Character profile: Minerva
Minerva is something of an enigma. The daughter of an Esparan healer, she immigrated to Taura as a child when a noblewoman died in childbirth under her father’s care. Minerva’s childhood is still unexplored, but suffice to say it was probably one of moderate privilege. Her father, Felix, was able to establish himself as a healer in Torlach, eventually gaining access to the nobility and the regent. At some point, Minerva’s mother died and her sister married and returned to Espara.
I picture Minerva as an introverted, curious young woman who was always interested in the healing arts, but also likely felt the tug of social causes on her heart. She distrusts her father and believes that he has compromised his ethics to further his career, though she hasn’t revealed the specifics of those suspicions. Minerva was a rebellious teen, but her rebellion reflected her desire and call to be a better person than her father. She left Torlach as an older teen and went to live with the tribes, seeking to become an earth guardian. She lived with the hound tribe, where she took the name Esma and met and married a young warrior named Edwin.
When Minerva was almost done with her earth guardian training, her brand new husband died on the hunt, and Minerva was devastated. In her grief, she left the tribe, knowing that she would be marked as an oathbreaker and given a sentence of death should she return to the tribes. She joined the sayada in Torlach and took the vows of a saya, eventually coming in contact with both Mairead and Igraine and helping to send decoys out into the world to divert attention from the real Mairead. When someone needed to warn the tribes of Braedan’s tentative plans to go to war with them, Minerva volunteered, even knowing that her own life was in danger.
At the opening of Ravenmarked, Minerva is a bit older than many of the other characters; I picture her around 30 years old or so. Her Esparan ancestry and the smattering of Sidh blood she has from her father’s side give her something of an ageless quality. She’s what we might call “Hollywood pretty” in that some people refer to her as “plain” even though she’s quite easy to look at.
And perhaps this is why Alshada brought me here—to give me freedom from pain through sacrifice. If I help the Sidh and protect the relics by doing this, it will be worth it to die. – Ravenmarked, Chapter 27
“I called the sayada home for ten years. I called the tribes home before that. My blood calls to other places. And yet none of them are safe. None of them are really home.” – Bloodbonded, Chapter 3
“And this is why we have always been at odds. You call yourself a man of principle, a man who cares about justice, and yet you do nothing—nothing—to promote it!” – Unquickened, Chapter 32
How It Started
I didn’t intend for Minerva to be a major character at first. I just needed someone to take a message to the tribes, and in her initial interaction with Hrogarth, I realized there was a lot more to her story.
(How many times have I said this? This is the life of a pantser, I guess.)
In any case, when her first attempt to deliver a message didn’t go well, she tried again with another chieftain–Edgar. When that encounter led to a meeting with the Sidh, I discovered a little more about her. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, Minerva turned into a pivotal character with important things to do in the series.
The only problem is… Minerva hasn’t figured that out yet.
A Woman Without a Home
Although I said above that Minerva is something of an enigma, there is one thing that is clear about her: she wants to serve the God she believes in. That’s really all she’s ever wanted. She has sought God in a variety of places and ways, but always with the goal of doing his will.
But Minerva’s struggle is that she has never received a clear signal about the “right” place to do those things, and as she’s pursued various avenues, she’s only found herself driven further away from an obvious path for service. She tried running away from the religion of her father to serve in the tribes, but that move led to grief and loss. She returned to the religion of her youth and doubled down on her commitment by taking the vows of a saya, but that led to expulsion from the city and an impending death sentence. When she tried to reunite with the sayas, they shunned her when they discovered her tribal marks and accused her of witchcraft.
By the end of Unquickened, Minerva feels very strongly that every time she pursues the path that seems “right,” terrible things happen that make her think that path was the wrong one, after all. She wants only to retreat to seclusion and lick her wounds and leave the world to its own devices.
The Will of God
I’ve said before that I identify most closely with Minerva. While I don’t believe I’m the pivotal character in some overarching global battle of good versus evil, I do have a lot of the same proclivities Minerva has. I have also spent a lot of time waiting and watching for clear signs from God about what my path should look like or what my next move should be. I have also taken steps that seemed right and later regretted those moves or wondered what I missed. And Minerva and I are both bookish, introverted overthinkers who want to make a difference in the world.
But the thing that Minerva hasn’t yet realized is that she is doing the will of God. Just because she hasn’t heard an audible voice telling her where to go and what to do doesn’t mean she is outside of the will of God. (Okay, she does hear an audible voice once in Unquickened, but that’s a special case.)
Minerva has spent her life seeking a deeper connection with the divine. She sought it in the tribes, she sought it in the sayada, and now she seeks it as defends Taura from the evil that would destroy it. Everywhere that she’s been, she’s pursued righteousness.
When someone is that determined to find God, it’s almost impossible to be outside of his will.
How It’s Going
Minerva hasn’t figured out yet that she’s already doing the will of God. In fact, at the end of Unquickened, Minerva finds herself once again asking if she made a mistake–if her actions were wrong again, if she should have done something differently, if things would be better if she’d made different choices.
But by the end of the series, Minerva will understand–everything she’s done, every choice and decision–they all led her right to the center of the will of God. She’s been walking there for years; she just hasn’t seen all the connections yet.
Minerva’s story is one of patience and endurance. When it comes down to the end, all of her sacrifices, griefs, and questions will make sense, and she’ll finish the race well.