Gondolor is a man who was born in Luddington about the time of the arrival of the Chosen. He is short, stocky, and tremendously nearsighted. Until the time of his defection, and for a while thereafter, he was of medium height and highly charismatic, but over time his appearance deteriorated; he went from being vividly handsome, to strikingly ugly, but is now merely pathetic and looks nearly forgettable.
He had been the most promising native-born mage in the most promising generation in more than a century. After a few years studying with the dwarves, he became the King’s personal apprentice. But after some time, he grew weary of the restraints of self-control necessary to renew personal power, so he took an unauthorized “study trip” to the Dragon Empire and defected.
After his arrival there, he spent a couple of decades as Tashere’s apprentice, learning all the various “false” mage-crafts, such as sorcery and wizardry—how to work toward his ends rather than for the good, and to achieve them by domination and force of will rather than persuasion or submission. Thereafter he became Tashere’s second-in-command, designated successor, and military leader.
In the past, Tashere could never leave his land for long because of the curse on him and his domain (to be described in the planned novel Vayna), but couldn’t send his troops far afield either without them escaping his control. Gondolor, and others he recruited later (not many from the Shine and Wild Empire or its allies, but some), made long wars, with many fronts in far-flung places, possible for the Dragon Empire for the first time.
Tashere’s strategy had been to use as much of his power as fast as possible to grasp as much as he could, with less and less subtlety as he declined, then after each (inevitable) defeat to retreat to his palace (where his powers recovered somewhat faster) to lick his wounds. But since Gondolor, and the others under him, draw power through Tashere, they now lead most campaigns, and he recovers his powers at the same time as they are drawing them down.
When Gondolor recruited his apprentices, he looked for susceptibility to temptation, for willingness to obey his orders, and for power, among other things—but he didn’t look for imagination. So when he’s captured or otherwise unavailable, they tend to follow any order’s he’s left for them, but otherwise to sit on their gains (if any) for the most part.
Gondolor is often driven by revenge. If he is repulsed from a position by “inferior” forces, he’ll often rebuild and try to take it again and again until it’s visibly reinforced with what he considers an overwhelming advantage, even if there are weaker and more valuable points he could target instead.
And he has one … quirk … that has led to his downfall several times. If he’s presented with a reasonably fair challenge in a particular context, he’ll often answer within that paradigm. For example, if an enemy fortress is a castle, he’ll likely apply something like (a modern revision of) classical siege tactics rather than dropping in paratroopers or leveling the walls with high explosives. And he sometimes ignores later subtle adjustments to his opponents’ paradigm, so counters to him from outside the original domain can be used. But he’ll see through most traps, and if he thinks something is a trap he’ll ignore the “bait.”