Characters and Settings in Of the North

Æschild: our main character. SCAdian, persona 11th-century Anglo-Saxon. She is given a ring which takes her to her persona’s time. The MBTI, which I’ve found handy for helping characters with consistency, has her as ENFP. She’s curious, outgoing, and adventurous, and was the kind of kid who sat in the wardrobe at home, purposely shutting herself inside it, so unlike a lot of characters in time- or world-travel books, upon finding herself in a different time and place, her first thought isn’t immediately how to get back.

Richard, MKA Richard: A friend of Æschild’s who is accidentally sent to his persona’s time. He’s mostly in the SCA for the fighting, and when he ends up in a place where there’s really not that much fighting to be done, he chafes a little, but adjusts pretty well overall. Upon returning he goes back to focusing on fighting within the SCA.

Æschere: one of the foremost men of the village. I don’t have that much more to say about him, because in the first draft he existed mainly as a motivation for something AEschild needed to do for the plot to work out (he was a mere Device), and in revisions I’m still working out changes and consistency and such. Introverted characters can be so hard to get to know sometimes (and I speak as one of them).

Ælflaed: a village woman about Æschild’s age, wife of Sigwulf, mother of Dudda, Ard, and Elfhild; family raises sheep. They take Æschild in when she turns up lost, and she lives with them.

Æschild also makes friends with a few other women, which helps her learn the sort of things she supposedly already knows (sometimes it’s hard to hide the fact that you’re really from the pampered twenty-first century), but these I think are the most major characters.

The major settings of the story are three: a bardic circle at Pennsic War, where the story opens; the house Æschild lives in in the modern world; and a piece of land in Westmoreland, near the border of Cumberland, a little south of what’s now known as the Lake District. It’s hilly, almost mountainous, with lots of small rivers and ponds and clumps of trees, with more trees in the river valleys. It also has a lot of fields, though they’re not nearly as big as modern ones, and dry-stone walls or hedges separate them. Being England, it’s often (though not always) cloudy, and the winters are warmer and rainier than Minnesota’s. Anglo-Saxon culture had two seasons, not four, summer and winter. So the song “Summer Is I-Cumen In” doesn’t refer to a point in June or July, but April or May.

Also, quite unrelated, today I finished writing about the SCA event my sister and I went to last Saturday, the Stellar University of Northshield. Is anyone interested in reading about it?


About Nolie Alcarturiel

Creative Writing major and Philosophy minor, contemplating a Master's degree in Medieval History. I enjoy practically anything to do with medieval history, including the domestic arts, with an especial emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon Era. In my spare time I read endlessly, do medieval living-history, hold philosophical debates at the drop of a hat, and write books on even slighter provocation.
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9 Responses to Characters and Settings in Of the North

  1. Noelialcarturiel, even though I’ve read a draft of OtN, I also appreciate the character summaries you posted here. I did, perhaps, have one “cringe moment”. In my lowly opinion, the comment about [something] is a spoiler. It seems to me that this information is best held in suspense.


    • noliealcarturiel says:

      Thank you. I’ll edit that out before anyone else sees it. Sometimes, as the writer, I know the story too closely to be able to distinguish between what is a spoiler and what isn’t.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Regarding your question, I should think some of us would enjoy such a recounting. I meant to comment on your previous and similar post. What I read there had the right amount of detail and pacing to bring the reader along in virtual reality. You did well in the “show, don’t tell” category.


    • noliealcarturiel says:

      Thank you. It can be hard to know how much detail to dump — how much is necessary for someone who wasn’t there to be able to see what’s going on, and how much is too much. And by the end of the following week I’ve invariably forgotten things, or details get blurry, or chronology gets mixed up.
      SUN was mostly classes, so it’s heavy on monologues, which was a challenge (though fun in its way, because of trying to capture in writing the ways the different people have of talking, and their mannerisms and things).


  3. Christine says:

    OH. I looove character posts! Characters are my favorite subject. 😀

    This was a blast getting a look into your characters. It sounds like a really fun cast! I love how Æschild isn’t trying to get back home right away. Like LOOOOVE. Because that is one of my pet peeves! All these characters go to a different world or something, and their first thought is how to get back home? Excuse me, but if I landed in another world I’d be jumping for joy and you’d have to drag me back to our world. Of course, I guess your characters are going back in time, not a different world, but still! Loved how you stomped that stereotype!


    • noliealcarturiel says:

      Thanks! In this case the difference between a different era and a different world isn’t that much, because 950 years ago was a long time ago, the culture was different, the world was still falling apart but in a different way from the current train of events, and so the shock and transitioning to living with all those differences is much like landing in a completely different world, though not the same.
      I think part of the problem with that stereotype is when the first such stories were written, they were a new concept, so ordinary people would be terrified and want to go home immediately. Then a new generation was raised on those stories, some of whom wanted nothing better than to have a similar opportunity. At the same time, people writing stories in the portal genre are still writing about people who are terrified and want to go home immediately, because that’s what’s done in the genre. It might be what’s done in the genre, but it doesn’t make sense in this story, so I’ve no problem throwing it out and having fun with the alternative.


  4. thegermangolux says:

    How bad is it that I have no idea what MBTI, ENFP, and MKA mean? Military jargon is bad, but y’all prose writers have almost as many acronyms, I find.


    • noliealcarturiel says:

      If I were Levi I’d tell you to Google them. However, for the last at least, Google is less than helpful. MBTI is a personality-typing thingamabob that’s based on psychology, but when it comes to helping you understand characters and keep them consistent, it’s handy, and pretty accurate. ENFP is one of the types. MKA stands for “mundanely known as”, which is used in the SCA of someone’s mundane name. So someone might speak of AEschild, and add “mka Sophia” to clarify for an audience that perhaps only knew me from school or something like that.


      • thegermangolux says:

        I knew I could Google it, but I wanted to be sure I had the right acronym. Google is subjective. The word of a friend is less so.


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