This post launches a new series I call Building Character, in which authors write about a character in their novel. Nancy Jardine is the first with Enya of Garrigill, a young warrior in her Celtic Fervour Series. Historical fiction fans can find the fourth, Agricola’s Bane, on Amazon: Nancy Jardine books
But back to Enya of Garrigill, I like this description: “Enya has strong features which are in keeping with her resolute determination.” She may be young, but she’s tough.
Here. I’ll let Nancy do the talking.
Who is your character?
Her name is Enya of Garrigill. Agricola’s Bane, Book 4 of the Celtic Fervour Series, opens with Enya having passed fourteen summers and she’s already a well-seasoned Late Iron Age Celtic warrior.
What does she look like?
Enya has strong features which are in keeping with her resolute determination. Her wide brow is softened by arresting eyes the colour of a changeable grey winter storm, eyes which sometimes betray her tender years and physical immaturity. Strong cheekbones flank a long nose that sits above front teeth which overlap slightly. Her chin is neat but often used with great effect to display her single-mindedness. The light brown soft-textured hair that has a tendency to escape her lengthy hair braids feathers the edges of her oval face and lifts her to comeliness, especially when her rare humour surfaces. The circumstances she inhabits are highly dangerous, but when Enya gives her wholehearted trust and love, it softens an often stern appearance.
What is your character’s back story?
Enya is a second-generation Garrigill warrior, a clan member who as a small child fled from Brigantia (Book 1 of the series), her family’s flight northwards being to avoid inclusion into the Roman Empire when the Roman legions dominate Brigantia (currently Cumbria and Yorkshire, England). By the end of Book 3 of the series, the Garrigill clan have migrated to Taexali Territory (current Aberdeenshire, Scotland) where they fight a pitched battle alongside the Celtic warriors of Calgach against the Ancient Roman legions of General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola.
The battle is disastrous for the Celtic warriors of the north who flee to the safety of the Caledon Mountains when the battle turns in the favour of the Romans. Enya bloodies her blade at this Battle of Beinn na Ciche: her warrior status elevated. In the chaos of the final moments of the battle she becomes separated from most of her family members, though days afterwards she finds them sheltering in the foothills of the Caledon Mountains.
What is your character’s role in your novel?
Agricola’s Bane, Book 4 of the series, opens with Enya determined to find her slightly older brother Ruoridh and her younger cousin Beathan who have not been seen since the Battle at Beinn na Ciche. Ruoridh and Beathan are not believed dead – there’s been no evidence of their corpses even ten days after the battle – and Enya is convinced she will be able to find them. The difficulty is that Taexali Territory is now flooded with Ancient Roman soldiers who are moving from temporary camp to temporary camp in a north westwards direction. It’s hazardous for anyone to be moving around anywhere since the locals have mainly fled to the mountains after the battle. Along with Nith of Tarras and Feargus of Monymusk Enya sets out to find her kin; establish they are dead; or prove the lads have been taken as slaves by the Romans which is a distinct possibility. Along with her companions, she also has the perilous task of gathering information about the movements, and future military campaign intentions, of General Agricola’s legions. A spy captured can expect inevitable death!
Why should readers care about this character?
Enya isn’t only battling with separation anxiety from her lost kin, who are both very dear to her and in fact can be named among her best friends; she’s also a prisoner of her own developing physical emotions. She’s not yet chosen her first lover even though she’s reached childrearing status and battles with her developing sexual emotions. She finds herself torn between her developing romantic feelings for Nith who has been an almost foster-brother for the last couple of years, and her other travelling companion Feargus who now seems to be an orphan, his family having been decimated by the Roman usurpers. Her physical warrior strength is counterbalanced by her growing emotional maturity.
Give a brief excerpt featuring your character.
This scene is near the beginning of Agricola’s Bane. Enya and her scouting patrol encounter some Roman auxiliaries while on surveillance duty in woods near Ceann Druimin where her family have taken shelter.
When Enya reached Colm, the soldier she had speared to the ground squealed and bleated as he squirmed to free his upper arm from the entrapment, his attempt to break the shaft unsuccessful. Frantically swinging it in her direction, the young auxiliary whirled and bucked to avoid the slashes of her blade. As she raised her long knife anew, the end of the spear walloped against her jaw, the impact splintering the tip, the sudden pain excruciating. The blow was not sound enough to knock her over, but the jarring sent the man sprawling. Landing heavily on his side, he yelped when the pole cracked asunder, the spear tip still stuck firmly in his upper arm. Forcing him onto his front with one well aimed boot roll, Enya clipped away the shallow helmet neck-guard with her knife.
She had him at her mercy but she would give him none.
Striking repeatedly at the freed flesh with her long blade, which was not much shorter than the Roman’s gladius, a white hot rage engulfed her. Blood spattered and bone cracked.
Would her Celtic lands never be free of the Roman scum? The next cut was for Ruoridh. Another hack was for her cousin, Beathan, and more for Feargus’ dead kin from Monymusk. Her blade continued a repetitious slashing. Her brother would be found or avenged. Either way, she vowed to remove as many of the Roman usurpers as she could.
Fergus’ noisy reprimand eventually penetrated her frenzy. Lowering her blade she stared at him, the thudding inside her chest almost engulfing her.
It was his palms cradling her shoulders and his soft voice at her ear that reminded her to breathe properly. “Enough. He will trouble Colm no longer.”
Synopsis of Agricola’s Bane:
A.D. 84 Northern Roman Britain
Nith of Tarras helps Enya of Garrigill in the search for her kin, missing after the disastrous battle at Beinn na Ciche fought between the Caledonian warriors and the mighty Ancient Roman legions. Enya soon has a heartrending choice to make. Should she tread Vacomagi territory that’s swarming with Roman auxiliaries to find her brother? Or, should she head south in search of her cousin who has probably been enslaved by the Romans?
Commander of the Britannic Legions and Governor of Britannia – General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola – is determined to claim more barbarian territory for the Roman Empire, indeed plans to invade the whole island, but finds not all decisions are his to make. It increasingly seems that the goddess, Fortuna, does not favour him.
The adventures of the Garrigill clan continue…
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