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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Hello readers! Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. Life has thrown a lot my way, and I’m working to adjust accordingly. Hopefully in a month or so, I’ll be posting regularly again. I’ve got ideas, just need to get them down on the paper. 🙂

This month, I decided to participate in the Penprints Flash Fiction Dash. It’s a challenge where you receive either a sentence or picture prompt and write a story from it that’s 1000 words or less. I had a lot of fun working on this, and thought I’d share it with you all since it has to do with relationships. (And because I haven’t posted in a while… oops.) Picture prompt and story below. Please read and enjoy!

 

The Decision - picture prompt - Penprints Flash Fiction Dash

 

The Decision

Silver rails and wood ties, as far as the eye could see. She looked to the east, then the west. Would the train come? Where would it take her?

Snow lay deep, interrupted only by bare trees and dead brush.

Long, dark hair fell over her shoulder and tickled her cheek, rustled by the winter breeze. The abandoned bridge lay above her, supported on stacked, rough-hewn blocks of stone. Frozen rivulets of water shone in the sky’s dim white light. Guard rails perched atop the black road kept phantom cars from plunging onto the tracks below.

Snow fingers crawled toward her boots over the gravel under the bridge. The silver rail she stood on could have frozen to her feet through thin boot soles.

She looked east. So many choices, so many destinations.

She must choose.

The wind whispered in her ear.

Tell me which way to go.

A single word resounded in her mind, as if the wind held her answer.

Alone.

Faux fur tickled bare thighs and calves. She bunched the sleeves of her hoodie in her fists, hiding fingerless gloves.

No one had come here with her. Few would wish to. This place held nothing for them.

And everything for her. So many thoughts and decisions she’d made here.

On her own.

The wind died. The snow’s stretching fingers rested among rocks strewn between railroad ties and hair settled on her shoulders. She licked dry lips.

Moisture froze.

How would she decide?

The world’s answer wouldn’t match the wind’s. Whom did she trust with this?

Only herself.

No one else would dare to understand. They’d only push her closer to the world’s answer.

She’d only ever had herself, really. Would that continue the rest of her life?

And if it did? She’d lived almost thirty years of life on her own. A few close friends had scattered to the winds, still there but harder to reach out to in times of need.

So she must turn to herself. As she’d always done before those friends stole into her life and heart.

She closed her eyes, breathing in winter’s sharp, bitter air.

Thank goodness she hadn’t become bitter.

Much lay in her past, all that she’d come to terms with. She’d accepted every piece of it. Even her own guilt.

Yet here she stood, indecisive. Which path to take?

The wind whispered again. To her.

Alone.

Perhaps the wind knew best.

She’d done many things wrong. Broken friendships lay scattered behind her like rocks, fragments of those few she’d hurt and alienated.

If she avoided going deeper than friendship, what would that make of her life?

It would give her everything she’d ever wanted, hoped for.

She’d only ever wanted a friend. Close friends, both guys and girls.

And now?

The world pushed toward dating, engagement, marriage. She grew older every day, and the world reminded her at each turn.

But she had remained careful, selective. If she chose not to follow the world, she could gain everything she’d ever wanted.

Would others understand?

No.

As the world saw it, one couldn’t be happy without a marriage, a family.

And yet she was. She’d been happy for years on her own, focusing on friendships. Friendships she still held on to, the kind that lasted.

And when she’d delved deeper than that? Disaster. And lost another friend.

Not again.

Only once had it been the right decision to step past friendship into something deeper. In the end, she’d lost a friend, a good and close one. But that had made sense, it had been right. She’d learned from it, more than if it had never happened.

This last foray into dating? Her own foolishness. And her fault they no longer spoke.

Perhaps they’d never speak again.

She must learn to rely on herself first, her own voice of reason. Not her emotions, so easily influenced by those around her.

Alone.

Yes, that’s the train she must take. She must defy the world’s views. Remain on her own, forming close, lasting friendships.

That’s all she’d ever wanted.

Now, she must live up to that decision.

