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Tarik Trabinis, the 17-year-old Crown Prince of Cavnal, is the main protagonist of the Madness Method. Initially recruited by King Trabin to investigate a conspiracy against the Cavnish monarchy, Tarik quickly learned that there was much more at stake than he had imagined, and his own involvement was much less simple than he expected.


Tarik is well-known to be a handsome young man, with his mother Elanar's Tulian complexion which is so unusual in Cavnal. He has a propensity to wear his dark hair longer than strictly fashionable, which gives his valet fits. He is rather tall and slim, and despite his roguish reputation, his eyes always seem to be hiding a secret.

When Tarik Masks into his Shade persona, he looks Istian, which means he looks almost like an inverse image of himself. Pale-skinned, with almost-white blonde hair and sea-grey eyes, Shade stands several inches shorter than Tarik and has a slightly more muscular frame. Shade also has an ice-white filigree tattoo shaped like an intricate mask around his right eye, marking him as a mage.


Tarik has a reputation for being a bit of a rogue, and the Brinmark Herald loves to print stories — largely untrue and unsubstantiated — about his larks. His reputation is much worse than anything he has ever actually done, but he doesn't feel any inclination to correct the record. Because of his upbringing and position as Crown Prince, he has a sense of natural superiority that sometimes comes across as arrogance.

Tarik has a strong INTJ personality, with a calculating mind and a tendency to pursue the rational course of action regardless of what emotion or attachment tells him to do. He is a bit of a paradox, both hating the spotlight and yet always managing to find himself in the center of it. He is introverted, keeping his secrets closely guarded and largely unwilling to share too much about himself, and yet he is also intensely charismatic and deeply devoted to the well-being of the people who follow him. He insists that he has no desire for leadership but he is in many ways a natural leader.

Perhaps because of his INTJ, truth-loving personality, Tarik has always been torn by his constant need to keep his magical abilities a secret, hidden from the world. Being a mage, but also being a member of a class that despises magic, he is tormented by the contradiction of his life. At age fifteen he learned that people with magic were prohibited from holding positions of power in Cavnal, and he suffered from intense feelings of shame, guilt and hatred of his own identity that almost drove him to suicide. Even now, trying to live two lives simultaneously — as the loyal Prince and the rebel leader — he is constantly at war with his own soul. This at times verges on despair, but more often drives him to recklessly push his limits in every aspect of his life, consequences and his sanity be damned.

At the beginning of The Madness Project, Tarik has been displaying a mischievous, light-hearted persona for several years, but those closest to him, like his bodyguard Kalen Zagger, seem to recognize that it is as much a Mask as Shade's face later is. In many ways Shade's personality is a closer reflection of who Tarik really is, though perhaps a bit more intense, cold, and merciless than Tarik has ever been.


Tarik was an only child, a rare occurrence in the history of the Cavnish royal line. It is sometimes rumored that Queen Elanar almost died giving birth to him, and was never able to bear children again. Others whisper that the marriage of Elanar and Trabin was a cold and loveless one — either way, Tarik was raised as the sole son and heir of the monarchy.

Click "Expand" for spoilers about Tarik's background

It is later revealed that Tarik is the son of Elanar and Eyid, Godar of Istia. After Tarik's magic Awoke, Trabin realized that the boy was not his son, but he never renounced Elanar or Tarik, or revoked Tarik's status as the Crown Prince and heir to the throne.

Tarik's first encounter with magic occurred when he was five years old, at the port city of Ridgemark where his family had gone to witness the sailing of Cavnal's newest steamship. After being traumatized by a near-fall into the ocean from a strong gust of wind, his magic Awoke. His mother Elanar realized what had happened when she took his hand and felt the static charge that two mages always feel when they touch. On the train voyage home, Tarik imagined himself as a fearsome ship's captain with a beard and a scar, and when he saw his reflection, he had Masked his face to have a beard and a scar. Trabin immediately forbade Tarik from using this ability — or even speaking of it to anyone. For the next twelve years, Tarik pushed away all thought of his Gift and taught himself to hate magic like any good noble.

