The Hell’s Darkest Prince

The Hell’s Darkest Prince: A Portrait of Gerald Tarrant

The great sinner is the great awakener of God to compassion.
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

The character of Gerald Tarrant is quite unanimously praised by C. S. Friedman’s readers as the favourite one and it is enough to browse through any Internet forums dealing with the topic to find comments proving that statement. Would it only be because some readers tend to prefer, to put it metaphorically, their Draculas over their Van Helsings? It does not seem to be only the case. Let us then take a closer look (to the extend to which it is possible) at exactly how is the character of Gerald Tarrant constructed. In this part we will only deal with the character’s name(s) and titles and his appearance, as well as the possible inspirations for his name and features, leaving his biography and its symbolic aspects (as well as a more detailed analysis of his similarity to and/or dependence on another literary characters) for later.

Introduction: the Prologue

The readers’ knowledge of Tarrant’s importance for the novel is established already in the prologue to the first part of the trilogy, Black Sun Rising, just as the importance of the other main character, Damien Vryce, is stressed by his appearance at the beginning of the first chapter. The prologue itself is set (as the reader may deduce) circa 900 years before the main events of the novel and it pictures Tarrant in one of the pivotal moments of his life, half-way through the sacrifice that would make the Hunter out of the Prophet. Quite consistently with C. S. Friedman’s favourite narrative technique there is no independent narrator: we see the events of the Prologue by the eyes of one of the characters. In the prologue this character is a woman named Almea, whom the readers may later identify with Almea Tarrant, Gerald’s wife and victim. But, quite interestingly, the main character is introduced only as her husband, the Neocount of Merentha or the Prophet of the Law; neither his name nor the name of the family are mentioned. Even when Almea reads a note from his, the sign under the text is described only as the swirl of his initials, with no details given even as to what letters they consist of (BSR p. 11)! Throughout the entire initial part of the novel we do not know the main character’s name. In the episode with Narilka (BSR p. 44-50) the words used to describe him (from Narilka’s point of view) are only the most general terms: a man, when she first sees him, and later only he; it corresponds with Narilka’s uncertainty about the mysterious man’s identity (whoever you are, I thank you is her last thought/ comment in this scene, BSR p. 50). Similarly, when Tarrant appears in the temple of Karril (BSR p. 96), he is addressed (by an independent narrator) as stranger and (by Karril) as my friend, with the hint of suggestion that he might be the Hunter. In fact, the name of Gerald Tarrant appears for the first time when Ciani introduces the newly met Adept to the rest of the company (BSR p. 145).

The fact that Tarrant’s name is hidden from the reader for so long points at the importance of the idea of the name, a concept non unusual among the SF/fantasy writers. We will now have a closer look at this particular aspect of C. S. Friedman’s literary technique.

The Name(s)

There are at least several names associated with the character of Tarrant. He himself uses his own, by others he is addressed as the Neocount of Merentha as well as the Hunter (now) and the Prophet (once). Each of these has a specific significance.

C. S. Friedman seems to imply that the true name of the Prophet has been forgotten over the years, mostly due to the Church’s deliberate action of differentiating between the eternally valid work of the Prophet and his fallen and condemned persona. Thus even introducing himself by his own name Tarrant does not risk revealing his true identity. It still leaves one problem to be solved: how is it possible with the Tarrant family still living in the old Merentha castle? They are aware of their past (the firstborn has always known the truth, Tarrant himself states, COS p. 5) and it is hard to believe that even after nearly a millenium their link to the Prophet has been entirely forgotten, at least not by their neighbours and the locals near Merentha. It is true that in the meantime Merentha had turned from a thriving port into a provincial town and that it was not a common knowledg e that the firstborn son of the Prophet had survived. Additionally, the Church has lost most of its dominant position during the centuries since the Prophet’s death and therefore the person of the fallen leader of just one of the religions might have been at least partly forgotten. Ms. Friedman it fact points at that particular possibility during Damien and Zen’s unwilling visit to the Hunter’s keep in Jahanna. While it takes Damien a second to draw an obvious conclusion when Amoril calls his master the Neocount of Merentha, Senzei Reese, a pagan, remains unaware of the Hunter’s true identity. Inquired by Damien, he reveals whatever little knowledge he has about the character of the Neocount: I know he was one of the figureheads of the Revival. A strategist of Gannon’s, yes? A supporter of your Church (BSR p. 246) and then, when Damien comments on Tarrant’s role in the development of Erna’s holy writ, Zen asks him, confused: What about your Prophet? (BSR p. 246), clearly having never heard of any connection between the Prophet and the Neocount!

