Dear fellow bloggers, is to show off your heroes as well! Who would you cast? What makes them tick? How do they speak and interact with others? Do leave a comment with your blogpost...or even a pretty picture for others to enjoy!
I don't know that I have anything particularly clever to say about mine, but I thought I'd list them and see if there were any corresponding marks among them. Or, if I don't, perhaps you will....
You can read more about them after the jump. Including:
- Mr Tilney from Nachtsturm Castle
- Gethin (and Pwll and Liam) from Niamh and the Hermit
- Theophilus Snow from The Sable Valentine
- Poityr vol Rev from Elspeth [working title]
Henry Tilney isn't really my hero but Jane Austen's, however I'll list some of the things that strike me about him. Henry's clever, one of Austen's most witty heroes, and he's not above a joke, which is a common trait among Austen's foils but not her leading men.
That said, Henry can also turn on a dime, and displays a passion about small matters, such as the misuse of the word "nice." It may be flippant to say that his pique at such small affairs is itself 'nice' in the original sense of the word; but Henry knows the importance of details, and the importance of fighting over meaning.
He is also completely and utterly devoted to his wife, Catherine; and since in Nachtsturm he gets to be an, as Margaret Sullivan put it, "Action!Henry" we get to see his defensive nature go up. I have two personal favourite parts of Nachtsturm, and they are both Action!Henry moments:
Considerably shorter is this nugget from Chapter XVIII:From Chapter XIV
So they continued, neither faltering nor gaining more than the other, both evenly matched.... Until, with one last swing, they both lay senseless on the damp ground.William came to first, but Henry – typically – managed to secure the first words.“For God’s sake,” he panted from where he lay, “Do not jump!”“For God’s sake, I will not,” replied Will, pushing himself off the ground. Then baring his chest, he whispered, “But for God’s sake, do what you must do quickly.”Henry rolled over, grunting as he put his weight on his bruised elbows. “Quickly what, man?”“I have disgraced myself, my family, my father and mother, my title, my home, my country, my love…O! Lucia!”“Quite a night’s work.”“And you, Herr Tilney, and your wife. I have brought shame on all who come near me, but I shall not shame my God and take my life. Your sword, Herr Tilney – I deserve much less for what I have done – but I beg you: quickly.”Henry jumped to his feet. “Do you intend that I should kill you?”Tears were in Will’s dark eyes again, but he managed a weak smile. “It is the customary means of sawing off a husband’s ill–got horns.”Henry was no slow wit and nearly did draw his flintlock, but good breeding and clerical office overcame his impulse. “Have you, then, cuckolded me?”Will bowed his head.“Explain yourself.”Will began to jabber in at least two languages.Henry cut him off in a deadly quiet voice. “Did you lie with my wife, boy?”Will’s pale face flushed as he looked up. “I am a God fearing man!”
“Then fear me,” Henry answered.
Another strike of lightning – now accompanied by the deep–bellied rumble, and the horse reared, incidentally setting Henry very picturesquely against the inconstant moon. Alas, Catherine was deeply engaged in her argument with Old Edric and thus missed entirely the melodramatic display. But we may assume that, possessing so strong an imagination, Catherine had often pictured Henry thus; and, as realities are often just short of what we dream, so despite Catherine’s immediate loss, there is no denying that her excellent mind had the wind blowing east rather than west – which is to say, in her fancy, Henry’s many–caped greatcoat swirled in a graceful drape away from his body, whereas in reality, the wind blew against him, slapping the greatcoat about our hero like an untidy cocoon.
I don't know if I have an actor in mind for my Henry. I very much enjoyed J. J. Fields' portrayal, but to me I think Hugh Dancy (if he would lighten his hair a bit) might do very well as Action!Snarky!Whimsical!Henry.
The hero of this "fairy tale for grown ups" is the titular Hermit - with the face and tail of a lion, and the wings and claws of an eagle. He's one of those tortured souls, or has been, when we first meet him - think of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast if he'd made the fairy's curse himself.
