Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q: St. Qadeem

The few betas who have been beta reading Disciple, Parts I - III (sample of Part I in the page tabs above) can confirm that I am not pulling this out of my butt just to cover the dreaded Q entry for A to Z. My side of this Character Conversation is in italics. (There are more of these under the "character development" tag.)

Saints, in my fantasy monstrosity, are people who have attained godlike powers. They can be killed, but not by ordinary means -- and the death of a saint is disastrous for the people who have aligned themselves with him/her. 

My fantasy kingdom has three saints, who've formed something of a pact and work together to protect -- and be protected by -- the kingdom. Two of the saints were locally grown, as it were, and have blood ties to the kingdom. I wanted the third to be an outsider. Someone who, even though he's been part of the pact for a long time now, will never quite fit in. Thus, my kingdom is largely pasty-white-and-blond by ethnicity and Saint Qadeem... is not. 

Naveen Andrews - I believe this is from his stint on Lost?
Reference photo (yum): 

The very first thing I wrote about the three saints was: War saint, Craft saint, Nerd saint. I never had any doubt which one was the outsider. 

A saint of knowledge would be the outsider even in his homeland.

You've been quite mum about why you came to this little back-woods kingdom.  

There's been no hiding that I traveled much of the world before finding my place here.

Your place, or just a place? 

When one is an outsider, it's a fine shade of difference.

Were you running from something? (he only shrugs, with a smile) In assigning you an ethnicity that can be shorthanded as "Arabic" I wanted to invoke the intellectual and scientific prowess that pre-dates the fundamentalist, isolationist persona that dominates the Muslim world nowadays. 

In addition, warmer climes and richer lands allow people more leeway for learning rather than farming. Hardly any one kingdom's fault if its soil is cold and thin, requiring much labor to feed one's family. Why-ever I came to this mountain kingdom, I stayed for being welcomed by its people as well as its saints. 

But you haven't, shall we say, contributed to the gene pool here.

There are consequences to long life. When one knows the full spectrum of what a family will require of you, one's perspective changes.

That's something I've seen addressed now and then with other immortal beings, such as vampires. It's always interested me. (See my entry for I: Immortals)

Near all saints have descendants. The question is, how many generations can one reasonably maintain involvement with? Or does one begin a new family whenever one wishes -- take a new wife, watch her grow old, hold babes in your arms and follow them from cradle to grave?

One could certainly have a favorite great-great-grandchild. 

As Saint Woden does, in the kingdom's royal family. Surely a swath of the people could trace kinship to one or the other of their saints, after so many generations. They can hardly befriend them all, though. They are the saints of the land.

Which is a full-time job.

And deadly, as well.

I'll end the conversation here, though I'm itching to talk about what qualifies one to be the "saint of nerds" in a high-fantasy setting; all the saints are magic-users, first and foremost, not scientists. 

What role have cultural outsiders played in your fantasy stories?

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