One may also note that while Tarrant openly uses his name, he is more careful with his place of origins: in the same scene with Ciani introduces him as being originally from Aramanth, more recently from Sheva (BSR p. 145) and it is not surprising that Damien Vryce couldn’t identify the place name exactly (BSR p. 145), as Aramanth is almost an anagram of Merentha, Gerald’s original home town. In fact, the comment could pertain to the town of Sheva, but somehow understanding ii as related to Amaranth seems more probable, as it fits well into Tarrant’s chosen policy of telling almost-truths.

The question that arises naturally is why after the compact with the Unnamed Tarrant did not change his name. Such an act would be only natural, not only for the reasons of safety: it is a well-known mythical phenomenon that after passing some kind of a rite of passage one changes his/her name. Examples from various myths and religions are countless, as are the instances of using this motif in literature. For an example from the writings of Friedman herself, see TMS p. 110-117, where the Tek children are undergoing a rite of passage (the actual phrase and some equivalents, such as ritual, are used to describe the experience more than once, not only in this fragment, but also on p. 99-100), which only some of them survive; these are asked afterwards: By what Earth Name will you be called? The children are then given their true names – in opposition to the numeric name-description, given by the Tyr to their human subjects. Yet Gerald does not change his name, although his experience – compact with the satanic forces, human sacrifice of his own family, death and the change into a vampiric demon – certainly fulfill the requirements for a rite of passage. True, he is since then (or rather since he managed to become (in)famous as a demon preying on women) known as The Hunter, but he himself, as Amoril warns Damien and Senzei, prefers his Revivalist title (BSR p. 246).Why does he do so? Is his name, the one he was using as a mortal man, such an important part of his human identity that he would not give it up (see e.g. COS p. 75)? He states after the defeating of the Prince that the only things of value he has ever done in his lifetime was the reforming of the Church (see TNF p. 602-603). Was his obstinacy in retaining his original name one of the ways to preserve something of the man behind the monster? Or was it perhaps a part of a carefully devised plan whose aim was to keep Tarrant’s human soul out of the reach of the Unnamed and His demons? Or maybe just an example of Tarrant’s immense pride – thus the retaining of the name will have its equivalent in retaining the title of the Neocount of Merentha and punishing with death those who dared to claim it? The fact is that Gerald is extremely careful and anything but sentimental – and using his own true family name seems a rather improvident act, not just because someone could thus associate the Hunter with the Prophet of the Church. It is, after all, only after finding out the Hunter’s true name and the meeting with Andrys that the Patriarch devises the plan to destroy the Prince of Jahanna (COS p. 154). And even though the means for this destruction have more to do with Andrys’ and Gerald’s similarity in both appearance and nature than with the name per se, the mythical pattern, known so well from e.g. U. K. Le Guin’s Earthsea¸ remains valid: for the Patriarch, to know the name of the Hunter means to be able to triumph over him.

Thus, using the family name was dangerous and yet Tarrant – the ever-careful Tarrant – decided for that solution and never gave the name up. From among the possibilities enumerated above the most probable seems the one that binds the name with the Church and therefore with what Tarrant calls the one things of lasting value and his most precious creation (TNF p. 603); the Church seems the only constant in his (un)life and the only thing he still can be proud of. Therefore, retaining the original name could serve as one more suggestion for the reader that behind the cold, murderous monster still exists the man whose soul can and will be saved, whose humanity is not entirely lost. The probability of such an interpretation can, paradoxically, be supported by the fact that in the end Tarrant does act according to the mythical pattern: after his self-sacrifice, death and resurrection he does change his name (COS p. 418-422). The old persona – the monster, the torturer, the legend – has been ceremonially sacrificed and destroyed as both the fulfillment of justice for the slaughter of Andrys’ family and the willing offering to save the life of Damien (whom Andrys in his despair threatens with death if he does not leave, COS p. 386) – and, because Tarrant’s motifs have never been clear and unambiguous, this destruction and sacrifice was on Tarrant’s part also a clever seizing of the single chance to save himself and to secure for himself a new future and new life. The meaning of the scene in the keep will be discussed further elsewhere, but here is seems sensible to use it just to cast some light on the motif of keeping/changing the name.

