I think it’s a law of nature that as you go forward in a series you have to introduce new characters. Not just ancillary people in new places your old characters go, but new folks that bring something to the story in their own right. The trick is making sure they have a purpose in the narrative, rather than just being there to be shiny and new.
The Water Road has, essentially, two points of view (putting prologue and epilogue aside for now). The Endless Hills, by contrast, has eight point of view characters (again, putting prologue and epilogue aside). Some of them were bound to be newbies, so I wanted to use a couple of them to get a different perspective on the world-shattering events taking place in these books. A perspective from lower down the food chain, if you will.
One of these was Martoh, who you’ve already met through the first excerpt from The Endless Hills. When we meet him Martoh is definitely a thief, but he draws the line at any worse. How did he wind up in a Telebrian prison scrapping with psychopaths, then? Here’s how he explains it in a passage in The Bay of Sins:
Not long before the war, I robbed a small shop in Rearson, in Lesser Telebria. Nothing major, just a couple of small silver objects, enough to sell and keep me going for a week or so. For some reason, the proprietor of the shop decided to give chase. They rarely did, you know. This one, he was not cut out for it. Fat man with failing health, you could tell by looking. He did not catch me, of course, but the hue and cry he raised got others involved and I was caught. More to the point, the stress of the pursuit caused the old man’s heart to go out. He died right there on the street.
Martoh’s place in the war is won out of necessity – he needs it to escape his probable death in prison.
His Neldathi counterpart, Wahat, comes from a completely different perspective. He’s young, head filled with tales of bravery and horror from the Speakers of Time. But he hasn’t experienced any of that when we meet him in The Endless Hills. Instead, he’s engaged in combat of a different kind – pasro, an ancient Neldathi game Antrey rejuvenates as a means to let the clans batter each other somewhere other than the battlefield. Wahat wants nothing more than to go to war and fight for his people.
In a story that’s mainly about a woman leading an uprising, I wanted to include two people who were doing the dirty work, a pair who might face each other on the battlefield. Martoh and Wahat have a meeting of sorts, at a crossroads town called Tivol Market – where everything comes to a frightening, bloody climax.
Remember, The Water Road is now available at Amazon as well as in the real world at Empire Books & News. The Endless Hills will be released on August 31!