Okay, I have to apologize. I went sort of off the internet for a while; I used it mostly for school, and the occasional fic-spree (I will get around to posting the backlog here at some point...), and otherwise pretty much dropped off the face of the earth for, like, a year.
But I am back from outer space, so.
Headcanon post, whoo.
I'll just up and admit it, I love Ozorne. (Pre-Stormwing, anyway.) I think he's flat-out the best Tortallan villain - and I think he's the only one who I can pretty easily see as a hero, or at least a good king, in his own way and from his own perspective.
Post-Stormwing, Ozorne goes the hell off the rails, which is pretty typical of Pierce. She derails her own characters - especially the villains - so frequently that they're less people than caricatures, and they are so hard to get a grasp on.
Okay. So. I am utterly convinced that Ozorne sees Tortall as an imperialist power trying to oppress Carthak, and frankly I'm not entirely sure he's wrong. Jon reads more and more like a tyrant and would-be emperor to me every time I reread; most disturbingly in my eyes, he flat rejects his father's pacifism as weak, and explicitly embraces his grandfather's canonically imperialist mode of thought.
I find it telling that the Tortallan negotiations in Emperor Mage break down over fishing rights in a really narrow stretch of waters - at a time, we should note, when Carthak is suffering severe drought, and it is implied that much of Carthak is desert and poor scrubland/grassland anyway.
There are really two major issues with Ozorne: the whole Immortals thing, and the whole Numair thing. Let's take them each in turn.
1. The immortals thing. I'll be blunt: I think this was a smart move strategically for Ozorne, if we assume he's right (and I do think he might be) that Tortall is imperialist and gearing up to encroach on Carthak. Ozorne discovers a way that he can harry and maybe, with luck, even destroy his great enemy, with no cost. What sane ruler wouldn't
use that? If Carthak was threatening Tortall, and Jonathan discovered a spell to unleash immortals on Carthak, do you really think he'd hesitate?
Of course, it backfires for Ozorne, but that's not necessarily something Ozorne could have anticipated.
2. The Numair thing. We're used to viewing Numair as Jon's lovable court mage, who had to flee from Carthak when Ozorne unjustly tried to have him killed. But from Ozorne's perspective, Numair is a traitor. And yes, I do believe Ozorne believes that to be true; his reaction to Numair in EM is frankly too extreme for it to be some trumped-up charge or whim. Let me reiterate: Ozorne thinks Numair really is a traitor.
Now, he may not be totally right in that, but in a way, he absolutely is.
I want to note a couple things here. First, it is often assumed, though I am not quite sure the basis for this, that Ozorne asked Numair to do battle magic and Numair, finding this repugnant, fled. If that's true, then I can see Ozorne finding that a real personal betrayal, as well as treason, because there is definitely a way in which mages (or rather their abilities) are property of the state, at least from my reading of the extensive Carthaki mage system. Heck, it may be that Carthaki mages are required to serve the state's interest by law, and if Numair refused, he's at least a criminal.
Second, Numair is at least currently a criminal in the eyes of Carthaki law because he fled his execution. He's a wanted fugitive.
Third, and more importantly, regardless of the soundness of the earlier treason charge, Numair is now a traitor to Carthak.
He's gone over to the enemy, and is working for the king of Tortall, and is not just doing his (substantial) magic for Tortall, but is sharing intelligence on Carthak and the Emperor. (And if the common fanon assumption about battle-magic is true, then Numair is now doing for Tortall exactly what he wouldn't do for Ozorne.)
But wait! Numair's a Tyran, so going to Tortall and working there's not treason, right?
Not so fast. Numair quite clearly settled in Carthak. He may not have had any ability to go home - canonically he fled not back to Tyra, but to Tortall, despite having family still alive. Moreover, Numair was a close confidant of Ozorne; he was pretty seriously integrated into the Carthaki power structure. Also, like I said above, from what we see, I'm pretty sure the whole point of the Carthaki university system is to train mages to work for the state of Carthak.
Carthak was indeed Numair's country, and Numair did indeed have, at least in Ozorne's eyes, an obligation to it.
The final thing I'll point out about the Numair thing is that Numair's presence in the embassy is virtually a declaration of war. It is certainly Jon thumbing his nose at Carthak, whether he realizes it or not; by including as a full member of the delegation a traitor to Carthak who is also a criminal on the run, Jon is basically saying Carthaki law doesn't matter, and he may well be flouting international law/tradition. He is certainly being rude; this is not a good-faith embassy.
Moreover, Numair is a walking weapon. Couple this with the fact that Jon has also
sent his rude, hot-tempered, diplomatically-challenged Champion along, the only logical conclusion Ozorne can draw is that this is a show of force, and it is calculated belligerence on Jon's part.
Ozorne's attempt to capture and execute Numair strikes me as a bit too poorly executed to have been planned out before the delegation arrived; also, something about the scene where Daine witnesses Ozorne crushing the mini-Numair makes me think that Ozorne had actually been trying to be diplomatic, despite the huge insult of Numair's presence, and that that
was when he made up his mind to screw diplomacy and execute the traitor.