Tarrant, it would seem, has in this scene making yet another sacrifice: not for all humanity this time, like he did on Mount Shaitan, but for the life of a friend, and, consequently, also for the life and soul of his last descendant and therefore for his entire family. If Andrys truly allowed his urge for revenge and his hatred to win over, if he just killed the murderer of his family then and there, he would fall pray to Calesta’s final treachery: this act would destroy not only the Hunter, but also Andrys himself, who will be consumed by the evil of his demonic once-collaborator. Here is the exact quotation:

“You’re my own flesh and blood,” the Hunter said icily. “Not the proudest member of my line, certainly not the strongest, but right now you’re all that’ s left. When he claims your soul, he will debase a history that stretches back nearly a thousand years.” (…) “That will be his true triumph, Andrys Tarrant. Not my death. Your corruption.” (… )”Do you know what will happen if you kill me now? That spark of Calesta’s hate which lies like a dormant seed within you will take root and grow, until it strangles all within you that is still human. That’s his vengeance, Andrys Tarrant. Not your paltry campaign, not even the rigors of Hell itself, but the knowledge that as you pull that trigger, you commit yourself to his world, in which the only joy is suffering.”(…) “Look within yourself, then! Imagine the hatred taking hold, Calesta’s hatred taking hold, the embrace of vengeance consummated at last … and then ask yourself how you’ll return to the real world after that. (COS p. 385)

In this aspect, Gerald’s act is truly an atonement for the murder of Andrys’ family, as by this action he saves the last of these whom he had killed. After this repeated sacrifice he is certain to get a second (or third, one is tempted to say) chance to prolong his existence in this world, the chance that can be understood in two aspects: firstly, on the spiritual plane, he can now try and come back to his God to fulfill what Damien wishes for him most (see e.g. COS p. 386); secondly, on what could be called pragmatic plane, he has simply secured for himself a chance to once again prolong his life, see the world change, cheat death anew (his own phrase: COS p. 331). Gerald’s giving up the name can once again be explained on two levels: on a narrative level, it is a necessary condition to secure his new life. His compact with the fae included the destruction of the legend of the Hunter. He cannot identify himself with his old Hunter persona anymore, so he has to give up everything that was ever connected with it, including his true name. On a mythical level, he simply doesn’t need the name Gerald Tarrant, the name of the Prophet, anymore. He has won for himself new chance to live, therefore his identification with the leader of the Church isn’t the last remnant of his humanity anymore. He succeeded in regaining his human soul and now he can start living anew. The change has left him deprived of almost everything: ever since he decided to take the sides of humans against Calesta and, as a result, the Unnamed, he was being stripped of all he deemed valuable: first his nature, piece by piece (COS p. 75), then his celebrated and much valued beauty (see Damien’s somewhat ironic comment: man’s got his priorities straight. Appearance tops the The list. The Unnamed gives him a scar to mar the perfection of his face , BSR p. 352), when the (COS p. 178). The next loss is his (un)life, sacrificed on the slopes of Shaitan (COS p. 331), and the following loss of the control over his power base, the Forest (COS p. 113, the Unnamed assuring Amoril: When he [Tarrant] has left the world of the living, the Forest will be yours338, Andrys feeling the loss of the Hunter’s control over the ; COS p. Forest: Next, Gerald, saved by the Mother of Iezu, is deprived – by It isn’t his anymore). his own sacrifice – of the control of the fae and therefore of his magic (COS p. 359-360). Then, trying to at least partly forestall the loss of his collection of books containing knowledge of nine centuries (stored in Merentha), in his devastated underground library amidst the books and notes shattered by Amoril (COS p. 380-381) he meets Andrys and as a result he loses his life and the past (COS p. 382-386). Finally, his compact with the fae deprives him of his past and the old personality (part of which has already been taken away by the Mother in order to create Riven Forrest), as well as his name (COS p. 421). He even gives up the title of the Neocount; in the wedding scene we see Andrys claiming the title and the position (COS p. 405).

