You sit at a desk in a dimly lit classroom. The windows are covered by large tapestries depicting the various studies of the arcane: divination, protection, defense, potions, and the like. The smell of old tomes, incense, and ink fills the space.”
Suddenly, the tapestries snap open bringing harsh sunlight in the room. Other students shield their eyes at the change of scenery. A burst of magic erupts from the doorway and in strides the teacher. They wear a robe of pink with blue sigils and a matching pointed hat that hangs slightly askew. “Welcome to Magical Studies I, I am your professor. Turn to page 157 and we shall begin with how to summon a simple light spell.”
Magical academies, such as the Citadel in Thread of Souls, are all the rage in fantasy, right? As authors, we love sensory details but what does it sound like within an academy? Music is a great way to get ideas and inspiration. Imagine the above scene with the following tracks playing in the background.
Magical and mysterious is Eothas. It’s soft and soothing and is great for lore drops and providing details about locations, people, and items. At the Citadel, it’s a wonderful backdrop for sweeping shots detailing the school and its three spires of law, study, and research.
The Crystal’s Shimmer and the Wind’s Revelations is a mesmerizing track for showcasing wonderful magic. It’s light and full of wonder. A great backdrop for the crystalmancers of the Citadel as they learn and teach about the eight disciplines of magic.
How May I Serve You? is an eerie discordant track for untrusting moments. Magical academies are full of many interesting people and not all of them are to be trusted. Each and every person has their own agenda. The Citadel is home to powerful mages, without giving any spoilers, not all of them are as they seem.
Bonus Dragon Prince song. I See You pairs nicely with How May I Serve You?
Mages are scholarly and Cyrus, the Scholar fits nicely for a library.
Alabastra is for those moments when the students explore the restricted section. It’s way more fun to venture into an unauthorized zone. Forbidden is just an invitation for curious mages.
My word, it’s been a busy time here at Thread of Souls land. With injuries healing and colder weather upon us, we are here with our monthly update. It’s a doozy.
Book IV Asunder ARC Readers
The fourth book in our fantasy series, Asunder, is off to our ARC readers! It’s been a wonderful time editing the book and we are excited to get it into the hands of our adventuring party. While they are reading over Asunder, we are moving on to other matters such as marketing, trailers, and social media outreach.
Just because book IV Asunder is handed off to our ARC team doesn’t mean you can’t join! If you want to become a member of the Thread of Souls adventuring party (our ARC team and other fun collaborative projects) hit us up. Comment on this post or send us an email.
Check out that new updated map as well. Coming to an updated book in the not-too-distant future.
New Covers for Books I – III
We are in the process of updating the covers for Thread of Souls. We have seen the updated covers for books I and II, Phantom Five and Ash & Thunder. Holy smokes, our editor rolled a natural 20 for both of them. The cover for Path of the Spiders is coming along as well. We can’t wait to show you the finished covers for all four books.
Thread of Souls Music
We’ve mentioned before about working with a composer on music for TOS. So far we have heard 10 tracks for the first three books. Our composer sends them to us as soon as he’s finished and each one is a fantastic surprise. So, we are going to show off one of those for you.
We still haven’t watched the Dungeons & Dragons movie trailer, but are curious about it. What has us even more interested is the announcement of two prequel books ahead of the movie: The Druid’s Call and The Road to Neverwinter. Let’s talk about what we know and what we’d like to see from them.
The Road to Neverwinter is written by Jaleigh Johnson. Little is known about it but we can deduce it will take place in the city of Neverwinter, the Jewel of the North. As huge fans of the Neverwinter MMO, we’ve spent, I was going to say countless hours exploring the city, but it’s 361.5 hours, according to Steam. That’s more than 15 days.
Needless to say, we are looking forward to The Road to Neverwinter.
The Druid’s Call, from E.K. Johnston, also has a special place in our hearts for one important reason. Talia’s first D&D character was the druid Jade, a main character in our fantasy octology Thread of Souls.
The two books are exciting and they got us thinking. We’re sure they’re written like a typical story — choose a premise, characters, outline it, and write it — but we believe it be great if they were based on their own tabletop experience. Imagine if the characters in both books were played by actual people around a table like a D&D game.
The players all choose a character in the story and roleplay them and tell the story together. With A Druid’s Call following the main protagonist Doric, the actions and decisions her player makes shape the world and therefore the overall book.
