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The story, not the writer, assigned the characters essential roles. Ratha would follow her altruism by sharing fire with the face-tail hunters, setting up a situation that made it easy for the renegade Night-who-eats-stars to steal some coals and accidentally ignite the blaze that kills the face-tail-hunting females. Thakur would counsel caution and later help Ratha cope with the results of her mistake. Bira would ask for kindness toward the other tribe; Thistle would push her mother to look beyond the needs of the clan. Cherfan would handle the heavy and dirty jobs, fight like a lion, but show an unexpected flair for nursing orphaned cubs, while young Mondir would jump at any excuse to show off his newly-gained strength in a tussle with an enemy.
Fessran would be—well, Fessran, but a fiercely loyal friend to Ratha, offering to take on the worst tasks so that Ratha would not have to suffer them.
A lighter element came in with Mishanti (from Ratha and Thistle-chaser) and Bundi (from Clan Ground). Their adventures with their huge tamed "rumblers" (Indricoptheres) Grunt and Belch not only created a scene that showcased the irascible Fessran, they also unexpectedly provided the Named (and the author) with an unusual way of resolving the book's climax.
The young male Ashon, based in coloration on my silver-gray (perhaps) part-Korat kitty, Athena, joined the ranks of the male clan herders. Drani, the nursery helper from Clan Ground, leaped in to defend the Named cubs when the face-tail hunter males attacked the nursery. Quiet Hunter, Thistle's face-tail hunter mate from Ratha's Challenge, would be an intriguing link to his former tribe through his sensitivity to the Song.
The book grew, sent some characters hurtling in unexpected directions, made loops, twists and turns before the dust settled on the words "The End." A thorough edit, copyedit, then onto multiple CDs for backup, then away over the Internet to Richard Curtis and thence to Sharyn November.