Chapter Sixteen, No Vengeance / by E.M. Hernandez

Readers of Breaking the Skies like telling me who their favorite characters are. Sarai is a popular choice, as is Tem. A few people love Potts and at least one person has stated their love for Rhyn. It is Sentrus who is most likely to go unnoticed. And yet, he is unquestionably MY favorite.

Perhaps I've underdeveloped Sentrus on paper, which leads to my readers not connecting to him as I might wish. If this is so, it is not because I don't know him well enough, but because I know him too well and fail to say what I believe he is experiencing. Instead, I leave much to the imagination. He's been accused of blandness, of being a blank slate. But, he is not. Sentrus is a deep well, with strong brick walls around him. He feels intensely, and believes with undying conviction. He is dangerous, not because he is evil, but because he strives to be just. And yet he is also kind, and full of self-doubt; hoping so intensely to do right that he can be crippled by the fear of doing wrong. 

Chapter sixteen is a "Potts Chapter", written from that private soldier's perspective. It is action packed and thrilling, but it is important not because of what Potts does, but because of what does not happen to him. It was deeply important to me that we not experience Maelstrom combat from the perspective of the Artoren. I had no interest in writing a chapter about big metal monsters mowing down helpless soldiers. It would have left me with a bitter taste in my mouth and even a dislike for my heroes; for Mave and Sentrus and even Fevren, Rhyn, Quoto and Click. 

Instead, we experience the war from the side of the White Army as it fights for its life; as Potts fights for his life. He is not helpless, he thrills at the action, but he is not in control either. 

Then, we experience Sentrus at his best. 

How hard is it to resist futile gestures of anger? I find it to be immensely difficult, even in little things. Holding back from honking my horn at someone who cuts me off in traffic; talking behind someone's back when they irritate me at work; Not yelling at a customer service rep over the phone when they can't help me with what I need. The battle of conscience in these little moments of frustration add to the overall difficulty of the experience. It would feel so good to just let the person have it! No one would care. No one would judge me. No one would know. Resisting the urge to get my own back exists almost in a vacuum.

Sentrus, faced with an unfathomable moment of loss, and the opportunity to exact the sort of immediate and satisfying vengeance for which no one would blame him, holds back. He resists the urge to take what could be his and applies his principles and his beliefs with discipline, mercy, and good will. 

That's who I want to be. That's how I want to live. That's why Sentrus is my favorite.