He's not really a smiling sort (unless it's to bare his fangs), so it might be interesting to note that my favourite part is (again) near the end of the book, when Gethin's finally found Niamh, to whom he is betrothed...only to discover that she's lost all of her memories. And that this other guy has taken advantage of that. So what does Gethin do? Well, for the first time he doesn't fight with tooth and claw, but tells Niamh a story. It's a gentle moment, and very sweet.
The whole thing actually takes up the majority of a chapter, but I'll put a bit of their conversation here. Gethin has told his story, and Niamh (who now believes she is Brighid) asks him:
From Chapter XV
Brighid was silent for some time, folding the damp clothes reflectively, and placing them back in the basket. “What of the other girl?” she asked at last. “The one who was to be married to Fingal and who suddenly had her life turned upside-down? What of her?”“The stories do not speak of her. But I have often hoped that she found a nice ostler and married him—one who never would run off on adventures where one is bound to meet the strangest folk.”“Do you think she was happy? As the ostler’s wife, I mean. When she had been bound for the great Fingal?”“I hope she was.”Brighid, her work complete, sat back on her heels and regarded the stranger beside her. He was not handsome in the way she thought Fairies ought to be—as though a statue come to life—and yet he was not unpleasant to look at…“You said that you might tell me who I am,” she said softly. The wind rustled the tall grass at the water’s edge, making unexpected ripples in the river and splashing water upon the shore.“I have told you, in a way. You are Fingal, or rather, are like Fingal. And the fire that you dream of is the cursed blood that plagued him.”“And you are….”“Gethin,” he said shortly, pulling at the grass and tossing it away. Then, looking up, he added, “Niamh’s love.”“And who is the Niamh you seek?”Gethin closed his eyes and lay down on his back, speaking to the Heavens. “I begin to wonder if she is a dream.”“But a dream of whom? Of what?” Brighid persisted, moving to sit a little closer to him.“A dream of perfection,” he answered. “Have you never heard of her? The Princess whose beauty could drive men mad.”Brighid laugh but the sound was hollow in her ear…. “Does she still drive men mad?”“Oh yes,” Gethin said, and in his eyes was a dangerous light….
If I were to cast any actor now, it might be Armie Hammer, who certainly has the voice, but Richard Armitage has the gravity. I'm going to give Armitage the slight advantage here, since he's sporting a beard for The Hobbit! And Gethin must also sing.
Just to note two more fellas from Niamh and the Hermit. I really, really, really love Pwll and Liam: in part for their bromance, in part because Pwll is so delightfully cocky, and Liam is so wonderfully wounded, but also because they become heroes through the course of the book...even when the world doesn't know how much it owes to them. I love me an unsung hero!
I like me pretty much every scene they're in (their respective romances with - for Liam, the huntress Graithne, and for Pwll, the tempestuous Elowen - are epic, torrid, and at least for Pwll, amusing), but I'll put their first mini-adventure here:
From Chapter IX
If I had my druthers, I'd cast Ben Barnes for Pwll of Branmoor, and Finn Jones as Liam. Tra la!“I do not like this place,” Liam said some days later as they led their horses through the close-set trees.“You are not meant to like it,” Pwll replied. “Or if you did, I'd slay you for a bogey.”Liam grimaced. He had caught Pwll singing twice now—in the early morning, when the squire thought the guard asleep. When Liam had chastised him, though, Pwll had said that he sang songs to fright the beasts away, for if the sound of merriness were not enough to alarm them, then the atonality of his voice should surely daunt. Still Liam maintained that it did no good to speak too loudly, much less to sing, in that prickled web of twigs and bones.As though to verify the guard’s discretion, something snapped to the right of them.