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 Tam Mulryan.

Tam Mulryan

In short: Dwarf, male, dark blue eyes, dark brown hair to shoulders, shaggy beard covers half his face, youngest of his kinfolk, born at Glen Tosh

Family and Teen Years

Tam is the son of Lillias and Conall Mulryan of Glen Tosh. He was born and grew up in that city by the ocean with a large family. I believe he has ten siblings; he is the youngest. His early years were spent working around Glen Tosh, mostly for his dad who owns a shipping company. Bitten by the bug to travel, he and his sister, Kellyn, set out to see the Land of Ath-o’Lea, eventually settling at Maskil, where their oldest brother Laird was a lord.

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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 Maisie Darrow.

Maisie Darrow

In short: Dwarf, female, born Rhunestone Castle on The Headlands of Mar, living at Maskil, mate to Gavin Darrow, maiden name Kintale, owns and operates Forest Bakery and Herbs Shop with mate, six children (3 boys, 3 girls): Calder, Molly, Joris, Loran, Rhiannon and Bronwyn, several grandchildren.

Family and Teen Years

Not much has been revealed about Maisie’s parents and siblings, but I feel there is a big story to tell there. She named her youngest son after her brother, Bronwyn. She and Gaven met in Glen Tosh, fell in love and united there. Soon after, they moved to Maskil where they set up their shop and raised a family.

Like all mums, she’s protective of her flock. Although she was busy with her shop, she paid special attention to her children, attention that will be revealed in later novels. Now that they are adults, she’s still an intricate part of their lives, particularly Bronwyn’s. She doesn’t hesitate to give motherly advice, and she also knows how to wheedle information from him as can be seen when he returns to Maskil after being gone a long time.

He swallowed hard. His mum had a way of getting him to talk and here in the bedroom, after his waking, was when she usually weaselled the truth from his lips. To protect Alaura, he couldn’t tell anyone where she was or that he had made contact with her. But here, under his mum’s scrutiny, he found it impossible to hide anything.

Her motherly advice on love appears now and again. Here she is giving it to Bronwyn in Scattered Stones:

“You get only one chance, you know.” She leant back and breathed deeply. “It’s why I pursued your dad. As bashful and tenacious as he was, I knew him to be the one. It was far from painless, but you can’t forsake those who touch your heart like no other.”

Her greatest joy comes from her family and like all mothers, she loves to feed them:

His mum gazed around the table. She enjoyed this most of all: gathering the family for the evening ration. It was the time to share their lives, the joys and the disappointments. She had often said it was the occasion to renew the family bond and for each to gather strength to carry on. He believed that now. One day he wanted to bring his family to the table and continue the tradition. When his mum’s eyes met his, he smiled. She returned the smile and a peaceful expression eased the lines in her cheeks.kitchen

Where I Found her Name

Would you believe from our miniature donkey? That’s right; our donkey’s name is Maisie.

History in Real Life

Maisie was not a part of the original story. However, by the time I revised that story written during my teen years, I was a mother. Through Maisie, I was able to guide Bronwyn in life.

I’ve been told that one thing that sets my epic fantasy stories apart from others is the family aspect. Most of the heroes in fantasy novels are orphans, and if not orphaned, they are estranged from their family, many not knowing who their parents are.

I can only assume the importance I place on family overflowed into my stories. It’s about time a hero had a loving, caring mum who’s there to patch up broken arms, make him cookies and to give unwanted motherly advice. After all, there are often only two women in a man’s life that can get him to do things he doesn’t want to do: his mum and his mate. Bronwyn needs both these women.

My interest in genealogy also played a part, and is why the Darrow and Mulryan family tree will be explored in the Castle Keepers series.

Role in Novels

Maisie pops in and out of the story in every novel, except perhaps in Revelation Stones. She’s there when a mum is needed. As I mentioned above, I believe Maisie has a wonderful story to tell, and this will be told in a future novel.

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 Sawney Cronin.

Sawney Cronin

In short: Dwarf, male, brown hair, brown eyes, born at Maskil, junior corporal with Aruam Castle, scout.

Family and Teen Years

The only part about family revealed in Shadows in the Stone is that Sawney has a younger brother. He sympathies with Bronwyn when Isla is kidnapped, and says he knows if his little brother, who is around Isla’s age, was taken, he’d take every risk to find him. No doubt, Sawney’s parents are living in Maskil, and he has more than one sibling.

