Who is Volke?
Volke Savan is the first person POV narrator of Shami Stovall’s Frith Chronicles. In the first book he is introduced as a determined fifteen-year-old (fifteen being the age of adulthood in his fictional world) who wants to bond with a magical creature and become an arcanist. Volke reveals early on that his mother died when he was young and his father committed murder, being banished to the mainland from Ruma Island (Volke’s home) to be punished. As a result, Volke was raised by Gravekeeper William along with a young orphan named Illia whose family was murdered by a pirate. Volke and Illia have both been shunned by the people of the Island of Ruma, Volke for having a villainous family and Illia for her missing eye and tragic story. Additionally, Gravekeeper William’s status separates him from the islanders–his home is further from the town, and his profession excludes him from certain town events.
Though Volke begins his story as an outcast, he does end up proving himself worthy to a magical creature and becoming an arcanist, as does Illia. Though Ruma Island is primarily known for its phoenixes, neither Savan child bonds with one. Instead, Illia bonds with a Rizzel–a teleporting ferret–and Volke with a Knightmare made of shadows and armor. Volke’s Knightmare, Luthair, is already a grown eldrin having bonded previously to the swashbuckler Mathis. Luthair saves Volke’s life by bonding with him, and in return Volke agrees to help Luthair figure out who killed his previous arcanist.
In the first installment of the series, Volke is poised to be a bit angsty and on edge, but he never really falls to that side of things. Instead, Volke Savan is determined, hard-working, clever, strategic, dedicated, and genuine. He tends to speak his mind, and though he occasionally engages in bouts of sarcasm, he’s not afraid to apologize for his words when he feels he’s gone too far. He’s honest where he can be, and generous with his friends. His opinion is trustworthy and his efforts are always whole-hearted. As others point out, he has the personality befitting a true knight, embodying an arcanist as he believes they should be at all times.
Story Arc + Motivations
Throughout the series, Volke’s primary motivations are noble. He begins his journey knowing that he owes Luthair the investigation into his slain first arcanist. Beyond that, he begins his apprenticeship as an arcanist, learning magic and swordplay to suit his eldrin’s style. Throughout the series, Volke’s motivations remain fairly consistent. He wants to prove himself, work hard at his magic, and protect others. He takes on responsibilities for caring for his friends, and ultimately is motivated by growth, protection, and responsibility.
I Tweet this fairly frequently while reading Frith Chronicles, but Volke Savan is one of the most delightful protagonists I’ve ever encountered. I love that he has all the pieces for an angsty personality, but never falls to that side of things. He isn’t necessarily light-hearted but instead reasonable, realistic, and genuine about his circumstances. He is given appropriate opportunities to his skill and determination, befriends his fellow apprentices quite easily, and shows so much empathy and understanding towards others. Other characters can’t help but like him, even against their better wishes. He is a skilled arcanist despite the factors working against him, and regularly proves his skill and place in the Frith guild. He’s never wholly oblivious or truly blundering, but he’s also not stuck up or arrogant. Somehow, Volke manages to be everything a fantasy protagonist needs without falling into any number of the frustrating tropes a lot of fantasy protagonists unfortunately perpetuate.