A reader left an incredibly valuable piece of feedback on the Chapter Three comments' page to the point that I felt it merited a post all its own instead of a mere response in the comments section. The critique went as follows:
Just one opinion, but I don't know enough about these character's back stories and motivation yet to care much about them or the action. Do you feel the back stories and motivation have to be withheld as much as they have been? Do you feel you have given "enough" so far?
Now that's a fairly loaded piece of feedback so I'm going to address my explanation in two parts but to start us off I'll just respond by saying, yes, I do believe the backstory of the protagonist and the major characters is withheld to the proper amount for the first three chapters of this story (or any novel, really). Were we at chapter fifteen or twenty and you still had very little clue as to what has precipitated the major conflict in the story and how Jaden and company fit, then I'd say we have a serious problem.
However, since we are quite literally only a few thousand words into the narrative, the relative mystery surrounding Jaden and the overall history of the characters is not only intentionally done but is in keeping with the classic story arc of epics for the last two thousand years. More specifically though, there are two reasons why the story is constructed this way...
First, the concept of in media res must be understood for this first explanation to have any weight. In terms of the greatest epic stories of all time (not that I'm comparing this manuscript to those in anyway; they are, however, the goal to which every storyteller should strive for), every single one of them begins not at the very beginning of the events that lead up to an action or conflict, but originate "into the middle of the affairs" or in the very middle of the conflict and rising action of the primary narrative's story's arc.
After all, there is a reason it is called backstory. The narrative of primary interest to the reader is the story and action that takes place in the actual novel, whereas the narrative of the characters' backstory is more of a history that provides depth and a sense of verisimilitude to the reader from a previous, secondary narrative that more so underlies the situation when the primary narrative begins than directly influences it.
In other words, you start in the middle of your story to ramp up the tension and action and conflict to draw readers into a gripping narrative because it is the elements and events currently taking place in the pages of that rising action which are the primary focus of that narrative and the reader. This is typically why the backstory of the characters and the events that have brought the major players to the place where the story begins is dealt with later on throughout the book, typically through flashback or reminiscent dialogue. You don't typically want to unload huge chunks of backstory at the beginning of an epic narrative because, unless you're Tolkien, you're going to bore your reader to death with the details. And since you won't have any action or conflict, the person won't have any reason to keep reading since, quite literally, nothing is happening.
And even though in media res would be enough of a reason (you know, since it worked for Paradise Lost, the Odyssey, the Iliad, Dante's Inferno, and even Star Wars), I did have a second reason to start the story without diving into the past of the protagonist with full force.
As you will see in the story, being in the dark about your true past and the new reality/world to which you find yourself thrust into is a classic trait that every epic hero possesses and must go through on their riveting journey. From Luke Skywalker to Neo to Harry Potter, even modern epic heroes have this quality that the classic heroes had. And since the goal of the author is to foster a connection between the reader and the hero of the story, I wanted to really intertwine the experiences of Jaden with the reader right from the start, which is why Jaden may be even more in the dark about his true past and the events surrounding him than maybe other heroes have been (though not by much).
I wanted the reader to feel exactly how Jaden feels, to experience the precise emotions and revelations that he does when the answers to who he really is and what his role is in the entire story come to light. It is my utmost hope that the bond the reader has with Jaden blossoms not through a mere history lesson of his background, but because of a commonality built on sharing his entire journey from the person he thought he was to the person he truly is and the hero he must become.
Anyway, I want to thank whoever posted that piece of feedback as that is just absolutely a textbook representation of constructive criticism, which is the driving heartbeat of literary discussion and narrative appreciation.