What is the story behind the main villain, Shadowtail?
The leader of the grey invaders is a highly complicated character by the name of 'Shadowtail.' Norman came up with the name. Norman is a great lover of language and if you look into the etymology of the word 'squirrel' you will find that the word for squirrel in ancient Greek is skioros from skia meaning shade and oura meaning tail, so if you put the two parts together and change shade to shadow then we have 'Shadowtail.'
Shadowtail in the story is a very sinister character. He is highly intelligent and learned. He wears the finest silks and satins and he abhors bad manners. Many of the grey squirrels are quite brutish in their manners which Shadowtail despises and the question could be asked whether Shadowtail actually likes his own kind?
He is part of a conquering band of greys whose main purpose is to sail around the world and to conquer and steal resources from others. The reason they are so superior in technology when compared with the peaceful indigenous reds is that they have already conquered others and stolen their technologies. For example, the machine that murders the crows was taken and adapted from the Cerebri who were a highly technologically advanced peace loving species of squirrel whom the greys had already vanquished.
Despite Shadowtail's impeccable manners and appearance he is utterly ruthless and normally is quite happy to order his sychophantic sidekick Skug to do his dirty work. So, was Shadowtail born evil or did something make him evil?
Relating Shadowtail's character to the school playground I guess everyone knows a character who just seems inherently dark and menacing. Some characters seem to be made that way and it is part of their natural being, but what about Shadowtail?
In Shadowtail's case he was not born evil he was made to be evil by the gross mistreatment he had endured as a pup. When he was no more than a mere toddler his mother and father were slain by a sneak of weasels and instead of killing Cornelius (Shadowtail) they took him away back to their burrow and spent the best part of his childhood, tormenting and aggravating him purely for their sadistic amusement. This led to Shadowtail becoming deeply disturbed and also wily.
If you look closely at the image below you will notice snarling weasels in the reflection of his eyes. It is the effect of the torment from the weasels which are Shadowtail's ghosts in his mind and this has obvious connections with the book's title.
What do you think, does Shadowtail make a good villain? Comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts!