Monthly Archives: August 2014

Meet the Character Blog Hop (e)

Having been tapped by my illustrious, if almost painfully succinct colleague Kirsten, I am happy to participate in the Blog Hop du jour today. If you were checking in for another installment of It Figures, I’ll bring that back in next week (have to wait until it’s a Miniature Monday). Kirsten intimated that my post would likely run long, which naturally stirred up all the contrary spirit in me. So I guess you could say this post is about as short as I can make it… yeah, epic fantasy that’s my thing.

Here’s one of the heroes of the current tale, including a few details about him not currently in it.

Meet the Character: Treaman

What is the name of your character? Is he fictional or a historic person?
Treaman is one of the chief characters that figure into Judgement’s Tale. I’m sure he would insist he is completely real, but as a point of order he does not inhabit the Alleged Real World, no.

When and where is the story set?
At the time of the story (1995 ADR), Treaman’s party is moving about inside the Lands of HopePercentalion, a central kingdom in the northern Lands of Hope. The Age of Peace—also known as the Empty Years—is coming to an end, and the work of his band of adventurers is one reason why.

What should we know about him?
Treaman is a Woodsman, one of the established pursuits among the adventuring class. He was born and raised on the frontier of the far-north Novar colony, which is snowbound more than half the year, and learned much of his skill with outdoor survival there. One day when he was 18, Treaman decided he had suffered the cold long enough, and simply walked south (as no one was known to have done in recent years) all the way across the Snowdon Hills and into Shilar. That solo trip of more than a hundred leagues was a test of fire, only with ice in it. Just surviving proved his worth to himself, and Treaman began to hunger for greater challenges. In one of the smaller cities of Shilar he fell in with Bildon the Halfling Stealthic, and agreed to join with his adventuring party under Haltar Eltrinstar. {Like most common folk Treaman and Bildon have no surnames.}

What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?
Treaman finds the burden of the party’s expectations agonizing. No one can safely navigate across the cursed land of the Percentalion anymore, and it’s only getting harder with time. In previous years, a skilled Woodsman was enough to make it, but Treaman can only see that the way is getting harder to find and he isn’t sensing the magic answer. Meanwhile the party waits on him, lost, and he feels terribly responsible.

sacred_space_1What is the personal goal of the character?
Treaman is willing to risk his life trying to guide the party, and taking whatever adventure comes with it, in order to get closer to the wonder of the Lands. Even here in the Percentalion he is struck with amazement at the wild terrain, its unpredictable weather, and its incredible monsters. He is beginning to sense that there is much here for someone who can truly feel at one with nature, and he seeks every opportunity to further that. Plus, the warmer weather is a bonus!

Is there a working title for this novel and where can we read more about it?
Treaman appears in the novels Judgement’s Tale and The Eye of Kog which are coming into publication right now.

When can we expect the book to be published?
Part One of Judgement’s Tale, entitled Games of Chance is on sale now at Amazon. Part Two, Strength of Conviction will be available at the end of September 2014. The rest of the saga unfolds every few months thereafter and you’ll read much more about Treaman’s character before it’s through.

As per the honored tradition it is now my job to nominate others to participate in the hop. I move that the two marvelous indies I’m reading now step forward. Matt Graybosch, please tell us more about someone from the Starbreaker series. And Jenni Wiltz, how about a peek at whatever character you’re working on for your WiP? Finally, you never know unless you try for a home run- how about Anne R. Allen, can I tempt you to tell us more about one of your characters? Rest assured readers, if you pick up any book by one of these three you will be in very good hands.


It Figures: Qerlak Barleybane

Because in the end, you need to show, not tell


Qerlak2Qerlak Barleybane stands apart as the adventuring hero who retired- or tried to. The rare third son of an Elven noble family, Qerlak stood no chance of inheriting his father’s foef in the Inmark of the Argensian Empire. He is one of five heroes who formed the core of the Tributarians alongside Zoahnstar, Solo, Salling’r and Cheriatte. Returning from the Shimmering Mindsea awash in wealth in the summer of 2001 (The Plane of Dreams), Qerlak got news of a foef on the jungle fringe of the South Mark, and has used his share to purchase it, becoming the new lord of Mon-Crulbagh.

There, he finds life not nearly as settled as it was on his father’s estate, and his disreputable past has given him both friends and habits that come in quite handy (as seen in The Plane of Dreams and soon in the sequel, The Test of Fire).

