(NOTE: For those who don't know what this is, you can read the introduction here.)
To kick off this series of Looking Back posts, I will start off with my top ten favorite characters from the Shikaverse. Due to the length of this post, it will be split into two parts, with the first five characters in this post and the last five in another.
Also, there be spoilers ahead. If you don't want my stories spoiled, then I suggest not reading this, at least until you've read my works.
I chose to start with characters because the Shikaverse was written without any outlining or extensive planning. Therefore, it was crucial I had strong characters capable of carrying the stories they starred in from beginning to end. They range in variety from heroic Toa to evil Makuta and everything in between. I hope that by the end of this two-part post that you, my readers, will understand why I like the characters on this list so much.
With that out of the way, let's start the list with:
#1: Toa Barilo
First appearance: The Tales of Shika Nui
Quotes: "You know, Nastan, you and Nonzra always used to argue, but it was friendly arguments. I, however, think you're holding the team down with your morals, so I figure I ought to get rid of you now." ("The Tales of Shika Nui," Chapter 11: Not A Hero Anymore)
"Okay, Nastan, I admit, I did try to kill you under my own free will. I didnt do it just because I was going insane (though for the record I was slightly out of my mind at the time). I did it because I was angry, I had the power, and I was willing to do it, too. But now. I have seen my mistake and I ask you for your forgiveness. Please, Nastan, find it somewhere in your heart to forgive your fellow Toa for wronging you. Please." ("Tapestry of Evil," Chapter 20: Wanderer's Mission)
"This is the only way to stop him. I have realized this. I dont care if I die in the process; so long as you take him out, Im fine. Just hit me with everything you got now and no holding back!" ("An Unlikely Alliance," Chapter 29: A Hero's Sacrifice)
Out of all the characters I wrote in the Shika Trilogy, Toa Barilo, Toa of Gravity and deputy leader of the Toa Shika, probably got the most character development out of them all. Over the span of the trilogy, he went from being a self-centered thief to redemption-seeker to unashamed hero, which can be observed in the three quotes I chose above.
What makes Barilo a remarkable character, in my opinion, is that his development was not planned at all. When I first stared the Shika Trilogy, I had no idea Barilo would become so central to the story. In my opinion, I believe his character developed the way it did because of his interactions with another character from the Shika Trilogy: Toa Nastan (who is not on this list).
Nastan was your typical do-gooder Toa who often held the rest of the team to high standards, which initially annoyed Barilo. They got along so badly that Barilo even tried to kill Nastan at one point. Though the two were ultimately reconciled after that, that act haunted Barilo afterward and was probably what caused him to begin his journey from selfish thief to humble hero.
In the end, I consider Barilo to be the true hero of the Shika Trilogy. While there were certainly other heroic characters in the trilogy, it was Barilo who ultimately saved the day in the end, despite his rough beginnings as a selfish thief who cared for no one other than himself and his small group of friends.
#2: Makuta Hajax
First appearance: The Tales of Shika Nui
Quote: "One day, I would like to visit Destral and give my brothers a surprise welcome . . . after I have gotten an army big enough to crush that island into little more than fine powder, of course." ("An Unlikely Alliance," Chapter 18: Truths & Falsehoods)
Makuta Hajax, Makuta of Shika Nui, was an interesting character. He was a Makuta who hated other Makuta. Technically, he only hated Teridax, who he saw as desecrating the name of the Brotherhood of Makuta, but his feelings toward his brothers and sisters who served Teridax were negative all around.
Like Barilo, Hajax got his share of character development. Originally, he wanted to overthrow Teridax and turn the Brotherhood back into a force for good. His methods were often questionable, but at heart he did have good intentions. So you could plausibly consider him a hero of sorts.
Unlike Barilo, however, Hajax became worse as time went on. He eventually came to the conclusion that he not only needed to take over the Brotherhood, but that he had to rule the universe itself, too. His reasoning was that Mata Nui was in no shape to rule anymore and that he probably wasn't all that good of a ruler anyway if he had been defeated so easily by Teridax.
In order to accomplish this goal, he often manipulated the Toa Shika. In particular, he focused on Barilo, whose vices made him more susceptible to Hajax's machinations than the others were. He was so successful at playing with Barilo that he even ended up possessing the Toa's body, a move that advanced Hajax's plans more than anything else.
