Ah! The enigmatic blind knight of Farthestshore.
This character was a later insertion into my debut novel. The original draft or two of Heartless did not include him. In fact, he wasn’t even in the draft of Heartless that first sold to Bethany House Publishers. He did not find his place in the Tales of Goldstone Wood until much later.
Oddly enough, however, this character is the oldest in the story!
What do I mean by that? Well, I have been developing the world of this series, the histories and back stories, since I was about 17, I think. Plenty of references made in Heartless are actually being made to much older stories. Things like the Flowing Gold of Rudiobus, King Abundiantus V, the goblin realm of Arpiar, etc. And of all these references, Eanrin is the oldest.
His first appearance was simply in a long series of notes (which I made in a red, spiral-back notebook during my final year of high school). I was reading extensively in mythology and classic Faerie Tale literature at the time, including a fun legend called The Leprecaun. This story told of King Iubdan and Queen Bebo of the Leprechaun folk. I’ve never been wild about the modern vision of Leprechauns. The notion simply does not intrigue me . . . little green men with pots of gold? No, thank you. But this story portrayed them in all their fey glory, older and wilder and perhaps a little mad. That was a vision of the Faerie realm that I could grasp and, perhaps, embellish.
And how intriguing was the portion of the tale devoted to Iubdan’s chief poet, Eshirt? I didn’t care for the name. But I did so enjoy the scarlet-clad character!
It was a few months later before my slowly-developing character of Eanrin found his way into any creative work. This was my first (and only) attempt at a long ballad. This attempt was made soon after reading the wonderful ballad, Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, in my first college English class. I just loved the ballad form and wanted to experiment with it myself.
Here I will (very bravely, I might add) include a short passage from the longer work, the bit where I first introduced Eanrin (and illustrate once and for all why I pursued prose rather than poetry!).
Iubdan Black Beard wise did rule
With Bebo his fair queen,
And laughter filled the Merry Land,
Song filled the Hall of Green.
Strange guests from many far off realms
Were treated by the king,
And when at last they journeyed home
Amazing tales they’d bring
Of Iubdan in his great hall
All hung with pine and holly.
Of Bard Eanrin, Chief Poet
Who told them tales so jolly.
They spoke of maiden Gleamdrené
Who stood by Bebo’s chair.
At every feast in Ruaine Hall
The queen’s gold cup she’d bear.
How silently she stood on hand
E’en when the company,
When led by Eanrin, would raise
A joyous harmony.
And yet this maiden standing still
Would smilingly look on
The dancing, whilst her golden eyes
Were filled with golden song.
“And though she raised no voice to join
Her sisters and her brothers,
Oft’ was her silence sweeter than
The singing of the others.”
They spoke of Glomar, Stony Face,
His mouth so set and grim.
“And not in all the ages has
A song been heard from him!”
At watch he stood o’er Ruaine Hall,
Before the golden door,
To serve his king by life or death,
In peace as well as war.
Eanrin, clad in scarlet, would,
Arm’d with his poet’s rod,
Dance ‘round about in front of him
And mercilessly prod.
“Leave me in peace, you plague, you wretch!”
The guard at length would cry.
“No, no!” the poet laughed with glee,
“Not ‘til a grin I spy!”
And Glomar stern would fold his arms
And set his bulldog chin.
“Only a fool like Eanrin
Would dare to sport with him!”
Wow. Special. But I had fun playing with the form, so I suppose that’s what counts!
This original version of Eanrin is quite the pest. Not nearly so enigmatic as the blind knight we see later in his life. Though plenty of his playful side remains by the time of Heartless, there is a much more serious edge to him now. After all, since his early existence as Chief Poet of Iubdan, Eanrin has become a knight.
And he has lost his eyes.
Watch for him as the series progresses. He may have a few surprises up his sleeve.