Growing a hero from an ordinary person in a fantasy world has many possibilities, and some of the best characterisations I've read for these, like Pug in Magician or Frodo in Lord of the Rings, have characters who struggle to rise because magic alone will not make them great, but they have a spark in their souls that is both at once gentle and fierce.
Entering the final phases of Chasse's Song, giving him a mentor who comes from an heroic background, Chasse is facing what it takes to become more than average, even more than good, and writing this section draws me back into my sporting experiences where, to rise to the top, players I've played with and against and admired in several sports have worked harder than the average sportsperson - countless hours of strength and endurance and agility building, repetitive practice of skills, experimentation with skills to find innovative ways to apply them, sweat, blood, tears, exhaustion.
I remember one critic mocking Shana from the Ashuak Chronicles, saying a woman couldn't really do what I have her do in the novel, but every part of Shana is based on the efforts and successes of real women who have grown stronger, more agile and more adaptable through perseverance and training to be among the best in their sport. As a fantasy writer, I've been very lucky to be involved with real people facing challenges and seen how they have overcome them. Applying that to characters amplifies the heroic qualities of the real people on whom I base stuff like Chasse's training under Natias in this novel.
Chasse must be worthy of walking beside his amazingly intelligent, talented and resilient sister. His skills lie outside of her capacity to bond with a dragon and to perform magic, so he must harness his limitations in order to become worthy as a protector.
Character development aside, having the central characters meet people from other cultures poses the issue of language and authenticity of cultural variations. Tam and Chasse were raised in a monolingual community with limited interaction with other cultures, but their escape through the mountains brings them into contact with new languages and beliefs. I've had fun developing a language of the Menuii, spoken by Natias. Although this language is used sparingly, because it is not the lingua franca of the world into which our characters will arrive by the novel's end, it's fun looking for ways people might express common phrases like 'Thank you' or 'Again,' or 'Welcome among us.'
Research for the novel this past fortnight extended to learning how ancient cultures smelted metal, particularly iron, because Natias introduces Chasse to creating iron arrowheads. This led to fascinating reading and viewing as shared in an example below:
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...