This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series. This week, it’s Zipporah Sanderson.

Zipporah Sanderson

In short: Human; male; tall, broad shoulders, black bushy eyebrows, brown hair that is greying at the sides, currently living in Aruam Castle, captain of the guard; a fair fighter in his younger years.

Family and Teen Years

Sanderson Captain of the GuardSanderson, as he is referred to by his men, was born and raised in Maskil. When he was a young man, he was saved by a guard from Aruam Castle. This inspired him to enlist. He learned the sword quickly, and those in charge saw his potential.

In the books, there is no mention of family in Sanderson’s life. That doesn’t mean he has none. It means only that it has yet to be revealed. Obviously, he had parents, and I’m guessing he had siblings, too. I’m sure they’ll show up in future novels.

As for a love interest, there appears to be none. However, I will leave you this exchange between Sanderson and Bronwyn from Shadows in the Stone:

Shadows in the Stone 2nd edition“I figured as much,” Sanderson said. “When a man looks at a woman as you did the night Alaura walked in to meet with the lords, he loses all control of his senses. It’s as if his blood catches fire and every time she comes near, she adds tinder to keep the flames rising. I tried to douse the flame but knew it was like trying to extinguish a conflagration with drunken spit.”

Bronwyn swallowed hard. It sounded as if the captain of the guard once had a fire for a woman, one that burnt out of control.

…and this scene involving Bronwyn, Sanderson and Beathas of Ailsa in Scattered Stones:

“Sorry to interrupt your battle games, boys,”—Beathas flung her chin in the air and considered Bronwyn through narrow eyes—“but the moment of resolution has arrived.”

“On what matter?” Sanderson folded his arms across his chest and stared down at the short hauflin.

“This doesn’t concern you.” She stepped closer to Bronwyn. “Are you to claim what you most desire or let it slip through your hands like that man?” She flicked her fingers at Sanderson.

He swallowed hard. What had Sanderson most desired and lost?

Where I Found His Name

I don’t rightly remember. They came to me in pieces. Sanderson sounded like a good army name and, well, Zipporah was something different that wouldn’t be used except in unique times.

History in Real Life

Sanderson didn’t appear in the original Shadows in the Stone story written in my teens. However, during the rewrite, I needed someone at the helm, so he was conceived. When the story opens, he has served for almost 30 years.

Role in Novels

castleSanderson is often the thorn in Bronwyn’s side. He tries to mould the young dwarf into the perfect guard, but Bronwyn doesn’t always heed his advice. However, Bronwyn trusts Sanderson more than any other superior.

Sanderson has a soft spot for Isla, who calls him Sandy and draws pictures of him. There is often a subtle exchange of wisdom between the two.

He appears in Shadows in the Stone and Scattered Stones but not Revelation Stones. He is the biggest fan and caretaker of the castle, and his priority is protecting the castle. Read into that what you will.

I have an inkling that Sanderson will not live to see book 10, but who knows. My inklings have been wrong in the past.

*Images gathered from Pixabay.com.
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This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers fantasy series. This week, it’s Alaura of Niamh.

Alaura of Niamh

In short: hauflin/human; female; long dark-blonde hair; brown eyes; born in North Ridge, Petra, and currently living in Maskil; sorceress/healer; at the start of Shadows in the Stone, she was Catriona Wheatcroft’s apprentice.

Family and Teen Years

The Pledge short storyAlaura is the youngest child and only daughter of Niamh M’Egan (human) and Rasnil Egan (hauflin). She has five brothers, including Pym and Benjamin M’Egan. She grew up in the mountainous region of Petra and loved to explore nature with her brother Pym, who is only three seasons older than her.

We first meet Alaura, age 18, in The Pledge where her life changed forever. With Pym’s help, she fled North Ridge and safely reached Maskil where she began a new life.

In the opening scene of Shadows in the Stone, she helps Catriona as she assists Maura of Ealasaid to give birth to Isla of Maura. Before Maura passes into the Plane of Peace, Alaura gives Her Word to protect Isla. This bounds her forever to the child.

Where I Found Her Name

Shadows in the Stone - Diane Lynn McGyverThe original name for this character was Anna of Niamh (pronounced ‘neev’). Niamh is an ancient Celtic name that was originally a term used for a goddess. It means bright or radiant. In Irish Mythology, she is the daughter of the sea god Manannan, and she was known as “Niamh of the Golden Hair”, a beautiful princess riding on a white horse. In Shadows in the Stone, Alaura rides Clover, a Haflinger pony with a red-chestnut coat and a flaxen mane and tail.

Wanting a more interesting name to go with Niamh, I searched for months. When I saw Alaura, I knew that was the name of this magical being.

History in Real Life

Alaura was not part of the original cast from the novel written in the mid-80s. She was discovered in the rewrites that took place in the late 1990s. I needed a female lead to challenge Bronwyn Darrow, and she proved herself worthy.

Role in Novels

Alaura played a major part in Shadows in the Stone as well as in Scattered Stones. Since Revelation Stones focusses on Isla, Alaura will have a much smaller role.

From Pixabay

She’s a confident woman who possesses unique magical abilities she won’t fully understand until they mature. She is faithful to those she loves and calls friend. Bronwyn thinks she’s the most beautiful woman who ever walked the Land of Ath-o’Lea, but his brother Joris thinks she’s “pretty by hauflin standards, but her human features dulled her beauty. She appeared too delicate for his liking, and her reserve manner told him she’d be a boring date.”

