Right now, I am more than delighted because I am finally nearing completion of Tournament of Witches, the third and final book of The Glimnodd Cycle .
The latest novel truly fits the mold of “epic” fantasy, weighing in at a healthy 95,000 words and featuring a multitude of characters and lots of background (aka world building).
Presenting this amount of information in a story is one of the great challenges of epic fantasy. Of course, the best way to present all of this backstory is to chop it up into little chunks and weave it into the narrative. In a past series of posts beginning here, I described Five Techniques for presenting backstory in this way.
Still, no matter how skillfully the author weaves in character descriptions and background details, readers will sometimes get lost. This is particularly true for readers who might start by reading one of the later books in a series.
To solve this dilemma, an author might provide additional tools that the confused reader can flip to to remind or re-orient themselves. One such tool is a Glossary, which can include definitions of things, places, and concepts that only exist in the fantasy world. Another such tool is a list of characters.
In Tournament of Witches I am including both of these, a Glossary in the back of the book and a character list in the front.
We’ll leave discussion of the Glossary for a future post. But here, in draft form, is the character listing. Since this is placed at the start of the novel, one thing I’ve tried to do is not only identify the characters, but give a little (hopefully intriguing) information about who they are and what their situation is at the start of the story. Because there are so many, I’ve also used the information designer’s technique of grouping them under subheadings.
Cast of Characters
Amlina – Wandering witch from Larthang, a nation of great witches. Victorious in acquiring the Cloak of the Two Winds, she now seeks to recover from what it cost her.
Eben – Warrior of the barbarian Iruk people. Inclined to poetry; squandering his loot on a life of ease; enjoying it less than he expected.
Eben’s mates, members of his klarn:
Glyssa (f), brave and loving. Trained by Amlina in the magical arts.
Lonn (m), the klarn leader, strong, passionate, stoical. In love with Glyssa.
Draven (m), Lonn’s cousin, brave and optimistic. In love with Amlina.
Karrol (f), brawny, decisive, outspoken. No longer sure where she belongs.
Brinda (f), Karrol’s sister, quiet and reserved. Loyal above all to Karrol.
Others related to Amlina or the Iruks
Kizier – Scholar and friend to Amlina. Ruminating over his past life as a sentient sea-fern.
Buroof – A talking book, once a human. Three thousand years old and full of knowledge.
Beryl Quan de Lang – Amlina’s great enemy. Now a ghost that haunts her.
Bellach – Iruk shaman and sometime mentor to Glyssa in visions.
Witches of Larthang
Drusdegarde – Archimage of the West. Supreme witch of the Land.
Trippany – Bee-winged lady of the drell people. Envoy from the Archimage.
Clorodice, Keeper of the Keys – Powerful and strict. Adherent of the austere Thread of Virtue faction.
Arkasha – Clorodice’s subaltern and member of her circle.
Elani Vo T’ang – Clorodice’s favored apprentice.
Melevarry, Mage of Randoon -Chief witch of that port city. Loyal to the Archimage.
Larthangan Military and Court
Duke Trem-Dou Pheng – Supreme Commander of the Larthangan Forces and leader of the militarist faction, the Iron Bloc.
Shay-Ni Pheng – Admiral of the Larthangan Navy and the Duke’s nephew. Unhappy with his current assignment.
The Tuan (Me Lo Lee) – Supreme Ruler of Larthang. A nine-year-old boy with access to the memories and knowledge of his 154 dynastic predecessors.
Prince Spegis – drell ambassador to the Court. Cousin to Trippany.
Ting Fo -gentleman tutor and interpreter for the Iruks at the Court.
You can find more background on the magical world of Glimnodd here .