All these loses strip Tarrant of everything he ever held valuable; the new life he starts truly anew, from the beginning. Interestingly enough, one may note that in all probability Gerald does keep one thing: his memories of the past. It may hint at one intriguing possibility: one of Gerald’s most important motivations in both his life and unlife seems to be curiosity and the passionate desire for knowledge. It is, after all, for his books and notes that he returns to Merentha. This is the fascinating idea – having lost everything, the former Prophet of the Church might have kept just that part of himself that would be of the greatest benefit for humanity, that is his knowledge, or at least some parts of it. Would that be the “price” for his compact with the fae (and with God?) – that he should repay his debts to humanity by serving them with his knowlegde and expertise?

It is also worth noting that Gerald changes his name into no name: we never learn it and it seems not to be an accidental omission due to the short span of the scene or a mistake of the author, for the problem is stated openly by Damien, who says to the young stranger, guessing his identity: Your name. (…) You never did tell me what it was (COS p. 421-422). No is the answer, followed by the question: Does it matter? Damien responds with saying No. Not really. The old name cannot be used by the new person anymore; it died together with its owner; but the new one is not necessary. The new creature at the same time is and is not Gerald Tarrant: there is enough of the old Hunter in the pretty young man to make him recognizable as Gerald and therefore to make a new name unnecessary, and on the same time the old name has been taken away together with the old identity, it is dead and its use would bring death upon the user. Newly created, nameless and unknown, he still remains recognizable for these (or just this one?) who know what to look for.

Paradoxically, the only thing that remains unchanged is his personality. The nameless youth can be a different person, but he is undoubtedly the same character: Damien recognizes Gerald in the irritating young man after the tone of his voice, the note of superiority and irony and his mannerisms. Despite the change in looks he remained rich, attractive and convinced of his superiority, just as the old Hunter had been. And in this he continues to be, as always, a living paradox.

One can see clearly that even in such detail (an important one, but detail nonetheless) as the problem of the name it is clearly visible that the character of Gerald Tarrant has a lot of mythological associations and that his actions are explainable within the framework of mythical thinking. Actions such as retaining and changing of the name, revealing it or being nameless, as well as the association of the name with the identity and the importance of knowing the true name of the enemy can be understood this way.

There are two other names-titles commonly associated with Tarrant, marking two stages of his life: the Prophet and the Hunter. Both of them denote rather the legends associated with the character than his personality. As the Prophet Tarrant was known in his lifetime, when he rewrote the holy books of the Church and reworked its theology, linking the understanding of God with the control over the planet and retaining the human heritage of the Ernan populace. In the centuries following Tarrant’s death his church worked hard to make his real name forgotten; to the believers he was known only as the Prophet. It came so far that even the Prophet’s representation on the mural in the Jaggonath cathedral was faceless (COS p. 108). For the followers of the Church his name embodies both the greatest glory and the greatest fall of a human being; yet the character of the Prophet in Ernan tradition seems to have mostly mythological meaning and to be as separated from a real human being that he once was as it is only possible. He seems to represent rather a certain set of values and vices or a certain moral lesson for the next generations than a real person. The Prophet, one may say, has become rather an archetype than a historical character.

Similarly with the Hunter: just like the Prophet, the Lord of the Forest is just a faceless legend – frighteningly real, but of unknown identity. The citizens of Jaggonath aren’t even certain if he is a man or a demon (BSR p. 31), although the common rumour, at least among females, is that underneath his hunt for young women lies a man’s lust (…), corrupted though it might be (BSR p. 43). Ciani compares the Hunter to a spider in its web (BSR p. 30) and it is commonly believed that the Hunter never leaves his fortress in the centre of the Forest (BSR p. 30); as we can see later, Tarrant himself might be behind that particular piece of gossip, as it is very convenient for him to be recognized as the Hunter’s trusted servant, and not the dark master himself. It is unknown for humans whether it was him who had dominated the Forest or the other way round (BST p. 30). Even the way he looks is a mystery: Damien is at some point theorizing whether the reason for the Hunter never leaving the Forest may be the fact that his form [was] simply so unhuman that the men who plied the straits for a living would respond poorly to his overtures- unlike their response to the elegant, courteous Gerald Tarrant? (BSR p. 190). In the west, the legends of the Hunter aren’t that well known, as Damien’s curiosity about the Forest testifies, although he is known enough for his self-sacrifice to be able to change the fae (COS p. 398). As for the east, Ciani sums up the common opinions on the Hunter, calling him our local bogeyman, the creature that lurks in dark corners and closets, whose name is used to scare children into obedience. (BSR p. 31). Even more so than the Prophet, the Hunter is an archetype – of the monster, of the evil one, an embodiment of the fear of the darkness; figurehead for a nation of fear, as the Patriarch sees him, a legend incarnated (BSR p. 398). A legend, one may add, faceless and de-personalized. In a strange yet fascinating way, both titles of Tarrant pertain rather to the legendary side of his life and unlife than to him as a human being, a person.

