Twelve Kings Tuesdays — Çeda the White Wolf

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From now until the release of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai in early September, I’m going to be posting a new image from the Pinterest board I created for inspiration. I’ll be talking a bit about each image, why I chose it, how it affected the story, and so on. Read on for this week’s installment.

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Last week on Twelve Kings Tuesdays we talked about swords. How about some armor this time?

The main character, Çeda, is a pit fighter (among other things). In the pits, she’s taken on a persona known as the White Wolf. I wanted a pretty distinct look for her. She fights often in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people, but giving up her identity was something she could not let happen, so it was important that her identity be concealed. But I didn’t want it to be a simple masking of who she was. I wanted her alter ego to be personal.

But let’s start with her armor first. Injuries are commonplace in the pits, and although they are not battles to the death (except in the killing pits) and the weapons are somewhat blunted, deaths do occur on a somewhat regular basis. Çeda goes for mobility, and so wears boiled leather armor, greaves, bracers, and a helm. Maybe something like Maximus from Gladiator would wear:

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Her shield might look like the image here. (She doesn’t always use a shield, but I really love the design work on this.)

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Her helm has a wolf’s pelt on it that Çeda dyed white after a run-in (or two) with a real wolf of similar white coloring.

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The maned wolves in the book, by the way, look like this. They’re tall and rangy. Fun factoid: while they have traits similar to both foxes and wolves, maned wolves are actually in a different genus entirely.

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The face of Çeda’s helm is a mask of Nalamae, one of the desert gods, a goddess who has fallen out of favor, but whom Çeda has reason to love (and perhaps hate). The mask’s face would look something like these two. In my head its sort of a combination of both.

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As to the reason she chose these particular motifs (the white wolf and the face of a goddess in particular), I’ll leave for you to read in the story, but both of them became very personal for Çeda, and for me in the writing. That’s one of the more interesting things to me about developing character. It’s important to develop affectations, loves, dislikes, pet peeves, and so on, but it’s also important to support them (at least for primary and sometimes secondary characters). For all the work, though, it can be really rewarding. When you deepen a character, when the mean something to you, chances are it’ll mean something to your readers as well.

I hope you enjoyed this installment. Join me for more Twelve Kings Tuesdays as the release of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai approaches!

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, Book One of The Song of the Shattered Sands, is available for pre-order in the US via Penguin Random HouseAmazon, or Barnes and Noble and in the UK via Amazon UK and Waterstones. Audio versions will also be available via Brilliance Audio and Orion/Gollancz Audio.