THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN (US | UK | AUS), Book 2 of the Powder Mage Trilogy, releases today! In The Crimson Campaign, all your favorite characters are back (plus a few new faces!), and there will be bloody times ahead for everyone.
Below, Brian McClellan names his five favorite side characters. We’d love to hear who your favorites are in the comments!
Side characters are often the most fun for me to write. I can give them little quirks and write them with more freedom than point-of-view characters. Their lives are more “off-screen” than those of our heroes, and that can make them more mysterious and interesting to both myself and the reader. Here are five of my favorite side characters from Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign.
Be warned, there will be minor spoilers from Promise of Blood!
A red-headed, freckled “savage” from the distant country of Fatrasta, very little of Ka-poel’s history is known. She uses a sorcery outside the recognized schools of magic in the Nine Nations, and the mystery of her motives and powers are compounded because she was born a mute. She only communicates through hand gestures and facial expressions.
This last bit has proved a challenge to write. It limits what I can do to build her character and has forced me to, quite literally, “show” instead of “tell.” But I love how mysterious her character is and she has turned out to be delightful to write. Ka-poel is an example of a side character who develops into an integral part of the story during the writing process.
Olem and Field Marshal Tamas meet at the beginning of Promise of Blood, when the field marshal is in need of a new bodyguard. They develop an immediate mutual respect for each other, and Olem’s skills as a soldier and his Knack–the ability to go without sleep–make him a natural choice for a bodyguard.
Field Marshal Tamas tends to take himself very seriously. Maybe too seriously. Lucky for us, Olem is there to watch his back and remind him, often in a rather sardonic manner, that there is more to life than pride and duty. Olem is deeply loyal, and while he often stretches the bounds of what would normally be appropriate to say to a field marshal, Tamas tolerates his familiarity for the sake of their friendship.
In The Crimson Campaign, however, we’ll discover that even Olem can go too far with Field Marshal Tamas.
The ex-fiancée of Taniel Two-shot, Vlora is in the awkward position working alongside Taniel’s father. In original drafts of Promise of Blood, she had a lot more screen time that wound up getting cut along the way and it was fun to explore her character in more depth in The Crimson Campaign.
Vlora resonates with readers because she is complicated and conflicted, her most important relationships destroyed by a single mistake just before the start of Promise of Blood. Next to Taniel and Tamas, she is one of the most gifted Powder Mages in the world. In The Crimson Campaign, we get to discover her side of the story and see her in action.
I love writing Ricard Tumblar because he’s a conglomeration of a dozen different people I’ve known throughout my life. He can come off as absentminded and even bumbling at times, but he’s the head of the biggest labor union in the Nine Nations. He has impeccable business sense, he thinks and acts larger than life, he’s ambitious and even a little bit greedy. But he’s also generous and thoughtful and, though he can’t maintain a marriage to save his life, he is one of Inspector Adamat’s oldest and most faithful friends.
Ricard has bigger plans in The Crimson Campaign. He’s shooting for the stars in ways that Adamat could not have guessed and it may cause more problems for our beleaguered inspector…
Fell is a new character in The Crimson Campaign. She’s an undersecretary in the Holy Warriors of Labor, and assistant to Ricard Tumblar. Her broad, highly developed set of talents make her an invaluable part of Ricard’s staff. I think you’ll like her. To say any more might spoil fun!
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