Qerlak prefers the two-handed ax to a sword, which other knights would see as an eccentricity. He also fights on foot, because he never really learned to ride that well– and this would be a source of immediate disgrace among other nobles (as if his adventuring life were not enough). Qerlak never spent the requisite hours with a lance either, and this would be the final straw if known. But his years of hard adventuring have made him so strong, dextrous and decisive that he can get by in a joust, with an unfamiliar weapon and a horse he doesn’t control with practiced ease.

On foot, bearing his half-plate and enormous ax (both of which are enchanted to be lighter and more puissant than normal) Qerlak is a fighter not to be taken lightly. On top of that Qerlak’s faith in Argens Hopeforger endows him with miraculous powers, especially the ability to Endure under all manner of stress and exertion.


In Qerlak I see the hero who most heartens me. Though among the pre-eminent “front-rankers” of the Tributarians (exceeded for strength and prowess only by Spitz), Qerlak took on none of the airs that would normally form the prerogative of an elven noble son. Several of the villains in The Plane of Dreams are just that, knight-sons who through

The new coat-of-arms for Mon-Crulbagh
The new coat-of-arms for Mon-Crulbagh

precedence or boredom cannot wait for their seat, and have turned to a life of crime.The Argensian Empire suffers from their entitlement and pride. Qerlak, by contrast, accepted his fate and went adventuring as preferable to indolence. And when a fortune fell into his hands, allowing him to purchase first the magnificent half-plate suit of a lord and then a title to go with it, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work on a knight’s foef that could only be described as a “fixer-upper”. mon-crulbagh-detQerlak thrills to this challenge; nothing dispirits him in either the swampy terrain or the dismal weather. His newly hired castellan Elias Fennet, on Qerlak’s arrival to the foef, sees him address the servants almost as equals and marvels at “a lord without lordly pretence”.

Qerlak’s high spirits, enthusiasm, and his willingness to take risks on himself inspire immediate loyalty in his followers. In a short time, he begins to turn the abandoned foef around, bringing him into conflict with the master of those who control the swamps on his border. Then his former adventuring companions arrive for a visit with some bad news, and it all starts to come together for the young new lord of Mon-Crulbagh…

Galethiel the Dream-Seer, former adventurer who also retires and joins him at Mon-Crulbagh.
Galethiel the Dream-Seer, former adventurer who also retires and joins him at Mon-Crulbagh.

Much of the enjoyment in Qerlak’s story-line comes from the detail I’ve observed in his character and the intuitive, sympathetic struggle he’s undergoing. A new knight, trying to

Severyn Illfellow, a peasant-rogue who gets his due when the new lord takes his seat.

do the right thing by his peasants and companions– it makes sense that folks would be loyal to Qerlak, and this trend continues into The Test of Fire.

You can see a map of Qerlak’s rugged, remote foef in the Compendium, as well as a discussion of the heraldry of old and new Mon-Crulbagh, a description of some of the key staff of the manor shortly after his takeover in mid-2001 ADR. There’s even a keep journal, with entries from previous lords alluding to rather strange doings in the murky past.


As before I used my smartphone camera with Nokia Lens, shot under the best light I could muster, on a white tray for contrast. Additional cropping and contrast drawn from MS Picture Manager, which looks to be about my speed. I took many more shots this time,

Some of the castle key staff.
Some of the foef’s key staff…

and eliminated many more as well.

The swamps of the Mon-Morteissk are probably the prime breeding ground of Reptile Men in all the Lands of Hope. Always a significant threat, they’ve practically run rampant in the decade leading up to Qerlak’s arrival. I loved seeing how he gave them their come-uppance, and it served him well in meeting a great new companion as well as helping to solve the mystery of the

Some of the foef's ancestral foes.
…and its ancestral foes.

Dreamquest. Shooting these dark-skinned uglies gave me some trouble, though– the flash washed them out completely and you don’t see the detail no matter what the setting. But sometimes less is more, as in the deep swamp, late night, unfamiliar sounds, heat and humidity…

As always let me know what I could do to (cheaply) improve these posts. I’m not keeping it short for lack of material. I hope to help spur readers of The Lands of Hope to enjoy the experience, and perhaps help fellow-authors to look elsewhere, or even everywhere for inspiration.