Most fantasy protagonists are good people. The kinds of men and women who are able and willing to help people and fight evil. Characters like Kaladin from The Stormlight Archive, Rand from The Wheel of Time, and Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. Good people, all of them (except maybe Rand around the time of book four).
Nileth Barok is not a good man. And he knows it.
Growing up, Nileth was far from fortunate. He had neither home nor family. In order to survive, he had to learn how to steal, how to cheat at gambling, and how to run or, if push comes to shove: fight. Although he’s more than eager to throw fists, regardless if someone forces him to or not.
This rough childhood taught him a simple lesson: only the strong survive. Life was akin to a flame. Those who were powerful would tend it, while those who were weak would feed it. Nileth was determined to be the former. He would be the strongest and feed all who stood against him to the fire.
Having grown up looking out solely for himself, Nileth has become a rather selfish person. He’ll go off to where he wants and do what he wants, regardless of what other people tell him. Whether his objectives co-align with his allies doesn’t matter to him. He doesn’t even care for the objective of the rebel army that he himself joined. Only his own personal desires hold sway to him.
Why would he join the rebellion, then? Because of its leader. While the rebellion itself doesn’t strike fear into the leaders of Alinorch, at least not in this first book, their leader certainly does. As strong a warrior as he is a tactician, he single-handedly makes the rebel cause a force to be reckoned with.
Nileth wants nothing more than to defeat this man. If he can conquer the man so many people considered to be the strongest alive, then he’ll have proven himself the most powerful and worthy to survive in this world. He can prove himself to… to… who?
He can’t remember. There are many holes in Nileth’s memory. Events from his past that he tries very hard to suppress. He distinctly remembers his time on the streets and all the lessons learned. But if he tries to remember, if he goes digging through his memories, he finds some odd gaps that, for some reason, make him sad and angry.
Emotions run high within Nileth. He wears them all on his sleeve, whether he is exceedingly happy or annoyed. But most often, he is quick to anger. Should he start to lose ground in a battle or be pushed too far in an argument, his temper begins to flare. When that happens, there may be a few bodies piled up before he calms down.
That, or a few scorch marks.
Writing Nileth has been an interesting challenge. While he’s pretty fun to write, especially since he often gets caught up in fights, his arc has been difficult to fully pin down. Like Richen, most of his growth will occur later in the series, with his time in the first book being spent establishing who he is and planting seeds for his growth in the future.
While his role in the first book is a mostly minor one, I still find Nileth to be one of my favorite characters. Whether he’s thrilling in battle or being cruel to his peers or showing a rare glimpse of friendly humanity, I always enjoy writing his sections. I hope you all look forward to seeing him in action when Threads of Reality: Shadows of Revolution is finally finished.
Which should be some time relatively soon. At least, I hope.