There’s been multiple people who have commented on my “lack of a villain” ideas I floated around yesterday. Here are a few.
Marcus: How interesting that you wanted a literal villain to focus on.
Tim: I hadn’t really thought about the lack of a true villain in Auralia’s Colors. The Queen could be seen as a villain. She turned Abascar’s focus inward, and away from The Keeper. As the Wintering continued, these traits deepened; becoming a part of successive generations like the young girl with the kitten.
Rachelle: I hadn’t noticed the lack of a villain.
So why did it strike me as so odd? I’ve been analyzing and re-analyzing to figure this out, and I think I have a conclusion, at least for me, as to why I felt the lack of a villain.
(NOTICE: PLOT SPOILER BELOW, so only click if you have read the book!)
It was because there WAS one, but Jeffrey Overstreet kept him hidden. All through the book, I kept thinking to myself: Surely there is some “mind”, some “evil machination” at work directing these beastmen? Surely there is some leader over at the mysterious “Cent Regus”—that source of war, sorcery, and ruin? Surely there is some secret that I am not being told?
And my hunches were right. In his visible right hand, Overstreet gave us C.S. Lewis’ “Wintering Queen” (Thanks, Tim), but in his hidden left hand he held back Tolkien’s “Necromancer/Sauron”. And the Chieftain even has “lidless eyes”.
I felt the lack because I was supposed to. Overstreet was masterfully building suspense so that when the Chieftain was revealed at the end, it fit. It made sense.
And it was OK to hold him back. This story is, I think, just background to the real struggle that will occur in the Expanse. A struggle far deadlier than anything they could have imagined. The stakes are far higher than just the existence of the walls of Abascar. Far higher than which kingdom has the most glory. And the Color-bearing Weave of Auralia will be the key to victory! Not just physical, but at its heart, a spiritual victory. A redemption.
Here are two hints at the kind of power that the Colors have:
On page 189, Auralia is showing the cloth to an interrogator, who asks for a small piece of it.
Auralia answered, “You’re not the first to ask me that.” She reached into her pockets, drew out a bundle of golden strands. “You can take these threads. Something to help you remember.”
The woman held the threads up to the lanternlight. “Beautiful. Like autumn. Like honey. What are they?”
“I made them from long and bristly hair I pulled from a beastman’s mane while he was sleeping.”
The woman flung the threads aside and choked and staggered backward, her face purpling with revulsion and rage. “Insolence!” She hissed through clenched teeth, “You’ve touched an abomination!”
So Auralia is not afraid of the beastmen, and is able to see the beauty, even the hidden humanity in these people turned beasts. Overstreet gives us more. On the last page, he gives us a short synopsis of the next book:
The story will continue in The Blue Strand In The Auralia Thread—Cyndere’s Midnight—in which a Cent Regus beastman, haunted by the memory of Auralia’s colors, follows the tracks of the Keeper into an unlikely adventure with a woman from House Bel Amica.
So! Now we have it. Even beastmen can be redeemed by the colors. What power! What life-giving, eye-opening power must reside there.
I look forward to this “Beauty and the Beast” story!