C is for Connell

Although Venn and Siobhan (pronunciation: SheVON) Connell are known for their strong roles in the Meratis and Cadis Trilogies, these sisters didn’t get to where they are without a long history of tough times, survival, and quick thinking.

The Connell family was not a rich one. Patrick and Francine Connell  were hardworking people who had grown hard over years of bad harvests and worse luck. When they finally decided to have children, it was in the hopes of having a boy to help work the farm. Instead, they ended up with two daughters: the oldest a tall, largely built Siobhan, who was able to pull her weight, and eight years later, a short pixie-like Venn. A number of failed pregnancies and stillborn children preceded Venn, so by the time she came around, added to the fact she wasn’t male, her parents didn’t have much love for her.

The Connells ran a farm in Brindley, a small town in western Andvell owned by a Lord Percival Went, a cruel and unhandsome man with the opinion that he owned the people as much as the land. He pushed his tenants to high standards and quotas, so when the opportunity was presented to Patrick that Siobhan be married to the man, he jumped at it. Siobhan, nineteen years old with no real training or education except for the work she did around the farm, had no say in the matter, and within a few months, found herself married.

The reason Percival chose Siobhan is largely unknown, although it’s rumoured he had no luck with the wealthier families in other towns due to his reputation for being an overbearing and nasty man that most fathers wanted to protect their daughters from, and Siobhan was the only single girl of marrying age within his own territory. Since heirs were more important to him than money, he settled for what he could get. His decision did not go well for Siobhan. Almost immediately, she found herself trapped in a world of isolation and abuse, until one day she rose up and drove a knife into his heart.

Venn Connell grew up believing she was worth next to nothing. Given the most menial tasks around the house and farm, she built up the skills and strength to keep herself alive. In the lack of consistent parental supervision, Siobhan took over her sister’s care, although Venn didn’t mind her independence too much. She enjoyed having a run of the farm, doing her chores in her own time, in her own way. She learned how to sneak around and steal food without being noticed, and still managed to find a cynical pleasure in the small moments of her life. She never saw herself as a victim. Siobhan watched out for her, tried to instil some discipline, and succeeded so far as to earn Venn’s undying loyalty, and be the only authority figure her sister would willingly acknowledge.

After Lord Percival was murdered and Siobhan arrested, Venn knew her only course of action was to get her sister out of prison before she could be executed. The community turned on both of them — Patrick and Francine Connell turned on their children — and at nineteen and eleven years old, both girls had either escaped from or been forced out of Brindley, never to return.

Although Venn never saw her sister again, she always held a close bond with her. For the longest time, Siobhan was the only person she would admit to respecting or loving; and although she was far from home, Siobhan never forgot her sister’s gesture, or stopped worrying about Venn’s fate.

Want to read more about Venn? Pick up Bloodlore, the first book of the Cadis Trilogy!

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