Saturday, September 8, 2012
Termites Can Be Real Characters, Too!
I'm going to post this on both my blogs, because I'm going to discuss not only characters from the "Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head" series but also some who are unique to "The Termite Queen." I've been wondering if, in spite of all past explanations, some of you may view a people evolved from social insects as mindless, colorless units in a mechanized society. My creations are far from that! They have real, individualized personalities, which allows them to play all the roles necessary in an epic adventure, and I would like for anyone who reads either of my blogs to understand that.
In "The Termite Queen" the cast of Shshi is more limited, and the characters are more black-and-white -- more written to type. It's a story of good vs. evil, in fact. So we have the leader, the Holy Seer Kwi'ga'ga'tei, who personifies all that is good about the termite society, and we have her counterpart, the evil Mo'gri'ta'tu, who carries within him a touch of the Earthly Satan himself. Both are extremely intelligent in their own way, both know how to use words to offset their weak Alate bodies, and both are powerful forces. I personally think Mo'gri'ta'tu is one of the greatest villains of all time (but of course I could be prejudiced! LOL!)
Then in that same story we have those who are manipulated by Mo'gri'ta'tu. We have the aging Commander Hi'ta'fu, who has been the fortress's mainstay for many years but who is nearing the end of its life and lives in fear of being supplanted and shunned before death comes. Hi'ta'fu is thus ripe for being lured into treason by a more subtle individual. Hi'ta'fu's Second in Command Lo'lo'pai, a Warrior who is not especially well-endowed intellectually, can't sense the forest for the trees -- Mo'gri'ta'tu is able to twist its perceptions in way that produces a true tragedy. Both Hi'ta'fu and Lo'lo'pai can be seen as heroes with tragic flaws. Is Kwi'ga'ga'tei a tragic character? Probably not, because she accepts her role as savior of ... Well, you'll have to read the books if you want to find out what her savior-role might imply.
Finally, we have the Champion Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head -- an outsider brought in to fight -- what? In the beginning they think it is the Star-Beings, who came to the termite world, abducted and killed two members of the society, and returned in a flying egg that hatches into the most bizarre creatures the Shshi have ever seen. Later, they discover that the Champion -- that same mighty Warrior who threatens the position of the Commander Hi'ta'fu -- has really been called to fight the evil within.
We get a good look at Ki'shto'ba in "The Termite Queen," but we don't get the full scope of its character. In the "Labors" series, Ki'shto'ba is revealed as the quintessential epic hero -- a Warrior of high moral character, who had a mysterious genesis and is the subject of prophecies. It shares the somewhat stubborn, single-pathed outlook of its Caste, but it rises above that through a native intelligence. Ki'shto'ba understands that there is a time to fight but that there is also a time not to fight -- a time to seek peace. The Shshi Way of Life is after all one of peaceful existence within the bounds that the Highest-Mother-Who-Has-No-Name set for her insectoid creation.
Ki'shto'ba's Companions each has its own carefully drawn character. Di'fa'kro'mi the Remembrancer, the narrator of the tales, is no fool -- he's astute, analytical, and pragmatic, but he has a streak of adventurous idealism, and he's always willing to consider another's opinions. And he has a strong sense of empathy, as well as a big sense of humor.
A'zhu'lo, Ki'shto'ba's twin, typifies all the conflicts of a younger brother. Actually, it isn't younger, because it was hatched from the same egg as Ki'shto'ba, but A'zhu'lo is much smaller and less powerful and not very inclined to fight. It idolizes its mightier brother but it's always measuring itself against Ki'sho'ba and always coming up short. Now there's a recipe for some kind of ominous development, that's for sure.
The Worker Wei'tu, one of the two Helpers from Lo'ro'ra who accompany Ki'shto'ba and Di'fa'kro'mi on the Quest, is another pragmatist and a bit of a cynic. Just the same, it is devoted to the task at hand -- of looking after the more needy members of the troop -- and it's a very good Builder, who becomes more and more educated to that task as the Quest proceeds.
The other Helper, Twa'sei, is infatuated with Ki'shto'ba (da'roit'um| or twist-headed, in the Shshi language). It is very small, but it is fiercely devoted to the Champion and wouldn't give place to anyone when it comes to taking care of the giant Warrior. However, Twa'sei is also resentful that, because of its small size, everybody is protective of it and nobody will give it credit for being able to do anything significant. It wants an adventure in its own right. Twa'sei will have to wait for v.2 to get its opportunity to shine.
And then there is Za'dut, who joins the Quest after the To'wak episode. Za'dut is a Worker, but it's also the quintessential con-man (or con-termite!) It's an outcast and a canny, glib liar -- a first-rate actor. It survives by its wits -- it can talk its way into and out of scrapes better than anybody in the universe. It cares for nobody but itself -- at least at first. Whether that changes, you'll have to decide for yourself by reading the books.
There are other characters, of course, but these that I've discussed will be with the series from the start to the finish. I would be delighted if you would introduce yourself to all of them. See the sidebar for information about how to buy any volume of my works.