Are you the hero or the villain in your own life’s story? How about in someone else’s story? This is a key question in Corry L. Lee’s newest addition to The Bourshkanya Trilogy, The Storm’s Betrayal. Dive in to her Big Idea to see just how morally grey a protagonist can be.
CORRY L. LEE:
I love when fiction forces a character to confront deeply held beliefs and, through struggle, become a better human. So often, however, this is where the story ends. Victory! Success! Enlightenment!
But what happens if the character must return to the world that originally shaped them? It’s far easier to be a good person and make the right choices when the people around you agree with and support your actions. But what if your newfound convictions run in the face of everything you’re expected to do?
In The Storm’s Betrayal, Gerrit is the son of Bourshkanya’s fascist leader, raised to believe in the State’s might and right. In Weave the Lighting (Book One of The Bourshkanya Trilogy, which I discussed in an earlier Big Idea post), Gerrit opened his eyes to the horrors of his father’s rule and thew in with the resistance.
Now he’s back inside his father’s regime, and the only way to keep himself and his friends safe—and achieve the resistance’s impossible-sounding mission—is to convince everyone, including his despotic father, that he’s exactly the heel-clicking mage they want to see.
If Gerrit plays his role right, the resistance could deal the regime a terrible blow. But playing that role means embracing the authoritarian power he once dreamed of, and which now sickens him. Where, then, is the line between playing the role and becoming it? And how fully did Gerrit turn his back on the boy who once dreamed of wielding power at his father’s side?
Bourshkanya’s storm magic provides fertile ground for exploring these questions in splashy, deadly, and magical ways. To create new magical objects, a mage must enter a realm of needs and ideas, a landscape shaped by their core personality. Reshaping that reality is central to creating magic, but in Gerrit’s quest to play the loyal regime son, he uses his training to reshape himself into someone who can better wear that mask, thinking he’s doing what is necessary. But is it possible to do the wrong thing for the right reasons, yet remain “good”?
Walking Gerrit along this tightrope between his personal convictions and the expectations of others, his desire to be good and the pressure from the regime to appear “strong,” was my Big Idea in The Storm’s Betrayal. Getting it right was a challenge. Various drafts had Gerrit slipping too far to one side of the line or the other, becoming irredeemable or not going far enough. In the end, with the help of lots of insightful readers, I think I nailed it.
Does Gerrit make all the right choices? No. But he does the best he knows how, struggling to make the world a better place and hold onto himself in the face of tyranny. I find his story an interesting one and hope it rings true, in some way, to choices we all make in our world.