Discovered by Zoser as a fourteen-year-old in the Eshonian city of Chéng Fèng, Lliam was enlisted as Zoser’s personal assassin, along with his identical twin brother Roman. He has questioned Zoser from the start, though he was forced to comply out of fear of Roman’s abuse by Zoser’s hand. For a time, he buried his misgivings and killed without reservation, and his reputation as a fearsome murderer was well known by all. But now, as a seventeen-year-old, his doubts return after he meets Elysia in the Tower of Orlena and accidentally forms a mental bond with her that forces him to re-examine his beliefs. Conflicted, Lliam attempts to hide his wavering loyalties from his brother and Zoser, fearing what could happen if he is exposed.
Lliam is one of my all-time favorite S&D characters—Roman is the other. Is the evil twin thing a bit overdone in fiction? Probably. But my aim from the start was to create two brothers who genuinely love each other but simply can’t reconcile their very different morals. As the older brother, Lliam feels responsible for Roman—especially since their adoptive parents never loved them and they basically had no friends growing up. When Roman makes mistakes, Lliam feels as though that’s a poor reflection on his “parenting,” if you will, of his younger brother. He struggles to protect Roman from Zoser and wonders what went wrong when Roman starts botching assignment after assignment. In reality, Roman views Lliam as the perfect older brother whose excellence he can never match—so he rebels in a desperate attempt to cause Lliam as much trouble as possible, not realizing how precarious this makes both their positions. Needless to say, these boys have some tension, and it doesn’t get any better when Lliam starts favoring Elysia.
At his core, Lliam wants to do what’s right—he just has no idea what that is. As children, he and Roman were outcasts. As Zoser’s assassins, they are feared and abused. Lliam wants what’s best for Roman but Roman doesn’t want anything to do with Lliam. And on top of that, Elysia’s very different—and elven—view of the world is forcing him to rethink everything Zoser ever convinced him is true. What’s a guy to do? Fallen Rose answers this question, and Lliam’s decision comes only after months of indecision and inner turmoil. The biggest question he has is whether he can even survive rebelling against Zoser—after all, if Zoser can punish them so effectively, how easy would it be to kill them? He also struggles with the thought of Roman’s fate: if he turns his back on Zoser, what happens to his brother?
Cerwin, Zoser’s headstrong daughter, urges him to choose the elves’ side—only for her own selfish reasons, however. Roman warns him fiercely against turning away from Zoser, still believing in their leader’s mission. And Elysia is being pursued by both Zoser and Roman, tearing Lliam between his loyalty to her and to his brother and leader.
So, as you can see, this is a lot of weight on a seventeen-year-old’s shoulders!
What I love about Lliam is his resilience. Despite everything he’s been through, he never gives up, and he never gives in. He continues to hope there is redemption to be found for Roman. He continues to help Elysia even when his own life is on the line. And he faces his doubts bravely amidst great pressure and attempts to deal with them the best he can. It would be easy to stay silent in his position to keep Roman safe, or to avoid Zoser’s anger. But when Lliam comes to believe that Zoser is wrong, he simply can’t go along with his agenda any longer, no matter the consequences. He puts right above might, and while this will definitely have some huge consequences for both Lliam and Roman in Book Three, I felt that it was important to convey this idea of choosing truth over safety. Lliam is basically forfeiting his life by turning his back on Zoser—but he does it anyway because he knows it’s right.I am so excited to delve further into Lliam’s psyche as S&D progresses—I wish I could tell you what I have in store for him! The road only gets rockier from here, for everyone, but never fear: there is always hope!