Quite interesting is the case of the way Tarrant is addressed by his companions. Ciani usually addresses him as Gerald, as one may guess, from the beginning of their acquintance (see e.g. BSR p. 398, 412-13, 422, 561). Karril would use either a general phrase like my friend (see e.g. BSR p. 97, TNF p. 298) or the sorcerer’s first name (but this would occur rather in difficult situations, see e.g. the scene when Tarrant realizes that he is in fact unable to Summon Karril and the latter comes only out of free will, TNF p. 138). Damien, however, is as usual the most interesting case, because it is his relationship with the Hunter that proves the most important for the development of both characters. For a long time he would not use the name of the fallen Prophet, addressing him impersonally, either using just you (often, quite typically for Damien, accompanied with some profanity, like his exemplary you vulking bastard) or calling him Hunter. The first time Damien uses Tarrant’s proper name is the episode in the Eastern continent, when Damien comes back to help Tarrant after the sorcerer had stopped their pursuers by Working the fae right after an earthquake (TNF p. 243). Damien comes back to save his life and for the first time calls him Gerald. Not accidentally – Damien’s use of the Hunter’s personal name will mark all the most important moments in their quest and especially those when Damien starts to understand and accept the fact that Tarrant’s salvation becomes for him a task as important as destroying Calesta.

The Appearance

In case of Gerald Tarrant one of the most important factors are his physical looks: it is the first thing that is catches the attention of the reader when Gerald Tarrant finally appears in person (BSR p. 13-14)

Backlit by lamplight, her husband stood before her. He was wearing a long gown of midnight blue silk, slit up the sides to reveal gray leggings and soft leather boots. His face was, as always, serene and beautiful. His features were elegant, delicately crafted, and in another man might have seemed unduly effeminate; that was his mother’s beauty, she knew, and in its male manifestation it gave him an almost surreal beauty, a quality of angelic calm that belied any storm his soul might harbor.

The reader has already been informed about Tarrant’s exploits as scientist, biologist, strategist and Church leader; now, when we see him in person, the emphasis is set upon his looks rather than anything else. Already in this scene we can see at least three important qualities of Tarrant’s looks: first, the fact that he is rather beautiful than handsome, second, the choice of colours he customarily dresses in, finally third, the unusual (inhuman?) calm and quietness that seems to be surrounding him perpetually, hiding – which the author suggests already here – a terrible battle in his soul. All these factors are, I believe, important elements of Tarrant’s characteristics.

The importance of the fact that Gerald has inherited his mother’s looks rather than his father’s and that his beauty in another man might have seemed unduly effeminate is explained in a passage from Black Sun Rising, when Tarrant comments on the fact that the Master of Lema is female.

“The Keeper of Souls is a woman”, he breathed. “Our enemy. My torturer. The architect of the House of Storms. A woman”. (…) The Hunter glared. “I was the youngest of nine sons, priest. My brothers took after their father, in form and spirit: a hulking, crude beast of a man, who believed that there wasn’t an enemy on Erna he couldn’t bring to his knees if only he swung his fist hard enough. I grew up among them, sole inheritor of our mother’s mien – and I didn’t come into my height until late, or my power. Now, you think about the cruelty of that kind – and of sibling youths, in general – and the brutality of my age, which was at the end of the Dark Ages – and then tell me how much I don’t understand. (BSR p. 522-23)

In this fragment Tarrant clearly draws a line between himself and her. First, he states that her being a woman is important not because of gender, but because of power. To Damien, who seems skeptical, he explains what he means: for a woman, the feeling of helplessness in face of the sheer physical strength as well as disability to defend herself against violence is a serious threat and this is what might cause an obsessive desire for power – any power. For Damien, born with the size and the strength to defend himself from any physical threat, it must be impossible to understand such a fear – an such a need.