She turned west and stepped from rail tie to rail tie, standing straighter than she had in days. The wind flowed around her, as if commending her choice.

Alone: how she was meant to live.

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I’ve fairly recently watched a documentary on Netflix — “A Girl Like Her”. If you haven’t watched it, do. It’s a testament to a lot of the problems among teens and pre-teens in the world today. And I found it powerful.

 

Everyone reacts to situations differently. And everyone deals with different situations. But there are ultimately, from what I’ve observed, two ways of personally dealing with any given situation — internalizing and externalizing.

Internalizers encounter problems by pulling into themselves — especially when it’s something they don’t want to make a big deal of (for any reason). They don’t like to talk about it. Externalizers recognize the problem, but they tell others about it in some way — usually in no plain terms relating to the issue. They put it out into the world through their tone, their words, their actions–some way.

The documentary I mentioned above is a great example of this. It follows Jessica and Avery — two girls who go to the same high school and who used to be friends. But then Jessica attempts suicide and is left in a coma. The film crew are already at the school for another reason, but pick up on this thread of how and why a girl at such a renowned high school, that has just won an award for its greatness, would attempt suicide. Avery, the popular girl of the sophomores, agrees to show the world what it is to be popular–and the pressures that go with it. A hidden camera reveals much of the happenings between Avery and Jessica, and lent much to the impact the movie had on me.

Be forewarned, there are SPOILERS ahead if you’ve not seen the documentary. I recommend that you go and watch it before reading, as I do not want to take away from the messages by analyzing parts of the movie and personalities.

This documentary is ultimately about bullying as it is today. Because the documentary is my example, that’s the context I’ve used in this post. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many more ways internalizing/externalizing can manifest. This is one context, as observed by me. However, this can be a common manifestation among teens and pre-teens in our world today — it’s an important aspect to helping our children grow up healthy and feeling loved.

Jessica and Avery. Of the two, Jessica is the internalizer. She pulled the problems she faced into herself, keeping quiet about what was happening to her. She didn’t even want to talk about it with her best friend who knew what was going on. And because this is how she processed the problem, Avery’s words started to eat at her. Jessica started to believe what Avery said. That’s part of the reason she attempted suicide–she believed Avery. Another part of the reason was because she felt trapped–“It’s never going to stop,” she said so many times. She couldn’t see how it could get any better; she only saw it getting worse. And because she’s an internalizer, she didn’t tell anyone how she was really feeling, and there was no one to encourage her and combat what Avery said.

There are probably more factors involved–I can’t pretend to know everything about Jessica. I’m not her. And I’m not saying that what happened was Jessica’s fault, because it wasn’t. When you feel as trapped as it seemed Jessica felt, you truly believe there’s no way out and that no one will understand–and you’re afraid to tell someone, for fear that they’ll confirm your fears.

Avery is the externalizer. In a sense, she recognizes the problems she’s facing internally. I say “in a sense” because I’m not sure Avery really thought about them and recognized that they were problems–but a deeper part of her did. Though the problems were internal, Avery’s reactions were external, and they weren’t always good. Avery dealt with lots of pressure from home–pressure to be perfect, to be as her controlling mother wanted. Avery didn’t want her mother controlling her life, so she tried to control where she could–at school. I got the sense that she felt invisible at home, so she did what she could to get the attention she so craved at school, no matter if it was good or bad attention.

Avery’s external expression of her hurt was by bullying Jessica–controlling someone else’s life and getting the attention of the school, even though it was negative attention. Everyone knew Avery’s name, and that’s what she wanted. But Jessica attempting suicide isn’t entirely Avery’s fault either.

Both of these girls are very, very hurt. Though they expressed the hurt differently, you can see it in both of them. They had different hurts from different situations as well. A line stuck out to me from the movie, from a parent at a meeting with the school board: “Hurt people are the ones who hurt people.” It’s something we all need to remember. Why did Avery hurt Jessica? Because she was hurting, though she tried to hide it behind her actions. Avery took her hurt out on others, those outside of herself–externalizing. Jessica took her hurt out on herself, listening to the voices in her head that repeated what Avery told her so often–internalizing.