Due to the scope of his plans and his close relationship with Barilo, I would call Hajax the true villain of the Shika Trilogy. In some ways, he was a tragic villain. He started out with noble intentions, but they eventually led him to becoming the very thing he had fought against (like another character on this list, in fact).
#3: Toa Kiriah
First appearance: Dimension Hoppers
Quote: "Oh, I forgot about that. Um, sorry." ("Dimension Hoppers," Chapter 13: The Expedition Begins)
Kiriah is awkward, overly apologetic, forgetful, and quite clumsy.
Because of that, she is one of my favorite characters to write for, though she only makes number three on this list. I loved writing for her in Dimension Hoppers so much that she went on to play a major role in The Ghost King's Tragedy and, more recently, Dawn of the New Century. She will also appear in In the End, as you may have guessed.
She had an interesting history as a character. She wasn't even in the first draft of Dimension Hoppers. I only added her in the second draft because Greg confirmed Psionics as a Toa element and I thought it would be cool to have a Toa of Psionics character in one of my fanfics. In addition, Isarot was boring by himself, so I thought throwing in a second protagonist would spice things up, which was a good move on my part, if I may say so.
One reason I like her so much is because she is partly based off myself. In particular, I gave her my absentmindedness. She is the only character in the Shikaverse who comes closest to being my self-insert, though she's different enough from me that I think most people who read about her wouldn't guess that I had based her off myself unless I told them.
I cannot yet give a final verdict on her character as a whole, however, because I have not yet finished In the End. I hope to give her a good ending, though, whatever it might ultimately be.
First appearance: Dimension Hoppers
Quote: "We promised to protect the Time Stone with our lives, even if it was stolen by some dimension-hopping thief. Even if our sanity was in danger of being destroyed, we would have no excuse for letting some thief get away with it without even trying to retrieve it." ("Dimension Hoppers," Chapter 1: A Decision is Made)
If you asked me which of the Three Virtues best describes Isarot, without hesitation I would at the second virtue: Duty.
Isarot was consumed by duty. Duty to the Time Stone, duty to his people, duty to his Baiji (elder, for those of you who don't speak Tagiki), and duty to his best friend. As a result, he was probably one of the best guardians of the Time Stone ever, considering how seriously he took his guardianship.
Yet I'd hardly call Isarot a mindless protector. He had a strong sense of right and wrong and utterly despised dishonest people. He would always try to keep other people around him honest. His honesty would even compel him to call out his superiors when he thought they were lying, something he might never do under other circumstances.
Although Isarot was a loyal and honest friend, he was by no means perfect. He could be highly judgmental and unforgiving towards people he didn't like or trust. His desire to put the safety of the Time Stone above all else meant that the only real friend he had was Kiriah. (It is interesting to note that, despite their wildly differing personalities and tastes, both Isarot and Kiriah generally felt out of place among members of their respective species.) He was not always patient with dumb or slow-witted people, either.
In general, I think Isarot is one of those people who, in real life, you would either love or hate. He was not particularly cuddly and lovable, but he was extremely loyal to those who he considered friends. He never cared about universal popularity. He only cared about doing what he thought was right.
First appearance: Dawn of the New Century
Quote: "I just cant believe it. The Kra-Matoran are free and people will die and I will be just like my parents. It's amazing." ("Dawn of the New Century," Chapter XXVIII)
Masqouth is a fun character to write, probably because he's different from other antagonists I've written. Other antagonists, like Hajax and Darranas, were cold, calculating, cruel, and cynical. They may have had some redeeming virtues, but in the end they lived their lives causing more harm than good and so are easy to hate.
Masqouth, on the other hand, is warm, spontaneous, fun, and idealistic. He is rather childish and naïve and rarely feels hatred for his enemies. Unlike other antagonists, Masqouth is hard to hate, which is what I think makes him an interesting character.
His biggest flaw is probably his naivety. He easily trusts other people to the point where they can manipulate him, often without him ever being the wiser. He often jumps to conclusions and acts hastily, much like a child. His understanding of good and evil is extremely simplistic. He honestly does not see anything wrong with manipulating tensions between species to start a world war (although that does not excuse what he did).
Like Kiriah, his final fate will be revealed in In the End. Out of all the characters in the Dawn Duology, his is the character arc I most wish to give closure to.
The next part will probably come before the end of the year (EDIT: Read Part 2 here!). I will also make a special announcement about the Shikeverse in that post, so keep an eye on this blog for that, too.