Thalric is one of the major characters in the Shadows of the Apt series. A Wasp-kinden man, he is first introduced as an antagonist, a major in the Wasp-kinden secret service assigned with countering the espionage activities of Stenwold Maker. Over the course of the first four books, (Empire in Black and Gold, Dragonfly Falling, Blood of the Mantis and Salute the Dark) he transitions into one of the protagonists, joining Stenwold and co. in the hunt for the Shadow Box, only to become consort to Empress Seda, ruler of the reforged Wasp Empire, at the end of the first arc. Defecting from the Wasp Empire once again in the second arc (The Scarab Path, The Sea Watch and Heirs of the Blade) he becomes closely tied to Cheerwell Maker and is one of the series' main protagonists throughout the final arc (The Air War, War Master's Gate and The Seal of the Worm).
Personality and TraitsEdit
At his core Thalric is extremely, even fanatically, loyal to the Wasp Empire though this loyalty takes a different form to that of the everyday agent or soldier. Thalric is loyal to what the Empire should be, and what it stands for, rather than simply to any single Emperor or authority figure within it. This loyalty is so strong that he will murder superior officers out of disgust if he sees them serving their own interests before the Empire's. He truly believes that Wasp-kinden are the superior race, but he also recognizes the usefulness and qualities of other kinden.
Thalric makes a point of being loyal to those who are loyal to him, though few of his subordinates prove to be so. Those that do stick by him are rewarded, such as Engineering Lieutenant Aagen who befriends him and assists his plans in Myna and is later promoted to Major and named Ambassador to Collegium once Thalric becomes Regent-General.
Thalric holds grudging but genuine respect for Stenwold Maker, who was for a long time his opposite number in the Lowlands. Their relationship was put to the test when this respect was forced to override their emnity when Thalric fled the Rekef and began working alongside Stenwold and his other agents, assisting them in the hunt for the Shadow Box. However, even while working with the enemy Thalric refused to directly attack his own kinden. Additionally, Thalric harbours admiration and repressed feelings for Stenwold's niece Cheerwell Maker. Their relationship began with him as her hostile captor but Thalric never got around to torturing her and this is implied to be more deliberate than he makes it seem. The two later develop a bond after the death of Cheerwell's first lover Achaeos and eventually, after the events of The Scarab Path, become lovers and partners, much to Stenwold's dismay.
Empire in Black and GoldEdit
Thalric makes his first appearance as an Imperial Army Captain and Rekef Outlander Major tasked with ending the activities of Stenwold Maker and capturing him. He is behind an assassination attempt on Stenwold at his house in Collegium, though the attempt is thwarted. When he recieves word that Stenwold and some of his newest agents will be travelling on the airship Sky Without to Helleron he rendezvous with the ship, but Stenwold's four agents Cheerwell Maker, Tynisa, Salme Dien and Totho escape on the same flier he arrived in. He meets with a shape-shifting agent named Scyla in Helleron and the two plan to lure the agents sent by Stenwold into a trap. The trap is sprung, Scyla having murdered an operative named Bolwyn who had been assigned to meet the new agents and assumed his form, and though all four agents escape they are seperated.
Thalric later manages to capture Cheerwell and Salma, helped by the treachery of Cheerwell's older cousin Elias Monger whom the pair had sought refuge with after the ambush. He takes them as prisoners to the Wasp-kinden mustering town of Asta where he questions Cheerwell, unconcerned that she was nearly raped by the slave-driver Brugan. Despite being the agent and niece of his enemy Stenwold Thalric is grudgingly impressed by Cheerwell's spirit. He recieves a message from Fly-kinden Rekef agent te Berro and meets with Colonel Latvoc and General Reiner, two high-ranking Rekef agents, who assign him the mission of investigating his old mentor and commander Ulther, now governor of Myna, who is believed by the Rekef to be corrupt. He takes the two prisoners on to the city of Myna along with his friend and ally Lieutenant Aagen and holds them in prison cells there. He has Cheerwell strapped to a torture machine and activates it, but doesn't torture her, actually using the noise generated by the machine to cover a secret conversation with Aagen about bringing Ulther's corruption to light.
Having ascertained that his old friend is indeed corrupt, Thalric brings matters to a head by appropriating through Aagen a Butterfly-kinden slave, Grief in Chains , whom Ulther had bought for his harem. Provoked, Ulther sends his underlings to kill Thalric who survives the desperate fight but is only saved from his final attacker by te Berro. Thalric confronts and kills Ulther, completing his mission, but the Governor's Palace is now in chaos thanks to Stenwold and his free agents launching a rescue of Cheerwell and Salma alongside elements of Myna's local resistance movement. During the rescue Kymene, the woman in charge of the Mynan resistance who had been imprisoned by Ulther, is freed. Thalric encounters her on his way to kill Ulther and she lets him go despite being a Wasp because his mission will benefit her cause.
