Finding the right names for your characters

Below is a section of one of the middle chapters of the fifth book in my Milward Chronicles epic fantasy. This is offered as a way of showing the way I choose names for characters.

Mikl-Cheri is the chief judge in the ongoing trial for Gerol-Lyrd. As you can see, the names for the Ortian characters are almost always hyphenated. It gives a good urbane character to the names and adds yet another separation from the names used in other books. The names are also borrowed from people I have dealt with and know in my own reality. It makes the use of them even more fun, especially when choosing a name that comes to a very nasty end. Check it out.

By the way, still writing but still a long way to go. This thing will top out at close to 250,000 words, I think. Hopefully I’m wrong, but the outline is still growing.


Mikl-Cheri rapped the stone three times. “This court is adjourned until tomorrow morning. Councilmember Llyrd, can we trust in you to remain available to the court if we allow you to remain free during that time?”

“Your Honor, I must protest!” Oskir-Gomen said after a rushed consultation with Baxtr-Kin, “The defendant is a felon under Ortian law. It is a gross violation to simply let him go free.”

Mikl-Cheri stood and Milward’s chuckle was the only sound in the hushed chamber. “It seems to the court that the prosecution will need to use the time to read up on the basic tenets of Ortian law as, if I recall the accused is considered an innocent until convicted.”

Baxtr-Kin scowled as the old counselor gulped and said, “Yes, Your Honor.”

The stone was rapped one more time. “This court stands adjourned. Now go while I’m still feeling magnanimous.”

Milward took Gerold-Lyrd by the arm. “Come on lad, we have several things to discuss.”

Still somewhat overawed by who his counsel was, Gerold-Lyrd followed the gentle pressure and left the chamber in the old wizard’s wake.

Outside the chamber, Milward brushed aside those councilmembers who wished to add the famous wizard to their appointment calendars and turned left toward the Imperial Palace.

“The Emperor?” Gerold-Lyrd asked, in a mild tone of disbelief as he noticed where they were headed, “You’re taking me to see the Emperor?”

“Of course,” Milward replied, as if stating an obvious outcome, “What is so remarkable about that? He’s someone you know. You and he have already spoken and he was quite impressed with you, by the way.”

Gerold-Lyrd balked, slowing, which opened some distance between him and the wizard. “But…but that was in the course of a council meeting. I was speaking to the government as a member of the council. It was just politics.”

Milward shook his head. “Not the way Alford saw it. Remember, you spoke with conviction and an honesty that shocked the complacent councilmembers right to their toes. Why do you think he called you out in the first place?”

“I…” Gerold-Lyrd shook his head, “I don’t know…”

“Well, it certainly wasn’t you introducing me to the council. You had already accused the council en masse of nearly every crime short of barratry, remember?” Milward reached out, took Gerold-Lyrd by the sleeve and hurried him along.

The palace guard stepped aside to allow Milward and his charge entry. As he passed, Milward heard whispers:

“…don’t look like much…”

“…you gonna push ‘im?”

“…like meself in this skin…”

Alford was waiting for them in the Royal suite. Gerold-Lyrd seemed somewhat wide-eyed as he turned in place, staring at the splendor he found himself in. Alford’s quarters, not the palace, just the quarters were easily the size of the entire Lyrd enclave, and the fixtures were far more elaborate.

The Emperor gestured toward an expensive-looking suite of furniture, “Please, sit down.”

“Umm,” Gerold-Lyrd stammered.

“Oh, sit down already,” Milward pushed the young councilmember into the closest divan.

Alford took a moment to study the young councilmember. From up close Gerold-Lyrd looked far more like a nervous teenager waiting for his first date to descend the stairs than the bane of the council establishment. The young fellow was actually fidgeting.

Milward pulled out a long-stemmed churchwarden pipe and puffed it alight. A sweet/savory smoke billowed out of the bowl and drifted upwards toward the high ceiling.

He pulled the bit out of his mouth and said, with a touch of asperity, “Well?”

Alford turned his head to stare at Milward, “Well…what?”

“I wasn’t talking to you,” the old wizard growled, “but to our favorite whelp here.”

Gerold-Lyrd goggled at the tone the Wizard used in addressing the Emperor. To his mind it sounded about the same as a shepherd telling the creator what to do. He half expected a bolt of lightning to fall and was somewhat surprised when it didn’t. He had a further shock coming.

Alford turned to face the old wizard and bowed, “Of course, sire wizard, I should have realized that. Please, continue.”

“Thank you, I believe I will,” Milward ducked his head in a brief bow and gestured at Gerold-Lyrd, “What I asked you for was an impression, young man, an impression as to how you think your case is coming along.”

Gerold-Lyrd’s mouth worked but nothing came out.

Milward’s patience, not the strongest of his attributes eroded, “Oh for Brdoc’s sake, don’t gape like a beached trout! Say something, even if it’s a gurgle.”


“Well,” Milward huffed, “At least that’s something.”

“Oh stop bullying the lad, Milward. It’s obviously he’s scared half to death, if not three-fourths of the way,” Alford sat down next to Gerold-Lyrd and patted him on the knee.

Milward chuckled, “And you accused me of bullying him. That pat on the knee probably took of the rest of his youth right there.” He gestured and a nearby chair glided over to position itself behind him.

Sitting in the chair he looked Gerold-Lyrd in the eye and nodded, “Yes, I am indeed a wizard, but beyond that I have lived and studied long enough to know what I’m talking about. There is a reason for my question and I expect an answer.” He finished with as kindly a tone as he could manage.

“I…umm,” Gerold-Lyrd began and then swallowed, forcing out the words as he saw the wizard’s eyes beginning to narrow, “I think it’s going better than I hoped. I really expected to lose.”

Milward raised an eyebrow.

“Well…umm, not really, at first I thought the council would see that I was right all along and then when I was arrested I thought…”

“You thought right would triumph over might,’ Milward finished for him. “Alford, this child is priceless.”

“Ease up a bit, Wizard,” Alford murmured, “We still have tomorrow to complete the trial. The opposition isn’t completely incompetent.”

“I am well aware of that,” Milward answered. He sighed, “Right, you’ve seen the lad and talked to him. What do you think?”

Gerold-Lyrd’s head felt as if it was going to swell and float away like a child’s balloon. Being the scion of one of the founding houses of the Empire was bad enough, but now he was the topic of conversation between the two most powerful personalities in the empire.

“Mmm, I think we just may have some usable material here,” Alford said, nodding his head to one side.

“Are you sure?” Milward pressed, “This move is not going to make you any friends amongst the old guard.”

“If I wanted friends there do you think I would have been poisoned?” Alford waved a hand.

“Point made,” Milward conceded. He moved his attention to Gerold-Lyrd, “Well, lad, do you accept?”

Gerold-Lyrd’s eyes showed white all around, “Accept? Accept what? I haven’t understood a word you’ve said!”

Milward chuckled, shaking his head, “Did you mention the position at all, Your Highness?”

Alford straightened and looked at the old wizard in surprise, “I thought you did.”

“Well that does explain a certain amount in incredulity in our young guest, doesn’t it?” Milward puffed out his cheeks and arched his back to the accompaniment of cracks and pops that made Gerold-Lyrd wince.

“Yes, I suppose it does,” Alford agreed.

Gerold-Lyrd asked, “What are you talking about?” There was a touch of hysteria in his voice.

“Why the Prime Minister position, of course,” Alford said with a smile and spread hands.


About robertleebeers

Author, Illustrator, Artist, Musician, and (sorry) politician.
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