25 July 2013
From Slave to Leader: Choices Are What Makes Dinah Free
It's not just a matter of escaping a tyrannical master, starting over, or even grabbing enough power so that no one can control you. It's also about changing outlooks and seeing that with freedom comes an ever-increasing array of choices, some of which affect other people's lives.
In Dinah of Seneca, my heroine is Dinah. She's a former Roman slave trained as a spy and assassin, and has traveled to a new world across the ocean to start a new life.
But she finds out her bonds aren't easily shed. She's still constrained by Roman society and set at the lower rung. She's also under obligation to the man who freed her, Roman Commander Tabor, and owes him allegiance, even if it means sacrificing herself.
What I loved about writing Dinah's journey is that she moves from seeing freedom as moving up the rungs of Roman society to finding true freedom by breaking from Roman society altogether.
At one point in the story, Dinah feels as if she's been trapped in figurative chains as her new circumstances, including a marriage of convenience to a former enemy, make her feel boxed in and helpless. Tabor points out to her that she still has choices, if she's willing to take on the consequences of those choices.
Tabor says Dinah could run and abandon them all. She could break from her new marriage and leave her new husband and his people vulnerable to destruction. Such a choice will also mean the end of the Roman community as well.
But she could survive fine on her own. It's her choice, Tabor says, to stay and try to help or leave and serve only herself.
Tabor's words changes Dinah's perspective. He's right. She could run or stay. Her choice. And when she stays with her new husband, and finally agrees to participate in a religious ritual that requires a sexual sacrifice, she knows she's not boxed in.
She can run. She simply chooses not to.
And having decided that, she feels free, even with the burdens and obligations she has to assume on behalf of her husband and his people. Even when all seems lost, even when she's injured and all she tried to protect seems destroyed, it's worth it to her.
Of course, Dinah receives some <g> compensation for her marriage of convenience. She receives the home she's always longed for, a position of respect and authority and the absolute, unswerving allegiance of her warrior Viking husband.
It's not the position in Roman society she dreamed about when she was freed by Tabor.