“What is that?” Pwll breathed, swinging out his sword, even as Liam advanced, his own weapon at the ready.Brittle leaves, crusted with dirt and frost, rustled. The horses pawed and rolled their eyes, tugging at the reins held in their masters’ hands. Pwll threw Liam his rein and crept nearer the thornbushes. All heard a snuffling, wet and slobbery, and a skittering here and there with sharp nails upon peeling bark. And then a strange and savage cry that chittered and brayed and howled to the moon.Dead leaves exploded outward as a cwynadd, as long as a man full-grown, pounced upon the horses’ backs. The chargers reared and kicked, trumpeting nervous warning. Liam held tight to their reins as they rushed away from the creature that bared its sharp teeth and hissed. Pwll set about him with sword, but the cwynadd leapt upon a tree, lashing its poison monkey-tail. Again the squire swung and his sword bit deep, slicing the sleek brown pelt. But before he could raise his arm, the cwynadd fell full upon him, anger in its black dog’s eye.Squire and cwynadd rolled, wrestled. The creature shrieked and lifted its head to bite the human’s shoulder with fangs that darted venom. Shriek turned to whine as Liam beat the cwynadd with the flat of his blade again and again until the cwynadd fled, its wounded tail between its legs.“My thanks,” Pwll said, lying battered on the ground. “Where did you strike it?”“I did not. That thing is part dog, part monkey—all fury if you bit it, all coward if you beat it. Have you never studied your bestiary?”“No,” Pwll laughed, accepting Liam’s hand. “Except perhaps for horsemanship or hawking, or the care of a bloodhound.” Then, stopping to star at the tangle of reins around a birch’s trunk, the squire exclaimed, “What have you done? A simple knot would have sufficed had you calmed them!”“I have never had to calm a horse in peril of more than a shoeing. Findair plough horses are more even-tempered than these beasts.”The horses whickered and twitched their ears as though they understood.Liam bent to undo the intricate constrictor’s hitch that he had learnt at his father’s knee. “Next time,” he said, although not unkindly, “let me to the monsters and tend the horses yourself.”
THE SABLE VALENTINE
This is a sprawling novel which is giving me considerable difficulty in the plotting. (It's multiple POV, sometimes for the same scene, which bears enough similarities to The House of Strangeways, that Strangeways is serving as a good, more confined puzzles within puzzles epistolary novel!).
Anywho, without giving too much away, I can say that there's much more to Dr. Theophilus Snow than initially meets the eye. Quite literally. Snow is a man who laughs easily, a person with a wry and twinkling disposition...and a heretic. At least to those who profess the demi-Puritanical religion of the Church of Flaming Arl. Yet, he has no use either for the pantheon of the Laughing Gods. He lives like a celibate, yet he's seen constantly in the company of the notorious socialite, Luce Thibeauld. He's remarkably learnt; fluent in several languages; a lover of good opera (and a laugher at bad); a rescuer of women's reputations, and a ruiner of others.
Oh, yes! And sometimes his eyes are brown. And sometimes they flash the traitorous blue of someone with sorcerous blood....
This is from perhaps a third or half-way into the first novel in the series. It should be noted that the night before, our primary narrator, Giselle Pridieux, went searching for her missing father in a very unsavoury part of the city. Unfortunately, this was on the same night that a fire was set in that same district, while the very wealthy attended a debauched event at which were drug-laced handkerchiefs. Giselle wasn't mixed up in the latter, but as she escaped from the fire, she was seen by some reporters. This is a longish excerpt, and you can read quite a bit of the novel at the website.
I must admit that I picture Sean Bean in his Lovelace costume as Theophilus. Who could play Dr. Snow now? I leave that to you!