After this incident, Tarik was brought up among a narrow circle of friends and acquaintances. Although he was allowed to interact with other children in the nobility, his schooling and upbringing were strictly private. He spent five years in his early childhood in the royal household at Lamanstal, far from the chaos (and publicity) of Brigun Palace — some said it was because he was in poor health, but the actual reason was that Trabin wanted to restrict Tarik's exposure to magic until he was at least a little more mature.


Tarik received a prince's education, and excelled in his studies when he could be persuaded to apply himself to them. He studied foreign languages, diplomacy, the art of war, history, rhetoric, and statesmanship. Despite his cavalier attitude about the monarchy — and the possibility that he would one day be king — Tarik always had a keen interest in politics and the chess-game of political maneuvering.

Apart from his academic schooling, Tarik also received training in the usual aristocratic arts, pastimes, and sports. He was trained in boxing (a high society pastime called Namolo, distinct from the more brutal, real-world martial art called Cashina), crew, polo, and shooting. Although many of the children of the nobility were offered an opportunity to learn to fly the new Vissery steam planes, Tarik's profound fear of heights prevented him from ever participating.

Magical Abilities[]

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(SPOILER ALERT!!!! Read at your own risk if you haven't read the series!!! Major spoilers will be hidden.)

The Madness Project[]

With his strong magical heritage, Tarik always had the potential to become one of the great arch-mages that occur occasionally throughout history. His first expression of magic was the Gift of Masking, physically changing his own appearance. When this ability Awoke, he also gained the power of a Wind, or the ability to magically influence the wind (and, to a very minor degree, the weather). Some mages are only Winds, but for any mage who has two or more Gifts, this power exists as a sort of background or even subconscious ability, only displayed when the mage is in the throes of some very strong emotion. Incidentally, this was Rivano's first indication that Tarik would in fact grow up to be at least a Maven (having two Gifts), if not an Ace (having three).

For twelve years after the Ridgemark incident, Tarik never exercised his ability at all, but when Trabin commissioned him to Mask and infiltrate the south streets of Brinmark, the floodgate of his power opened. His next ability was the power to Cloak, or turn invisible, which he acquired almost by accident in a moment of necessity. After that he gained the power of a Blood, or healing, and telekinesis, or the ability to move objects by thought alone. At this point he had four Gifts — almost unheard of, since, in the rare instance that mages have more than three Gifts, they are often driven mad and to their own death before they can stabilize their powers.

A Dark So Deep[]

Click "Expand" for spoilers about Tarik's magic in A Dark So Deep

Tarik continued to push himself in the acquisition of new powers, despite Doc's repeated warnings that he was at risk of completely fracturing his mind. At the beginning of A Dark So Deep, he embraced the power of fire manipulation to become a Flint, in order to save his guard Zagger's life. He later unintentionally became a Chroniker, one of the rarest types of mage in history — someone who can actually stop time, if only for a brief moment. The consequences of that feat almost cost him his life.

A Sea Like Glass[]

Click "Expand" for spoilers about Tarik's magic in A Sea Like Glass

At the beginning of A Sea Like Glass, a catastrophic storm at sea capsizes the Istian schooner Hastol and almost kills all of her passengers—including Tarik. Tarik manages to calm the storm with a single act of his will. No term for this type of power exists. Later, Tarik develops the ability to directly control another person's will. This terrifying power is also so rare it has no name. He "figures out" how to Ghost so he can visit Hayli. Little by little, he begins to understand the interweaving of all magic, which breaks down the artificial distinctions between "Gifts" that tends to limit other mages' understanding of their own powers. Thus, understanding the fundamental connection between healing and shape-shifting, he is able to take on the power of a Moth.

The Hollow King[]