You may have heard about this new fantasy novel, The Unremarkable Squire, everyone (okay, me) keeps talking about. And you’re probably wondering, Who is this unremarkable squire and why do I care about him if he’s so unremarkable?
Let me introduce you to Obed Kainos, a young man with no particular dreams and no particular skills. A suspiciously ordinary young man. Or, as it says in the novel:
The indicated boy nodded and approached. He was an unremarkable boy. He wore soil-colored clothes that matched his lifeless mat of hair. He was not tall, not short, not gangly, not muscular, not anxious or arrogant. He was nothing if not common. His face was impassive, as if emotion never touched it. His brown eyes glinted with a cool life, not with the flame of rambunctious youth, but with the unclouded gaze of a mathematician or the unconnected look of a dreamer. Over his shoulder hung a worn sack.
Waaay back, when the first seeds of what became The Unremarkable Squire were planted, I wanted to tell the story of a fantasy school where knights and wizards and other staples of traditional fantasy went to learn their craft. My story was going to be about all the misfits, the skinny knight and the forgetful mage and all of that. Very original.
By the time I wrote The Unremarkable Squire, nearly everything had changed, but the idea of misfits and outcasts. And out of that, somehow, appeared Obed Kainos.
Obed doesn’t want adventure. He doesn’t not want adventure. It’s hard to know exactly what he wants, actually. (Ask his mom.) He’s mundane and more than a little odd. He becomes a squire because of a chance encounter. He swears an oath to his new master. He’s given a rather blase assignment.
And things go wrong. (Of course. There would be no book, otherwise.)
But the interesting thing–in fact, what makes the book fascinating, to me, at least–is how Obed reacts when things go wrong. Not with bravado or arrogance or wit or even good, homegrown ingenuity. Because he’s not that sort of hero.
Ask him, and he’d say he wasn’t a hero at all.
He just swore an oath and kept it, no matter what.
Which, when you think about it, isn’t unremarkable at all.