Updated: Mar 8
Much like my desire to take a familiar concept and imbue it with a hint of the extraordinary, I decided early in writing "Heretic" to reimagine the purpose of trolls in this tale. As you are likely aware, trolls are typically portrayed as large, dim-witted, and unmanageably aggressive monsters, and I felt that there was more to explore. Perhaps it's because I've been engrossed in Hogwarts Legacy of late, but the idea of these towering behemoths constantly attacking sight strikes me as somewhat predictable. "There's a troll in the castle!" someone cries, and all the children flee in terror while everyone scurries around frantically until a brave soul confronts the poor, foolish giant. After besting the gargantuan oaf in combat, everyone extolls the hero's virtues.
However, in devising my trolls, I wanted them to be just as vicious, albeit in a more intellectual sense. Picture a lumbering troll with an enormous frame delivering the marriage speech from "The Princess Bride" in front of a church - now that would be a sight to behold!
But the notion of these creatures seeming tame, as though they have earned a place in the society of honor and admiration, yet retaining their aggressive nature through their words and political machinations, fascinated me even more.
One of my favorite scenes early on in the book introduces our first troll, who, from the outset, appears amiable, even kind. Our protagonist is privileged to be in his company, and there is no concern about the troll's presence in the castle. However, the troll's words and what he asks of our hero are as ruinous to his spirit as if the troll had sauntered in half-naked with a club and begun wreaking havoc.
In this world, the troll is breaking our hero's will, which is infinitely more distressing than any physical assault he could inflict with a wooden club.