By Laura Bickle
Okay. I’m not much given to crushes. But waaaay back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was a teenager. And I had a very teenage crush on a literary character. It was a very young crush in a lot of ways. The object of my crush was older, powerful, supernatural, and pretty darn much unobtainable. He was also one of those bad boy types. You know, the kind with a Dark Side. An outsider. And all the cool accoutrements: the dark clothes, the cape, the sword, the smoldering cold glare.
I know. You roll your eyes.
In my defense, I was sixteen. And I played a lot of D&D.
But my most significant literary crush was Gerald Tarrant. From C.S. Friedman’s COLDFIRE trilogy. The Neocount of Merentha, the Prophet of the Church for Human Unification on Erna. He was a sorcerer who was cast out of the Church.
Predictably, this symbolic send-off to hell pissed him off. And he harnessed this formless uncontrollable energy, the Fae, to bend to his will. He went further - he reached into the dark energy that was Dark Fae, made a terrible bargain for immortality. He slaughtered his own family, becoming the Hunter of terrible legend. He began as a vampire, feeding on blood. But he grew to feed on fear, and that became the one thing that sustains him through the centuries.
What does the Hunter do in his spare time? He hunts women like wild game in his dark forest. He’s cold, calculating. With little that remains of human emotion. And that would be the perspective I'd expect of a guy who's been alive for a thousand years or so. He eventually rousts himself out of his forest fortress to help a priest from the aforementioned Church save the world - but only because it serves his purposes.
Not much material there for a successful relationship in real life. And to be certain, I quickly sorted out the difference between fantasy and reality where romance was concerned.
But on the page, in that suspended reality, I felt some sympathy for the Hunter. He was the master of his own destiny, a figure really beyond tragedy and time. And that really speaks to Friedman’s power as a writer to bring him to life on the page, to make me feel for such an inhuman creature.