“Björn van Gelderan is good. I’m telling you, he is.” (reader quote)
If you’ve read Cephrael’s Hand, perhaps you have an opinion on the Fifth Vestal’s motivations and actions. Perhaps you’ve decided that he’s been wrongly maligned by the other Vestals and the rest of humanity, the stories of his ill deeds compounded with each new retelling to satisfy mankind’s lust for conflict. Perhaps you’ve decided that he’s misunderstood or merely misguided, or maybe you’re still on the fence about the whole thing. You wouldn’t be alone.
I believe the best fantasy stories are grounded in some kind of reality—in a similarity found in the world itself, its politics, its religions or in the depth of the characters. In Cephrael’s Hand, I attempted to bring to life real people battling with real moral issues that could in some way translate back into our own lives (if not perhaps not with the same dire consequences).
I don’t believe villains go out into the world intending to become villains al la Austin Powers. Part of the challenge in telling Björn’s story comes with the understanding that there are at least two sides to every conflict, and unfortunately, Björn’s side is rarely told.
I think in life this is often true. Most people are content to believe whatever apostle shouts the loudest, either too lazy or too disinterested to take the time to find out if the shouter is even making sense. Either that or they tend to advocate for the other side mostly for the sake of having something to argue or complain about. But there seems to me to be a real dearth of free minds willing to take the time to see and understand new viewpoints without the need to criticize, belittle or otherwise invalidate them.
This is certainly the problem in Alorin, and it’s a problem that becomes clear to Prince Ean in Cephrael’s Hand, as he discovers that his advisors each have their own agendas which may or may not be aligned with his own. Eventually Ean begins to see that truth is relative. It’s relative to viewpoint. And bad and good…these labels don’t always have a place in judging another’s actions. Perhaps it isn’t the action but the consequences we should be judging.
Is Björn good or bad? As the zanthyr would say, there is Balance in all things.