As always, if you haven't read the The Tales from Verania series (Lightning, Destiny, and Consumption) and you don't want spoilers, click away. I will be discussing the story so far in detail.
In A Destiny of Dragons, we learn of a history that had been only vaguely hinted about in The Lightning-Struck Heart. Randall was an old curmudgeon who lived in a frozen castle. He was a good foil for Sam who spent much of TLSH coming into his own and finding out just what he was capable of.
I knew going into these sequels that I needed to delve into why Randall was the way he was, and what had happened to him and Morgan. I had a faint idea in my head of where I wanted it to go, but it wasn't until I sat down and started planning the sequels that I realized just how tragic their backstory--particularly Randall's--truly was.
I have been asked on more than one occasion if I would ever consider going back and writing prequels to these books, to go to the days when Randall was young and idealistic and under the tutelage of the Great White. I'll admit the idea is tempting; Randall, no matter his age, would be a force to be reckoned with.
The problem with that is knowing how it ends, and how much that hurts my heart. Because no matter what way I spin it, Randall will always be betrayed by the one he loves most--his cornerstone, Myrin--and will be forced to take action against him. Any prequel will end in tragedy because Randall's story is tragic. He was adverse to the idea of cornerstones to begin with (GW played a role there, but didn't force him to think that way), but he was transformed by the power of love, a love that would end up becoming something dark and twisted and would ultimately lead to Randall going Dark in Castle Freesias after banishing Myrin to the realm of shadows. The idea that Randall still resides in Castle Freesias is (at least to me) awful but I think he sees it as a penance of sorts.
Something I did not expect to find when writing these three sequels is that Randall is lonely. He acted like a dick in TLSH, but we could see that he really did care. But we didn't know just how much until he allowed himself to show it. He, much like Morgan, knows the weight of the choices he made now firmly rests on the shoulders of Sam of Wilds, and that's unfair. I'm not someone who believes in fate or destiny. I believe we make our own choices, and the repercussions from those choices reverberates around us. In A Wish Upon the Stars (and the previous books), I tried to instill that the choices of the past are now affecting the actions of the present (and that it's all falling on Sam), while also skirting the line of potential cosmic influences.
I don't ever think Randall wanted that for Sam. Ever. Not on anyone, but especially not on Sam (and yes, even though Sam turned his nose into a dick). If he could, I believe he would take Sam's place in all this just to save him from all the heartache and pain. But even if I don't believe in destiny, some paths are set in stone, even if stone can crumble. Randall and Morgan made their choice, one born out of love and fear and anguish. Whether or not the Gods made it so is another story entirely. Regardless of what happens next, I think we can all agree the Gods are assholes.
I think about Randall's loneliness a lot. What life must have been like for him after Myrin, staying in that frozen castle. What he must have thought after Morgan found Sam in that alleyway in the slums. Randall may talk a lot of shit, and he may think Sam and Tiggy and Gary and Kevin and Ryan are ridiculous (which, to be fair, they are), but I know he loves them. I know he loves Sam, perhaps more than anyone else still left.
We get more of the history for Randall and Morgan and Myrin in A Wish Upon the Stars. A lot more. And while I was saddened to see what they all went through, it was made better by knowing that Sam loves Randall just as much. They may annoy each other, and Sam may get on Randall's last nerve, but I believe there is nothing they wouldn't do for each other.
Especially after Morgan.
Whether or not it's fair that Sam has to save Verania from Myrin is something I wrestled with. But I think if it has to fall on someone, I'm glad it's him. And Randall knows that. Which isn't to say Randall won't meet Myrin face-to-face in this last book. He will. It's brief, this moment (intentionally so), but it makes sense because of who he is protecting at the time.
Next Monday, I'll post a blog discussing how the separation of Sam and Ryan in between The Consumption of Magic and A Wish Upon the Stars compares to that of Joe and Ox from Wolfsong (and why I made sure not to retread the same ground again), and how I cannibalized what I had planned for the defunct sequel to Burn and incorporated it into Consumption and Wish.
Pre-order for A Wish Upon the Stars (out March 27): https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-wish-upon-the-stars-by-tj-klune-9476-b