I got off to a late start but here it is. I thought it would be fun to share memorable characters that I’ve run across in my reading. In my 18+ years of reading for pleasure, I have a few books/scenes/characters I’d like to share with you.
In 18+ years, some characters have stamped themselves indelibly into my brain and have continued to stand out for whatever reason. I’m sure as readers you have characters/scenes/books that you reread often. I plan to spotlight a few books/characters/scenes (every Tuesday till I’m done) that have stayed with me long after turning that last page. First up is a character from the futuristic fantasy, space-operatic series written by the wonderful Catherine Asaro featuring tortured hero, Kurj Skolia. Some minor spoilers are revealed in this series so if you don’t want to read any details then please stop reading here.
Character Name: IMPERATOR KURJ SKOLIA aka KURJ
Author/Creator: Catherine Asaro
Series: There are 13 books in the Ruby Dynasty series
Category: SF/F + strong romantic thread in most of them
Conflict: The Skolia Imperilate combating with the enemy Eubian Concord (or Aristos).
Books With This Character In It: Primary Inversion, The Radiant Seas
Background: Kurj is a former Jagernaut, now military leader of the Imperial Space Command and first born son of Roca Skolia. He is also considered Rhon (which means he is an empath). At seven feet tall, he is half-man and half machine. Kurj is an intimidating individual who is feared by many who are under his command. He’s authoritative and dictatorial. Underneath all that power lies a tortured man, struggling with his inner demons. He’s a man who is quietly reserved and lonely. A man living his life without inner peace. Kurj Skolia from the Ruby Dynasty series is one of my favorite memorable characters.
Quote: This scene is one that I’ve reread many times. It’s taken from The Radiant Seas. Kurj is speaking with his mother about the past and it’s a soul searching tense filled talk between mother and son. Kurj had found out that the grandfather he always loved and admired his whole life, was actually…his father via in vitro fertilization. It’s a sordid and explainable tale that involves the lack of empaths and need for more empaths during this precarious time of war.
This news of his heritage left Kurj a broken man due to the events that happened later that led up to his father’s death. The author provides plenty of back story for her characters. As a young kid, Kurj would often find himself fighting with the men in his mother’s life (apart of the back story). Obviously this had an impact on him and shaped him into the man he turned out to be: hard and ruthless.
“The past never goes away.” He tilted his head. “Have you ever compared an organic memory with one you’ve stored in a node file? It is amazing the distortions time creates. Give a man long enough and he can convince himself of his innocence in anything.”
Roca came over and sat next to him, within the shadow field. “You should take more care with your words.”
He stared at her, his fist clenching. “Even now, what is your first impulse? Put yourself in danger to protect me, lest someone overhear my words and use them against me. You didn’t leave Darr when he beat you. Only when he turned on me.” A long buried anger crackled in his voice. “Didn’t it ever occur to you that knowing he hurt you was killing me?”
Her voice caught. “I’m sorry.”
He had to make a conscious effort not to grit his teeth. “When I was a Jagernaut, every time I killed an Aristo in battle, in my mind I was killing Darr.”
Quietly she said, “I’m sorry, Kurj. I made the best choices I knew how.”
He looked at the stone floor. Cracks made a web of lines across it, but only a few wisps of grass had taken root. “I can’t handle your loving me.”
“Because if you hated me, it wouldn’t matter what I did to you.”
Roca swallowed. “And what would you do?”
It continues on… for several pages. If interested in reading this series, the first book is Primary Inversion (1996) and the direct sequel is The Radiant Seas. Catherine Asaro also wrote plenty of novellas centered around the Skolian Empire (Ruby Dynasty) and she also has several stand-alones like The Phoenix Code (do you enjoy cyborg love stories?) and The Veiled Web and Catch The Lightning (a good intro to her work) and the Quantum Rose (features another tortured hero who is an alcoholic). Those novels I just mentioned have strong romantic subplots in them. Hopefully, many of you will check out her books. You can actually download and read “Primary Inversion” for free from the Baen Free Library.
The Ruby Dynasty Series in Order of Publication. Note: The author often does not write in chronological order. Usually she skips forward or backward within the series time line. Hope you will give her a try.
Primary Inversion* (1995)
Catch the Lightning* (1996)
The Last Hawk (1997)
The Radiant Seas* (1998) direct sequel to Primary Inversion
Ascendant Sun (2000)
The Quantum Rose* (2000)
Spherical Harmonic (2001)
The Moon’s Shadow (2003)
The Final Key (2005)
The Ruby Dice (2008)
Diamond Star (2009)
Tip: A few of her ebooks are DRM-free and cheap at the Baen Website.
*denotes the book(s) I have read in the series