The Flamebearer’s Male Characters

Character Comparisons
CIARAN – NATURALLY TANTRIC, Ciaran is a richly complex character, with elements of both strength and vulnerability, an almost naive emotional honesty, and a deeply felt need for love and intimacy. He is very direct, looking not just at you, but into you and through you, expressing an unfeigned desire to know you and to be known by you. He is changeable, unpredictable, at times abrasively impatient, even rude and dismissive, leading to the impression that he is arrogant and self-absorbed. If he learns that his words or his behavior have inadvertently injured someone he cares about, his remorse is instant and devastating.
  • Basic Fear: Of being worthless
  • Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile

He alternates between extremes of heat, passion, immediacy, and urgency on the one hand and a seemingly limitless capacity for tenderness and rapturous love on the other.

Ciaran tends to alternate wildly between ego-inflation and self-doubt; he can be self-assured and outstanding in many ways, yet also introspective and sensitive.

Whatever he does, he devotes himself to it body and soul. He hungers for the transformative experience, yet he finds himself perpetually suspended between yearning and possessing, never quite ascending to the exalted understanding he seeks. Will he forever be a restless spirit full of ambiguity and creative turbulence, striving after an outcome so elusive that, despite his determination, he can never hope to reach its promise of perfect equilibrium and fulfillment?

ROBYN PLAYFUL, BOYISH, CHARMINGLY EARNEST, Robyn embodies the eternal youth – adventurous, freedom-loving, and a bit of a rogue. His penchant for drinking, gambling, sport and all manner of amusements has led him into trouble more than once, but with his instinctive good luck, he typically succeeds in finding his way out.

He can be noticeably childlike, engaging, silly, and despite difficult experiences, he tends to retain a certain innocence and belief in life’s goodness. If he has money, he is generous with others. He has a soft, sweet side which can be very appealing. When he is functioning at his best, he is upbeat, enthusiastic, energetic, and optimistic. People enjoy his sense of humor and high spirits. He can be witty, quick with repartee, always ready with the facetious quip, the tongue-in-cheek aside. His sense of humor leans toward irony and sarcasm. He is a gifted story-teller.

Despite his Devil-May-Care attitude, Robyn has developed a realistic, pragmatic approach to daily events. He doesn’t take life – or himself – too seriously. He is bold and vivacious, pursuing what he wants with cheerful determination. Unlike his companions, he is comfortable in his own skin, at ease in most social situations, and not especially prone to deep thinking on any subject. He prefers casual and spontaneous encounters with women. He likes his sex rough and spirited, enhanced by several servings of his favorite lubricant – a hearty pint of ale.

Robyn enjoys encountering and interacting with other human beings. Robyn genuinely enjoys friendship, whether among his peers or with members of the opposite sex – and in spite of his easygoing, non-committal nature, he tends to develop strong bonds with the people with whom he chooses to spend his time. His genial, broad-minded personality garners him a wide-ranging, vastly diverse group of acquaintances, from princes to stable boys, harlots to scholars, and everything in-between. He possesses an uncanny talent for befriending people of all stripes: nobles, merchants, mummers, and priests.

Robyn is that odd combination of philosopher and skeptic rolled into one. Expansive, optimistic, truthful to a fault, he remains suspicious of orthodox religion with its dogma and hypocrisy, but speculates that the apparent randomness of life’s events are part of a greater plan, and that, ultimately, things have a way of working out for the best.

 THE BRUCE – powerful, physically imposing, and at the same time, emotionally reserved and surprisingly modest, the Highlander is both strong and weak, fearful and courageous, trusting and distrusting, a defender and a provoker, sweet and sour, aggressive and passive, a bully and a weakling, defensive and offensive, a thinker and a doer, a group person and a soloist, a believer and a doubter, cooperative and obstructionist, tender and mean, generous and petty—and on and on. In short, he is a  bundle of opposites.
He is often ambivalent about his feelings, frequently sending ambiguous, mixed signals to other people. His gruff outward demeanor masks an interior sensitivity which all but the most astute observers of human nature fail to detect. Those rare folk who possess enough insight and depth to recognize an Old Soul when they see one are naturally drawn to him though it may take years to break down his defenses and build enough trust for the Bruce to expose his True Self.
He can be moody, grumpy, and downright impossible sometimes, retreating into his “cave” to sulk, transmitting silent, but unequivocal recriminations and implied blame to whoever has wounded him. He may remain in one of his black moods for days, or even weeks; long after everyone else has forgotten the argument. When he, at last, decides to emerge from his (largely self-imposed) cocoon of pain, he expresses his desire to make amends by quietly going out of his way to do a good turn for the erstwhile offender. With a minimum of dialog, he demonstrates his thoughtfulness by delivering the unexpected, yet precisely well-timed gift or favor, without ever having discussed it previously.  *See “Puppies for the Gryffin”
Not gifted in the art of verbal communication like his companions, the Bruce is an attentive listener, and while his quiescence might lead some to believe he is disengaged or disinterested, he, in fact, possesses an almost supernatural memory for the details of what others reveal to him in moments of self-doubt, wavering courage, or loss of faith. In his understated way, he comes through for those he loves, which in the final analysis, reveals a man of great character, compassion, and humanity.

Castle Narberth

Ruins of Castell y Arberth in Pembrokeshire, Wales

THE REAL CASTLE NARBERTH today now lies in ruins. I believe it is now privately owned and therefore not open to the public.

It played a significant role in Welsh mythology as the primary seat of power in the tale of Pwyll, Prince of Annwn. The Mound of Narberth also came into play as the portal that led into the Otherworld. Typical of early Celtic tales, the realms of myth and of historical record tend to overlap, making it difficult at times to distinguish between the two. In researching Welsh Mythology, I was inspired to choose Narberth as the setting for my medieval romance for precisely these reasons. While accounts of its past come to us in bits and pieces, much about its timeline remain shrouded in mystery to all but the most devoted students of Welsh history. The actual location seems less romantic than its lore would suggest, however it does offer many tantalizing glimpses into antiquity and the Age of Arthur.

After spending a majority of the past three decades viewing the world through the eyes of my protagonist, Ciaran ap Morgan, the shock of returning to a place that held such significance for him only to find it overgrown, crumbling and neglected required a serious attitude adjustment. I had to sit down with him for an extended heart-to-heart talk on what to make of this unexpected development.

Needless to say, he did not take it well. His disorientation caused me to feel ashamed for having failed to anticipate his understandable bereavement. He concluded that returning to the world of men had been a momentous mistake. Surprised at this, I asked him what he intended to do.

“I must go back at once,” he declared.

“Are you sure?” I pressed. “Aren’t you at all curious about how things have changed? You aren’t interested in exploring further?” He did not pause for a moment to consider it. He insisted his only option was to find a way back to the Otherworld with all haste. “Why would I want to remain in a world where everything I once knew, and everyone I once loved, is long dead?” he said, his face gaunt with anguish.

I do not know how I could have expected any other response from him. My heart filled with regret. We both decided not to linger any longer for fear of conjuring an army of ghosts.

Author’s Quest for Meaning

*Struggling to get a handle on the sequel*- what motifs do I want to employ, what is the deeper meaning, how might I weave the many different threads into a cohesive story? When in doubt, I always go back to the great Arthurian Romances – Tristan and Iseult, Lancelot and Guinevere, Romeo and Juliet. Continue reading “Author’s Quest for Meaning”