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers fantasy series. This week, it’s the Private Burkenshaw.

Farlan Burkenshaw

In short: Human; male; rich brown hair; blue eyes; born Unknown; currently living at Maskil; started as a private with Aruam Castle when introduced in Shadows in the Stone; by the end of the novel, he was Sergeant Burkenshaw; loves to eat dried pumpkin seeds.

Family and Teen Years

Artist LeightonFarlan was raised in the Maskil Orphanage. He doesn’t remember his parents, but he remembers his older sister Saraline. She taught him about magic in the twilight.

When Bronwyn started out on his dangerous journey, Farlan told him, “At the orphanage, Saraline would take me outside in the morning light and tell me stories about our mom. I don’t remember her, but my sister did. Our mother died a few short years after my birth. My sister told me magic danced in the twilight. She told me to look to it for strength. The last day I saw her, before her new parents took her away, she led me outside before the sun rose. She told me all the hope one needed could be found in the twilight. Each new day I hope I’ll find her. And now, I’ll also hope you and Isla will return.”

He added, “Don’t ever give up hope. It’ll keep you alive when the odds are against you. Every sunrise, I want you to renew yourself. Think of it as a fresh beginning where the events of yesterday can be soothed in the twilight. There is power we don’t understand in the air when it isn’t dark yet is not yet light. I’ve felt it many times. It’s as if fairies are flirting with the air we breathe, poking us with needles to see if we’re still alive. Breathe it in. Let it wash away your fears.”

Where I Found His Name

I struggled to find a good strong name for this character. He was new to me, and I didn’t know his history and inner spirit. I wanted him to have a long last name, and that was found first. His first name changed many times until I came across Farlan. It reminded me of my cousin’s name, Farley. Farley is outgoing with a healthy spirit, the same as Farlan. The name stuck, and years later, it still works for me.

History in Real Life

Shadows in the Stone - Diane Lynn McGyverFarlan in all sense of the word was an orphan, a boy who showed up without a past looking for a task to perform. He wasn’t part of the original cast gathered in my teens, so he was a stranger to me. Bronwyn needed a best friend at the castle, and when he met Farlan, the two got along as if brothers. It was a perfect match.

When Isla showed up, Farlan took on the big brother role. Together they go on many adventures, get into trouble and pick on each other as siblings do.

His Future

Farlan plays a major role in the first half of Shadows in the Stone, almost giving his life for Isla. Although he wants to continue on the quest, his injuries prevent him and he returns to the castle. In Scattered Stones, he plays only a minor role. Given that Revelation Stones focusses on Isla and her adventures away from Aruam Castle, I am unsure of how much screen time Farlan will get. I have a feeling he’ll show up—oh, that’s right; he does—but it’s in a minor role.

The future holds many surprises for Farlan, ones he’ll be happy and not so happy to receive.

Alfwin Moonsmy

Elf, archivist at Aruam Castle, first appeared unnamed in chapter 14 of Shadows in the Stone

“The end is only the beginning of something great,” mumbled Alfwin Moonsmy, leaning upon the desk. He tilted his head and thought of the remaining lines. A fog clouded his memory as he peered across the archives. “The end is…no…the end begins with…” He dropped the book he held, and the loud bang shook him. “Apologies.”

The room lay empty. Who had jumped? He stood straight, grasped the book and prepared to return it to the shelf when he noticed a slight odour. Holding it to his nose, he smelt parsley or was it anise seed? A slight breeze circulated the air, diluting the smell further.

(more…)

Bronwyn Darrow

Dwarf, sergeant with the Aruam Castle guard, on leave, first appeared in chapter 01 of Shadows in the Stone

Bronwyn Darrow laid the map flat on the large stone. His calloused finger traced the road from Wirksworth to Little Ram, stopping midway between the towns. In his mind, he thought of the distance from this point to his current location on Blue Mountain. If he continued south west, he’d intercept the trail to Glengarry Keep. Considering the rough terrain ahead, he estimated it would take five days. He’d know he was on the right path when he reached River Blue.

(more…)

Lord Valmour ‘Val’ Elfren

Elf, lord of Aruam Castle, first appeared in chapter 05 of Shadows in the Stone

Spicy aromas filled Lord Valmour Elfren’s senses. His eyes squeezed shut, he imagined the kitchen of his youth spilling forth delectable foods that would carry him through his day. He reached for a long, narrow loaf of bread, twisted around itself and sprinkled with green spices and smelling of garlic.

The hunger sensation intensified, and he squeezed the bread tightly, searching for his siblings, who if they appeared would snatch it from his hands and run. He bit into the warm, fresh bread and savoured the taste. A sound startled him, and he held the bread tighter, squeezing it in his grip for fear it would be stolen.

(more…)

Captain of the Guard Zipporah Sanderson

Human, captain of the guard with Aruam Castle guard, first appeared in chapter 4 of Shadows in the Stone

The door opened, delivering an icy wind into the guard house. Zipporah Sanderson shivered. The captain of the guard was ill dressed for the frigid weather.

“Sir.” Sawney closed the door and brushed snow from his shoulders. “It’s brisk out there.”

“With the clouds breaking and a clear sky ahead, it will be a colder night.” Sanderson fastened his vest. He required more layers before starting his rounds.

(more…)