There is so much more to be said on this documentary, so many things that I saw through it. We will continue to talk about internalizing and externalizing, and other issues I noticed from the documentary that are a huge part of our world today. There are so many hurt people out there, but for the sake of time we will leave this here for now.

Next time, we’re going to look at judging others–whether we think we do or not.

And remember–everyone’s hurt by something in some way. Everybody’s been through so much in their lifetimes, no matter how young or old. These two girls are sophomores–and already there’s so much hurt seen here.

 

What do you think? Are you an internalizer or an externalizer?

Me? I’m an internalizer, and always have been. I was able to connect with both of these girls through different things–I may call Avery a bully, but until I know her, I can’t begin to understand what she’s going through. I’ve learned much. What have you learned?

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Stories, when told well, are one of the most powerful forces in our world. They inspire us. They can help us discover ourselves, help shape who we become. And they can help us rediscover parts of ourselves, too. Even when we don’t know we’ve lost ourselves.

Here’s an illustration from my own experience: with a Harry Potter school event approaching, a friend mentions re-reading the series. I think it’s a great idea and decide to as well–I haven’t read them in years. Spring break is only a couple of weeks away, so I should have plenty of time. I borrow book 1 and begin reading. Then a week before spring break, my boyfriend and I break up–and we’d been talking of marriage in the future. As I continue reading the series, I’m readjusting my lifestyle and thinking patterns, processing our whole relationship.

Stories are one of the most powerful unseen forces on this planet. Rereading Harry Potter, I found aspects of the story I never realized were there. I’ve read those books numerous times and I still discover something new every time I read them. This time, I realized truths about relationships and found comfort in that it took Harry months to get over Cho, to look at her and feel no pain or longing. I was reaffirmed in the power and strength of friendship.

And I rediscovered my inner child, a part of me that makes me who I am and greatly influences my perspective of the world. I lost that part of myself while I was dating, even as I grew in other areas of who I am. I rediscovered my passion for reading YA novels and my reasons for wanting to write to that audience.

And another story only reaffirmed many of these things for me, especially in my writing. By now, I’d started to settle back into being single and learned again to be just friends with guys. I graduated and said goodbye to many wonderful lifetime friends, found a summer job, and moved into my own apartment.

Whisper of the Heart has one of the cheesiest endings ever, but it’s the middle of the movie that inspires me.

Mr. Nishi: Wait a minute, I’ve got something to show you (retrieves a rock from his cabinet). I think you’ll like this (hands Shizuku the rock) – take a look.

Shizuku: It looks like a rock.

Mr. Nishi: It’s a special kind of rock called geode. Hold it close to your eye and look inside – that’s right, like that. (Shines small torch beside stone, which lights up the green crystals inside)

Shizuku:(gasps) Look at that!

Mr. Nishi: Those crystals are called beryl. There are pieces of raw emerald still inside.

Shizuku: Aren’t emeralds worth a lot of money?

Mr. Nishi: Sure, but they need to be cut and polished first. When you first become an artist, you are like that rock. You’re in a raw and natural state, with hidden gems inside. You have to dig deep down and find the emeralds tucked away inside you. And that’s just the beginning. Once you have found your gems, you have to polish them. It takes a lot of hard work. Oh, and here’s the tricky part – look at the crack in the geode.

Shizuku: OK (looks inside the top crack)

Mr. Nishi: You see the big green crystal there, you could spend years polishing that, and it wouldn’t be worth much at all. The smaller crystals are much more valuable. And there may even be some deeper inside, which we can’t see, that are even more precious …

This movie helped me realize that I’ve started to uncover the gems hidden inside me. Stories and relationships can do that, guys–uncover the gems inside us.

Stories often have more power than we realize. And the most powerful ones never leave us, but live on within us. Sometimes, revisiting a story we know well is what we need most. It can help us rediscover parts of ourselves.

And maybe we’ll learn something new, too.