An Excerpt from
“But she is young yet, Theophilus,” Mme. Fournier amended. “Give her another year and she will make a pretty wife…”
“She will not make a pretty wife, Antoinette,” the Prime Electman said when once we were all seated. “She is very pretty now, is she not Theophilus?”Dr. Snow thanked Andrews who was pouring the Lesseut rosé.“However,” M. Fournier continued, “I do agree that she will make a better bride in a year – say, six months’ time. Less prone to trip down the aisle, eh?”“She would not falter now,” Dr. Snow murmured into his glass, “had she the proper attire. Reverendress,” he said rather more clearly, addressing my Aunt with a careless flick of his napkin, “I do hope you will allow me to lavish some gifts upon Mlle. Prîdieux. I realise it is not wholly customary for the groom to provide part of the bride’s trousseau, but I should be more than happy to purchase many of the materials from you, Reverended Sir.”Uncle Obadiah grunted into his soup, but did not deny him.“Beats the d—n dimity,” Pépé whispered to me.“And of course,” Mme. Quinovoliot said quickly, “we should be happy to provide for you any ornaments you deem necessary, Dr. Snow. Gizi” (she called me Gizi! She has no right to call me Gizi!) “would look divine in topaz or in amber, do you not agree?”“Perfectly,” Dr. Snow said. “I have thought so for quite some time.”“Then it is agreed,” Mme. Fournier merrily declared. To which everyone smiled, and applied themselves to their relative soups.Except, of course, myself.“I beg pardon,” I did not shout, “but what is agreed?”“That you should marry Dr. Snow, of course,” came Mme. Fournier’s cheerful response.My eyes flitted to Dr. Snow’s profile, and I fancy the tips of his ears rouged.Still, I was not mollified.“Is it?” I said, folding my napkin all too calmly.“Yes, Giselle,” Aunt Evangeline hissed.“Ah. Agreed. Agreed.” I confess I had begun to shout. Much to no one’s consternation, for the entire table—including the odious Dr. Snow—had the audacity to eat their soup in silence. Only Pépé had the decency to nudge me. Incensed, I threw down my spoon and cried again, “Agreed?” The gesture, of course, sent droplets everywhere, not the least of which on my skirts.Uncle Obadiah shot me a warning glance which, much to my chagrin, I did not heed. Nor did I heed him when he quietly called my name. I colour to think of my behaviour now—It was really very childish and quite unnecessary—but then, I must remember, I had not yet read the evening paper. How could I have known what had happened? Nor why they all had come? Nor why they spoke so freely of my future…. And yet, I do think that any one of them might have enlightened me more immediately. But really, it is most disconcerting to have one night Maundy calmly stabbing strange men in stranger alleys and the next the Prime Electman, the council of the Ladies Egalité, my Uncle and even his clerk hedging me into marriage with a heretic sawbones…!But, no, that is too cruel. (Would that I had such restraint at supper! But alas, we cannot change what we have done. Only what we might do.)“Dr. Snow,” I said, turning to that poor man, “I am very much afraid that your good nature has been abused. Perhaps you were under the impression – quite understandable given our mutual faith – that my hand, much less my goodwill, were my guardians’ to give. But assure you that this is undoubtedly not so. I am the ward of the state, Dr. Snow. And I enter into my majority in a year and six months’ time. Until then, and possibly not even after then, I have no intention of bestowing my affection upon anyone. You will forgive me.”“Do you mean to imply, Reverendress,” Dr. Snow said, turning to me so that I had little choice but to gaze at him manfully (or womanfully as Aunt Evangeline might correct), “that I should have applied to the bureaucrats of the Palais Juste for your hand?”“I dare make that answer,” M. Fournier laughed. “No!”“I mean,” I said colouring, “that I am free to make my own decisions.”It was, perhaps, the wrong thing to say. Because all at once, Aunt Evangeline put down her spoon (never a good thing), collected herself as though she had been crying, and hissed, “Oh, free. Yes, yes, Giselle – you are very free.” Then to Dr. Snow, “Reverended Sir, my niece has been treated, I fear, far too freely by her uncle and myself. Certainly, as you must know, she was never disciplined by her father who, I understand, has quite abandoned her yet again. We have always been good to her, Doctor, perhaps too good and too indulgent, too free in her company with the ideals of the Egalité, too careless in our guardianship—allowing her to strike up friendships with men of every ilk—the Smith boy, Obadiah’s workmen, even M. Pomeroy here.” (Pépé applied himself vigorously at this point to attracting Andrews’ attention for another glass of wine.) “Oh, no doubt her father should be very proud. We had great hopes, you know, Doctor Snow, of Giselle marrying the Smith boy—but we can’t have that now, of course. So when, Giselle, you speak of freedom, and of choices,” my Aunt continued, rising from her place to tower over us all, “you might have a care for consequences as well!”