Wow, it seems like it's been a while since last I posted part of my series! Sorry about that, dear readers. I'm back now, though, ready to give a little inside scoop on one of my favorite characters in Veiled Rose. He is the supreme ruler of all her surveys, father of his people, the Imperial Glory of Noorhitam.
And he wanted clowns for his coronation.
Khemkhaeng-Niran Klahan, son of Molthisok-Khemkhaeng Niran, was only nine years old when his father died, possibly by nefarious means. The death of the father meant a subsequent coronation of the son, naming him once and for all the Sacred Father of the Empire. Rather a lot of responsibility for one small boy.
One small boy who should, according to his (quite possibly wicked) uncle be easy to control.
Sepertin Naga liked the look of that babyish face. It reminded him of his dear, departed sister. She had been a most pliable girl.
But there was a set to the emperor's jaw that his uncle failed to see. This jaw he had inherited from his father and a long line of emperors. Dynasties are not made of weak links. (p. 268)
Granted he's still a child. One might even say a petulant child given his insistence upon clowns at his coronation. Sepertin Naga, his uncle, sees nothing but a spoiled brat who, because he is the Imperial Glory, must be carefully catered to.
"We never have clowns," said Emperor Khemkhaeng-Niran Klahan. "Not funny ones. The only clowns I've ever seen always teach a moral."
"Such is the role and duty of those who strive in the comedic arts, to instruct and enlighten their Sacred Father."
"You, most Glorious One."
Nevertheless, if clowns the Emperor wants, clowns the emperor will have. So it is that Lionheart, under the guise of Leonard the Lightning Tongue, is brought to the Aromatic Palace and made to perform before the solemn seated upon a magnificent throne. He sees the boy and is at first ready to dismiss him as too young and too inexperienced to possibly fulfill the enormous task before him.
But one thing Emperor Klahan does not lack is courage. For though the mantel of the empire is far too great for him, still he sits under its weight, untrembling, unafraid. He knows the duty to which he was born, and he will fulfill it with honor.
Lionheart would probably have hated the boy had they met when the same age; everything about him was so carefully put together, ever word spoken with such care. At age nine, it was not a manner that would win him friends among his peers.
It might win the respect of an empire. (p.288)
I really like this character. He is full of unexpected depths, for all he is a child. He is wise beyond his years and extremely well educated. He speaks Lionheart's language with completely fluency that takes the poor jester-prince (who is himself desperately struggling to learn the complicated Noorhitamin dialects) by surprise. Klahan also knows many of the deeper, darker secrets of Lunthea Maly city, secrets his uncle does not suspect he possesses.
One cannot help but think that Emperor Klahan will have a difficult life, balancing the rule of his empire against the machinations of ambitious Sepertin Naga. And the temple, Ay-Ibunda, lurks at the very heart of his city, and it is more dangerous by far than any conniving uncle! Somehow, I think Khemkhaeng-Niran Klahan will prove himself a hero in the end, however.
And I think we all might just have to make a visit to Noorhitam again one day . . .