Cold Steel, Crown of Stars News, & A Reprise: Five Ways of Seeing Andevai (Spiritwalker Monday 21)

Page proofs of COLD STEEL are complete and turned in.

The over-abundance of orange post-its has to do with a typesetting glitch (which I have been given to understand is already corrected).

This officially is the cleanest set of page proofs I’ve ever gone over. In a 597 page manuscript I personally found only four mistakes (the official proofreader called attention to a couple of other things for a total of perhaps 8 mistakes). The rest are small changes I made because I cannot stop niggling with the manuscript. Substituting one noun because I had repeated a different noun four times. Replacing a slightly clunky line of dialogue with a sharper snarkier one. And so on.

BUT IT IS NOW DONE. In other words, I can’t change anything else even if I wanted to.

Meanwhile, sometime later this week Orbit UK will be announcing the release of all seven of the Crown of Stars books in digital editions. They asked me to write up a Crown of Stars Retrospective post (in whatever manner I wanted to retrospect the series), and composing that short essay took all my post-writing time for the week. So I still have not completed the second part of the post on the Creole of Expedition (Part One here). In fact, I have no Monday post ready to go at all, and thus because I determined to post every Monday like I promised, I decided here today to reprise a post from May 2011 in which I group the most common reactions to Andevai as he appears in Cold Magic into five basic descriptions. I did this because reactions were very divided, and also because I knew once Cold Fire came out, I would likely get a new set of reactions.

Here they are, five ways of seeing Andevai (behind a cut so those who remember the post can, if they wish, skip it):

1) Cookie-cutter and completely cliched arrogant jerk stuck into the book because author felt obliged to have a non-essential and pointless romance element.

2) Arrogant jerk who is borderline abusive. Despite the things he does to aid Cat (and Bee) in the last third of the book, it is unlikely there is anything he can ever do in book two to redeem himself for how awful he is to her at the beginning.

3) My god, what an arrogant jerk. I didn’t like him, but I can see that he has reasons for being an arrogant jerk and I did recognize that he changed in some ways over the course of the book. I just wish there had been more reasons to like him and/or to believe he fell in love with her at first sight as he claims in the end, because I don’t see much evidence for it, and I don’t really see why Cat could be attracted to him besides that it is stated that he is strikingly handsome. Still, I’ll withhold final judgment until book two.

4) Yes, he’s an arrogant jerk at first, but arrogance is how he has learned to protect himself from the difficult situation he was forced into years ago, and we slowly see layers of his background and personality revealed as he begins to respond to Cat’s presence and predicament with his own very cautious, tentative, and even awkward attempts at change. As one (older male academic) reader put it: “Andevai is a deeply divided character whose attachment to Cat represents his struggle to come to terms with a part of himself.”

5) I totally love me some arrogant-jerk sulky snarky handsome bad boys. Can’t wait until book two!

 

My goal has always been for readers’ view of him to change as they read Cold Fire. I don’t know how many of the people who really disliked him in Book One (if they even read Book Two) came to like him in Book Two, but perhaps they felt they better understood him. Perhaps the most challenging element of writing Cold Fire was in making his personality consistent as he shifts through this slow transformation and reveal of the different sides of his character.

 

19 thoughts on “Cold Steel, Crown of Stars News, & A Reprise: Five Ways of Seeing Andevai (Spiritwalker Monday 21)

  1. The shift in Andevai over the two books has been a testament to your writing. I liked him from the start and was interested in his story, but that’s my preferences and interest in wizard characters in general. “Cold mage, eh? Tell me more!”

    • Sometimes I forget that he is a classic wizard, no more no less, whatever other elements of his story get highlighted.

  2. My initial take on Andevai was that he was an alternate Petruchio, as in Taming of the Shrew, but that the balance of the story was shifted by the weight of Cat & Bee’s friendship. (If it’s not too far afield, I’d be interested in a Taming of the Shrew post for some future Spiritwalker Monday.)

    • I should do that because the earliest iteration of their relationship definitely comes not from Elizabeth/Darcy (as most people believe) but indeed from Petruchio/Katherine. Only w/o the misogyny. I once saw a wonderful production of Taming of the Shrew in which it was specifically played as the two of them playing that last scene tongue in cheek to satisfy the expectations and biases of others while in fact they had a marriage of equals. Not sure that is what Shakespeare intended, though.

  3. I saw him right from the start as someone with more backstory than we were allowed to see. I am definitely a part of the #4 group of readers.

    • There is a ton more backstory in Cold Steel.

      Some very interesting reactions to him have come from men who are academics or teachers, who I think see in him not the Warrior Hero but the boy-who-was-good-in-school.

  4. The-boy-who-was-good-in-school? Huh. I just thought of it as Scholarship Kid. There’s an element of being there on the sufferance of others that the first term doesn’t capture.

    • True, because that element is the greater part of what defines him. And of course the Scholarship Kid includes “the boy-good-at-school” as one of a larger set of characteristics.

      I’ve just been interested in how a certain kind of male reader seems to find him sympathetic I suspect because he is good at school and because he values that as a characteristic in himself.

      I was specifically trying to play against the valorization of war/soldier/sports figure so common in sff, and also not make him part of the nerd/geek template (nothing against either of those; they just weren’t what I wanted).

  5. I hated Andevai in the first book, and was not into the romance AT ALL. I loved the book for it’s focus on Cat and Bee, and then for familial drama, but Andevai annoyed me because I don’t find that behaviour cute (I’m not a Mr. Darcy fan, either).

    HOWEVER. Book II won me over.

    I’m a sucker for undying devotion, heartfelt apologies, and making an honest effort to make up for past sins. I really believed him in Book II, which (I think) is amazing. He seemed like a real person who had come to his senses, and I thought Cat was right to be wary. They both had growing to do. I’m glad it went the way it did.

    • Also: I feel like women might relate to him differently depending on their experiences and ages. I know that when I was younger, I loved the whole “Wuthering Heights” feel… The tortured, sadistic hero (but, oh! He really loves you!). Now, as an adult, I’m much more interested in a healthy, supportive relationship. I like the Petruchio/Katherine comparison (sans misogyny). Second chances are great, but only when they’re actually deserved.

      • I agree: People have very different tolerances for that particular “role.” I love Mr. Darcy (I admit freely) but I also have to admit that I could barely read Wuthering Heights as it was too angsty and tortured and awful for me. There just really is nothing appealing to me about Heathcliff. I do prefer the Petruchio/Katherine dynamic–as you say, sans misogyny, it is more of a “clash of equals.”

    • That’s very much one of the reactions I was hoping for. As a writer, I would not have had her “fall in love” with him at the end of the book one because not only is he an asshole in book one (he has reasons, yes, but there is really no excuse for it) but he’s also not “earned” her love (and she is smart and cautious enough to see that). But I also wanted to set up the physical attraction because it plays a significant part in how things go in book two.

      Also, to be honest, everything the reader has seen of him in books one and two matters in book three.

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