After killing Ulther Thalric reports back to General Reiner and Colonel Latvoc, who are impressed with his performance and offer him a place in the Rekef Inlander. Thalric replies that he will do so if ordered to, but if given a choice he would rather remain in the Rekef Outlander.
Sent back to Helleron to oversee the Wasp's plan to appropriate the nearly-completed steam train Pride and use it to spearhead a surprise invasion of Collegium, Thalric encounters Stenwold and the two enemies share a drink and explore their mutual grudging respect for one another. Stenwold pieces together from Thalric's words what the Wasps are planning, but before he can react local thugs and Wasp soldiers storm the hideout of Stenwold's agents in the city. Enough of them escape to launch a desperate mission to destroy the Pride before the Wasps can use it and Thalric leads his men in defense of the engine. In the skirmish Thalric severly wounds Stenwold's deadly ally, the Mantis-kinden Weaponmaster Tisamon, and is badly wounded in revenge by Tynisa, Tisamon's daughter. Stenwold's allies succeed in destroying the Pride, though Thalric himself survives the fight.
Dragonfly Falling Edit
Disgraced by his failure to protect the Pride, Thalric is sent to Collegium to organize Stenwold's assassination. He takes command of local Rekef agents there, and under his orders Spider-kinden agent Arianna seduces Stenwold. Discovering through her the location of Stenwold's next meeting with College students who are heeding his warnings about the Wasp Empire's expansionistic threat he sets an ambush, but Stenwold and his bodyguards Tynisa, Tisamon and Balkus escape. Now forced to enact his backup plan, Thalric tells his agents that he is travelling to Vek, an Ant-kinden city with a history of conflict and emnity with Collegium, to persuade the Vekken to besiege the city. However he did not count on the fondness most of his agents have developed for the city they have long lived in undercover, and they try to assassinate him. Thalric survives the attack and kills two of the traitor agents but the third, Arianna, flees. Pursuing her through the streets he is confronted by Tisamon, whom he has come to fear since seeing him survive a wound that should have been fatal.
Thalric survives the confrontation and flees. Arriving in Vek he meets with the local Rekef agents and helps persuade the Vekken to attack Collegium. Whilst encamped with the Vekken army he is set upon by Daklan, leader of the local Rekef who wishes to curry favour with General Maxin, one of the three Rekef generals who is engaged in a power-struggle with General Reiner whom Thalric serves. Thalric kills Daklan and his ally Haroc but is stabbed in the side during the fight, causing him to lose consciousness after stumbling away from the Vekken camp. He is discovered by Felise Mienn, a Dragonfly-kinden noblewoman who lost her sanity after Thalric murdered her children and forced her to watch during the Wasp Empire's Twelve-Year War with the Dragonfly Commonweal. She has since been hunting him down.
However, Felise Mienn did not wish to get her longed-for revenge by killing Thalric when he is already badly wounded and at her mercy. Thalric's wound is tended by the Spider-kinden doctor Destrachis who had been accompanying Felise and he is let go so she can hunt him down again. Now a wanted man betrayed by the Empire he had loyally served Thalric has nowhere to go, and he travels to Collegium and puts himself at Stenwold's mercy, offering his services as an agent and spy. Though distrustful, Stenwold cannot ignore Thalric as a potential asset. Whilst under guard by Stenwold's people, Thalric is found once more by Felise Mienn and Stenwold, after hearing her reasons for hunting him, cannot deny her her vengeance. However Felise is unable to kill him and breaks down after easily overpowering him, unable to kill the one thing that has kept her going since the death of her children.
When Thalric hears that Stenwold's people are seeking the Shadow Box, a powerful magical artefact from the days of the revolution that they have tracked to the lake-town of Jerez within the Empire, he offers his services, his knowledge of the Empire and skills as a Rekef agent making him useful in the quest to find the box.
Blood of the Mantis Edit
Along with Achaeos, Tisamon, Tynisa and Gaved, Thalric goes on a mission to retrieve the Shadow Box. Travelling to the Moth-kinden city of Tharn on the airship of Beetle-kinden aviator Jons Allanbridge, the Bouyant Maiden, the group are guests of the hostile Moths for a short time before departing again. As they leave a Wasp aerial force arrives from Helleron to occupy Tharn, and the Bouyant Maiden comes under attack. Thalric helps defend the airship but stops short of killing his own kinden.
