It seems like it was once a staple in fantasy stories, or at the very least a cliche: the damsel in distress. Often the prisoner of some gruesome, horrifying monster or villain, the proverbial (and sometimes literal) knight in shining armor must rescue her, and often falls in love while doing so…
I can’t write women like that. Flat characters who are incapable of saving themselves, who need someone else to ensure their life and livelihood, who have no depth, no real personality. All of my short stories and novels I’ve written, up to and including The Sword of Dragons, have featured strong and self-reliant women.
Strong women are becoming much more common-place in fantasy stories. While I’ve not read A Song of Ice and Fire, I have heard that Martin writes female characters well, and there is a famous quote from him on this topic. When asked how he writes female characters so well, he replies, “You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.”
Hermione Granger (from Harry Potter,) Katniss Everdeen (from The Hunger Games,) Emma Swan (Once Upon a Time,) Merida (from Brave.) These are only a sample of complete, well written women in fantasy or sci-fi stories, and are some of the best characters I have ever encountered on screen or in books.
Another fact about these characters I like: they are not there for eye-candy. They are complete, 3 dimensional characters, with dreams, fears, and a place of their own in society.
Too often you see fantasy art depicting women (especially elves, for some reason) wearing skimpy ‘armor.’ Breastplates that only cover the breasts, maybe a shoulder pad, and a skimpy little chainmail thong that makes Leia’s slave outfit look conservative.
While meant to attract men to the artwork, or video games, or movies, more often than not scantily-clad women are not well-developed, and will not stand the test of time. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the name Hermione Granger will be remembered long after “random scantily-clad elf #3” will be.
That is why I made the women on Halarite, the central world in The Sword of Dragons, 100% equal to men. There is no limit placed on what they can or cannot do in society. It is neither a patriarchal nor a matriarchal society.
Oddly enough, I couldn’t find a word in the English language that describes such a society. The closest I could find was Egalitarian, but that is not an accurate description of Halarite. Egalitarian describes a society where all people are equal. On Halarite, Mages are usually more privileged than non-magical people. Oh but that is to be explored more in later novels. As Professor River Song once said, “Spoilers…”
The Women of TSOD
Since I will be publishing The Sword of Dragons later this year, I thought now would be a good time to post some character profiles. What better way than to start off with the prominent women of book 1 :)
Also, when I posted profiles of characters for Chronicles of the Sentinels, I included pictures of people who look similar to how I imagined the characters. I received a very positive response to that, so I’ve done so here again.
Sira trained all of her life to become a member of the Warriors’ Guild. Her prowess as a Mage was evident from childhood, but she started at a disadvantage since neither of her parents were Warriors, so she entered as an outcast.
In The Sword of Dragons, Sira has become a respected leader in the Daruun Warriors’ Guild, her outcast status long-forgotten, overcome by her strength and leadership. She carries a white-dyed claymore that has been her signature weapon since the day she graduated from training.
Although she considers her loyalty to her friends one of her greatest attributes, it does sometimes land her into trouble. Never-the-less, it is that loyalty that ensures she is where she needs to be to help save her kingdom.
Once a powerful member of the Warriors’ Guild, Kailar abandoned her position when she became convinced that the Guild had strayed from its original mission. Since then, she has sought a means to stop the Guild and to unite the four kingdoms under her banner.
Cunning, skilled, and possessing a keen intellect, she is a formidable opponent who will do whatever it takes to achieve her goals. However, she does not trust anyone, and will only work with others when absolutely necessary. Otherwise she spends her life completely alone, living in the wilderness, always on the move.
When she learns of the Sword of Dragons, she becomes obsessed with finding it, knowing it has the power to help her achieve all of her goals.
A Dareann Elf, Elaria is an explorer who wanders from one world to the next. She has an insatiable curiosity, but has learned to be cautious, and has an uncanny ability to hide herself. When necessary, she uses her two curved daggers to defend herself with great effect.
When she senses the growing power of the Sword of Dragons, she comes to Halarite to seek out the source. But when she approaches Kailar, the wayward Warrior uses her powers to manipulate Elaria into helping her.
Now she must overcome Kailar’s grip on her will, before she destroys Halarite’s only chance for peace.
Thanks for reading everyone! I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into The Sword of Dragons :) Stick around, because there’s more to come!