The thing about writing imaginative fiction, whether it be any sub- class of science fiction or fantasy, is to create and maintain some very strong and solid templates for world and characters. Evil must be strong and frightening-something to make your soul churn-not your stomach. At least not too much. I have never been one for the gross out factor. Tubs of blood is something easy for humans to spill, because they do it all the time. Do not get precious. Our species is flawed and barely evolved out of the primordial pits. You do not even need to read history to verify this, simply watch the news or read the newspaper. We are very violent-which is why heroes (real heroes) are important. The conundrum is to create strong heroes that do not go all wimpy or stupid-or turn as evil as the forces they battle.
A person can be brave or willing to sacrifice. A group not so much. That is why we cling to our heroes and the myth of what they represent. Hope. Hope for us. Hope for the world. Hope for the little guy or girl down the street. It serves a purpose. Which is why real stories are important. The ancients understood this, and it is why they revered the storyteller and bard. Being a scholar is still a very much a minority and an ignored one at that.
Heroes fight evil. Sometimes the fight them in the form of dark mortals or immortals, mythical beasts, wicked queens or bloody dictators-the list is endless. Darkness is easy to imagine. It lurks in every dream and shadow. A strong hero is very hard to build. There are complications. They need to have flaws of course, a weakness or blemish which they struggle with. I also firmly believe they should not be stupid or weak. Their moral high stance should not makes things worse. It's a fine line to battle dark forces when the bad guy has no real moral scope, and the hero must maintain his ground.
I am not saying they do not get their hands dirty (or bloody) in the fight. Battle of some sort is always about be it magic or swords or words-or rocket launcher. It's keeping them smart enough to bring down the bad guy (or bad girl) and stay heroes and putting the adversary away in its appropriate place. You have to make them clever and smart. Sometimes they start out innocent. That is tougher.
When I was writing about Runa in Gate of Souls, she was from the start the main heroine (among some other cool heroes) and she also had the handicap of her innocence. She had to become strong and fight and yet maintain her core of goodness. She had to use her wits and resources to achieve her goals. She never hated. She was driven and did what she did out of love, not bitterness. Her familiar, Mellypip, must follow this same path.
Darcus, on the other hand, is a seasoned warrior, yet must balance killing and fighting to defend the innocent. He is the world weary warrior and his code is of the highest honor. He does what he does out of love too-his devotion is without question, as his the strength of his blade.
The adversaries, Panthara and her familiar Azmadu, were abused children with dominating parental figures that drove them to the dark on purpose. You can hate Panthara, but her complexity is there. You know why and also that she must pay for her sins.
The main evil of course was Koll and his familiar, Xabral. They are the most dangerous type of dark force-they embrace the darkness. They love it! They worship it and have no flicker of regret for anything they do in its name-and her name is Obsydia. Her evil is left for another blog after book 2, Tree of Bones, comes out. I do not which to spoil anything for my readers.
How does Runa fight the dark forces? She has her devoted friends of course, but she faces the battle with the strength she has at hand-her wits and knowledge, training with magic and staff, courage, and love. Her love of family and friends are her rock. She may hate the evil and it may scare the crap out of her, but she faces it with these weapons and wins. This does not always work in this mortal world. That is not the point. This is a world that we want to believe in.
Now I must go back to writing book 3, Fires of Rapiveshta. A writers work is never done. Which is fine with me.