I can not tell you how many times someone has stopped to ask me what “Dolor” is. I also have been told many times that a reader picked up the book just to find out what “Dolor” means. A few people have come to me and asked directly what the meaning is behind “Dolor and Shadow.”
I smile and kindly say, “Read the book.” But a part of me very eagerly wants to get into the meaning behind the title.
Dolor simply means “Sadness” or “Sorrow.” I know. Anti-climatic right? I wanted to call the book “Sorrow and Shadow,” but a title like that would have attracted the wrong kind of readers. And the right kind of readers would have been repelled.
Dolor actually refers to the grief inside Kallan that is eating away at her Seidr. Grief is one of my own internal battles I often fight and, in Tales of the Drui, I give “Grief” a corporeal form. I turn it into a disease like cancer. I do this with all of my emotions in Tales of the Drui. Each emotion moves like a virus that can kill. Grief, Hate, Anger…all these emotions move like an infection and can physically kill the host if left untreated.
In turn the “Shadow” in Dolor and Shadow is not just any Shadow.
“This war has plagued more lives than I care to count,” Rune said, staring into his mead. “I watched my mother die consumed by the internal grief she refused to accept. My brother and I watched my father fight to save her from the Shadow that suffocated her in sorrow until all that remained was the shell of a body that lived and moved for naught but to forget the pain she harbored.”
A knot had formed in Rune’s throat.
“That same shadow that consumed my mother and plagued my father, almost took my brother. That same shadow looked back at me when I ran my sword through my comrade’s heart, when I vowed to rid this world of that darkness. That same shadow I now see in Kallan’s eyes.”
Rune paused, lost in thought as if deciding to add something. He instead, released a sigh that carried his exhaustion with it before he continued.
“It is that shadow that is my enemy. It drives vengeance and blood lust and spreads like a disease that passes on to the living with every breath. It will take Kallan as it did my comrade, my father, my mother, and countless more before them, and now regardless of any station, I am bound by a vow I took centuries ago to destroy it.”
I don’t think any other part of the story describes the meaning behind “Dolor and Shadow” better than this excerpt.