If you haven’t read the novel, stop now and read it first. Needless to say, there is a lot happening in Children of Kerensky. We see the stark differences between the two clans in their approach to Terra through the lead characters. Characters step onto the stage that are important, potentially, down the road. Like I said in my last post, this book was not about a perfectly crafted plot, but about the characters. It is, in many respects, this is a set of origin stories.
John and I went back and forth over the last few years about exploring Malvina. I think the prologue does it well. Her character is fascinating. We see how she arrived at some of her doctrine principles. My favorite pure “Malvina Moment” is with Andrea when she asks her which child is her favorite. You don’t have to see the killing (or worse) to know that it happens. Her logic is fascinating – as you see during the POW scene on Sargasso.
Like Alaric, she thinks differently than most Clan characters. Even though the Clan warriors are, essentially, cookie-cutter – they shouldn’t be. Far too often in the fiction we stereotype them. John and I wanted to get away from that kind of thinking.
Here’s the thing about Malvina, she is right. Of course there are multiple right answers, but her answer to the Inner Sphere is correct from her perspective. Her, “you have to tear it all down to the foundation and rebuild it from the ground up,” is a viable solution. Malvina is the hero of her own story – most people are (especially villains). She is shouldering the entire burden of the Jade Falcon invasion on her own shoulders. Malvina wants the same thing as Alaric, but is willing to go about it ruthlessly and relentlessly. She is not burdened with second-thoughts about her actions either. She is the hero that the Jade Falcons want, and some might say, deserve.
Alaric’s approach is entirely different. He has his flaws too. The scene of him and Chance in the recreated Hall of the Archons, where he killed Katherine (Bonfire of Worlds), is interesting because it tells us a little of what Alaric thinks will happen if Clan Wolf wins. Alaric’s trials are far from perfect, but he wins. He almost overplayed his hand with the Trial of Possession of Ramiel Bekker…it was close. I actually fought that Trial out with minis by the way, at least for damage tracking.
Alaric is not a lovable character, just more tolerable than Malvina. That is tough as a writer. He is difficult to get all fired up about as a reader. It is that way with his fellow warriors too. Eventually they come to recognize his greatness.
Key things you may have missed or questions that need to be asked as a reader:
- What is it that makes Alaric tick? Is he a good guy, or is he merely a different shade of Malvina? Whose genes prevail…Katherine’s, Victor’s, or Vlad’s? Bear in mind, you can have more than one genefather contribute to your makeup. At times he is one of the three, but will that serve him well? Is he more Warden or Crusader…or is it situational?
- Who gave the Wolves the keys to Fortress Republic? Who was a traitor to the Republic? Who is behind leaving the Keys to the Kingdom? What about the other packages? Who’s getting those and what is in them? Consider that for a few minutes. There is a lot of potential answers here. ComStar? Perhaps some other Clan? What if it is a Not-Named Clan? You did catch that Easter Egg, right?
- What is the real role of the Sea Foxes in all of this? Never underestimate the Ferengi of the Clans.
- No plan survives contact with the enemy…so how will that play out?
- The Smoke Jaguars. When will Alaric cut that bondscord and what will it mean? Will he ever be able to restore the Smoke Jaguars – and if so, what would they look like? What happens to those elements that remain as Fidelis? What secrets of Terra’s defenses did Paul Moon share with Alaric?
- Alaric has stepped on some toes with other Clans in his possession of Ramiel and Haake. Will there be repercussions? How will those possibly manifest themselves? We still have not seen the perspective of the Hell’s Horses.
- How far from “The way of the Clans” will Malvina and/or Alaric wander to acheive victory? What are the reprecussions of that, if any?
- Will Anastasia be successful with her mission – in time? Imagine missing out on the invasion of Terra. What would the role of the Wolves in Exile be, if any? What will she have to give them to come?
- Stephanie Chistu is on thin ice with the Chingis Khan, more now than ever. Can she survive, or will Malvina take out one of her best assets out of paranoia? Is that what Alaric intended to set in motion? Is there more in play here? Alaric plays the long game…so what was his true intentions with Chistu?
- Has Alaric made the ultimate mistake in inviting in the Jade Falcons to Terra? Let’s face it, that’s the big question everyone has. The odds have never been this high for either Clan or The Republic. How will he engage with the Falcons once they drop? Will Malvina turn on him, and if so, when? Has he doomed the Inner Sphere by inviting the Jade Falcons to the party? Was it one of the classic blunders, right up there with getting involved in a land war in Asia?
- When are we going to see the specs on those new BattleMechs mentioned? Short answer – ask Ray. Brent designed all of the ‘Mechs and the artwork has been done on them. True. They have been done for a long time. I would guess around the time that HotW releases.
- Both Clans are coming in with everything they have. I always felt that the Clans were willing to tie one hand behind their back with their notions of honor. In reality, they would have learned lessons from Tukayyid. A number of people reading the early drafts went nuts with that plot point (going all-in) but I hung firm. Taking Terra is all that really matters to any Clan. Both Malvina and Alaric understand the stakes and are essentially risking it all. This opens the door for some wonderful stories to come. What will it cost them in the long term?
- The cover. I deliberately wanted that scene for the cover so that fans would see a Ghost Bear emblem on the cover and want to see what that was about. I refuse to apologize for screwing with you GB fans.
There are a lot of Easter Eggs hidden in this book. Two Richard Nixon ones, two Star Trek II ones, a LOT of others. I don’t maintain a list of all of them because they bubble up organically when I’m writing. I will reveal that the date the Fortress is penetrated is my birthday, November 6. So some of these are just for me.
The next blog post – things I liked writing for this book and why.