The Goddess’s Choice by Jamie Marchant
The crown princess Samantha fears she’s mad; no one but she sees colors glowing around people. The peasant Robrek Angusstamm believes he’s a demon; animals speak to him, and his healing powers far outstrip those of his village’s priests. Despite their fears, their combined powers make them the goddess’s choice to rule the kingdom of Korthlundia.
In my sword and sorcery novel, The Goddess’s Choice, Samantha’s ability enables her to discern a person’s character through their multi-colored aura, and Robrek’s makes him the strongest healer the kingdom has seen in centuries. But their gifts also endanger their lives. Royals scheme to usurp the throne by marrying or killing Samantha, and priests plot to burn Robrek at the stake. Robrek escapes the priests only to be captured by Samantha’s arch-enemy, Duke Argblutal; Argblutal intends to force the princess to marry him by exploiting Robrek’s powers. To save their own lives and stop the realm from sinking into civil war, Robrek and Samantha must consolidate their powers and unite the people behind them.
The Goddess’s Choice is based on a Norwegian fairy tale, “The Princess and the Glass Hill.” Though my favorite fairy tale as a child, it disturbed me that the female character has no name and no role other than being handed off as a prize. My novel remakes the crown princess of Korthlundia into a strong heroine who is every bit as likely to be the rescuer as the one rescued.
Here’s an interview with one of the characters, Robrek
Robbie, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m demon-cursed. Can’t you tell from my dark skin, dark hair, and green eyes? Father Gildas, the village’s priest, wanted me left out to die as baby and won’t let me attend the temple school. My father, the richest farmer in the Valley, beats me, and part of me has always believed I deserve it. That is, I thought so until I met Milady. She doesn’t believe me demon cursed. Astonishingly, she thinks I’m an amihealer—a sorcerer able to heal and communicate with animals. It’s true I ride a Horsetad, a breed of horse that usually roams the Reidhlean and is supposed to be untamable. But can she be right and everyone else wrong? If so, where is the justice in the way I’ve been treated?
And just who is Milady?
She’s a noblewoman I met at the Coan Valley Horse Fair. She saw me explaining to my father why this or that horse wouldn’t do for our farm—the one use my father has for me—and she asked me to help her choose her horse. But even after she chose her horse, she still wanted my company. She wandered the fair with me, danced with me, and even kissed me on the cheek when she had to leave! I will always love her, even though I know I’ll never see her again. Why couldn’t she be a village girl instead of a Lady?
Tell us about your Horsetad.
I call Wild Thing because she isn’t really tame. She won’t let anyone but me ride her, although she liked Milady and let the noblewoman feed her an apple. I found her on the edge of the Reidhlean plans when she was only a few hours old. Her mother had been killed by a panther. She’s my best friend, my only friend, really.
Why do you like to help animals?
Unlike humans, animals care about me and want me hanging around. Besides, when I heal an animal something hard to describe happens. I feel an intense pleasure, somewhat like other men tell me is to be had with a woman. Not that any village girl would ever let me close enough to find out. Once, the male relatives of one of the village girls jumped me because I looked at her with too much interest.
What about your mother?
She died giving birth to me. My demon blood killed her. My father loved her and hates me for costing him his wife.
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I have one older brother, Boyden. Because I’m so small and weak, he calls me a worm. He’s always telling on me and getting me in trouble for things he did. He was furious when I danced with Milady. He beat me so badly I nearly died. I would have if it weren’t for Myst.
Who is Myst?
She’s the local herb witch. She claims to have been a friend of my mother’s. She wants to take me as her apprentice, but she makes me nervous. She says I have great power, and she expects great or terrible things from me. She says that someday bards will sing of me. Isn’t that absurd? She doesn’t know how stupid I am. For Sulis’s sake, I can’t even read, or write my own name.
Heard you were having some trouble on your father’s farm. Can you tell us about it?
My father’s crops were destroyed, my brother claims by a terrible demon. But I know he was just a coward and ran. You see, this “demon” was a horse unlike any I’ve ever seen. It looks like it’s forged of pure bronze, and it’s even smarter than Wild Thing. But you can’t tell anyone. If my father finds out I’ve hidden her in a stable in the woods, he’ll kill us both.
Can you tell us about the politics of Korthlundia?
We have a king, but he’s pretty old, ninety or something. He has only one child, the seventeen-year-old crown princess. I’ve never seen her, but she couldn’t be as pretty as Milady. They say there’s some kind of trouble in the capital: a duke trying to take control of the kingdom from the princess. I really don’t know much about it. It doesn’t have anything to do with me.
How do you see your future?
I want to run off to the capital. Maybe there my appearance won’t stand out so much. Maybe there I can heal animals in peace and people won’t make the sign against evil whenever I walk by.