In a fantasy setting, there are two types of evil: Evil of the individual and evil of the group. The first applies to singular characters of your novel, while the second can apply to entire races or cultures. In the first case, the evil, as noted in the prior post, comes from the individual’s character which is in turn formed by the individual’s personal ideological beliefs and such. In the second case, the evil comes strictly from the ideology of the group. It is the latter case which allows for things like racial alignment in D&D or in a world like Middle-Earth where all the orcs are evil.
It is worth noting, that neither individual alignment (we’ll just call it alignment for us gamers) is necessarily dependent upon group alignment, or vice versa. Just because the group alignment of orcs is evil, doesn’t mean this particular orc is evil (although it may be a good bet). Likewise, just because this particular pixie is evil, it doesn’t mean all pixies are evil (that’s not even a good bet). I never read the “Forgotten Realms” novels, but I believe there was a good drow elf named Drizzt Do’Urden running around (I just looked it up on the Net—there was). And that is a case in point.
Group alignment provides a simple way of setting up cultural conflicts in your book. The goblins are at war with humans because the humans are good and the goblins are evil. Pretty black and white. The benefit here is that the sides are well-defined as is the preferred victor. Although war in the real world may not always be so morally stark (although sometimes it is—think of WWII), in the fantasy setting there is nothing wrong with embracing such simplicity. Making it more complex (and perhaps realistic) by say dealing with wars between two good races makes it a little more difficult to determine who to root for. For myself, when I read of, say, human on human war, I get annoyed because it just strikes me as unnecessary carnage.
Individual evil is a whole other animal. One has to be careful when crafting evil characters for your story. Their purposes should be detailed and specific. They should be ruthless and cruel, but their goals and motivations should be complex and intriguing. One of my favorite evil characters (though I read the series when I was much younger) was Raistlin Majere from the Dragonlance series, the dark mage who kinda-sorta-if he’d wanted to-became a god. He was deliciously evil. And, of course (perhaps I should have listed this first), I’m a big fan of my own Lucian val Drasmyr, the master vampire from my book Drasmyr.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject.
This will truly go down as one of the critical questions answered in the early twenty-first century: Can a vampire starve for lack of blood. The obvious answer is: It depends on the particulars of the vampire myth in question.
Let’s look at “Dracula,” for a moment, a book I’ve recently read. When Jonathan Harker first encounters Count Dracula in his castle he is an old man, although a very sprightly, spry, and strong old man. It is only after he travels to England feasting on the blood of the crew of the Demeter that he regains a youthful appearance. From this it seems to be apparent that he can go without blood, or at least, far less blood than he would like for extended periods of time and the ill effect he suffers is aging. In the book, he’s roughly four hundred years old. What, then, is the logical consequence of him going without blood indefinitely? I think it is reasonable to surmise that he would continue to age until he ultimately passed away, dying a vampire death of old age. So, as far as Dracula is concerned, this may be an alternative way to slay him: keep him confined and unfed for eternity; eventually he will die.
Although this is true of Dracula, I don’t think it is true of the vampire queen, Akasha, in Anne Rice’s novel “Queen of the Damned.” It’s been a while since I read the book, but I remember the vampire queen awakens from a slumber of several thousand years. If she can go that long without feeding and suffer no ill effects, it seems likely she can go on forever.
I have not read “Twilight” (although I saw the last movie) so I don’t feel comfortable commenting on it. It seems reasonable that they would die a Dracula-type death as well as they do seem to rely on the blood for nutrition purposes.
But isn’t that what all vampires do? They rely on blood for nutrition? I’m not sure. When they are undead, do they really need nutrition as we understand it? Or is the act of consuming human blood better understood as an act of horror meant to inspire fear and trembling? That goes with the myths in which the vampires are evil creatures of darkness. In such a case, blood consumption might not be necessary for survival as nutrition might not be its ultimate motivation.
Okay, lastly, I’d like to consider Lucian val Drasmyr, from my novel, “Drasmyr.” In the book, he is confined to a library for five hundred years during which he is a vampire thirsting for blood, but forcibly restrained from consuming it. He does not age, nor suffer ill effects despite the fact that he is not feeding. So, it would seem that he wouldn’t die without consuming blood either. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret, this very topic actually comes up in the next book, “The Children of Lubrochius.” More is to be said on this, but I won’t give away what is planned for the book. So, I will have to leave you there, wondering and full of curiosity.
