The Making of Dragonbound Part 4 Character Arcs: Kanvar

I totally need illustrations of the Dragonbound characters for these coming posts (because blog posts are so boring without pictures). Unfortunately one of the artists I work with is already in the middle of doing some original cover art for me, and the other artist is doing illustrations for a picture book for me. I thought about maybe doing some sketches myself but . . . well, my last attempt art art (last week trying out a new water color pallet) turned out like this. butterflies001And the oil painting I attempted last month turned out like this.

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Ah well, my hands shake a lot more nowadays. 🙂 But that’s completely off topic, except for to say, until I can get a real artist to illustrate these characters, I’ll have to leave it up to everyone’s imagination.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Kanvar is the central character of the Dragonbound series, by that I mean he gets Point of View time in every book, but the series is not all about him. Each book has a different main protagonist and most of the books have multiple Points of View. The largest part of Kanvar’s character arc occurs in the first two books.

**Spoiler Warning Dragonbound: Blue Dragon and Dragonbound II: White Dragon.**

Chapter 1 of Blue Dragon starts with the following description of Kanvar. “Heart pulsing, Kanvar pushed his way through the cloth door of the herbal shop out onto Daro’s busy street. His left leg dragged behind him. It had been twisted and crippled since birth. His left arm hung at his side, half as big as a normal arm with only two fingers and a thumb. But he couldn’t let his deformed body slow him down.” But Kanvar’s visible physical challenges aren’t where his main character arc springs from. To dispel any doubt that his twisted leg and half-sized arm and hand are going to seriously impede him, the third page of the book gives this lovely display of Kanvar’s temperament and physical ability.

“Look what we have here?” an older boy saw Kanvar and followed him across the square to the street on the far side. “A cripple. Untouchable, pile of dung. What did you do in your past life, murder innocent children?” The boy spit into the dirt behind Kanvar.

Kanvar whirled to face him. “I belong to the dragon hunter jati. My grandfather was Kumar Raza, the greatest dragon hunter who ever lived.”

“Raza?” the boy’s eyes widened. “You lie. Besides, I heard Raza went in search of the Great White Dragon and never returned. He’s probably dead, so that makes him the worst dragon hunter that ever lived.”

Kanvar threw himself at the older boy, tackling him to the ground, and pummeling him with his good hand. The older boy tried to block Kanvar’s blows, but he belonged to one of the farmer jatis and hadn’t been trained in fighting like Kanvar had.

“Never insult my grandfather again.” Kanvar gave the pathetic boy a kick in the ribs for good measure then set out once more for home.

That little scene always makes me smile, because of it we know that Kanvar does have physical challenges, but he does not perceive himself as a cripple. His greatest physical challenge, however, is unseen by anyone. As a child whose blood springs from Naga lines on both sides, he is genetically a Naga–a Naga hiding in a society where where Nagas have been hunted and killed for a thousand years. In fact, he witnesses his own mother try to kill his father and brother for being Nagas  and has to flee for his life or die as well. He knows that around the age of fifteen, the dragon fever will come upon him, and if he does not bond with a Great dragon, he will die. Or, the fever will give him away as a Naga and the humans will kill him, which would be a swifter and less painful death, but still a death he intends to avoid. With the humans at war with the Great dragons, the odds of him finding a Great dragon to bond with and surviving are slim. In true Kanvar fashion, he tackles that impossible quest with the same vigor and energy he used to tackle the older boy taunting him in the market place.

Without recounting the entire plot of the first book, I’ll just say that Kanvar, by breaking all rules of both human and Nagas, succeeds in bonding with a Great dragon, defeating all enemies that stand in his way, and saving his brother’s life in the process.

But Kanvar’s zeal in saving himself and his brother lands him in direct conflict with his father, the Naga king. For Kanvar, this is a more difficult conflict to resolve. For me, the physical story arc of his battle to stay alive and bond with a Great dragon pales in comparison to Kanvar’s internal struggle–a struggle of identity and loyalty. A personal struggle to overcome the traumas of his childhood and find a place for himself in the world. He can’t help but feel emotionally scarred by his own mother trying to kill him when he was a child, or by the fact that, given the choice between which son to save, his father chose Kanvar’s older brother to escape with and left Kanvar to fend for himself. Though Kanvar’s feelings of betrayal and abandonment are buried while he takes care of the more immanent need to bond, they resurface when he comes in contact with his father and brother again so many years after they abandoned him and learns that they have been living in luxury in a golden palace hidden in the jungles of Kundiland. Though Kanvar’s father tries to explain that he went back and searched long and hard for Kanvar until he was told Kanvar was dead, and though Kanvar’s older brother risks his own life to try to retrieve Kanvar from the humans, Kanvar can’t bring himself to forgive his father. To make the hard feelings between them worse, the dragon that Kanvar bonds with is his father’s greatest enemy. Another factor that adds to Kanvar’s animosity toward his father is that it was his father who wiped his grandfather, Kumar Raza’s, mind and sent him off weaponless and armorless to the Great North never to return. Kumar Raza is Kanvar’s idle, and his father’s perfidy in severing Raza from his family is unforgivable in Kanvar’s eyes.

Despite Kanvar’s anger at and distrust of his father, his father loves Kanvar dearly. His father’s greatest desire is to restore their family unity even if that means accepting the dragon who once was his enemy. This familial conflict is played out to conclusion in book 2. By the end of White Dragon, the conflict with his father is basically resolved, but Kanvar’s actions put him into deeper and deeper conflict with the other Nagas at the palace. A schism between the Nagas cracks open and eventually shatters Kanvar’s family in later books. In a sense, the overarching conflict of the whole series is the struggle of Kanvar’s family to deal with each other, to survive, and to make a place for themselves in a hostile world. A family drama, so to speak, at the center of a whirlwind of epic fantasy battles, and Kanvar is at the center of the center of all that.

 

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