How is it already the end of February?
This year is already one-sixth over, and I feel like it’s going too fast and not fast enough at the same time. It’s been a mixed start for me, and I don’t know if I’m getting traction yet or not, but it doesn’t really matter, because the year is racing by, and…
In any case, it’s week four of the Month of Appreciation for All Things Taura, and this week, I’m talking about the themes of this series.
This sort of builds on last week’s review of worldbuilding, so if you didn’t read that, you might want to start there.
The way I see it, there are really three intentional themes in this series. It’s possible there are some unintentional themes, and honestly, I love it when my stories resonate with people in ways that I don’t intend. If there’s a theme that you’ve seen that I don’t cover here, let me know–I would love to hear what other people see in this story!
Theme No. 1: Redemption
This is really the easiest one since I believe that all stories are redemption stories. The redemption can be achieved or rejected, and either (or both) can be part of the story, but redemption is always there.
For me, at least in this series, the redemption is largely religious. The main characters of this story are all on religious redemption journeys. Connor’s redemption is (mostly) complete by the end of Bloodbonded, but Igraine’s is still in progress. Braedan’s redemption story sort of parallels Connor’s; Mairead and Minerva have both found some level of redemption before the story even begins, but they are working things out throughout the series. And Logan… well, his redemption is complicated, and that story won’t be finished for a little while longer.
But there are little redemption arcs, too. Brody Reid, the unrepentant rogue of Unquickened, started his redemption journey the moment he reconnected with Connor. I can’t imagine Brody will ever be a paragon of virtue, but he is on his way to becoming a better man through the events that are coming in Soultainted and Wisdomkept.
Contrast Brody’s arc with Rory Nolan. Rory is a good example of redemption or change rejected. Rory isn’t a bad guy; he is a pretty good merchant, he knows what he’s doing as a diplomat, and he is loyal to his country. But Rory is a womanizer, and he likes being a womanizer, and he doesn’t particularly care to change. Igraine asks him repeatedly if he would be faithful to her, and he repeatedly shrugs and tells her, effectively, “I’ll try.” He really has no desire for redemption; he might make a token attempt just to placate her, but he thinks that should be enough.
I think humans need redemption stories–both kinds of redemption stories. We need to know that people are capable of change, but we also need the contrast. There is something about lost causes–something that makes us fan an ember of hope that the lost cause isn’t as lost as we think, that somewhere, sometime, in some way, a hand will reach down and snatch that unrepentant soul out of the muck and mire.
My obsession with redemption leads right into the next theme…
Theme No. 2: Renewal
I think this is kind of a subtle theme in The Taurin Chronicles, and it’s one I haven’t written about much (or maybe even at all). The idea of renewal isn’t one of the big “knock you upside the head” themes, but it’s there in little ways.
First of all, there’s the whole earth magic/tribal magic piece of the stories. In my head, much of what the tribes are supposed to do is keep the world in balance through their magic and rituals. After the autumn hunt, the guardians perform unspecified rituals to basically atone for the lives taken to feed families to “restore balance.” There’s also kind of a veiled reference to the revelries that take place after the hunt, and let’s just say that a lot of tribal babies have birthdays in late spring/early summer.
There’s a bigger kind of renewal going on in the series, though, and I alluded to it briefly in last week’s post in the “when” section. This whole series takes place on the cusp of a Renaissance or Enlightenment era. Yes, there are overtones of empire building, but that’s a means to an end. While empires can certain cause a lot of damage (understatement), they can also be the structure that allows innovation and advancement to flourish. This isn’t just a western thing, either; there have been plenty of non-western empires that have presided over massive gains in the arts, sciences, infrastructure, language, trade, etc.
So when I think about renewal as it applies to The Taurin Chronicles, I look at what’s happened in the past, what’s coming to an end, and what’s hovering on the horizon. The empires of the past fell apart for a variety of reasons, and there are hints of the old infrastructures throughout the books. When those empires fell, they left gaps that were filled by nefarious actors and their partners, and those nefarious actors will see their time come to an end soon.
As for what’s on the horizon… Well, the women of The Taurin Chronicles will have a lot to say about that and will shape a lot of the future. Renewal doesn’t have to mean a return to the old ways of doing things that didn’t work. It can mean a fresh start that incorporates the good of the past and makes it something better, stronger, and more beautiful. That’s where we’re going in this series.
And that sort of leads into the third theme…
Theme No. 3: Reconciliation
This is something that has been in this story all along, but that has only recently started to really take clear shape in my mind. It’s a little bit different than redemption, but it is related.
There are a few kinds of reconciliation, and I’m not talking here about some kind of legal or accounting term. I think the best definition that’s relevant to my stories is “an act of reconciling, as when former enemies agree to an amicable truce.”
But there’s also a little more to it than that, at least for The Taurin Chronicles. To me, reconciliation means that something was unnaturally, unintentionally, or unwillingly torn apart at some point and somehow manages to reunify in some way.
There are all kinds of things torn apart in my series. The world was broken in the distant past, and somewhere in the supernatural realm, it’s struggling to heal itself. The spirits behind the creation myths were torn apart and long to come together again. The Three Lands of the West are limping toward reconciliation. And of course, there were splits in people groups–a tribe separated from the rest of the tribes (the lions from the rest of the tribes), a magical race split into two factions (Brae Sidh and Nar Sidhe), the Eiryans and the Taurins and everyone else on the continent…
There are smaller splits, too. Mairead, Connor, and Braedan all suffered splits in their families of origin. Igraine was raised in an intact family, but her adoption as an infant reveals that she was torn from her birth family. Minerva and her father are estranged. And Logan… well, he’s sort of internally broken for now and needs to reconcile the two souls fighting for dominance inside of his head.
Not all of these divisions will be healed by the end of the series. Some can’t be healed; Mairead’s parents and Connor’s father won’t come back from the dead, and the status of Igraine and Minerva’s relationships with the people who raised them remains to be seen.
But as with redemption, I think we want to see reconciliation. Humans need to know that broken things can be fixed, injuries can heal, and rifts can be bridged. Sometimes that means giving ground where we don’t want to or making an uncomfortable concession; sometimes it just means riding a wave that slams us into a piece of us that we didn’t even know was missing until it was restored.
So watch for the theme of reconciliation to grow more overt as the series continues. I think the characters’ redemptive arcs will propel the reconciliation and result in renewal.
How’s that for a summary??
And thus concludes our Celebration of All Things Taura. Next week, I’m circling back to the habits and the hard things I posted about earlier this year. It’s time to give you an update on how things are going. Spoiler: it’s a mixed bag.