The same be The Road to Neverwinter. While it’s unclear what the story is, the book must involve some of the characters from Honor Among Thieves. Our thoughts are on rogue Forge Fitzwilliam, as he is tied to the city.
However the books and movie are written, they’re sure to be thrilling. But as authors who turned our ongoing ttrpg campaign into fantasy books, it is definitely a fun way to write a series after playing it around a table with friends.
Clothing is an important factor in a story. You may not consciously think about the characters’ outfits while reading or watching, but they tell the story just the same. Shows and movies are easy-to-track outfits, while books or actual plays are more challenging. Keeping track of your character’s clothing is fun and should be part of the tale itself.
Clothing isn’t Optional
Talking about character outfits is just as important as talking about them. You don’t have to describe much or go into much detail. Something as simple as stating the character wears dark leather armor and carries a belt with multiple daggers on it, gets several points — pun intended — across.
This character relies on stealth and strikes quickly. This brings to mind they may be some sort of rogue. The dark armor suggests they prefer to stick to the shadows or be out at night.
You can use clothing to quickly describe a character without outright saying what their specialty is. Mages wear flowing robes, rangers wear leather or fur armor dyed the color of nature, and clerics or healers wear colored robes depicting their deity.
Plot, plot, plot. Location, location, location
Keep in mind the environments your characters visit. Once again, clothing description isn’t meant to take up a lot of words. You’re not in school anymore, you don’t need to hit a word count. What you need to worry about is the type of clothing. If your story takes place in a cold and snowy biome, make sure the characters wear thick outfits to keep them warm.
Vice versa, if they are at the beach for a relaxing day. Put them in clothing that says beach attire. Also, don’t forget about their weapons.
For the love of all things holy. Nothing drives us madder than when characters have their weapons with them all the time! Take them away from time to time. Give them moments to use random objects to fight with. A frying pan hits just as hard as a hammer. Another thing. Please, if they get locked in prison, have the guards take their armor and weapons. Throw in the trope of having a stealthy or rogue character thoroughly searched if you have to. It’s funny.
Major plot points require outfit changes, too. These can be anything from going from one environment to another and character growth. If a character is just starting out on their quest, their outfit should be tailored to their lifestyle. Perhaps they are a professor and only wear professional-looking attire. Then, once they get thrown into the fire as it were, they come out changed. No longer are they that clean professional instructor, but an adventurer who has seen some shit. Their new clothes should reflect this. Now, they wear business attire but it’s ripped or bedazzled with color.
Keep clothing in mind when you write. Outfits make great characters and really help describe your characters even more.
“How did you become a writer?” When we tell people what we do, their reaction is always the same. Eyes widen, smiles cross their faces, and a look of intrigue and interest passes over them. They ask that question, typically followed by “What do you write?” and “How did you get into that?”
Answers to those then usually lead to the inappropriate questions of income, but I believe the meaning behind them is sincere. People that are not within the arts have a hard time wrapping their mind around others being creative for a living.
So here is our story. It is very condensed for blog purposes, but I hope it inspires those seeking to write. If not, we hope it is at least entertaining!
I believe everyone that ends up being a writer already knew they would from childhood. This was true for Dorian and I both, though the details were different.
I have been crafting stories ever since I could pick up a pencil. Even before I was old enough to know how to spell and write sentences, I told my stories through a series of pictures Crayon-colored across ripped-out notebook pages. It is little wonder I ended up loving drawing so much!
Once I learned how to write, that was my hobby. My love. My passion. I wrote everything. I wrote Star Wars fanfics even before I knew what a fanfiction was. I wrote stories inspired by characters from my set of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. My original story was selected to be put up in my elementary school. If my adoptive parents hadn’t kept such a tight leash on me, I probably would have been involved in community writing programs and field trips. Such was my love for it.
By my preteen years I was writing 200+ page novels by hand. I had written six of them by the time I was 18. And one ghost-story children’s book, but I quickly found I didn’t like writing children’s stories. My reading was advanced, and so my writing reflected what I read.
For Dorian, he started out differently. His love of the craft came not from putting words on paper, but from the art of storytelling. He dabbled in creating short films with his friends as an adolescent. He admired the early pioneers in digital journalism, especially for video games, comics, and other fantasy topics.