Insider Tip: Sawney’s little brother was mentioned here not to connect Sawney with Bronwyn, but to bring the boy into the story. I don’t know what his name will be but look for him in Healing Stones. He’s going to do some bad before he does some good.

Sawney is a typical dwarf, went to Study Hall, completed his courses, tried a few trades, then enlisted with Aruam Castle because he has a sense of adventure. He’s dedicated to friends and family.

Where I Found his Name

Sawney was not part of the original cast in the novel written in my youth, but I added him because I wanted a few friendly faces on guard at the castle, ones Bronwyn could trust and ones readers would become familiar with over time.

In a search for names, I came across it, liked it, found it unique and assigned it to this quiet character. The last name, Cronin, was a name I liked at first, but I’m not a fan of it now. I wished I had picked a better one for this character who, unbeknownst to me at the time, has a bigger part in this epic tale than I first imagined.

Role in Novels

Sawney began as a private in Shadows in the Stone, and we see him promoted to junior corporal in chapter 10. He becomes more prominent when called on as a scout to track Isla’s kidnappers. He gets seriously injured when the dragon attacks and returns to the castle. Unlike the others in the group, he calls Bronwyn ‘Sarg’ instead of ‘Sergeant’…unless it’s official business.

Sawney appears in Vignette #9 where we see he’s made a special friend, Willow. Whether this grows into something more, you won’t know until Revelation Stones is released.

Sawney appears in Scattered Stones where “an intricate copper-coloured conch laced into leather decorated his scabbard belt.” He plays an intricate, silent part in the series, so I think he’ll be around for some time.

Insider Tip: Project M involves Willow, so Sawney might show up…but I’m only 5,000 words in, so I’m unsure what ground will be covered.

Jack Somerled

Human, explorer, first appeared in chapter 09 of Scattered Stones

“Knavesmire!” The rough voice hacked the name as if it were phlegm.

Jack Somerled’s ears twitched, but his body remained relaxed as his fork poked a potato and lifted it to his mouth. From his corner seat in the tavern, he had a clear view of the scraggly group of mixed-raced men hoarded around a table slinging ale and feasting on plates of meat.

“If he avers to have journeyed there, he’s peddling featherless fletching.” The heavily bearded human chuckled.

“I stated not that he’d journeyed,” said a hauflin, “only that he’d seen it.”

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Lord Laird Mulryan

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

The sun shined in the window, and Lord Laird Mulryan leant on the sill looking over the grounds of Aruam Castle and Maskil. The morning has been pleasant; he had enjoyed the day’s first ration surrounded by those he loved most. The small gestures, smiles and friendly chatter left him feeling as if he were the luckiest man in Ath-o’Lea.

He sighed, already missing their company and longing to return, but two days were all he could muster to be away from his post. Significant matters needed tending; he had to put the order in for new recruits to bolster the lower ranks. The combined numbers of foot soldiers and castle guards was to be maintained at one thousand fighting men and from his calculations, they were severely deficient.

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Isla of Maura

Hauflin, prisoner at Blackvale Castle, first appeared in chapter 01 of Shadows in the Stone

Isla outlined the military vest, pressing lightly so if the line had to be erased, it wouldn’t leave an indent in the paper. The curve of the shoulder was a difficult part. It took five attempts to get the other shoulder perfect. The black lead moved slowly as she imagined the sun shining on the top of the blue material. In the sunshine is where they had spent their happiest times, and here is where the lightest of touches would accent the glow. She shaded lightly, then used a finger to smudge the colour just right.

A short time later, Isla sat back to admire her efforts. The eyes of her das stared at her as if he would walk across the tower roof and tell her to get ready for bed; they had a busy day tomorrow. Perhaps they’d ride along the Shulie or take a hike to Moon Meadow. She’d ask if Liam could come.

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Joris Darrow

Dwarf, wheelwright, part owner of The Spoke ‘N Waggon shop, first appeared in chapter 11 of Shadows in the Stone

A boot sailed through the air in the dimly-lit tavern. Joris caught sight of it in time to lean back so only its wind brushed his nose. He embraced his mug of ale against his chest and looked for the origin of the projectile. He saw a woman glaring at him from twenty feet away. The young human beside her raced behind Joris, snatched his boot and sped off.

“Chloe.” Joris raised his mug. “You chose a green one. He won’t be back.”

“I chose an inconsiderate, deceitful rogue who is less appealing than the hind end of a troglodyte.”

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