In the lead-up to the publication of Unquickened, I’m going to start sharing profiles of some of the characters from The Taurin Chronicles. I thought you all might want to get to know them a little better. If there’s a character you’d like to see profiled, let me know in the comments!
Character profile: Igraine Mac Roy
Igraine is the fourth child and only daughter of the king and queen of Eirya. As Princess Royale, she’s used to being the center of attention; she’s been pampered and catered to her entire life, and because of her name, status, and beauty, she’s a highly sought-after prize for young men who would love to ally themselves with the Eiryan crown.
But Igraine has always pushed against the expectations put upon her by the crown, noble society, and her parents. She’s intellectually curious, strong-willed, and cagey. A feminist at heart, she wishes to make her own choices–to control her own fate. She wants to marry for love, expects lifelong faithfulness from a husband, and hopes to always have some kind of work to define her–something that will be just hers, someplace where she can excel independently of her future husband.
Despite her strong will (or maybe because of it?), Igraine has fallen hard for several men. She loves passionately and fully and doesn’t adhere to societal expectations of proper behavior for a royal lady. When she falls for Braedan, she tells him her expectations and negotiates with him over her role and their eventual family, but she also dives headlong into the relationship without thinking much beyond the immediate moment.
Eventually, clues emerge that suggest Igraine is not what she thinks she is. The castle healer suggests that she might actually be Syrafi–one of the angelic warriors capable of shapeshifting into large white owls. Of course, the story is too fantastic for Igraine to give it much thought at first, but as evidence continues to build, she realizes she’ll have to eventually make a choice–to either allow her magic to quicken, or to commit to keeping it tamped down for the rest of her life.
“I have little desire to have a babe at the breast every turn of the seasons. I’ll not be a broodmare for any man, least of all one who seeks only his own pleasure.” – Ravenmarked, Chapter 12
“Love is not considerate about where it blossoms, brother. It travels with the wind and takes root where it lands. Our choice is whether to water it or pull it out by the roots.” – Bloodbonded, Chapter 27
“I cannot believe—I cannot abide the belief—that Alshada sees or cares about any of this. He sits in a world we can’t see on a throne of blood and lets this world tear itself apart, and he does nothing to stop it.” – Unquickened, Chapter 28
How It Started
Just like early versions of Braedan, early versions of Igraine were very different from the fiery redhead who ended up in Ravenmarked. In my very first drafts, she was quiet and mousy and utterly devoted to her religion. She also knew about her mysterious birth and was trying to keep Braedan from finding out about it. I intended to take something of a non-character and build her into a formidable force.
But a quiet, demure Igraine didn’t work at all, and I realized pretty quickly that the only way to make Braedan work was to give him someone to challenge him. Likewise, the only way to make Igraine work was to give her someone to fight with.
Besides, I already had two other more demure female characters in Mairead and Minerva, and I certainly didn’t want to communicate that every woman is a demure, quiet creature until she’s put through the refining fire.
So… Igraine was reborn as someone who already had a well-defined sense of self and the character and attitude necessary to hold her own. She became someone who had to be unmade and reconstructed while keeping her core character intact.
On Female Agency
A few weeks ago, a friend who was reading Ravenmarked for the first time said she liked how the women in my stories have agency. I took that as a high compliment. From the beginning, from the earliest days of my toying with fantasy, I have wanted to write women who were more than just placeholders, NPCs, or repositories for male… behavior (whatever form that took).
With Igraine, I had something of a unique opportunity: to write a story arc around a woman who has some degree of unavoidable destiny, but refuses to accept that destiny as a sure thing. Having grown up as a royal daughter–someone already burdened by expectations–Igraine has already spent much of her life trying to carve a new path.
But the process of carving her own path is one that led her straight into a confrontation with her real identity and the supernatural forces that she’s subject to. In other words, giving her agency forces her to face a destiny she doesn’t want.
And that is where Igraine has to decide what she really believes.
When It’s All Too Much
In the first part of Ravenmarked, Igraine protects the other women she’s with in the sayada by making a deal with Braedan to negotiate with the church on his behalf. In her own thoughts, she hints that she doesn’t want to return to Eirya because she’ll be forced into a marriage she doesn’t want.
In Bloodbonded, we find out that the proposed marriage would have been with Rory Nolan, an Eiryan duke who becomes the ambassador to Taura. But Igraine had an affair with Rory several years before and broke off their relationship because he cheated on her. She fled to Taura before he could press his claim to her hand, and despite having some residual feelings for him, she doesn’t want to marry someone who won’t stay faithful to her.
Igraine doesn’t have strong feelings about the church in the beginning of this series. In fact, I think one could argue that she has some amount of respect for the good that the church–especially the female orders–does in the world by serving the poor, orphaned, and infirm.
But as tragedy piles on tragedy and she is exposed to more and more corruption, debauchery, and evil, Igraine comes to the conclusion that God is capricious and whimsical. By the end of Unquickened, Igraine believes in something of a “blind watchmaker” theory of God. She believes he exists, but she is so angry and sad at all of her experiences that she cannot believe he is good, and she refuses to bend a knee to him.
Which makes accepting the magic inside of her all the more difficult.
How It’s Going
The weird thing about life is… Sometimes we need to have everything stripped away in order to see clearly.
By the end of Unquickened, pretty much everything Igraine had or wants is stripped away from her, and she’s left with a lot of questions and not very many answers.
But although she’s stripped down to the bone, she is still Igraine–strong-willed, fierce, intellectually curious, and determined to do good in the world. Losing all of the things she thought mattered only keeps those things from getting in the way of her finding her real purpose and sense of self.
When I was going through the absolute worst year of my life, a very wise woman said to me, “there’s something very freeing about hitting rock bottom.” Unquickened is definitely Igraine’s rock bottom, but that means she’s freer than she’s ever been.
It also means things can only go up from here.
All right, threes of fans–that’s it for character profiles before Unquickened is available! Two more weeks! If you haven’t already pre-ordered the e-book, here’s the link. The print version will be available for order on November 22 as well; stay tuned for more info about how to get a signed copy!