I meet bandits, highwaymen, you know?  When I do, I rob them.  It’s a living.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

Adventure?  You call it an adventure?  I call it people trying to kill me.  Maybe that’s an adventure for you, but–okay, let me explain.  When there’s this vast criminal organization that hates you because you didn’t quite play by their rules, and they want to stick a weapon into you that destroys your soul, that’s not an adventure, that’s just scary.  So, anyway, I thought up a way to maybe get myself out of that uncomfortable situation.  See, I had a plan… Continue reading “Vladimir Taltos (of Jhereg series, by Steven Brust)”

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Dylan of Demarn (of In Pain and Blood, by Aldrea Alien)

 Dear readers, tonight with me is a spellster, eschewing the safety of the spellster tower for the freedom to roam the land.

He’s here to tell us about his life in the army, about how his first scouting mission went awry, and the mysterious and flirtatious Tracker.


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

I grew up in Demarn’s spellster tower. It was my whole world for much of my life, actually. It was more of a complex, us spellsters lived in the tower in the centre, surrounded by gardens and a thick wall where the servants lived.

It was peaceful. Really quiet despite the fact there were hundreds of us. Tracker says the spellster population alone was in the thousands, I don’t know if I should believe him but there were a lot of us. We were expected to train our magic, and compete for a chance to join the army if we were strong enough, but we’d a few choices of how we could apply our talents. I kind of miss the monotony. I used to spend whole days in the library, sometimes weeks without stepping outside.

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

No toys, my guardian didn’t really approve of material attachments, not when an errant hiccup of magic could destroy one. We slept in huge dormitories as children anyway and there were always fights over items, they belonged to the tower as it was. I’d a few books I was fond of, but they had to remain in the library. Any game we played needed only yourself, sometimes it involved magic. Especially when it came to bathing where we’d try to make huge waves with very little water, or steal someone else’s right out of their tub.

I’ve plenty of cherished memories, though. Like the times Nestria and I would sneak off into some out of the way place purely to plot the passage of the stars. We were almost caught on a few occasions, there was a curfew we were expected to abide by. Really makes the heart race to think that we could’ve been sent into isolation. When we weren’t doing that, I’d spend long nights trading elaborate stories with Henrie through a crack in the wall.

What do you do now?

It’s oddly reminiscent to what I used to do back home, which was helping the dwarves decipher foreign accounts of their ruins. The only difference really is that where I used to go through my guardian and the overseers, I now work directly with the hedgewitches, which is both terrifying and wonderful. I’m only an apprentice, of course. Not that don’t grant full status to humans, but you’ve got to not have any romantic attachments. Continue reading “Dylan of Demarn (of In Pain and Blood, by Aldrea Alien)”

Tobias (of The Court of Broken Knives, by Anna Smith Spark)

Dear readers, tonight with me is a foul-mouthed cynical mercenary. He was hired to lead his rag tag troop to the capital city, infiltrate the Palace, and take down the decadent and indifferent Emperor.

He is here to tell us about the Yellow Empire, about ordinary soldiers and gritty heroes, epic battles and blood-soaked revenge.


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

I grew up in village in Immish. Immish is rich country. My village is piss-poor. I lived with my mum and my grandma, and if you ask about my dad I’ll lamp you one. My mum and my gran were weavers. Gods, the cloth they could make you. Silk and cotton. Patterns in the weave: flowers, faces, luck charms all woven in. And I was a damn good weaver myself. Lovely bit of cloth, I could make you. Top notch.

Then Garet the dyer died, and his dyeing secrets died with him. And that’s a pun that never gets stale, even after I’ve nicked it off someone else. And now the village is poor as piss.

Lovely country, though, Immish.  Black soil, rich bloody soil, there’s bits of southern Immish where you can get in three harvests a year. Fruit and veg like you wouldn’t believe.  Borders on the Bitter Sea, and nice beaches, even, some of them, if you like that sort of thing. White sand and all that.  The city of Alborn: now that’s a place worth seeing.  All made of white marble, the city walls are white marble and silver, the Great Gate is white marble and gold.  Flashy? Hells, yeah. New money, all of it, and its bigwigs feel kind of insecure. So it’s not exactly what you’d call refined. And the back streets stink of bloody sewage, like anywhere, and half the kids have got worms and lice  and rickets and gods know bloody what. Price of progress, as they say. But it’s a place worth seeing, if you ignore all that.

May we just only visit the nice bits?

The rest of Irlast, the wider world …  Well, now.  I’m well-travelled (perk of the job), I’ve seen quite a lot of it, mostly when it’s on fire and drowning in blood, admittedly, but hey. Different building styles still look different when they’re on fire. Desert and forest and corn-land look …  actually, you know, desert and forest and corn-land look bloody identical once they’ve been burned and trampled and soaked in the blood of innocents, and I can’t pretend otherwise. We walk through the unburned bits, though, to get to them to burn them, and they’re all pretty enough in their way.  Continue reading “Tobias (of The Court of Broken Knives, by Anna Smith Spark)”

Flintathriël Eliowën (of The Last Dragon Rider by Errin Krystal)

Dear readers, tonight with me is an elven prince raised to rule and trained to fight. He’s here to tell us about his adventures in fighting dead things, the love he found on the way, and – of course – about his magically glowing tattoos.

Please excuse his excitement, but his book will be released tomorrow (August 9th)! You can join him and his author in the fabulous release party on Facebook.

Let him now speak about his background and upbringing, as well as his exciting adventures. And tattoos, of course.


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

Valatha is the most beautiful city in Thril-Garëw. Buildings of moonstone and crystal. I played as a child near the crystal mines, and on the lush lawns of the palace beneath the crystal spires.

When I was fifteen, my twin sister and I began our Nuvian training, to join the elite warriors. I earned my rank of Nuvian at twenty-four, a year early. Faë still thinks I cheated.

But I suppose you meant what it was like growing up in the palace? What do you want to know? That I ditched out on my studies to play pranks on my sister? That I hid scorpions in my uncle’s desk? That I ran naked through the ancestral hall’s to impress a girl?

Because I never did any of those things. (He smirks)

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

According to Faë, anything that was hers. She claims I broke her first bow, but I swear, it threw itself from the top of the quarry…

You mentioned you were a Nuvian Warrior? Being crown prince, you are allowed to fight?

Of course I fight! I am a warrior and we are at war. Yes, I am my father’s heir, which is all the more reason for me to fight. A day will come when I need to be able to lead my armies, not sit on my throne and send others to die for me. It is not the elven way.

Besides, I have siblings, my parents have Faëlwyn and Thalion should I do something stupid like get myself killed. Continue reading “Flintathriël Eliowën (of The Last Dragon Rider by Errin Krystal)”

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