This is late. Very late. Barb tagged me in her post back in September and I haven’t done anything with it until November. In my defence, I was very busy …
I thought about focusing on a main character, but I tend to show enough about those characters in the stories themselves. So, here’s a side character who was viewed by the main character – Emily, of Schooled In Magic – as an interfering busybody at best, a sadist teacher at worst.
So, here we go.
What is the name of your character?
Master Tor. Like many of the senior magicians in the series, he has long since shed his true name and hidden behind an affection.
Is he a fictional/historical person?
No. He’s mine.
Well, sort of. Tor is partly based on a woman I knew at school, someone who always tried to push me in certain directions because “it would be better for me.” I found her very annoying, but with 15 years of distance between then and now, I can admit she might have had a point.
When and where is the story set?
Study in Slaughter covers Emily’s Second Year at Whitehall School, in a world that is either known as the Nameless World or considered literally nameless. (There are reasons for this beyond simple weirdness.) Master Tor is Head of Year Two, which effectively makes him Emily’s supervisor for the year.
What should we know about him?
It isn’t stated directly, because Tor isn’t the kind of person to discuss his past with anyone (particularly Emily), but he’s a newborn magician, from a magic-less family. He’s more than a little ashamed of his past, although (unlike most magicians) he actually shows a little compassion to the poor mundanes. You’ll notice that when he’s chewing out Emily about her unauthorised and VERY dangerous experiments, he points out that she’s a Baroness and she has thousands of people at her mercy, and that she might easily get a few of them killed through sheer carelessness. No other senior magician shows that level of concern for faceless mundanes.
In short, Tor is an academic bureaucrat, at least partly because he’s a very low power magician. Those that can, do; those that can’t, become academic bureaucrats. <grin>
What is the main conflict?
Tor pretty much gets on Emily’s bad side from the start. Having arranged to spend her Second Year sharing a room with her two best friends, she is not best pleased to discover that Tor has rearranged the rooms so she’s with two complete strangers. And then she discovers that he takes delight in making her consider and reconsider her assumptions, then poking holes in how little she knows of her new world.
Things really get out of hand when he catches Emily running unauthorised experiments. He’s horrified (not without reason) and threatens expulsion, then dire punishments. If the real enemy hadn’t appeared, things might have gotten a great deal worse.
Perversely, he does have a point. Emily needs to broaden her social horizons (she doesn’t make friends easily) and she really doesn’t know much about her new home. The experiments she carries out are genuinely dangerous. But the way he does it, like the teacher I knew, is counterproductive.
What messes up his life?
Emily, of course. No, that’s not entirely accurate. Tor is basically a convert to a society and, as such, one of its strongest defenders. His life is messed up by the fact the ONLY thing he has to claim respect is being one of Whitehall’s teachers, which isn’t that much in a world where there are many others more powerful than him.
In a way, that’s why he’s a federalist. He has much more sympathy for democracy than he would feel comfortable admitting, which is something of a tragedy. In many ways, he and Emily are natural allies.
What is Master Tor’s main goal?
Basically, teaching his students to respect the law as something above and beyond themselves. This is in striking contrast to the ‘might makes right’ attitude adopted by roughly 90% of the magical population (and a large percentage of the mundanes.)
What is the title of the book and where can it be found?
Study in Slaughter (Schooled in Magic III) can be found from the links here.