Metamorphosis of a villain

Sunday, May 20 on The Celtic Rose blogsite, Miriam Newman ran an interesting article from Erin O’Quinn on the nature of her villain Sweeney. What follows below is not a repeat but an extension of those comments.

The first time the reader hears about Owen Sweeney, it is a flashback, as Caylith remembers freeing her captive mother from the clutches of a dark, brooding man confined to an invalid’s cart. Not only does she free her mother, but her friends manage to capture all Sweeney’s cattle and tie the cripple into his own cart. From there he is delivered to the High King for judgment and punishment. His own family members accuse him of murdering his late wife and holding captive women for vile purposes.

In Storm Maker the reader learns that Sweeney, bound into his cart and thrown into the turbulent sea, has somehow escaped and has ordered the capture of Caylith’s beloved Liam. In  that book, Sweeney is even more vile than before, for he has hidden himself far from the haunts of men, in a tiny clay hut on the northern promontory. Here he has surrounded himself with crude lickspittles while he waits for Liam to be delivered to him for punishment, even as he was punished by Liam’s kingly father.

Caylith lies concealed in a tunnel under his hut, listening to the sounds that threaten to suffocate her with horror.

 I had come to him with the suspicion that he had enslaved my mother, and my conjecture had proved true. Before I could steal out of his locked brugh that night, I had been trapped with him, my back against the door of his murdered wife’s sleep chamber. That same feeling returned now—the realization that I was cornered by a ravening animal, and only guile and cunning would free me from his jaws.I put together the next sounds I heard into a picture of what was happening. Sweeney rolled his chair away from the table and over to his raised bed. He put his enormous arms on the sides of the bed and slowly dragged his body out of the cart and pulled his bulk onto the bed. I could even hear the way he grasped his lifeless legs and drew them onto the bed, the way they fell with a thud onto the hard, matted-down surface.The man had not bothered to wash, or take off his clothes, or even to instruct his lickspittles to change the reeds on his bed. He had sunk so low that he truly had become almost an animal. No wonder the stench of the room was so powerful. It was the fetid odor of uncleanness and of something else, almost inhuman.Not to give away the plot of Storm Maker, but Sweeney is finally delivered to Father Patrick; and in The Wakening Fire, he has once more begun to make himself heard, as Caylith hears the heart-stopping, grating sound of his cripple-cart’s wooden wheels against the wooden floor of the monk’s house where he’s being held. This time Caylith has gathered her deep fear into a controllable place where her curiosity can overcome her terror of the man.

From the time she finally allows him to speak, Caylith begins to realize that there are layers to this man she had loathed–this dark force who had captured and dishonored her mother, the one who had killed his own wife.

Here the author Erin O’Quinn admits that even she changed her mind about Sweeney. There must be compelling reasons why a highly-educated, wealthy man who had sired six children by a wife he loved–why such a man would come to be accused by his own family of unspeakable crimes.

And here is where O’Quinn steps aside and invites you to learn Sweeney’s secrets for yourself. The Wakening Fire is available at http://www.bookstrand.com/the-wakening-fire  (buy link)