 

What are some of the stories that have shaped you? Have you ever rediscovered a part of yourself through rereading a novel or series? Please share your thoughts below!

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Last week, I talked with you all about reader-character relationships. This week, we’re going to look at it from the author’s side. And honestly, I couldn’t have had a better day leading up to writing this post. Because my characters and I share bonds, and sometimes those bonds bring my own emotional baggage with them. But back to that later.

First, let’s explore the bonds that happen between writers and their characters. If you’re a writer, you have other people living in your head, telling you their story. And you listen. Whether you write down their story or not, those characters are there. And, in a sense, you talk to them. For some writers, this is just like having a conversation with another person. For others, it’s a little different, because you feel you’re just listening to their stories and aren’t really conversing with them. There might even be a third way out there I’ve never heard of.

I’m one of the latter, but as time’s gone on and I’ve been working on the second draft of a novel, I’ve realized that’s not necessarily true. We may not feel as though we’re actually conversing with our characters, but we do have a relationship with them, we do talk to them in a way. And we create bonds with them, however our brains work.

Throughout the past year, reading over the first draft of this story I wrote two years ago, I realized I’d learned a lot from these characters, from the story they’d told me. And when I was writing this draft, I had no idea that I’d go back two years later to read it… and realize I’d kind of been writing my own story. It’s different from what I experienced, but many of the things I learned and started to understand in the past year I wrote in that first draft. Weird.

As I’ve started to rewrite the novel, it’s been a fun process. And I figured I could use my own new relationship experiences to make the novel richer. At that point, I knew what it was to be in a relationship, but I didn’t know how it felt when that kind of relationship ended. But I didn’t think about it too much. I figured I’d deal with that problem when I got there.

Except my relationship ended much sooner than I got to that point in the novel. And now I’ve gotten to the point where two of my characters start a relationship. This is where I realized I had relationships with my characters, even though I’ve never talked to them like I’ve talked to a person. Because as I tried to tell their story, mine came to mind. And as I was thinking about that, I told them about it, in a way. And I’m going to be learning from them as I continue to push through writing this draft. I know that telling their story will help me come to terms and cope with mine.

That’s just my story though. I believe the adage all writers, and some readers, hear that says in each character is a piece of the writer, even if it’s the merest sliver. I saw that today. As I re-read some of my first draft, following my characters’ stories, I found some of myself in each of them. And I’m learning from them, because they’re still different from me.

I don’t believe any writer forgets any of the characters they’ve met that live within them, even if that character’s story never gets written down or published. Because that writer and character share a bond, a relationship. And by living within each of those relationships, we can learn something about someone else, another perspective, or even something new about ourselves.

 

Do you have relationships with your own characters? What’s your story?

Let’s help each other learn about the relationships that are out there.

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I’m going to switch tracks a little here, going to one of my favorite nerd fandoms. I just recently finished re-reading the Harry Potter series, and it’s been an amazing experience, as always. But I learned some new things about myself and about relationships throughout this re-read, especially since I have been struggling recently.

So, what did I learn? That not only can we have people-people relationships, people-pet relationships, people-God relationships, and so on, but we can also have reader-character or writer-character relationships. As a writer myself, I see the difference between the two. For this post, I’m going to focus on reader-character relationships, because they can be deeply impactful and wonderful learning relationships.

A lot of avid readers have a few books they’ll revisit over the course of their lifetime, re-reading and re-connecting with the characters in the story. When you first pick up a book, you as the reader are establishing relationships with each character you come into contact with, each character that impacts you. You’re also connecting and establishing a relationship, through those characters and that story, to the person who wrote the story. No matter what story you pick up, no matter now many books an author has published or written, there is at the very least a little bit of that author in each of his or her stories.

Because of my recent reading of Harry Potter, I am going to be using that for the illustrations throughout this post. For me, I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last year and a half, and it’s been ten years since I’ve read the series. I re-connected with the characters quickly, as if they were old friends. I followed them once more on their journey, bringing with me my own new experiences and perspectives. Thus, I was able to see more through the story, and more in the characters, than any other time I’ve read the series.