This is something of a problem that cropped up while working on my latest book. The book, entitled “The Children of Lubrochius,” is the first book in my series, “From the Ashes of Ruin.” If you’ve read “Drasmyr,” “Drasmyr” is essentially the prequel to the series (Yes, I wrote the prequel first.) Anyway, the problem is, or was, that I kept running into problems because I had too many characters. I had most of the characters from the first book, and several new ones. Obviously, I had to make some decisions. I had to separate the major characters from the minor characters and determine who would be shadowed in each section of each chapter. (By “shadowed,” I mean, which character’s point of view I tell that section by).
It has been called a weakness of my first book that I jumped around too much. I had sections where I shadowed Lucian, others where I shadowed Coragan, others Galladrin, Korina, Regecon, Clarissa, and still more. Although, many of those were just one or two scenes. The major characters were, of course, Coragan, Galladrin, and Regecon. The main antagonists were Lucian and Korina. It all made perfect sense to me while writing, but I can see how someone could be confused, at least, at first. Eventually, though, it all clicks into place and creates a remarkable story. And, I think, if I were to write it again, I would change very little. However, going forward, as I said, the next book adds a few more characters; so many, that if I were to continue in the same pattern, I’m sure I would lose many readers.
So, what did I do? I got out my writer’s chainsaw and did some hacking. J From the four major characters I added, I permitted only one to… uh… not sure how to say it: of the four, one is a major major character, and the other three are too important to be minor characters, but not important enough to get very many chapters told from their point of view. I dethroned two of my previous major major characters, putting them in roughly the same position as those previous three… this is getting confusing. Let’s just say, I juggled the characters around a bit so that I was more focused on which character would be shadowed the most, and which would not. As it stands now, I have again, three main protagonists (Coragan, Ambrisia, and Gaelan (he’s a new guy)) and the same two antagonists (Lucian and Korina). And again, there are a number of minor characters of varying level of importance.
What is the point of all this? Limit the number of your characters. Quite simple, really. But not. I have so much to say, and one character is insufficient. Plus, I like weaving multiple viewpoints together. It’s fun. But there is a limit as to how many you can effectively do that with. Again, this is another lesson learned the hard way: plan it out beforehand, you’ll be happier for it. Otherwise, you’ll have to rewrite scenes from one character’s point of view to another. And that is a royal pain.
Anyway, I think the traditional novel has but one main character. Many modern series’ though (Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” comes to mind) have many more… although perhaps in the case of WoT, Rand is the main character, but I digress. When you have multiple books through which to develop your characters, you can afford to have more than one major character. But again, keep in mind, that what is clear to you the writer, might not be so clear to the reader. Fifty main characters is definitely out of the question. Seven or so, like in WoT… it can be done, but there is a cost. There’s a reason that series is fourteen books long. And though I loved the series, I will probably never reread it.
Reminder: Goddess Fish Promotions will be sponsoring a blog tour for my book, “Drasmyr,” during the latter half of August. The tour will begin on August 20th and will last until August 31st. It will be a Book Review Only Tour, meaning that every visit will be a review of my book. Below is the blog tour schedule, as it stands now: currently 5 slots remain to be filled. Hopefully, we’ll get word on those shortly. I’ll be posting links to the blog host of the day as they occur. Also, make sure you check out the sponsor of the whole tour–Goddess Fish Promotions–it wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Also, I will be awarding one randomly chosen commenter on the tour (for those who comment on the tour sites—not atoasttodragons) with a small box of metal miniatures from the Vampire Wars Series. It consists of four metal miniatures of vampire counts and vampire slayers. They are excellent for collecting, or to use in gaming.
Blog Tour Schedule
- August 21: Indie books at shardpubs blogspot
- August 22: DanaSquare
- August 24: White Sky Project
- August 30: Dana’s YA Bookpile
- August 31: Lindsay’s Scribblings
- August 31: STOP 2 The eBook Reviewers (WARNING: Adult Content Site)
- August 31: Guest Post: Zombiegirl Shambling
Thanks. And hope to see you on the tour!