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Patrin of Orlon (maybe)

Galin and Garret speculate that Patrin is from the Orlon region, as the settlement of Orlon itself is too large for Baler to have sacked and kidnapped the then very young Patrin.  As Greater Thing than Thou opens, it becomes evident that the truth of Patrin’s origins lie some seventy years in the past.  He is an old man now, writing about events that took place decades ago.

Patrin’s narrative doesn’t give us any new insight into the human condition, or some grand scheme of life.  Neither he nor the people around him, or the situations that occur in his lifetime, reveal anything we do not already know.  Instead we are shown things we can readily identify with.  Patrin is relatable, he has been through the same things you have.

As the primary protagonist, Patrin delivers his story from the first person.  We see, hear, and experience everything from his worldview.  From the moment he is kidnapped by Baler’s men- because he has no earlier memory- and on through the years as he meets Galin … holds hands with Lena … fights side by side with Xadik … until all of them eventually leave him and at the end of his life he is left with one purpose, one last mission to fulfill.

The Patrin we see here has grown fearful, paranoid.  It may be that he had similar traits growing up in his hometown, perhaps he always this way.  But, I think the more likely scenario is that he developed his paranoia as a means of survival in the camp.  Baler’s men are the rough sort, conniving thieves and brutal bandits.  It would have been necessary, particularly in those early years, for him to develop a heightened sense of awareness.  It is a miracle of character that he came out of the camp so unlike them.  We generally adopt the mores and values of the people we run with, but not Patrin.  When next we find him at Galin’s secret cabin in the Grandwood, he is just an abused boy.  Fearful and paranoid, of course, but not cruel nor spiteful.

Patrin’s experience with Galin justifies the paranoia he developed in Baler’s camp.  It is his frequent lament that the world is out to get him, that there is no good in it.

At the beginning of their relationship Galin is his friend.  They drink tea in the evenings on the front porch of the cabin, listening to the forest sounds and watching the sun sink behind the tree branches.  Patrin also practices swordsmanship with Galin’s warden, a salt of the earth ex-military man named Garret.  If anyone is honest, it has to Garret … surely.

Galin’s plot matures, sending Patrin across the country and eventually to the seat of the kingdom itself- Whitefield.  The things he faced while in Galin’s care has hardened him emotionally.  He was treated cruelly in Baler’s camp, then came to freedom- if not paradise- at Galin’s cabin, and then it was taken away.  Where would that leave you?  It leaves Patrin jaded, and with an edge of bitterness.  What trust he had in Galin has been sapped.  He has become a pawn in the exiled prince’s plan to retake the throne.

Arriving at the palace’s west tower, Patrin is ready to complete his mission and break the yoke of loyalty that Galin has placed around his neck … but the task ahead will prove difficult, even for a cybernetically enhanced assassin.  In the closing paragraph Patrin is no better off then than when we found him.  Xadik presumed dead, and even his faithful steed, Patience, in peril.

As he considers his final words in the story of those early years, the old man Patrin, reflects on the meaning of home: “In my mind I always go back to that time after Emondford. Doing chores with Garret … his calm and steady presence … tea with Galin early in the morning on the front porch of the cabin.  Those few months, spent with them in simple innocence were the most precious to me.  Over the years, off and on, I’ve hidden myself from the world back here at Galin’s cabin, but I can never seem to recreate those feelings … that peace.”