So, I’m delighted to take part in Annabelle Jay’s blog series, and I thought long and hard about which characters I could focus on. With the release of my second novel, FRAGMENTED, in 44 days I thought this would be a great opportunity to share a little about a new group of characters who have quite a prominent role in this book, which is the second installment of my dystopian Untamed Series.
So, allow me to introduce to you to the Zharat tribe, the largest surviving group of Untamed humans. These people have very strict rules and a set of way of life that they believe they must stick to if they are to continue surviving—after all, they’re the last large tribe left, and they believe their survival is down to the lifestyle.
The Zharat dress code is very important—and must be followed at all times. Wearing the wrong clothing can cause great offence to other members, and cause that individual to lose status.
In the Zharat tribe, clothes have one very important function, and that is to indicate a person’s status. Certain colors are reserved for certain people, and styling says a lot about the person. The Zharat men usually wear dark clothes—predominantly black items—whilst brighter colors are reserved for the women, with red indicating the highest female status:
A woman follows them. She has a small bowl in her hands. I strain my neck to see what is in it: some sort of black liquid. Her hair is piled up high on her head, in loose plaits. She is dressed in dark red, but the color’s not as deep as my dress.
As a result, the status of a woman within the group is obvious from one glance. Yet, the relationship between clothes and status is different for the men, namely because of the significance of tattoos for the Zharat men. Clothes therefore become an insignificant part of the men’s fashion, as it is their tattoos that provide a way for them to permanently wear their status. And, whereas a Zharat woman can lose her status by having her bright clothing taken away, a man cannot lose his status, as tattoos are permanent.
When Seven first meets some of the Zharat men, their tattoos are one of the first things she notices:
There are so many men, everywhere. And they’re all Untamed. So many of them. My eyes pick out their tattoos, and the more I look, the more of them I see. They’ve all got them, but the Untamed man who grabbed my ankle has got more. Matching designs. Silhouettes of animals, inked onto necklines, creeping onto jaws.
And Seven soon learns that the more tattoos a man has, the more status he has within the tribe—as such, a lot of the higher-status men choose to wear less clothes in order to constantly show off their tattoos, and status—which has quite an intimidating effect on Seven:
Both men wear loincloths. Nothing else. The sight of so much of their skin makes me uneasy.
As such, men’s clothes (or the lack of) become a symbol of their status.
Yet, there are two men who are exceptions to this rule: Manning, and his adopted son, Jed. Manning, as Zharat Chief, doesn’t need to constantly remind people of his status, and as such covers many of his tattoos with everyday items of black clothing—and his son, Jed, is equally confident in his own power and doesn’t feel the need to constantly show off his status. Indeed, in one scene, Manning wears a long black cloak, completely covering his body. Crucially, these men only reveal their tattoos in very important moments when it is absolutely necessary for them to display their status—such as when Seven and Corin first meet Manning:
“I’m the Zharat Chief,” Manning says. He lifts up his shirt, revealing a rather paunchy stomach covered in more tattoos: eagles and bats. I’m not sure what the action is supposed to convey, but after five seconds, Manning lets his shirt fall back down.
Therefore, in FRAGMENTED, when either Manning or Jed takes all his clothes off you know that something very important is about to happen…
I really loved creating the Zharat culture and exploring their lifestyle, and hope that you will too!
After the terrible battle against the Enhanced Ones, Seven and Corin find themselves on the run. With the Enhanced closing in, Seven knows they need to find other people on their side. So, when the opportunity arises to join the Zharat, one of the last surviving Untamed tribes, it seems like the perfect solution.
But the Zharat lifestyle is a far cry from what Seven’s used to. With their customs dictating that she must marry into their tribe, and her relationship with Corin breaking down, Seven knows she has to do something before it’s too late. But that’s easier said than done in a tribe where going against the rules automatically results in death.
And, with the Enhanced still out there, nowhere is truly safe for the Untamed—least of all for the most powerful Seer in the world… and Seven soon discovers how far people will go in order to ensure that she’s on their side in the War of Humanity.
Battling against the emerging web of lies, manipulation, and danger, Seven must remember who she was meant to be. Her life has never been more at stake. Nor has humanity itself.
Book one, UNTAMED, can be found at most major retailers in both paperback and ebook formats.
About Madeline Dyer
Madeline Dyer lives in the southwest of England, and holds a BA honours degree in English from the University of Exeter. She has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes. Her debut novel, Untamed (Prizm Books, May 2015), examines a world in which anyone who has negative emotions is hunted down, and a culture where addiction is encouraged. Her second novel, Fragmented, is set to hit shelves in September 2016.