The largest project he undertook in his adolescence was writing a comic book series called “Produce Guy”, inspired by his local job at a grocery store. It involved a produce worker getting superpowers and battling villains in a light-hearted and witty storyline. Alas, it never got past the first draft as he had no artist friends.
For me, experiences with college and “advice” from my adoptive parents made me believe pursuing a career as a writer wasn’t the right path. I need to go into the corporate world! I got my degree in psychology, which I still believe today helps me write characters.
During college I spent my free time writing fanfictions for The Legend of Zelda, Xiaolin Showdown, Sonic the Hedgehog and the like. I had a lot of success and won many community awards, including “Fanfic of the Year”, “Best Adventure”, and “Best Romance.”
I went into Human Resources, specifically recruitment because I like to help people. I thought I would be helping people get a job and enjoy their work life. But my personality did not mesh well with corporations, and I was appalled by the systemic racism I found within which even went as far as a boss telling me to bring him “less brown people”.
Wanting to get away from that culture, I moved into career advisement for a college. I enjoyed a more practical approach to helping graduates. I helped them write resumes and even published one career-oriented newspaper that then got cancelled by executive leadership because they didn’t want to get graduates’ “hopes up” that they could land a certain career. Covering their asses, as it were.
Suffice to say, I was burned out and depressed by the lack of creativity within these spaces, and felt quite hopeless about my future.
I met Dorian just as I was graduating college. Unlike me, he was more closely following a career as a writer. He’d been discouraged from pursuing the type of writing he wanted by family, saying it wouldn’t “lead anywhere”. So instead, he worked across a few local news stations in his early career. He moved from entry-level cameraman job to writing stories for the anchors as well as for website publication. He wrote commercials, breaking news, and produced the newscast as a whole.
On the side, he wrote and hosted a podcast for Einfo Games for free as a way to indulge his creative side. The side that enjoyed fantasy stories and adventure. Like me, he didn’t enjoy his jobs and wanted a better fit for himself. He’d gone to college for journalism, even though it wasn’t the university he’d desired or the specific degree program to get him where he wanted to go. Like me, he’d followed the advice of family and it wasn’t turning out how he’d hoped.
The Turning Point
I would say 2018 was the biggest turning point for us. Three years after we got married and bought a house, we were both laid off from our jobs. My college closed down, and his news station did staffing cuts. We were at home for six months, and for the first time we started to explore other options.
Maybe we didn’t need to live in this state? Maybe we could follow our original dreams? Maybe we could turn both of our passions of writing into something else?
A series of events happened from 2018-2020 that really kick-started this. I took a remote job writing resumes for clients on a freelance basis. This allowed me flexibility with my schedule and the ability to pursue other passions.
Dorian wrote freelance across a variety of platforms remotely, this time focusing on nerdy news. He wrote for free for a website called The Nerd Stash for a couple of years, getting me on the staff, as well. We also both wrote for Car Bibles and The Drive, this time for pay. He was published across other platforms on a freelance basis, which was very hard work to get pitches accepted for a writer that had no big names behind him.
Still, at least we were enjoying ourselves for once. We were both at home together, writing about things we actually liked. Minus the resumes for me, of course, but it paid well. And there was Thread of Souls.
The Beginning of Thread of Souls
We started playing D&D 5e in September of 2015, two months before we got married. Dorian discovered the game after watching Critical Role. I was more hesitant, not really understanding what it was. I only agreed to join because only two of Dorian’s friends agreed to show up for the first game, despite him helping a large group learn the rules and make characters. After that, I was hooked.
I loved the game so much I started drawing for the first time since starting my corporate career. As the game progressed, I thought about writing again. I wanted to turn this story we were telling into a book series. When I was around 19 years old I had tried to get my novels published. But I was young, inexperienced, unpolished, and didn’t have a great deal of support to help me learn what I needed to do. Because these books were based off a game that was so close to our hearts, I didn’t want to go down that path again. I didn’t want them changed by a publisher for what was “marketable” or “trendy”. I wanted to tell our story the same way it had touched my heart.
In 2019 we wrote and published Phantom Five independently. And in 2020 we did the same with Ash & Thunder. This initially was just for fun. Just because we loved it. When other people began to read it, and give it good reviews, we realized we had something special. Something that other people might enjoy and be moved by.