As I read the last word on the last page of the last book, closing the amazing journey, I realized I’d learned so much more than I’d expected to. I’d been reunited with old friends, friends who have now helped me through two tough transitions in my life. I understood Harry and his friends better, understood some of their struggles, saw through some of their lies and their fronts.

Anytime you open up a book and start reading, you establish a relationship with at least one, and probably more, of the characters in that story. You follow the characters on the journey, you laugh and cry with them, you feel for them. Sometimes, you go to them to escape whatever you’re going through at that point in life. And you learn about life from them.

I’ve always known that books can teach me a lot, even fiction. But I’ve only just realized how that happens. In any given story, you’re following a character, privy to their thoughts, emotions, and actions, both internal and external. And that’s as intimate as getting to know a real person. The experiences you bring with you, you unconsciously give to the character, and the character shares his or her struggles with you. It’s as give and take as any relationship between two people.

And because of this established relationship between reader and character, the reader can learn from the character: from the mistakes, the thoughts, the lessons the character learns. I know I learned tons from Harry, Ron, and Hermione throughout the series. Sure, I knew the plot, I knew exactly what was going to happen. But the parts of the story that hit me the hardest, I never expected to hit me as hard as they did.

A notable thing I learned from Harry, that I already knew but had been struggling with, was that getting over a relationship, getting over a person takes time and lots of it. Harry spent months getting over Cho, and though I know that his situation and mine are as different as could be, I was still able to learn. I’ve only been out of my own relationship for a month. It’s still hard, but Harry helped me understand things I knew but hadn’t comprehended.

Another thing I learned through this, within the last book, is how important it is to face oneself, to let go of one’s past mistakes. Because if you can’t do that, you’ll never be able to truly move on with your life. And you’ll never be able to face those fears you have, to trace them back to their source.

Honestly, I couldn’t even list how many new things I learned from Harry Potter on this re-read. But I do know one thing: anytime I need a friend, I can open the covers and reignite relationships with the characters in the story. It doesn’t have to be Harry Potter, either. I can open any book and establish new relationships with new characters, or feel welcomed home by old friends.

For me, I have established many relationships as I have read books, and many important relationships. Some of the hardest and most important things I have learned in life have come from reading about a character. We can learn from our fictional counterparts because there is always some truth within the stories we are reading.

We are always establishing relationships, even if we haven’t had human contact for a while. And you can learn just as much, and sometimes more or different things, from a relationship with a character as with a person.

 

What are some of your favorite relationships with characters? How have knowing different characters and reading their stories impacted your life, taught you things?

Feel free to share!

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It doesn’t matter where you go, what you watch, or what you read. Inevitably, there is some sort of relationship involved. That relationship could be with another person, with yourself, or with God, but there is always at least one relationship involved in life and stories.

Every writer needs to know the relationships between the characters in the story, and many times aspects of those relationships are taken from the author’s life, whether consciously or unconsciously.

In my last post, I reviewed Kelley Armstrong’s Sea of Shadows, from her Age of Legends trilogy. In an email interview, she answered a few questions regarding the relationships within this trilogy, specifically the first book.

http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/images/Kelley_Armstrong_5-lrg.jpg

Photo credit: Kathryn Hollinrake. kelleyarmstrong.com

“Relationships are a huge part of any novel for me,” she wrote. “They might actually be the part that interests me most because it impacts so many other aspects of the plot.”

I’ve always been intrigued by the characters of stories, and I’ve loved the relationships that are formed, whether I root for them or not. It’s something I’ve always looked at in stories, and I’ve always found them to be the most intriguing aspect of a story.

In Sea of Shadows, the plot focuses on twin sisters Moria and Ashyn as they travel to the Imperial City of the empire. They are forced to leave their home on the edge of the Forest of the Dead. They each travel with other companions, but are separated. (For a lengthier summary see my last post here or Goodreads here.)

