Monday, April 25, 2011

Grandfather's Tale Character: Marcel of Flamond

Since one of the major purposes of this blog was as a vehicle to discuss my LEGO stories--a selfish purpose intended to help motivate me to stay on track with it a bit more--today's post introduces a new theme of posts that will appear from time to time: a discussion of the characters in the titular story, Grandfather's Tale.

Marcel of Flamond was introduced in Chapter 1 of Grandfather's Tale as the Lion soldier who comes with the 1463 Treasure Cart, who is doing what he does: carting treasure to Castle Montjoie, King's Mountain Fortress. He arrives there in Chapter 3 at the same time as the adventurers who bring news of the bad guys' impending attack, and so he is swept up in the story as the soldier who lucks into escaping the castle with Princess Anne and the adventurers, Giles and Humbert,

Thus far--that is, Chapter X, the extent of the published story--Marcel has sort of just been riding along, while the real leadership has been provided by Giles and later Rebecca. Princess Anne is equally inexperienced and untried, but because of her royal station she's been taking some stands of leadership already. Even in battle, Marcel has yet to do much, since he gets told to stay close to the Princess while Giles and Humbert deal with the Fright Knights, or to stand back while the Forestmen shoot down the enemy.

So what is the point of having Marcel in this ensemble-cast story?

Well, first of all, Grandfather's Tale is being written as I go along. I have ideas of where it'll end up, ideas that are changing as I go along, but it's hardly fully formed. Thus, originally, Marcel got included because I needed someone's point-of-view to follow, some fairly normal character in a world of heroes, royalty, and magicians who could provide a starting point for me. The decision to include Giles and Humbert, which came about a chapter later, meant that when they got thrown together directly in the flight from Castle Montjoie, it made dramatic sense to have Marcel and Giles clash--and since Giles was clearly an experienced hero, Marcel quickly became the young, inexperienced hero.

This was a bit of a turn-around, because Marcel was never intended to be inexperienced, precisely. He was intended to be a competent, disciplined soldier--young enough to have a story-arc and even fall in love (although I didn't decide if that would be with the Princess), but the inexperienced part fits. After all, why would a soldier whose chief duty is to cart taxes to the king's castle have a broad experience of an adventurer or royal? Thus, by the time we get to his inactivity in the Dark Forest, Marcel is deliberately being cast as "not contributing much," to provide a deliberate contrast for later chapters (as yet to come...) where he will grow into one of the main heroes. And, yes, the door for romance is still open.

So why did I pick Marcel specifically to be my hero? Obviously, I wanted to start with the classic Lion knights, which were my first Castle faction (King's Mountain Fortress was my first Castle set), but why did I start with the little fellow from Treasure Cart? Why not one of these guys:

The answer is that Marcel came with a sword. This made him the "favourite" of my Lion soldiers growing up, since my brother and I had a strict hierarchy of soldiers: swordsmen, axemen, spearsmen, archers, crossbownmen. Within this schema, Marcel (who only received a name when I started Grandfather's Tales) was the most highly favoured soldier. It was also a chance to introduce Treasure Cart, the set, for a brief moment of completion. As of Chapter X, we've also seen King's Mountain Fortress, Wolfpack Renegades, and Dungeon Master's Castle. Although the point of the story is not to focus on the sets; rather to use the sets to tell the story, I enjoy having the opportunity to include the sets, as integral nostalgic elements of my mental LEGO landscape.

Finally, although I King's Mountain Fortress and Treasure Cart, my brother only had Treasure Cart. Thus, for six years (six highly important years of childhood), until we each got the Guarded Inn, this soldier had a huge place in his collection as THE Lion soldier, and was eventually augmented with parts from an accessory pack or two to become a proper knight--a story arc or trajectory that may not be so different for the character in Grandfather's Tales, so it seemed appropriate.


  1. I love posts like this. Character development is my favorite part of story writing, and other writers talking about theirs is a great motivator for me to get to work on my own writing. I also appreciate the inclusion of pictures; they really add a lot. Keep up the good work!

  2. Well, it's a picture-based LEGO story, so it makes sense to include pictures. In any case, I'm glad you approve and I'm glad it motivates. It also motivates *me*, which can hardly be a bad thing.