The Staff of Naught
When young Tylus Wilmer spots skeletons throwing themselves into the crashing waves off the coast it sets in motion a chain of events that will eventually shake the foundations of the kingdom of Doria.
The terrible Staff of Naught has resurfaced and found its way into the hands of a unlikely group of heroes who must decide if they want to use the awful relic to enhance their own power or destroy the thing once and for all. There are others who want to use the Staff of Naught for their own purposes and Tylus and his friends meet the powerful Priest of Ras, Seymour and his implacable swordsman Oliver.
It all comes to a head at one of the ancient White Marble ruins created centuries ago during the long-passed Imperial Era.
The Staff of Naught was my first book and my thinking was to display the difference between Faith Based Thinking and Critical Thinking. These two forms are thought are expressed through the characters of Seymour and Shinamar. Seymour uses Shalalee to carry out his mission from God while Shinamar influences Ariana to his interests.
What I find striking about the conflict is that both sides objectively want the same thing. Seymour wants the Staff of Naught destroyed and Shinamar wishes it to no longer influence people in the world. The way they go about finding solutions is completely different.
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Ariana and her brother are orphans making their way in the little town of Iv’s Folly when they become embroiled in the machinations of the Staff of Naught. Ariana is the first to touch the Staff and it effects her profoundly. She becomes an outlet for the ideas of Shinamar who appears to her as an apparition.
Hazelbub is a witch woman who ends up traveling with Ariana and the Staff of Naught. She acts as a mother figure for the group although her knowledge of the way people think is helpful as they progress through events.
Lousa is a beautiful woman of half-elf descent who is used to getting her way with a flip of her long green hair. Young Ariana brings out her motherly instincts and she becomes the ideological center for the group as they must decide whether to use the Staff of Naught or destroy it.
Oliver is the stoic swordsman who rides beside Seymour and acts as his personal bodyguard. Oliver is not as religiously devout as Seymour and espouses a simple philosophy wherein luxuries and vanities are shunned. He is, perhaps, the finest swordsman in the world although past the peak of his powers. Anyone who crosses blades with this master is unlikely to find themselves alive at the end of the fight.
Seymour is in some ways the primary antagonist in the novel. He is the oldest son of the King of Tarlton in the Sand although he gave up his birthright to become a devout worshiper of the Sun God Ras. Seymour carries the Icon of Ras which is a great relic of tremendous power. He wants nothing more than to destroy the Staff of Naught and sets out to do so. Seymour knows that he is right because his God tells him so and only death will stop him from attaining his goal.
Shalalee is the daughter of a traveling merchant and in many ways the ideological foible for Ariana. Shalalee has loving and doting parents and was raised in an environment designed to protect and nurture her. She falls under the influence of Seymour during the course of the novel which directly against Ariana who becomes the agent of Shinamar.
Shamki is the swordsman of the group traveling with Ariana as they try to find a way to destroy the Staff of Naught. At outward glance he appears to be little more than a sword-arm defending foes of the group but perhaps there is more than meets the eye to this warrior.
Tylus is a young teenager traveling with his father, mother, and sister as traders in northern Doria. When they camp on the beach not far from an old shipwreck he spots skeletons plunging into the surf heedless of the danger. He is an eager young man and the taste of adventure is thrilling although it brings with it terrible dangers. Tylus is a character of heedless youth and exuberance in this novel.