Our Lives Now
Both of our careers have become more stable after the drastic shift we took to become writers. We write for video games and still do some freelance work. But our focus is on Thread of Souls. We publish one book a year and intend to increase that number as the years go on with supplemental stories. We also started publishing for Dungeon Master’s Guild. Thread of Souls may have started as D&D 5e, but it did not take long for us to change it to a fully homebrewed game with our own rules, pantheon, monster stats, and classes. We decided to share that creativity on another platform.
That has led to a social media presence, and Dorian getting back into video production for YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. It has led to our weekly blog writing and getting to express ourselves creatively through other means. We also became digital nomads, moving from one city to another, and sometimes traveling in our campervan.
That does not mean everything is easy. After all, for writers the future is often a question mark. You can only hope the jobs don’t stop, and that people keep buying your work. But after layoffs from the corporate world, that wasn’t exactly stable, either. For us, the freedom and sense of personal achievement we feel is far worth the risk.
If you are looking to become a writer, my advice is this. Don’t let people who have never followed this path tell you what you should or should not do. They don’t know. If you can find a mentor, or be involved in a group, all the better. I wish we’d had that. You don’t need to worry about a degree or work history. One of our most fulfilling creative roles hired us just because of the content on our website and never asked to see a resume. Doing something even though it’s risky is far better than doing something “stable” that drains you. And finally, be loyal to your own dream above anyone else’s dream.
This September we are celebrating “Read a New Book Month”! You can also totally celebrate in December, since that is also designated as a new book month. For us, September is the doorstep of our favorite season of the year, and it has us looking to settle down, find some new books, and enjoy a slower pace of life.
Choose Your Weapon
When looking for a new book, there are many avenues available! A big chain like Barnes & Noble has plenty to choose from, or you might want to go to a local bookshop and find some hidden gems. Going online to stores like Amazon enables you to support indie authors who might not be able to get their books into larger stores. Or if you find yourself pressed for time to sit down and read, audiobooks are another option! Don’t overlook your local library if you don’t want to spend money.
We are lovers of high fantasy, and that tends to be 80% of what we read. But we also enjoy some spooky stories, some urban fantasy, and some nonfiction books. Stick with what you like, or it might be fun to branch out and try something new! If you are uncertain about spending money on a book you are not sure you’ll like, you can find ebooks for relatively cheap, especially from indie authors. Some sites like Amazon also let authors do a temporary free promotion of their book, so you can try one without any cost! Keep in mind the authors do not make any money from this, so you can tell they truly want to share their work if they do free promotions.
We’ve definitely written plenty of posts talking about some of our favorite books. If you are looking for some inspiration, feel free to check these out!
Video games are as great an escape as reading a book. They let you become another character and play out an adventure. Games allow you to discover new lands, save the world, or go on a side quest. Very much like a fantasy book, you join along in the adventure to see what happens in the end.
And like a book series, games can have several in the series. That’s why we split our list of the best video games to design your character into two posts. Sequels are popular. Everyone wants more of what they enjoyed. It worked for Avengers, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and it’s how we’re building Thread of Souls.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfirequickly became one of our favorite games. Inspired by Baldur’s Gate, you build a party of characters in an attempt to stop a god from wreaking on the world. You can make a party of five custom characters, each with their own voice and skill line. It’s another great example of a D&D party in video games. You can outfit characters with armor, weapons, and choose a color unique to them to make them stand out.
WWE is a big part of our lives and W2K22 is one of the best games when it comes to designing a character. From their looks, clothing, and attitude, the game offer plenty of options when it comes to design. You can choose any skin color, select from hundreds of outfits or clothes, and give your character a specific fighting style. It’s one of the most fu games we’ve found when it comes to building a character. Characters are restricted to how tall they can be. So if you play a shorter or taller race, you are limited to height.
8. Neverwinter – Free
Neverwinter’s character creator is the best choice for free games to choose from. It pulls directly from the lore and official D&D books, so those familiar with the mechanics should find it simple to build a character. If you have a drow paladin at the table, you can build them in Neverwinter and get them pretty close to how you imagine them.
9. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is robust. There are 25 classes and 12 races to choose from when you build a character. Classes have their own unique look — rangers wear a hood, paladins wear heavy armor — but you can change certain elements by giving them armor during the journey.
