The main character of The Easy River to Success is a government minister by the name of Benetus. This character is a Machiavellian type who has used cunning, his way with words and also a bit of magic to gain prominence at court. I really wanted to steer away from the cliche of having a warrior or ‘good’ guy as the main subject of a fantasy story. I just think that such an approach is a bit hackneyed now. Although the setting is still the pseudo-medieval one you might expect I thought it was more realistic to actually give the stage to a pen-pusher rather than a sword-wielder, as even amongst the governing classes by the late middle ages most men would be engaged more in administration than in warfare.
His character is also loosely based on that of Piero della Vigna, the first minister to the Emperor Frederick II, about whom I am currently writing a novel – see Stupor Mundi. I see both Piero and Benetus as characters with a great degree of internal conflict. On one hand they demonstrate loyalty to their sovereign, yet they are also accused of treason and using their position to their own ends.
Other characters in the story include:
- Arax – a demon with whom Benetus makes a dangerous pact
- The King – mostly in the background, but based also on Frederick II. The king’s conflict is with the theocratic government of Belgania, much in the same way as Frederick fought with the Papacy.
- Flacio Abs – the kingdom’s treasurer and a friend of Benetus.
- Fanis Poll – a political rival of Benetus and a high-ranking priest. He is the main antagonist of the story.
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