Escaping Tharn, the group arrive in Jerez where Gaved makes contact with an old associate of his, one of the local Skater-kinden called Nivit. The group begins to hunt down the Shadow Box, which is in the possession of the shape-shifter Scyla. Encountering the local Wasp garsion Thalric is tempted by the comraderie of his own people and appraoches them, hoping that word of his status as a wanted fugitive has not reached them. It has however and after attempting to lower his defenses they attack, forcing him to flee. He is saved from the last of his pursuers by Tisamon, who silently departs afterwards.
After the group free a fearful escaped Water-Spider-kinden slave-girl named Sef, Thalric questions her about her home and masters. Eventually they learn from her that Scyla is going to auction the Shadow Box on a raft of reeds on nearby Lake Limnia. Infliltrating the auction, the group are caught up in violence that errupts as various parties fight over the box. Thalric and Gaved pursue Scyla over the lake where Thalric kills her with his sting, but the box falls into the waters, only to be rescued by Sef, who Thalric and Gaved pull from the water in time to save from a predator.
Once the group is in possession of the box Sykore, a Mosquito-kinden working for Uctebri the Sarcad, possesses Tynisa and has her mortally wound Achaeos. Thalric attacks her, thinking she has gone mad and betrayed them, but is knocked out by a dart fired by Nivit.
Gaved and Tisamon pursue and kill Sykore, freeing Tynisa from possession. The Shadow Box vanishes, and the group rush back to Collegium aboard the Bouyant Maiden to try and save Achaeos's life.
Salute the Dark Edit
Unbeknownst to Stenwold , Thalric accompanies Cheerwell Maker to Tharn to have Achaeos healed by the Moth-kinden, as Collegium-style medical attention is ineffective on him. On arrival Thalric passes himself off as a Rekef officer with Cheerwell and Achaeos as his agents so the local Wasp garrison will allow them into the city. Leaving Achaeos in the care of his own people, Thalric and Cheerwell continue on to Myna with the aim of encouraging a revolution, which in conjunction with the Bee-kinden revolution in Szar and a likely revolution in the Ant-kinden city of Maynes would cripple the West-Empire and force the Wasps to divert forces to put them down, effectively stalling their currently succesful invasion of the Lowlands.
Once in Myna Cheerwell is captured by the resistance who believe her to be a spy. Fleeing their capture Thalric meets with Colonel Latvoc , now Governor of the city after the death of Ulther at Thalric's hands. Latvoc brings Thalric to an audience with General Reiner , who offers Thalric an oportunity to return to the Rekef and serve him in his power struggle with General Maxin. Disgusted by the way Reiner threw him to the wolves when Maxin wanted him dead and is now taking him back like nothing happened, and by the way he uses the Rekef in his own power-struggles instead of serving the Empire, Thalric murders him and the guards who consequently attack, killing Latvoc as well to finish the job.
Returning to the resistance and providing the testimony that saves Cheerwell from torture at their hands, Thalric is present when local Wasp soldiers storm Hokiak's Exchange, a shady business dealership both the Wasps and the resistance profit from. To save the resistance members meeting there from capture, Thalric gives himself up to the soldiers, admitting to murdering Reiner and Latvoc. He is taken as a prisoner to Capitas, the capital of the Wasp Empire, and displayed for public beating prior to his execution. There he is found by Tynisa, who has travelled to Capitas following her runaway father Tisamon, who hits him for the benefit of the public whilst promising to have him moved into a cell and his execution delayed in return for information on Tisamon's likely whereabouts. Thalric is moved to a cell underneath Capitas's fighting arena and there encounters Tisamon. Whilst a prisoner there he is taken for questioning by a strange Wasp-kinden woman and a man he recognizes as General Brugan. At first he thinks the woman is a young widow of Reiner's, but only after she questions him about his past and skills does he realize that she may have been Princess Seda.
After the assassination of Wasp Emperor Alvdan II Seda takes Thalric as her consort, a male figurehead to cement her unsteady rule of the Wasp Empire. He becomes Regent-General of the Wasp Empire. After the Lowlands War ends in a stalemate, Thalric travels to Collegium in official capacity to sign peace treaties. He promotes his friend Aagen to Major and makes him Ambassador to the Lowlands. Meeting with Stenwold, Tynisa and Cheerwell he concludes his psuedo-friendships with them, as he is now Regent-General Thalric of the Wasp Empire and will be their enemy once more when the treaties are broken, as both he and Stenwold recognize they will be. Farewelling Cheerwell with a kiss, he silently admits to himself that if things were different he could have had a realtionship with her.