Considering the last few years, I’ve had my fill of thinking about, analyzing, and experiencing my own fears. So instead, I’m going to give you three fears of one of my favorite characters from Sand of Bone.
Shella is a Blade in her early fifties. Her entire identity is enwrapped in her work: the training and guidance of young Blade-hopefuls. Her most apparent fears change over the course of the novel, just as the day-to-day fears we wrestle with shift from year to year depending upon outer circumstances. But, as with most of us, it’s the underlying (sometimes unacknowledged) fears that drive our decisions in the midst of crisis These are the fears that motivate us when there is little externally to fear, that quietly alter our choices when we think we’re making logic-based determinations.
Shella fears letting people down. This comes out as taking on an unreasonable level of responsibility for the Blade-hopefuls under her watch. Who have ever been under her watch. If one of her hopefuls is killed in a skirmish ten years after leaving her training arena, Shella will try to figure out what she failed to teach or what she taught incorrectly. This fear drives her so strongly, she’d rather place herself in deadly danger than face life with that sort of failure in her memory.
Shella fears being a fool. Despite her accomplishments and outward confidence, she has said and done very stupid things in front of a great many people—things that prevent her from being fully respected despite her skill level. Now she’s constantly on alert for anything that might mislead her, that might be intended as an insult, that might be setting her up for failure.
Shella fears being irrelevant. She didn’t become a Blade for the sole reason of serving SheyKhala. She wanted to be acknowledged and recognized for her skills, and Blade-training was one of the best means available to her. Even so, she wasn’t satisfied to be the best fighter. She made it a point to follow a path that made her increasingly valuable, and one that ensured her name would be remembered through the hopefuls she taught. She surrounded herself with the best–people who would push her and challenge her to be better. Her lover first caught her attention because others started speaking of him as one day becoming an outstanding commander. (He kept her attention, though, by being a remarkable man.)