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An Author’s Journey: Women in Epic Fantasy (10, Female Characters in The Artifacts of Destiny)

An Author’s Journey: Women in Epic Fantasy (10, Female Characters in A.J. Carlisle’s The Artifacts of Destiny”)

12th Century Worlds: Byzantine Empire, the homeland of Genie Stratioticus in A.J. Carlisle's "The Artifacts of Destiny" epic fantasy series (Kos Island, Greece; pic by Adithetos μελουργός)

12th Century Worlds: Byzantine Empire, the homeland of Genie Stratioticus in A.J. Carlisle’s “The Artifacts of Destiny” epic fantasy series (Kos Island, Greece; pic by Adithetos μελουργός)

Good Morning, Everyone!

Still celebrating women’s history month, but wanted to end on a more positive note than the last few blogs’ examination of misogyny in epic fantasy.  I had planned on doing that anyway, but before I could put fingers to keyboard, Sophia & Adriana both came to the office door, glaring, and in so many words told me that I couldn’t end this section of the blogs without some positive hopes for the future!

Carlisle, The Codex Lacrimae, Pt 1: The Mariner's Daughter & Doomed Knight

Carlisle, The Codex Lacrimae, Pt 1: The Mariner’s Daughter & Doomed Knight

So, always a believer in offering potential solutions when pointing out a problem, here’s a quick rundown on how I’m writing women as a male author.

When I started discovering the female characters who populate the worlds of my fantasy series, The Artifacts of Destiny, I wanted to ensure that they were fully realized people and avoid literary clichés wherever possible.  As an author, that’s tougher than it sounds, because I’ve met plenty of ‘real’ men & women who actually seem to be walking & talking stereotypes (fulfilling that old axiom, “stranger than fiction”).  So, if a story demands it, a writer should always allow for an appearance by one of these “types,” and — just as when meeting such people in every aspect of real life — such arrivals in a novel ought to be in a context that the reader can understand and believe.

Carlisle, The Codex Lacrimae, Pt 2: The Book of Tears

Carlisle, The Codex Lacrimae, Pt 2: The Book of Tears

For the most part, though, a glance below at the top-line sketch of each of my female characters in The Codex Lacrimae, Part 1: The Mariner’s Daughter & Doomed Knight (http://www.Codex_Pt 1) and The Codex Lacrimae, Part 2: The Book of Tears (http://www.Codex_Pt 2) might give give you an idea of how my characters operate within their own universe.

Of course, each of the main protagonists (Clarinda, Fatima, Genie, Cerys, Owena, Hela, and Skade) has her own storyline and challenges that have to be met by story’s end.  Here’s a short-list of the characters, grouped within lands the women from which the women originate in The Codex Lacrimae.

 

Mediterranean Lands: Muslim Conquest, Sicily

12th Century Mediterranean Lands: Sicily

12th Century Italic & Sicilian Lands

Clarinda Trevisan:  A mariner’s daughter who desires a peaceful life with her father, yet who must learn the ways of war and magic to save the Fates and the Multiverse from their greatest threat: a young knight whom she’s met only in dreams.

Fabricia Trevisan: Clarinda’s mother; helped husband, Angelo, run his maritime operations while managing her own birth-family’s glass factory on the Isle of Murano in Venice

Cerys (also, Circe) enchantress, daughter of Helios and Lorelei; sister of Njörd the Sea-God; witch who lured Odysseus and others by herb lore and transformations; in 6th Century A.D., she co-founded, then abandoned, the Coven of Mists

 

12th Century Byzantine Imperial Lands (Temple of Poseidon, southern Attic Peninsula)

12th Century Byzantine Imperial Lands (Temple of Poseidon, southern Attic Peninsula)

12th Century Byzantine Imperial Lands

Genevieve (Genie) Stratioticus is Constantinople’s foremost party girl, but to save her friend, Clarinda, & brother, Alexander, she’ll have to decide if there’s more to life than simply living in the moment;

Owena Jernigan Welsh friend of Jacob in Constantinople; blacksmith’s daughter

Rebecca (Rebecca bat-Gurion) Byzantine cloth-merchant; mother of Jacob; wife of David, who was lost at the Battle of Mecina; currently stricken with severe pneumonia

Sølvmara the Witch reputed soothsayer and astrologer in Genoese Quarter of Constantinople; friend to Jacob & Owena

12th Century Middle Eastern & Levantine Crusader Lands (Krak des Chevaliers, Syria)

12th Century Middle Eastern & Levantine Crusader Lands (Krak des Chevaliers, Syria)

12th Century Middle Eastern & Levantine Kingdom of Jerusalem (Crusader Lands)

Fatima (Fatima bint-Khajen ibn-Khaldun) is a bedouin tribeswoman who as a mathematician & scholar surpasses the expectations of her gender in a medieval Muslim world; allied to the end with her husband and best friend, Khalil; daughter of Ibn-Khaldun;  sister to Thaqib and Marcus

Sara (Sara bint-Thaqib al-Mosul) deceased wife of Ibn-Khaldun; grief over her death is reason he went on book-collecting trip eastward to Himalayas

Sibylla ousted regent of Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, currently on “tour” of Crusader Lands until she can rally support for return to power; elder sister of Baldwin IV, the Leper King; wife of Guy of Lusignan

Sister Nikola Benedictine nun; caught in the siege at the Krak des Chevaliers while touring the Holy Land with orders from the Pope to investigate sister-houses in the Levant (coastlands of the eastern Mediterranean Sea)

Carlisle's Epic Fantasy:  Partly Inspired by Sagas & Eddas of Medieval Iceland (Canyon Hengifossa, E. Iceland)

12th Century Nordic Lands: Inspired by 13th century Eddas of Medieval Iceland (Canyon Hengifossa, E. Iceland)

The Timeless Nordic Nine Worlds & Multiverse

Hela ruler of the Norse Underworlds of Niflheim and Hel; daughter of Loki and the frost-giantess, Angrboda; upper body a cadaver, lower a serpent; sister of Jormungand and Fenris; commands legions of Wilde Jagd, orcs, goblins, and the dead

Skade, is a Norse woman who wants nothing more than to wander the Nine Worlds and combat evil wherever she meets it — by rescuing one of Hela’s victims, she’ll find herself drawn into a series of battles that will forever change the course of the Nine Worlds.

Traeg: Arch-Mage of the dwarfish Falmorian Line; wife of Andvari, the Arch-Mage

Urd the original and most powerful of the Norns, or Norse Witches of Fate; complete command of the Past, Present, and Future, and one of the Elders of the Universe; lives alongside a subterranean lake beneath Mount Glittertind with her sisters and Mimir the Seer

Verdandi  a Norn; also called the Sister of “Happening,” or the “Present”

Skuld: a Norn; also called the Sister of the Future

A.J. Carlisle's Inspirations for Epic Fantasy: Medieval Religious Conflicts (Christian, Judaic, Islamic, and pagan...)

Timeless Nordic Nine Worlds & Multiverse (Stonehenge, England)

Only the readers will ultimately judge whether I succeeded on creating believable women in my stories, but at least as I’ve been making my way on this “author’s journey,” I’m doing my homework on the negative aspects, stereotyping problems, & misogynistic pitfalls that exist within the genre. Recognizing those long-standing issues is half the battle when creating stories for the modern-day that respects both genders and tells an interesting tale.

Hopefully, as my female readers meet my characters & follow their progress through The Artifacts of Destiny series, they’ll also weigh in where I succeed or fail in writing a different gender than myself!

Have a great weekend, and

Best,

A.J.

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