And here comes the most interesting point: Gerald compares an experience of the weak, whose lives are centered around vulnerability – to himself and his own feelings from childhood and youth. He distances himself from his father and brothers, stressing the similarity with the mother; moreover, he clearly poses himself and his experience against Damien’s as well as against his own gender. This remark does not only stresses Gerald’s understanding of the Master, making his final plan to defeat her more probable and likely to work in the reader’s eyes. It helps also, I believe, to understand Gerald’s own need for power and his determination in getting it, at any price. It was him who was weak and fearing the assault, especially that in addition to being delicate and probably rather small for his age (I didn’t come into my height until late, he states) at that time, as an Adept he was even more vulnerable. Early in the novel we find out that Tarrant was actually one of the first Adepts born on Erna and that in his times the Adept’s skills were still viewed as a kind of demonic possession rather that a gift and those cursed with them were treated like monsters and incarnations of evil. Additionally, Gerald himself states that coming to age is extremely hard for the Adept children and that majority of them either die or go mad in childhood; this process, he says, was even more difficult in the times of his youth, when humanity was just beginning to adapt to Erna’s specific conditions, although it remained difficult even in Damien’s times, as Ciani’s comment proves:

We were born the same way, Gerald Tarrant and I. Not like your kind, in the midst of a comprehensible world, born to parents who could foresee your troubles and prepare for them. Most born adepts don’t make it past infancy. Or if they grow up, they grow up insane. The infant brain just can’t handle that kind of input – it’s too much, too chaotic, they can’t sort it out. We spend our lives trying to adapt, fighting to impose some kind of order on the universe. He did it. So did I. Different paths, but the end goal was the same: stability. Of ourselves, and of our world. (BSR p. 483)

It may be added that in fact, Damien seems to believe that Tarrant did go mad, not in his childhood, but when he first realized his mortality: and it [the heart failure] drove him over the brink of sanity so that he murdered his family and ransomed his own soul to the Unnamed. (COS p. 354)

And one must not forget the specifics of the Tarrant family: it seems to be a clear division between Gerald and his mother on one side and his father and brothers on the other. He calls his father a beast and mentions him with hatred more than once. It seems that Gerald as the youngest, weakest and brightest child in the family must not only have been mocked and ridiculed – he must have been hated and abused, otherwise even he would not probably say that the murders of his father and brothers were among his most pleasurable memories.

Thus Tarrant’s vulnerability is stressed even more and it becomes even easier to understand his compulsive need for power. And it is this need that underlies all his actions, both as the Prophet and as the Hunter. In his lifetime, he struggled to give the power to the entire human population on Erna, to free his race from the dangers of the planet; his dream was for humanity to become the controlling factor of the planet instead of being controlled by the Ernan nature. After he died – or perhaps since he fell sick and realized his own mortality – that dream became more personal: now it was vital for himself to survive in order to see if what he started would continue. Were his motifs altruistic then, or egoistic? This question will be discussed elsewhere in more detailed way, for now it will suffice to say that whatever Tarrant does is always double-edged and can be interpreted in more than one way. Thus his actions rarely have just one explanation.

Coming back to the important features of Tarrant’s looks at the moment we first see him, it is interesting that in placing himself among the vulnerable he in a way distances himself for his own gender. Hence his solitude and his position as someone living from the beginning beyond the normal society is further stressed. In In Conquest Born C. S. Friedman calls Anzha lyu Mitethe a living paradox and the same phrase one might easily be applied to Gerald Tarrant: even in his youth, before he succumbs to the temptation of power and evil, he is indeed a paradox: at the same time physically vulnerable as the smallest child of the family and dangerous due to his magical talents, both weak and strong, a young man of almost feminine beauty, who resembles in everything his mother and despises his father, a lonely boy with eight siblings. This becomes one of the dominating traits of the character throughout his life- (and unlife-)time. When one thinks of the suitable epithet for the character in those first years (described only in several short remarks by the author), one of the first that come to one’s mind is alien – or should one say, alienated? In her monologue Almea recalls with anger the way her husband was treated by his contemporaries:

They caused it all, when they rejected him. Hypocritical bastards! Half their foundations were of his philosophy, the genius of his ordered mind giving their religious dreams substance, transforming a church of mere faith into something that might last and command the ages. (..) But their dreams and his had diverged in substance, and recently they had come but one word short of damning him out-right. “After using him to fight their wars!” she thought angrily. “To establish their church throughout the human lands, and firmly fix their power in the realm of human imagination”… she shuddered with the force of her anger. It was they who changed him, slowly but surely – they who had planted the first seeds of darkness in him, even while they robed him in titles and honor. Knight of the Realm. Premier of the Order of the Golden Flame. Prophet of the Law. And damned as a sorcerer, she thought bitterly. Condemned to hell or just short of it, because he wants to control the very force that has bested us all these years. The force that cost us our heritage, that slaughtered our colonial ancestors. Is that a sin, you self-righteous bastards? Enough of a sin that it’s worth alienating one of your own prophets for it?