My final major canon-bit of Ozorne is that I do think he genuinely cares about Carthak. I think he certainly has a militaristic bent; most emperors do. I think he believes in a very strong centralized government, and I do think he may well think that he is in fact indispensable to it. I think he is honestly trying to do right by Carthak, and I think he knows - and embraces - that this means he cannot be a good man. He is too busy being a strong emperor.
I also think that while transforming himself into a Stormwing to escape death may not be out of character, how he acts afterwards is.
Okay, now the fun part: pure headcanon.
-I think Ozorne is the Tortallan version of an atheist: the gods here have physical reality, so he knows they exist, but he does not think they should be worshipped, and he may not think they even have much power to truly intervene. (This would work with the gods as portrayed in SotL, but the later series complicate this.) I am convinced that at the very least he thinks they are corrupt and venal, and he is not really wrong.
-Ozorne loves his family. I also think he thinks Kaddar is a good heir, if a bit too pacifistic.
-Ozorne's birds are something of a mental crutch for him. He can take care of those, at least, even when Carthak falls to pieces around him. I think that their illness, the fact that an upstart Tortallan brat heals them effortlessly when he can't, and the fact that she blithely tells him that he had essentially poisoned them all along couple with the stress of Numair's presence and the horrible delegation to push him over the edge in EM.
-I think Ozorne loved Numair, and my headcanon absolutely is convinced they were lovers. Even if Pierce explicitly denies this, I will still believe it. Ozorne's hatred (and Numair's, for that matter) is too deep to not
be rooted in betrayed love.
-Ozorne only ever loved Numair, and it's one reason he never married; Numair was the only person Ozorne ever let in that deeply, and Numair's treason, whatever happened, utterly destroyed Ozorne.
-But more than anything, Ozorne has always loved Carthak first. Even above Numair, which is what ultimately precipitated the break.
-Ozorne goes off the rails after EM because he has no idea how to be anything other than the Emperor Mage of Carthak. He has bound all of himself up into that role.
-Ozorne deeply hates Daine, which is canon, but not for dethroning him or wrecking his palace so much as for seducing Numair, attacking his beloved country (and yes, Daine's actions were either mass murder or an act of war - and a war crime, at that), daring to tell him he had poisoned his birds, and for being an unstable demigod. I think the latter terrified Ozorne more than anything, and I think it's why he wants so much to kill her.
-In a similar vein, I think he probably had every intention of killing Daine at the end of EM.
-Ozorne knew the simulacrum was a simulacrum. (This is a man who a) habitually makes them himself and b) knew Numair intimately, whether or not they were lovers. Numair could fool Tristan, who didn't really know him, but not Ozorne.) It's why he didn't kill Daine immediately; she was meant to be his backup bait when Numair inevitably tricked his way out of his execution.
-Ozorne has divine blood. (I admit, this is totally crackish.) Also, along those lines, there are
deified rulers in the Tortall pantheon, and so Ozorne's cult of the emperor thing was not as loony as it would be to us. This one has absolutely no canon evidence at all, but it's fun, and Pierce cribs so much from real mythology that I don't mind doing the same for my own purposes. :)
-When I am not playing around with the idea of the old Thanic Empire as rooted in Maren, I tend to go with the notion that it was old Carthak
, and that there was a transliteration error, typo, or misreading (Thak-->Than just needs to lose the uprights on the k, if they use something akin to the Latin alphabet). This gives Ozorne the added benefit of reconquering lands he might consider rightly his - especially
if the people who overthrew the Thanic/Thakic Empire were the same people who founded Tortall from its ruins.
I think ultimately what really draws me to Ozorne is that he's really the only human
villain Pierce has - Roger is a cartoon, and I honestly don't remember DotL well enough to speak of its villains, except that I was left feeling really skeeved out by everything in that duology. All of Pierce's villains have really opaque motivations - except Ozorne. It is so ridiculously easy to see his side of things - and in a way that doesn't require him to be insane or stupid - that it makes Pierce's usual OTT characterization even more jarring.
Ozorne is what a pre-death Roger crowned king would have been, except Ozorne actually understands what he's doing, and is far colder than Roger ever was. There's a sort of necessary edge of ruthlessness to Ozorne, and I love it.
***My Ozorne Fics
Canon compliant:Traitors and Monsters
- Ozorne and Numair, before.Love Consumes All Things
- Ozorne has ever only had one great love in his life.What A Flicker Brings AU
- Thom does not like Carthak.Unlucky
- (spoils an in-progress fic) This is not how he thought he'd die.
canon, but I do consider it AU:Red and Yellow
- Jon really should've known better than to send Alanna to Carthak.Iron King AU
:The Bird Empress
- Fazia finds a strange stone.Making the Best of Things AU
- Ten people never intimidated by Thom, and one person who should've been.