10. Dragon Age: Inquisition
Elves, humans, dwarves, and Qunari make up the characters you’ll be able to choose from in Dragon Age. While it isn’t a lot when compared to other games, it fits the lore of the world. One of our favorite things about the character customization options for Dragon Age is the clothing. There are so many outfits to find and equip in the game and you can customize the color and style of them as well. You can tailor outfits to fit the personality and skill of your specific character.
Seeing your character come to life in a video game can give them more life in your writing. Watching them move around the map or interact with objects and characters can give you new ideas in roleplaying them at the table. Give it a thought the next time you sit down to play.
Hello there, Talia and Dorian with our monthly update! Talia is recovering from her achilles tendon injury. It is a slow process but healing takes time. She is able to get up and around without issue, so good news! We are super thrilled about the future for Thread of Souls and our ttrpg projects, so let’s get to it!
Jade’s Alphabet of Animals
“Jade’s Alphabet of Animals” is coming along nicely. It is, however, being pushed back due to the injury and recovery process. We haven’t narrowed down an official date, but it will release before the end of the year. It’s a comical take on children’s books featuring animals and creatures within the world of Thread of Souls. Here’s one such animal, the behleep, you’ll find hanging around the slopes of De Behl Marr.
The mountains are home to the cuddly behleep. A cousin to the standard sheep. They wear a coat of stone and rocks and roam around in herds and flocks. They hop along from here to there, leaping over boulders up into the air. If you see one, don’t be scared. They’ll roll right to you, so be prepared.
Asunder update! Our fourth book in the Thread of Souls Spider Octology series is on schedule for release this December! We are about 80% through writing so far and even added in a brand new POV character. One we’re rather excited about. Here’s a sneak peek at Asunder!
While we may be nearing the end of writing book four, we are in the endgame of our story around the table. We’re playing out the events of book eight and it’s been an incredible time. Can’t believe we started in 2015.
We have a TikTok! It’s a fun platform we really enjoy using to meet and chat with others in the community. Give us a follow!
We are working on our biggest D&D guide ever! A book dedicated to the Underdark. We enjoy the creepy, dark, and mysteriousness of the Underdark. Underground adventures are one of our favorites to write. It includes cult cities, non-cult cities, drow, duergar, deep gnomes, cuisine, priestesses, consorts, taverns, roll tables, and plenty more to build your own Underdark world.
Our Thread of Souls character feature for August was Artemis the ranger. We love getting to talk about our characters, world, and lore. Gives us a like and follow along for more lore, writing tips, and cats.
Captain Sen – The Barbarian
Our next lore drop is all about the boisterous and lovable Captain Sen! He’s loyal, kind, and always up for a good fight. Who plays a barbarian?
Writer’s block. We’ve all been there. Staring at a screen, your cursor flashing on and off, and not knowing what to write next. Perhaps you know what to say, but not how to say it. Perhaps you’re stuck on a scene transition, or a bit of dialogue, or simply don’t know where to take the plot next. This blog entry is for you!
I am a big outliner when it comes to writing books. I need to know from start to finish where I am going. Even then, I still get writer’s block. Sitting at the desk across from me, I see my husband staring blankly at the screen. He has it, too. So what do we do when we are stuck in our writing? I want to share the top three strategies that have always worked for me! I hope some work for you, as well.
My #1 go-to strategy is to walk around. I especially like fidgeting as I pace. It could be bouncing a ball, or turning over a stuffed animal in my hands. Going outside is fine if you’d like, but I prefer just to pace my house. Sometimes I talk things over with my husband or out loud to myself, but most often I just think about what I’m writing.
I try not to think about the writer’s block. Instead, I visualize the story as if it was a movie, and let my imagination just drive it. Eventually, a solution will present itself just through letting my mind and feet wander.
Listen to Music
Whether it’s lyrical or instrumental, music always helps. I can’t listen to lyrical songs while I write, I find that too distracting. Having some instrumental music going keeps my pace while writing. If I find myself particularly stuck, I may stop, lie on the couch, and listen to some songs. Again, I try not to find a “solution”. I just let my mind wander and see where it goes.
Take a Break
This is really the best thing you can do for yourself during writer’s block. Just take a break. Get your eyes away from the screen and let your tension relax. Coming back to your writing with a fresh mind is very helpful.
