Nicho, the hero of Chains of Gwyndorr, is perhaps not quite what one expects of a fantasy hero. Typically our genre’s heroes are the strong, silent type. Think Aragorn or Thorin Oakenshield. They are deadly with weapons (Legolas) or skilled with magic (Gandalf and Harry Potter). And of course they usually have that ruggedly handsome look happening for them.

In creating Nicho, I broke some of these stereotypes. Not so far as to make him ugly, mind you.

Doesn’t every story need at least one good looking guy?

 It had been almost five years since she had been this close to Nicho. He was no longer the gangly boy she used to play with in the courtyard. Now he had attained the full height of a man—well over a head taller than she was. However, there was still something boyish in the curve of his jaw and the tumble of his light brown curls. As his gaze had met her own, a jolt of familiarity had passed through her. How well she suddenly remembered those unusual eyes—startlingly green—and dimpled cheeks.

Yet, from this point on Nicho begins to break the fantasy-hero mould. To begin with he’s never wielded a sword in his life and would probably scream like a girl if something attacked him in the night:

“I’m no warrior, Elrin. Just a groom.” Nicho smiled at the boy’s crestfallen expression.

But Nicho is far more than his own lowly assessment of himself. He has a remarkable gift with horses.

She watched him, but quickly looked away as he glanced up. Truth be told, she used to watch him across the courtyard from the kitchen workbench too, as he went in and out of the stable. He had a way of calming down the most restless of horses that was fascinating to watch.

“He has the Parashi gift of horse-whispering, just like his grandfather before him,” Marai would say proudly.

And although he’s not fighting the Highborn oppressors with  bow and sword, Nicho’s own brand of opposition—teaching the Parashi boys to read and write—is just as courageous and dangerous. If the Highborn authorities discover this outlawed activity, Nicho will face the death sentence.

My hero is rather broken in places and struggles with despondency and anger:

Pearce leaned across the table and gripped Nicho’s wrist, his voice dropping. “You and I are more similar than you think, Nicho. You think I don’t see that anger smoldering in your eyes? Soon you will hate the Highborns as much as I do. We were not made to bow and scrape, you and me. We were made for something greater.”

Where my character Shara teaches me about choices, Nicho teaches me about the true nature of courage. Watching Nicho’s life unfold, I learn that courage is not always what the world perceives it to be. Rather, courage is rooted in a concern for others,  the kind of concern that leads us to overcome our fears and do heroic things—both large and small.

My eldest daughter and I were chatting about Nicho a while ago (this is a common occurrence in a writer’s home; we talk about—and sometimes even to—people  who don’t exist).  She said, “You know, I think I’ve got quite a crush on Nicho.”

Her confession made me smile because it told me two things. Firstly, that Nicho comes alive on the pages of Chains of Gwyndorr and secondly, that he has the makings of a true hero.

I can’t wait for you to meet him!

Buy Chains of Gwyndorr as an eBook or paperback.

If you live in South Africa, drop me a note to order autographed copies of Chains of Gwyndorr, Heirs of Tirragyl and Guardian of Ajalon. The beautiful box set will make a wonderful Christmas gift for someone who loves a fast-paced fantasy read with a touch of romance.