Bounty hunters can be kind of messy in the real world, but they’re great characters for fiction. People who engage in the most dangerous game for a living and all that.
It makes sense that there would be bounty hunters in the world of The Water Road. Keep in mind that for all the appearance of cooperation inherent in the title Confederated States of the Arbor, the fact is that that the city states in the Arbor are happy to fend for themselves and mind their own business. Banditry would run rampant in a land without any real governing force.
Bounty hunters also tend to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Forlahn certainly did, much to Rurek and Strefer’s delight. Although, I suppose, he might have intervened a little bit earlier.
Once I decided to have a bounty hunter in The Water Road I decided I didn’t want him to be the typical snarky ass kicker. He had to be good at his job – very good – but I didn’t want him to be too enamored of the violence it allowed him to do.
That’s part of why I wanted him to be familiar with Oberton. The city in the trees had little need for bounty hunters per se – they don’t pay traditional bounties for killing/apprehending bandits. But they do pay for information, something that Forlahn was equally adept at getting.
That’s also where Malin comes along. A bounty hunter with a family is one thing, but a bounty hunter with a son in tow? It changes the way you look at things. It also changes the way you grow up. When we meet him in The Water Road, Malin is at once wise beyond his years when it comes to surviving in the wilderness, but it still a child.
That was the final thing I wanted to build into Forlahn – a desire to get out of his bounty hunting life. After all, you never know when the end is coming:
When the opportunity to do that presents itself, he grabs it without hesitation. It doesn’t matter the risk. It doesn’t matter how it will upend relationships with those close to him. He’s given a chance at a way out that he’s not about to pass up.
For more information on The Water Road and The Endless Hills check out the trilogy page here, which includes links to all my Water Road Wednesday posts this year.