I read this tip online once and I really liked it, so now I impart it to you. When you stop writing, try to end with an unfinished sentence. For example:
She frowned and said –
They left the house and –
When you come back to write, re-read the last page or so leading up to that unfinished sentence. Most of the time, when you get to it, you will simply be able to start typing and carry on with the story!
We hope you enjoyed this entry for storytelling tips! If you have any other strategies you use to defeat writer’s block, share them below!
Creating new characters is a puzzling yet exciting challenge. What do they look like? How do they present themselves? What do they carry with them? You may have a rough outline of them but need to give them something that makes them stand out. Welcome to our How to Write character features. Each one is designed to guide you on how to create and write characters for your story.
Thinking of characters as classes from a tabletop roleplaying game makes the process much more simple. Our fantasy series Thread of Soulsis full of examples of this as each main character you meet is based on a class in such a game. Today’s How to Write focuses on wizards!
Fantasy has seen many great wizards in its timeline. Gandalf, Yennefer, Harry Potter, the list continues. But not one of those characters is similar to the other. The one thing they do have in common is they are able to cast spells.
So, what makes a wizard? How do you effectively write a wizard in a book series? We want to share the top three methods we use to create great relatable wizard characters in your story so you can add them into stories of your own!
Choose their Speciality
When creating a wizard in a game like Dungeons & Dragons for instance, you get to choose the specific magic you specialize in. It’s a bit like choosing a major in college or a professional trade such as blacksmithing. No two professionals in their field are the same, so neither are wizards.
Take Thread of Souls for example. Gnome wizard Tymus specializes in Distortis magic, the study of illusion. He relies on misdirection and summoned images and sounds to overcome challenges. Whereas human wizard Vera uses Aegitis, protective magic, to safeguard allies and places.
Having a wizard do all sorts of magic can be difficult to follow. Stick to having your wizard characters focus on one specialty and your readers won’t get lost in what it is they are good at. If they need to use another sort of magic such as fire when they normally use ice, have them use a wand or magical item that uses the power instead.
Choose their Personal Effects
We tend to recognize characters by their attire, personality, or items. Gandalf is typically seen with a pointy hat and walking staff. So, giving your wizard character a particular article of clothing or item is a great way to have them stand out.
Tymus wears mismatched clothes of vibrant colors that show off his character. While Vera dresses in fine robes of pink, blue, and purple, carries a staff, and wears an oversized pair of glasses. One is more wild and chaotic, while the other is more refined and dignified.
Likewise, give a villain wizard character darker clothing and crude, yet refined-looking weapons or magic. Their staff may be ancient and withered with spikes at the top.
Tie their Personality to their Specialty
Along with their personal effects, give them a unique personality. Wizards are generally intelligent, as casting magic is all about mental fortitude. Yet, intelligence isn’t being the smartest person in the room. It’s the ability to gain and use knowledge. Therefore, you could have a bumbling wizard character who is rather skilled in their specialty.
Tymus is constantly moving and talking. It’s part of his ADHD. It makes him seem all over the place and unfocused when in actuality he focuses deeply on one aspect at a time. He’s always focusing his attention on his magic. How it can be used to distract or help bring joy to others. His clothing is also tied to his choice of magic and personality. He also has bright pink hair and a matching mustache. Both can be distracting but also cause others to smile as they are fun and outgoing like him.
While Vera is seen as the polar opposite of Tymus. She’s reserved and thoughtful, always taking her time to ponder a thought and say the right words. As the Magister of Aegitis, she is as unmoving as a wall of stone and holds true to the rigid ways of the Citadel.
Keep in mind your villain wizards too. Their magic is a distorted version of what they chose as their specialty. Mental magic could cause blood to drip from their and their enemy’s nose. While fire takes on a more sinister nature. Instead of a simple blast of flames, it appears as a snake striking its opponent.
We hope this helps you create more rounded wizard characters in your stories. Wizards are a thrilling addition to any fantasy tale and each one is different and fun to create.
Professor Moriarty is a great choice for a wizard character. He is cunning, vile, cruel, and highly intelligent.
Gandalf has his trusty walking stick. Yennefer is incredibly sarcastic yet stern, smart, and one of the most powerful wizards of her time.