“Dr. Snow has made a very handsome offer,” Uncle Obadiah added, as Aunt Evangeline collapsed into her chair, giving herself over to the dubious ministrations of Mme. Quinovoliot and Timony.“Oh, nonsense, Obadiah,” Mme. Fournier cut in. “Look at her. She doesn’t care a whit for offers of money, clothes, or jewels. The creature has no idea what has happened, that’s clear enough for anyone to see! My dearest Giselle,” she said, leaning across the table to take my hand. She smiled sweetly and I swear her eyes watered as though she were promising fields of daisies replete with gambolling lambs. “Believe us when we say that not only is Dr. Snow a good man, he is likely the only man who will offer for you now!”“This is impossible!” I exclaimed. “Pépé, explain how this is quite impossible! Why, I have had several offers of marriage, and only three of those were from Maundy. And….”I should have gone on to say…well, now that I come to think of it, I’m not quite sure what I should have said further in my defence, but Dr. Snow put all conversation to a halt, quietly clearing his throat before remarking, “Perhaps if I might have a word with Mlle. Prîdieux alone for a moment?”Uncle Obadiah threw his arms up in the air, while Aunt Evangeline began another tirade about my willfulness, Pépé drowned himself in his third glass of Lesseut and M. Fournier his second, Mme. Fournier made encouraging noises rather like an anxious cat, Mme. Quinovoliot and Timony applied themselves more vigorously to their futile ministrations, and Andrews attempted to resemble a piece of furniture—which he did quite well.More to escape their madness than to appease Dr. Snow, I agreed.He led me as far as the front hall, from whence I led him to the red parlour, reasoning that it had the fewest windows and the most doors and best of all two separate couches. Dr. Snow made no move to either sit or aid me to be seated, but strode purposefully enough into the room as though to take its measure, turned his back to me while I struggled with the flint, and at last declared when the room was only half-lit, “Well, I suppose this thing ought to be done properly.”“Dr. Snow!” I cried when once I turned to see him kneeling before me. “Do rise. This is most impolitic.”“I do apologise, Mlle. Prîdieux,” he replied, “however you must forgive me if I am not as graceful as your previous suitors. You have had the great fortune of receiving many proposals. I, on the contrary, am in the lamentable position of having never proposed at all.”“Well,” I declared, “you have begun most stupidly. Most gentlemen consider it prudent to speak to the lady prior to declaring their love.”“But you misunderstand me, Reverended Miss,” he said, rising. “I have not declared my love. Nor do I intend to declare my love.”“Then,” I said softly for—to remember it even now, it strikes me like a blow, “then what are you asking?”“For a loveless marriage?” he smiled, and drew me down to sit beside him. “No, I am not so cruel. Let us begin again, mademoiselle. Have you a black silk handkerchief?”
ELSPETH [working title]
The hero of this (these?) novel(s) has been with me the longest. He showed up one day when a story took over the one I was attempting to write, by the second paragraph. Poityr vol Rev rescued Elspeth by climbing over rooftops when I was fifteen years old. And he rescued me when, at seventeen, I spent a summer working at this miserable ice cream shop. I'd volunteer to take out the trash...since it was at least outside. I'd look up at the awnings and the flat building tops, and I'd imagine Poitry and Elspeth running hand in hand over them.
At any rate, Poityr is a brooder. He's got the dark hair and light complexion to carry it off, and the right to carry it off, as well. Nearly his entire family was destroyed in his native country, and he's traveling to a new life as a wanted man. Like Theophilus, he's fiercely intellectual, but unlike Theophilus (who's just trying to live quietly without being killed), Poityr is an active revolutionary. I'll admit there's a lot of Les Miserables in him.
Interestingly, every time I turn around, I find another actor who could play him: some we've mentioned already (Richard Armitage, although he's a little old now; Ioan Gruffudd, ditto), and others who are my go-to guys (Rufus Sewell, also too old but oh-so-pretty, Joaquin Phoenix and John Barrowman, same), or new gents (Ben Barnes springs again to mind).
But I think I'm going to have to go with Henry Cavill, for having the physical prowess, the pathos, and the panache to carry it off. He doesn't seem to have a Dickensian film on his CV, so we'll go with this very pretty picture from his extraordinarily layered work on The Tudors. You're welcome.
