Continuing the theme on the character studies, next up is our boy, Nahadoth. He’s a complicated man, and no one understands him but his — actually, wait, no, she doesn’t get him either. Cue the “Shaft” theme anyway. RIP Isaac Hayes. And cut for spoilers.
So, Nahadoth. He’s the firstborn of the Three, and the first of them that I thought up, twelve or thirteen years ago when the idea for this story first came to me. (Took me awhile to write it, since I was in grad school at the time, plus just not a very fast writer back then.) So it should come without surprise that he’s the nearest and dearest to my heart — or at least, he started out that way. At the time I was very enamored of dark-haired, dark-magic-wielding, just generally dark characters of a certain type seen often in anime/manga; see Vampire Hunter D and Ashura-Ou from Rg Veda as examples (a more recent example is Hagi, from Blood +). Was also very fond of dark-natured (though not necessarily -haired) anti-heroes in Western fiction, such as Gerald Tarrant from C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy, Tarod from Louise Cooper’s Time Master trilogy, and Azhrarn from Tanith Lee’s Flat Earth stories. I’m not sure why characters like this have such enduring power in fiction on both sides of the pond (the, uh, Western and Japanese pond, apparently), but regardless, Nahadoth was the natural outgrowth of all this.
But he changed — deepened — as I developed the whole cosmology. None of the gods really have a gender, or a body for that matter; they can be whatever they want, including species and sexes we’ve never heard of. But because my own gender programming refused to accept the idea of Enefa (the originator of life) as male, she got locked into “all female, all the time” in my head. And naturally Itempas — domineering, paternalistic, resistant to change — felt “all male, all the time” to me. Nahadoth, though, felt flexible. In most (though not all) cultures, the Moon is characterized as female. It also seemed perfectly natural to say that he’d birthed the substance of the universe, though this too seemed like a generative and thus feminine role. So Nahadoth became the pivotal member of the Three, in the quite literal sense in that he — or she — shifted to meet the demands of nature, or the expectations of his partners. (Gonna stick with “him” for ease of writing, and because that’s the role he plays for most of the time we see him.) It made far more sense for the two “static” members of the triad to compete for his affections, rather than the usual two guys fighting over a woman. And since gender was only one of the ways in which he changed, thus was born Nahadoth’s constantly-changing face, schizoid personality, and drifting, shapeless cloak of night.
Once I’d gotten a handle on Nahadoth’s nature, however, I found that it was tough to get a handle on him in any other way. He constantly defied my expectations. For example, he was the father of the other three Enefadeh — yet his role within their group was follower, not leader. (Inasmuch as they had one, as Sieh mentioned; I imagine leading the Enfadeh was rather like herding cats. Mean cats.) I’d initially intended for him to be the leader, but then it occurred to me that this was a very bad idea. You don’t put the guy who can’t follow rules and usually chooses the most irrational solution to any problem, in charge. So while the other Enefadeh respect him and fear him a little, they also find him exasperating. He tells Yeine about the Enefadeh’s sooper seekrit pact to use her and kill her, for example, when he’s really not supposed to. He did it because he felt she ought to know, but also because he’s just not very good at doing what he’s told. Bottom line: Nahadoth isn’t exactly Mr. Reliable and Trustworthy.
It’s because of traits like this that Nahadoth slipped a little in my esteem; he’s not my favorite god-character anymore. Sieh became my new fave somewhere along the way, to the point that book 3 will be all about him. (Unfortunately, that means I won’t be doing a Character Study of him for some time, to avoid spoilers. Sorry!) I still like Naha; he’s not my favorite, but he’s definitely the most fun to write. Remember Chapter 5 of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, in which Nahadoth destroys a continent? I’m not much of a metal fan — drum ‘n’ bass and hip hop are more my speed — but I wrote that scene while listening to Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” on full blast. For that matter, Naha’s got his own (short) soundtrack on my iPod: “Bodies”, “Would Be Killer”, and “Little Light of Love”. Yeah, I don’t get that last one either. Sometimes I’m just the messenger, ya’ll.
Of course, I haven’t discussed Naha — Nahadoth’s daytime form. Frankly, he deserves a character study all his own… but I can’t do that one for awhile either. (Yeah, I guess that’s a hint.)
Anyway, so, that’s Nahadoth in a nutshell.