Like most great epics, Talon can be studied within the well known monomyth framework described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces. This doesn’t mean that Talon is a typical or ordinary story that has been done a thousand times before; rather it means it follows a well loved paradigm in storytelling where a proper orientation or platform is given, showing the hero’s frail, human qualities, before he is launched into the different segments of his tale.
I think it would actually be very difficult to write an epic that did not come close to following the Hero’s Journey. Such a tale would surely be hard to understand, disjointed or jarring to read. Below is a basic description of the monomyth and how Talon both fits and casts a different light on each step.
The Call to Adventure: His first call to adventure (a sign that everything is about to change) is finding his Rada-kin, the icetiger later named Rekala (a). Interestingly, my early drafts began with Talon already being a Rada and having been with Rekala for four years. Throughout the editing stages, I was advised there was a lack of intro and orientation, letting the reader slowly get to know the character and where he has come from. What I formulated was designed to reveal more about Talon, and explain his relationship with Rekala better, but in the process, it neatly fulfilled the Call to Adventure much more typically. Later, Talon’s appointment as the ambassador for Jaria, launches his call to adventure in a more literal sense (b).
Refusal of the Call: When his Rada abilities are first manifesting, several characters point out to Talon how things are about to change. Talon expresses his doubt that he is important enough in the grand scheme of things to do anything particularly amazing for his people, but he does not refuse the call. In fact he is eager to (a) become a Rada and (b) do the bidding of Sy-tre he senses and leave Jaria to find help for his people. There is a refusal in the narrative, however, from some of the other Jarians who think Talon should stay to protect them with his new Anzaii abilities.
Supernatural Aid: Talon’s Rada and Anzaii abilities, which are common to his people, but not usually so strong. He literally has a guide (the female warrior Sarlice) and two magical helpers (his Rada-kin: the icetiger, Rekala and his Anzaii-kin: the earring, Tiaro).
The Crossing of the First Threshold: When Talon ventures beyond Tasset, we learn he has only rarely been this far before. After leaving Sarm, he is in completely new territory. His new abilities are also filled with uncharted territory for him, both in the waves (the telepathic/spiritual plane his abilities accesses) and in the waking world.
Belly of The Whale: When I introduced Talon’s fear of birds, it was to increase his believability as a person because I felt that someone who was horribly scarred by a bird as a child would surely have some lasting impressions from that. Unknowingly, I partly fulfilled the “belly of the whale” step in the monomyth, which is “often symbolized by something dark, unknown and frightening. By entering this stage, the person shows their willingness to undergo a metamorphosis, to die to him or herself.” (Source: MCLI Hero's Journey).
The Road of Trials: Talon and Sarlice’s journey from Jaria to Tanza is a road fraught with trials, mainly those imposed by pursuing enemies (the Zeikas). In the monomyth, these tests are said to often come in threes and that often the person fails one or more of the tests. Below is one way of looking at the main tests faced by Talon in this part of the novel.
Test 1: Getting help from the King of Telby. Failed.
Test 2: Resisting the temptation of Lira. Failed.
Test 3: Escaping from the demon dogs on the way to Tanza. Succeeded.
The Meeting With the Goddess: Unless I’m just not seeing it because I’m blinded by my own work, Talon does not experience a hieros gamos at just one point in the novel. Rather, this “love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love” (Source: MCLI Hero's Journey) surrounds Talon’s character from several sources and it is what gives him the courage and morality he needs to complete many parts of his task. Talon senses the all encompassing love from the Lightmaker, Krii and Sy-tre, the three persons worshipped by the Kriites. There is love from his adoptive parents (Bessed and Drea), his parents’ old friends (Damia and Annie), his new Rada-kin (Rekala), his new Anzaii-kin (Tiaro), his new guide (Sarlice) and a friend they meet on the road (Lira). Because of this love support, Talon is a very together character right from the beginning, even though he has lost both parents and his sister to the Zeikas.
Woman as Temptress: If you have read all of Talon and you read about this phase of the monomyth, you may notice that Lira is its literal embodiment in the story. In the Hero’s Journey the “hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey” and even though Talon was unwilling and drugged at the time, he failed this particular trial. Considering that his journey is to help save his fellow believers from destruction and realise his own destiny in the grand scheme set by their god, the Lightmaker, it is literally a spiritual journey. (Source: MCLI Hero’s Journey).
As the author, I’m happy to admit I did not introduce a literal woman as temptress deliberately—rather it made sense for Lira and the Zeikas to have a sexual/reproductive interest in Talon and his Anzaii blood.
Atonement with the Father: Talon’s flesh and blood father, Mandus, is deceased, but in the world of Chryne, ultimate power is held by the gods. In the case of the Kriites, their god is the Lightmaker, a male figure whom they believe created the world, oversees it and interacts with it only via his spirit wolf persona Krii. At the end of part one of this novel, Talon encounters the Lightmaker briefly as he passes through the barrier shield between Telby and Tanza. Rather than killing his spiritual father, however, Talon is empowered by the Lightmaker to face his fear of birds, and afterwards, he literally moves into a different realm.
Apotheosis: If anything, this is fulfilled by Talon’s elevation to Astor status after entering Tanza (and becoming Sleffion and Tolite). Although he doesn’t die a physical or spiritual death, he is forced to cut off an important part of himself—his ties to Jaria, which are suddenly cut when he hears Jaria has been obliterated. Being an Astor is not a god-like state of being, but compared to the commoners back in Telby, and those in Tanza without as many gifts, Talon has a tremendous amount of spiritual and physical power.
Many more trials occur in this part of the novel, as it reaches the climax (an immense war between the Tanzans and the Zeikas).
The rest of the monomyth is turned around in Talon, something I did purposefully to defy the typical modes of storytelling and reflect a more realistic perspective of life. i.e. the good guys don’t always succeed when we think they will. After I write book two, however, it will be interesting to see how much of the Ultimate Boon and the Return could be uncovered in that part of the story.
The Ultimate Boon: for Talon would be to achieve his purpose as ambassador for Jaria by getting help from Tanza to fight off the Zeikas back in his homeland. Instead, Talon’s original quest is transformed into something much bigger and more important—not only is he fighting for the people of Jaria, but for all Kriites, including the Tanzans. Ultimately, in many books to come, Talon will see that his actual quest, as deemed by the Lightmaker, was never only about the Kriites.
You can read about the rest of the steps in the monomyth below.
Refusal of the Return
The Magic Flight
Rescue from Without
The Crossing of the Return Threshold
Master of Two Worlds
Freedom to Live
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