How much should relationships impact the overall story? “I had the primary relationship of the twin sisters,” Armstrong said, “and I wanted to explore how that changes as they near adulthood. It’s such a close bond, and yet one that will change, as they prepare to lead independent lives, away from the family home. The plot of the book let me accelerate that process.”

Armstrong, like many writers, incorporated some of her own life into the relationships in Sea of Shadows. “I would take my own relationship with pets or my experiences seeing twins and then add the fictional ‘what if.’” Two of the “what if’s” she asked were: “What if your dog/cat was supernaturally bonded to you?” and “What if, as a twin, you grew up in a world where you’d never been apart?”

Writers often take their own experiences and find ways to express them, and for fantasy writers sometimes that means taking life experiences and incorporating them through fantasy elements. By doing this, authors can better connect their readers to the fantasy world, as there are familiar aspects involved. By incorporating small aspects of life, authors let readers bring their own ideas and experiences to the story.

The next hurdle for authors is in how to show the relationships within the confines of the story’s plot. Both dialogue and action are important. Armstrong says, “Dialogue is the easy way—show how they interact in conversation.” However, she thinks showing a relationship through action is stronger. “It’s the old adage about actions speaking louder than words.” She likes to take it a bit farther. “It’s also very telling if a character says one thing but does something very different, and I often play with that. Trust the actions, not the words!”

The story doesn’t end after Sea of Shadows; it continues on with Empire of Night, the second installment of the trilogy, and then with Forest of Ruin, to be released in 2016. Even as a writer myself, I haven’t yet had a story that’s warranted more than one book. It’s fascinated me how well characters’ relationships can both change and stay the same over a multi-novel story.

Armstrong wrote that it can be difficult to maintain relationships throughout a multi-novel story. “I think the hardest part is maintaining the right balance of focus on each relationship, as new relationships form and the old remain (and remain important).”

Not only does Armstrong maintain human relationships with five main characters throughout the trilogy, but she also adds Moria and Ashyn’s “bond beasts,” which she characterizes as “a pet relationship in overdrive.” She includes the sisters’ relationship as it grows and changes, the friendships they make, potential romances between characters, and each characters’ relationship with the bond beasts, as the sisters’ bond beasts are with them the majority of the time.

How does one keep track of so many relationships throughout all of the plot that has to carry through three or more novels? “I actually tracked all of those in charts,” Armstrong said, “to be sure that I wasn’t focusing too much on one relationship at the expense of others.”

That sounds a lot like real life to me, aspects of which, as I said above, many authors want to include in their stories. Not only does the author need to maintain a balance in those relationships, but the characters themselves may have to balance relationships throughout the story. Which is yet another thing for the author to keep track of while in the process of writing.

As is fairly usual for an aspiring writer interviewing an established author, my last question for Armstrong was if she had any tips for portraying character relationships. “Deep relationships should be complex,” she said. “They are in real life. We might have simplistic relationships with acquaintances, but it’s very different with deep or long-term relationships. When drafting relationships, look for points where two characters are in sync but also for where they conflict.”

That’s some good advice. As far as I’ve found, no relationship is all sunshine and roses. Nor is a relationship all fighting and contention. There has to be a balance of both, as there usually is in real life. People’s interests conflict and cause tension in a relationship, and characters should be the same. “It’s those points of conflict that will really add to your interactions, but you need the “in-sync” points too—endless bickering between characters is as boring as no conflict at all.”

 

What do you think? As a reader, how do you prefer to see relationships portrayed? What are some of your favorites?

Writers, how do you prefer to portray relationships, and why? Do you use a model of some kind? Leave your comments and ideas below!

 

Find out more about Kelley Armstrong on her website or blog. The Age of Legends trilogy can be found on Amazon.

 

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WARNING: This post may contain SPOILERS, though I have done my best to give away as little as possible. However, as I’m examining the characters’ relationships throughout the novel, some context and relational development will likely be considered spoilers by many. You have been warned. Read on if you dare. (Or read the book first, then return. I recommend it. You can find it here.)

sea of shadows

Ashyn closed her eyes and reached out to the spirits. After a moment, she could feel them pulling at the edge of her consciousness. It wasn’t like the gentle plucks of the ancestral spirits; these were harsh, like needle jabs.

