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Why? Why? Why?

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Last week, Balance of Betrayal was published. Of all the books in the Bremmand Chronicles – including the ones still to be published – it is the one with the most unexpected characters.

I don’t mean that they are strange or behave in peculiar ways (although maybe some of them do!). They are unexpected because, when I started planning the book, I never realised they would take on the importance that they did. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be exploring a few of these characters and, at the same time, shed light on character development from an author’s perspective.

Of all the characters I’ve created, the one which has been most ambiguous to me, has been Afrial. Even now, having finished the book, I don’t feel that I truly understand her. As a character she seems quite clear-cut in some ways. She is strong-minded and likes her own way. She is good at her job and serves her master well. She likes to know what is going on around her – a bit of a gossip, perhaps – and likes to flirt. So far, so good.

The challenge comes when you start to look at her actions and ask Why? So what do we know about Mistress Afrial, Housekeeper of Rurig Castle?

Well, one thing we know is that she is Bremmandish and, in the past, was housekeeper at Langate. So this gives us Why? number one. Langate was the second house of Bremmand. The Earl of Langate traditionally being the right-hand man to the King (I explored that role more in Verdin’s story in Bremmand Lives). So, why would Afrial take a post at Rurig – essentially a step down in status? Of course, she likes to rule the roost, so maybe, with the coming of the new order, the Empire incumbent at Langate, Lord Blane (who is quite rigid) didn’t care for her fiery temper. Of course we don’t know when she left Langate. The Earl was hardly there, so perhaps the castle was shut up and Afrial wasn’t needed. We don’t know, but it raises a few questions, I must admit.

The second Why? has to revolve around her relations with the Empire. A Bremmandish woman who would have had close links to the most loyal servants of the kingdom and, according to her boast, had served the royal family themselves, now seems very cosy with an enemy who has killed (and desecrated the body of) her former master. You can image Afrial of a few years previously being every inch the faithful retainer to the Earl of Langate and vastly indignant at his demise. What would convince her that a job working for the man responsible for the kingdom’s fall was a good decision?

Which brings me to the other major Why? about Afrial. Why is she loyal to Staval. When Staval is first appointed Lord of Rurig as a reward for his service to the Empire, he finds it really hard to keep staff. Most aren’t prepared to serve a traitor. And yet, here is a woman of strong principles who is staunchly loyal to the man who sold out the Kingdom. What would encourage such loyalty.

Oddly, in the course of writing this blog, it has occurred to me what makes everything make sense for Afrial. One pivotal fact that we never see in Balance of Betrayal but which explains it all. I’m not going to tell you, of course – there’s a short story in this – but feel free to speculate. Maybe you’ll be able to hit on the reason for Afrial’s inexplicable behaviour.

Cate Caruth is the author of the Bremmand Chronicles. To buy her books or learn more about them, go to www.bremmandchronicles.co.uk

You can follow Cate on Twitter at www.twitter.com/catec23

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