The following excerpt is from a little later in the original novel (I keep waffling between writing out the prequel, which is pretty much just all Poityr, or jumping into things from Elspeth's point of view). Poityr has just returned from an unexpected and unpleasant visit with the anarchist, Kian, who's showing an unhealthy interest in the goings on of the revolutionaries in Gyve. This novel takes place in the same world as The Sable Valentine, but in another country, where tensions are considerably higher.
That's it for me! Happy writing and happier surfing for pictures and descriptions of your heroes!Elspeth had kept vigil the whole night, waiting for her erstwhile tutor, ready to accost him as soon as he walked in the door. Yet, although she had practiced her speech a million million times that evening, words failed her as a familiar and unwelcome sight entered the main hall. She regained herself quickly, though, and was on the point of rising when Master Muret turned towards her—and she saw wrinkles, brow, moustache, sideburns, even sallow skin fade into the young, smooth, angled face of Poityr. His eyes were tired, and he seemed at once glad and angry to see her.“Elspeth,” he said before she had a chance to speak. He removed his hat and bowed. Remembering her manners, she dropped a low curtsy, calculated to soften his demeanour.“Poityr,” she said.“You are awake well past your usual hour. Does something ail you?” He was unbuttoning his coat now, and she went around him to help him out of it.“I am well enough,” she answered, handing him the garment. He gestured to a cluster of chairs and she followed his direction, seating herself on a couch while he chose a soft high backed chair to the side.“Have you a question about the lesson I left you?” He asked. "I assume you received it…”“Yes, Tomas and Alec brought it to me. But the reason they gave me as to your absence did not quite satisfy me.”Poityr passed one hand over his eyes and let out his breath. “Is that why you waited for me?” Elspeth was about to protest but he cut her off with a little smile. "Well,” he said. “What did not satisfy your hungry curiosity?”“They said you were out on business.”“I was.”“But they did not specify what that business was.”Poityr shrugged. “You have a vivid imagination, Elspeth. I’m sure you could imagine many exciting adventures for me this night which would be much more interesting than the truth.”“And what is the truth?”“None of your concern.” Poityr’s tone was hard, but Elspeth would not be deterred.“My every concern.”“I had no idea you cared so much.”The odd mix of jest and urgency in his beautiful voice brought an unwanted blush to Elspeth’s cheeks. “My continued existence depends entirely on you,” she said. “Naturally your welfare interests me.”“Well, I am glad that something other than study can intrigue you these days.”“I have had little time for anything but study, considering the way you have been pushing me so.”“Are you now blaming me for your discomfort? I have only tried to accommodate you,” he said.Elspeth raised one eyebrow in silent accusation.Peter crushed his teeth together. “Have I ever tried to cajole you into disclosing what your father said to you?” His strong hands kneaded the arms of his chair. “No. Not even when you refused to come to lessons until three days after the event. Not even when you threw yourself into your studies. You wanted to forget the whole episode, so I gave you more work to keep your mind off your father’s words. You distanced yourself from me, so I did not pursue you. And yet you wait for me late into the night….”Peter had stood and paced during the course of his speech, like he often did during his lessons, and only now stopped to look at her. She had not moved. Her hands were folded neatly over her knees, her ankles were crossed demurely.“You confuse me Elspeth,” he said weakly.“Where were you tonight.”“Why should someone whose life is wrapped up somewhere inside her head be interested in my goings on?”“Where were you tonight.”Peter turned away and walked toward the window. Elsepth allowed herself to look at him, and found her breath catching in her throat. The conversation was not proceeding as it should have been.“Where were you tonight, Peter?” she asked, softening her tone.He laughed. “Why? Did you have need of me?”Elspeth opened her mouth to say yes, yes she had, but she checked herself with the thought of her father’s words, and the lateness of the hour, and the look on Poityr’s face when he first came through the door.“No,” she said finally, “I had no need of you this evening. And I was foolish to demand the truth from you.” She stood and curtsied, even though his back was still turned towards her. “Good night, Poityr,” she said. “I’m sorry to have kept you from your bed so long.”Elsepth waited a moment, perhaps expecting him to detain her, and when he didn’t, asked: “Did you find what you were looking for?”Poityr only looked at her with eyes sunk deep in sockets, and said:“You left the candle burning.”And he snuffed it.