Before picking up the second installment in a fantasy series, I often find myself wondering whether I’ll be reunited with the protagonists I loved in the first book, or whether the author will introduce me to a different cast of characters altogether. There is no one right way to write a trilogy, after all, and options range from J.R.R. Tolkien’s direct continuation of the same tale through several volumes to authors who shift their main protagonists between each book, or set their subsequent stories years after the first.
Samiha’s Song takes an approach closer to the Tolkien end of the spectrum, continuing Tymon and Samiha’s story almost where it left off in the first book, though the action begins two weeks after the events concluding Tymon’s Flight. As such, it is not a stand-alone novel, but part of an ongoing tale begun in book one and ending in book three. That said, there are several new and important characters introduced in this second book, characters who have an enormous impact on the overall arc of the story and who make Samiha’s Song very much their own.
The first is Jedda, Tymon’s fellow student, who like him is leaving the Freehold and traveling to distant city to begin her Grafter training. Both Tymon and Jedda are about to meet their new teacher, the Oracle of Nur – but more about her in moment.
Jedda is quite different to Tymon in both her personality type and general outlook on life. On the surface, she is a survivor, a pragmatist, shunning idealism in her quest for power and knowledge. That is how she wishes others to see her. But like all of us, Jedda’s character contains internal contradictions. Underneath the hardened shell there is a young girl with a great capacity for empathy and loyalty – qualities she is at pains to hide, because she fears they will make her seem weak.
I enjoyed writing Jedda tremendously. I liked her contradictions and her rebellious streak. She is a complex character in a complex world, and a good foil for Tymon, who tends to make rather stiff moral judgments about people and situations first, and ask questions later. Jedda always asks the questions first.
Just as Tymon’s Flight was in essence a coming of age tale, Samiha’s Song is about what happens afterwards, in adulthood. It is about learning to be true to yourself, to know yourself thoroughly. The three main characters – Tymon, Samiha, and Jedda – are all on a voyage of self-discovery, finding out who they truly are and what they are capable of. That process can be enlightening or shocking as the case may be.
The Oracle of Nur is the catalyst setting Tymon and Jedda’s development in motion. She is a challenging personality herself, hard to define in terms of simplistic moral judgments, and the two young students do not know to begin with whether she is good or evil, friend or foe. She sees the future continually, a capacity that makes her quite difficult to understand and get along with in a traditional sense. She does not simply meet a person in the everyday way; she meets that person’s past, present and possible future all at the same time. Her first task as Tymon and Jedda’s teacher is to bring her students face-to-face with themselves: in that mirror they will begin to see how far they have to go.
There are several other major characters making inaugural appearances in Samiha’s Song, but to describe them here would be a spoiler… Suffice to say that wherever Tymon goes on his journey, there will be new faces and fresh surprises, and that nothing is what it seems to be, at first glance…
Mary Victoria lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She’s working on the final book in the Chronicles of the Tree trilogy, Oracle’s Fire. Her most recent book is Samiha’s Song. Visit Mary at her website and read some of the posts by other fantasy authors on the theme of Writing Strong Women.strong>