Despite his role in the development of the Church, Gerald’s ideas and his persona have been rejected. Thus Gerald is – and remains for all his mortal life, despite his successes – a stranger in his own society, someone who does not really fit into it.

Yet another feature of him that seems to strees the paradox that the character of Tarrant is meant to be are his looks. Tarrant, as we already know from the previous description, is pale, grey-eyed and longish blonde/ golden brown hair, with fair complexion and delicate features. Thus his appearance might easily be described as angelic, and it indeed it is, more than once, by both Almea and the Patriarch himself and it could only be stressed by the fact that his face is always serene and calm, even the moments of great disterss. For all the hellish trappings of his soul, he looks like an angel, once again proving himself to be paradox incarnated.

Tarrant consistently appears in the same set of colours during all his career, both as a mortal man and as the Hunter: he seems to have a preference for black and midnight blue, colours commonly associated with the night. This, as well as the fact that he always appears to be calm and serene, even if the emotions he feels are extreme, adds to the impression of him being beyond normal human world – on one hand surpassing it with his strange talents (he is, after all, the most Ernan of humans born on the planet, with a possible exception of Jenseny, as he is most assimilated, best suited for the natural surroundings and the fae!), and on the other – separated from them, alienated, alone.

Inspirations, doppelgangers, lookalikes

Just for pure curiosity’s sake, as it probably has nothing to do with the character: The name “Gerald” originates from Germanic and introduced to britain by the Normans; it means “theone ruling (-wald/ -ald) with the spear (ger-)”. Two 8th-9th c. British saints by this name are known, both of them were, interestingly, scholars. Tarrant, on the other hand, is a variant of Taranis, a Welsh thunder and storm god, similar to Jupiter. Other versions of the name include Tarran, Taryn, Taren, Terrant.

Quite interestingly, Ms Friedman’s Gerald Tarrant shares his name with one of the supporting characters of Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise series of novels and movies based on them (see esp. the 7th book in the series, The Silver Mistress, where the character named Sir Gerald Tarrant becomes the main focus of events. According to the online Complete Modesty Blaise Dossier (see here for more details), Gerald Tarrant is an elderly civil servant, the senior official of the Special Intelligence Section of the British Foreign Office, specializing in international espionage. A widower who had lost all his family, skilled in more than one area of expertise (apart from being a politician and Intelligence officer he used to be an amateur opera singer and a member of the fencing team of England), he consults the main character on various criminal cases she is looking into. He makes his appearance in numerous novels of the series, both as a civil servant and after his retirement, to finally die, quite unsurprisingly for C. S. Friedman’s readers, of heart attack in the novel Cobra Track, published originally in 1996. As striking as the differences between both Tarrant characters are, there seem to be at least several similarities between them, including aristocratic origins, the heart problems and the incredible number of skills and talents they both seem to possess. Besides, the combination of the name Gerald and the surname Tarrant does not seem too common. I think one can risk the assumption that the name is a carefully planned allusion, although C. S. Friedman herself has not, at least to the best of my knowledge, commented on that matter and there is always a possibility of pure coincidence.

To follow:
Similarities between Tarrant and other mythical/literary characters
Characteristics and main features of the character
Reason vs madness
Messianic and demonic qualities in the character

List of abbreviations:

BSR C. S. Friedman, Black Sun Rising (The Coldfire Trilogy vol. I), DAW Books 1991
COS C. S. Friedman, Crown of Shadows (The Coldfire Trilogy vol. III), DAW Books 1995
ICB C. S. Friedman, In Conquest Born, DAW Books 1986
TAS C. S. Friedman, This Alien Shore, DAW Books 1999
TEF C. S. Friedman, The Erciyes Fragments, White Wolf Inc., 1998
TMS C. S. Friedman, The Madness Season, DAW Books 1990
TNF C. S. Friedman, When True Night Falls (The Colsfire Trilogy vol. II), DAW Books 1993
TWild C. S. Friedman, The Wilding, DAW Books 2004

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