Recently a person that I have worked with in creating a joint writing project with that we call simming asked me to look over his character saying that I had a real talent for finding little things that would help improve the biography of the character. That gave me the idea that maybe I should try that with the books I read as well. So in the next little while I will be coming up with a feature on my blog called Character Dissection.
I am really excited about this because it’s fun to go back and think about the characters that have meant the most for me. This will not always be easy as my opinions over the years have changed as what makes a great character.
To start this feature off I am going to use a character I am more familiar with and that’s Vanyel from Mercedes Lackey series The Last Herald Mage.
Vanyel Ashkevron started out as a teenager who didn’t really know himself and was cockier than he had any right to be. He was born into privilege to Withen the lord holder of the Ashkevron manner. He was one of many children and the eldest male child that was around. He was set to be Heir to the manner and was wonderful with horses which is to be expected as they were powerful horse breeders and trainers.
He was sent to Haven the capital of Valdemar to the craggy Aunt Savil that Vanyel had never knew or really liked for that matter. She was stern but when he moved there she gave him the freedom that he needed. He was introduced to the court as well as learning weaponry from a master who wasn’t just hack and slash,
Under that guidance Vanyel was still arrogant but he began to feel things differently and really all he wanted was Music and to become one of the rare and talented Bards. He also met the protegees if his Aunt Donni and Mardic a lifebonded couple who were in training as mages and the powerful but dangerous Tylendel.
In the first book you see Vanyel go from a selfish person to one who would give up everything for the person he loved. The fact that the person was Tylendel and completely against what his father had envisioned or wanted for his son. During the time he became linked mentally with Tylendel in what’s called Lifebonding. It is a form of empathy that you can feel what each other feels and when something bad happens to one the other usually has the same thing. It is seldom that a lifebound pair to survive the death of the other.
In the book when Tylendel tragically kills himself you see the depth of his emotions as he grieves for his lover and only real friend in the whole world. You see the overtones of suicide in this book and that it was handled so tastefully. Vanyel is transported to the hawkbrother vale where his magic can be contained or where he can be trained to use his magic.
In the end you see just how powerful Vanyel is and the depth of his caring for others. He has a giving heart and while it isn’t always evident he has a lot of compassion. You see just what he will become in the future books. He was also chosen which is basically a powerful psionic horselife creature takes you on to protect the realm and becomes your best friend. Yfandes is that powerful creature who takes the unique situation and ensures that she will protect and be with Vanyel forever.
The second book you see a more grown-up Vanyel who has lost his two closest friends to the Karsites. Mardic and Donni to protect a town from slaughter by the Karsite’s Demon they had to use there magic in an ultimate sacrifice. They succeeded and that is what sent Vanyel down the path of being the strongest Herald Mage in the realm.
The love and pain are evident and while no longer moody he isn’t a happy go lucky person. His magic caused him distress and while he is the strongest mage to be in Valdemar and he is capable of so much more than most others he also has the mental deficiency of low self esteem because of what happened to Tylendel and knows that he will be forever alone.
You see the powerful abilities and how much people fear him. He is in control but he is hair triggered in this book as he was on war duty for so long. He is sent back home to his loving family only to be thrust into a situation that could destroy the very foundation of the Heralds as well as there allies.
In here I found Vanyel to be more about Duty and he didn’t seem to have any other interests other than that. It just shows the change in him because of his past. He still has the good relationship with Yfandes and his aunt but you see the relationship with his father and how it deteriorates quickly but then is healed. Also the weaponmaster of his dad’s is a detested person and you see that while the friendship is budding and the trust is starting to come out it just isn’t the same and takes time to really see just what it was like for Vanyel growing up.
In the third and final book that he is the main character in you see him lose everything that he loves except for his new partner who he lifebonds to despite having had one before. You see him go from this strong and caring person to a grief stricken person,
He shows a remarkable ability to heal himself from most anything that happens to his soul. This book has the sad ending but what I liked was seeing Vanyel come full circle where you can see the strength of his character and the fact that he isn’t just the job that he has. In losing almost everything he is saved as well and by being saved by his love Stefan he is able to protect his country and his friends and love.
Vanyel is a character that I had not anticipated liking as much as I have not because he wasn’t well written but because the character initially was designed to be unlikeable or so it seemed. He is unique in he is one of the few characters that I have started out hating and throughout his growth find that he is one of my favourites despite not being as well rounded as I would have liked.