With the approach of the next round of ROW80 and without much else to really write about today (the recovery day after a heck of a work week), I’ve decided it was time to give another little character study a try. After all, the main focus of my project is to rewrite the novel based solely around the perspective of three main characters. Locke Mandrake Battarack is one of them. He just happens to also be the eventual husband of the last character study I did, Aelis Maria Starran.
I also don’t have any really good images of Locke. This is him looking characteristically irritated with his ak’djinn (sort of like a genie, except not really at all), Megg:
Locke is the son of the last leaders of the Battaracks, a group of nomadic warriors that scoured through the war-ridden land of Kyano until their massacre at the hands of their ancient enemy, Gynnocota. However, Locke managed to survive the massacre. His mother, Serene, had entrusted him into the care of her lover, Knolan Rszbeki, who then whisked the boy off into safety. It was then on his hands to raise Locke, though he found himself encountering another soon-to-be slain Battarack mother who passed another child his way: Gilferen Allok. Secreted away in the woods of Kyano, he raised the boys as his own, training them for the only life they would be able to have. One of mercenary work and crime, whatever it would take to maintain their survival, though Knolan had dreams of one day building themselves up to the glory once held by the Battarack name.
Eventually, their exploits lead them to the desert land of Kassir, where a scam of a job leaves them stranded. Desperate for something to get them home again, Locke stumbled upon a situation of a woman being held captive in the northern city of A’aefar, and concocts a plan to get to the girl before the people looking for her do, so that they can hold her for a ransom and get the money they need to return to Kyano. But, of course, it’s not going to be nearly that simple, and the events that lead them to A’aefar also lead them to discovering that there’s a lot more to the Battarack name than just a dead nation. Locke, like the woman they went to rescue, may be an Asyentai, a reincarnation of one of the six individuals who ‘broke the world’ ages ago, banishing the gods from the world of Aryneth and throwing it into a state of distress. The six Asyentai would return one day, prophesies said, and take over the six corners of Aryneth to call things to order.
Locke and the other five Third Asyentai:
Auferrix, the captive woman, was one, and A’aefar was her corner. Now Locke and company must return to Kyano so that he can take over his corner, in the Valley of the Swallow, where he violently disposes of the current tyrant and takes his place as King. It is through this exploit that he meets his wife, Aelis Maria Starran, the daughter of a minor lord, who then bears him six children, five of whom survive. For the most part, Locke’s life is fairly simple from that point on, if you count ensuring and promoting peace in a war-torn country to be simple. It is often a struggle with his rags to riches story, but, as many observe, he has always been the son of royal stock, so perhaps it is just natural.
Through the course of Serpent in a Cage, Locke is still very young, hot-headed, and distressed with a feeling of not knowing who he is or what his purpose in the world may be. He’s prone to fits of annoyance and being difficult, especially since he feels that, though he is nominally the leader of the Battaracks, it sometimes feels that he has no real power. He takes comfort in having Gilferen there, as the other boy is a brother to him, and the introduction of an old friend of his mother’s starts to seed doubt in him about his parents. He spends so much time in these earlier books being unsure of himself that the transformation after his takes his position as an Asyentai is a real revelation. He finally has his place in the world and he knows finally what it is he must do. Until then, though, he’s almost a true reflection of how difficult it is for anyone to grow up into their own skin, with all the uncertainties that go along with developing into who you are.