She repeated the words Ellyn had taught her.

“I’m here to give you peace,” she said. “You want peace.”

No, they wanted revenge.

 

Short Summary:

Ashyn and Moria are twins who live at the only entrance to the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s criminals are exiled. They are the Seeker and Keeper of Edgewood, and they must defend the empire from the vengeful spirits within the forest. On Ashyn’s first trip into the wood, everything goes wrong, and the two girls are forced to leave their home and head to the Imperial City to find the emperor. But they can’t travel alone. Gavril, a young warrior from a disgraced family who has lived in Edgewood for many years, and Ronan, a young thief exiled to the forest before the winter who managed to survive, accompany the girls while facing many challenges and threats along the way.

The relationships:

The two girls are close to one another, hardly separated for more than a day before they’re forced from their home under grim and unusual circumstances. They have a close bond, as expected of twins, and are identical in looks, though extremely different otherwise. However, the two girls temper each other: Ashyn, the quieter one who tends to think things through and is well-read, and Moria, the rambunctious fighting-type who’s good with a dagger and quick wit, but letting no one get away with insulting her sister or friends. Both are fiercely loyal and charged with daunting tasks, but they care deeply for one another and the few close to them.

Both are close with their bond-beasts, Tova (a Hound) and Daigo (a Wildcat) respectively. These bond-beasts help set them apart as Seeker and Keeper, and are fiercely loyal of their charges and vice versa. Multiple times Ashyn protects Tova and worries, and Moria worries over Daigo when he’s injured. Both Tova and Daigo are much like the girls with whom they are bonded, and are also close to one another.

Throughout the novel, the young warrior Gavril changes–or we get to see more of who he is–through Moria’s eyes. While in Edgewood, Gavril is intimidating and seemingly cold, though he and Moria get along alright. She enjoys his jabs and corrections, and quips back, not to be outmatched. As they travel to the Imperial City across a large expanse of cooled lava (the Wastes), following after Ashyn and Ronan, he starts to soften after an encounter with a mythical creature. We hear more about him and start to learn who he is. We also see Moria opening up and staying respectful, and we watch as their relationship deepens. We are shown how they temper each other, Moria taking action when it’s needed, and Gavril showing caution and giving chastisement when needed.

We see this developed relationship clearly through Ashyn’s eyes after they’ve caught up with her and Ronan. She sees something more between Moria and Gavril than was there in Edgewood, though Moria continues to claim that they’re only friends. By the end of the book, Gavril changes before our eyes, and readers are left bewildered by his actions. (Read the book to get the full extent and to find out what happens! I’ll not spoil it here 😉 )

We also see a relationship start to develop between Ashyn and Ronan as they work their way together across the Wastes. He ever so slowly opens up about who he is and why he’s so anxious to get back to the city, but (from my angle) we’re still not sure we know much about him by the end of the book. However, we do see a struggle within Ashyn as she works to quell her growing feelings for him and her desires for a romance as she’s read of in tales. We don’t really get the chance to see Ashyn and Ronan’s relationship through Moria’s eyes, as that’s not the sort of thing she’d think to look for or worry about, as Ashyn does. Therefore, we get to see it mostly through Ashyn’s eyes as she struggles with herself. However, again at the end of the book, we are shocked to see where their relationship truly is and how it’s developed. (Again, you’ll have to read the book.)

 

This is merely a review of the main relationships throughout the novel, but, as with most novels, there are many more relationships that come and go: the girls’ father, the villagers, other soldiers. There is much more that can be said and evaluated about the relationships we’ve already talked about as well, though that would require great depth and many spoilers. And I’m not inclined to giving things away, as that’s something that bothers me.

If you’ve read the book and have something to add, or you would just like to discuss aspects of the book, comment below or shoot me an email. I would love to discuss it with you, though I ask that comments be as free of spoilers as possible. At that point, just email me. 🙂

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