“Has it really changed your perception of who I am? Knowing I’m a woman.” —Kaden
Though I’m finally getting around to offering her a writeup, Kaden, the pistol markswoman from the lovely webcomic Amya Chronicles, was one of the characters who first inspired my blog here at Sartorially Smart Heroines. I picked Kaden for this week’s writeup to coincide with and promote Savvy, Andrew, and Rebecca’s Kickstarter for the print version of Volume One of the Amya series. As an independent, fan-supported webcomic, ventures like this Kickstarter are crucial for keeping the comic going, and I hope all of you will consider supporting them by offering a donation or just by helping get the word out.
So, I apologize to everyone who hasn’t read the comic before, but the fact that I’m posting Kaden at all is kind of a major spoiler. Our heroine begins Chapter 2 as “that shifty guy from the foyer” who gets roped unwittingly into the misadventures of Faye and Accel, a pair of spell-touched escaping a crafty kidnapper and a mechanical kolyarut that destroys trains. It isn’t until about a third of the way through Chapter 4 when Lenna, the ranger, spills the beans to readers about our bespectacled rogue being a woman in disguise.
As a reader, I was shocked at this big reveal, though not at all displeased. I’ll admit that I’d initially expected Kaden’s gender to dink with my perception of her character, but I have to salute the Amya team for the fact that nothing really changes about her. She continues to look and dress the same, she still gets impatient when she thinks the others are wasting time, she still jumps to defend her friends when threatened, and she still raises her hand when she wants to change the subject.
One other interesting attribute about Kaden’s character is that she is blind from birth. As such, she is only able to see the world around her through the use of enchanted glasses given by her Aunt Renie. Indeed, it’s her aunt who taught her pistol marksmanship, as well as how to be strong and independent. For reasons not yet revealed in the story, Kaden is a fugitive on the run from her hyper-controlling father. The masculine attire helps disguise her from her father’s searchers and allows her to travel unquestioned and unnoticed, and offers options not available when traveling as a woman.
For more than two chapters, the masculine outfit keeps readers and Kaden’s companions fooled about her hidden secret. Indeed, the best way to disguise one’s gender is simply to layer on the clothing. Kaden’s traveling coat is bulky and broad-shouldered, easily covering her slender figure. Her shirts tend to be loose-fitting, again to disguise her figure, plus she wraps her chest to hide her other assets. The gloves, I suspect, are an additional precaution to hide slender, girly hands.
Our lefty gunslinger also wears men’s pants to enhance this illusion. Though, one of the most important parts of the disguise might be Kaden’s thick, heavy traveling boots. As well as looking “mannish,” their weight should also help to disguise her walk and overall posture, further hiding her femininity. Kaden keeps her flintlock in a hip holster at first, trading up for a shoulder holster in Chapter 4. The compass is a quest item, rather than a navigational tool, pointing toward an unknown destination, rather than magnetic north.
It is interesting to me how, like Lenna, Kaden drops her previous commitments to take on the role of guardian for the young protagonist, Faye. Despite having only known Faye a few days, Kaden is the first to leap to her defense against a high-level psion—and stands against him even after being Force-choked and thrown into a wall. While I’m not sure of the extent of Kaden’s role in Faye’s Destiny, I suspect she and Lenna will continue to serve as protectors and role-models for their young friend, in whatever dangers and misadventures befall their little adventuring party.
(Also: “all sorts of cliche” is probably my favorite reply to a villainous ultimatum.)
Once again, please find the time to support the Amya Crew on their Kickstarter venture, either by donating money or helping get the word out. Deepest thanks to Savvy for letting me borrow her heroines. As always, thanks for reading, folks, and stay awesome!