Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Top Ten Tuesday: Characters who read!
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish blog!
Woohoo! I love it when characters reflect my intense love of reading. Sometimes they read out of necessity, sometimes merely out of love, but I enjoy it when the author takes a moment to pause the headlong race of plot to give us a moment for the character and the reader to appreciate books together. It's rather meta, in a way.
Here are my top ten characters that READ!
This is rather an eclectic mix of SFF books, with adult, YA, and children's in an effort not to repeat my favorite series over and over again.
1. Celaena from Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
One thing I LOVED about Celaena (Review forthcoming! I have a LOT of thoughts on Throne of Glass) was her ability to be BOTH an assassin AND a fully-realized person who had likes, dislikes, and depth that didn't just align with her occupation. When she's not training for a fight to death or sassing nobles, she spends ALL her time reading voraciously, just because she likes it. I was amused when she specifically flirts with the Prince to get access to his library. And she reads everything--to the great surprise of her companions/guards/employers, who don't expect the greatest assassin of their time to be into fluffly romance novels.
2. Jean from Gentlemen Bastards by Scott Lynch
Jean Tannen is a tough guy, an all-around bruiser, a man who won't back down from any fight. He's also absolutely obsessed with old timey romances, old philosophers, and poetry. Scott Lynch is one of the best at interweaving scenes of intense action with scenes of character development and I deeply enjoyed every one of Locke's and Jean's disagreements on the value of fiction (Locke taking the standpoint of "if it's not useful I don't care" and Jean patiently defending his romances). It even helps Jean court a dashing pirate lieutenant--Ezri, one of my favorite characters, who finds common ground with Jean while she's efficiently tying him up and bantering quotes from old literature at the same time. I'm quite certain they seduce each other entirely through philosophy quotes.
3. Raistlin from Dragonlance by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis
Raist the Mage! Okay, Dragonlance as a whole is a bit of a guilty pleasure, but I've always liked Raistlin the angsty, traitorous mage who cares for no one and is unfailingly pessimistic. As part of his magic, Raist must insult everyone in close conta--I mean, read over old spells over and over and OVER again to fix them in his mind. He cares more for spellbooks than he does his own brother. He happily betrays all just to get his hand on a book. Books and magic mean literally everything to him, and he has no qualms about sacrificing everything just to get his hands on another.
4. Phedre from Kushiel by Jacqueline Carey
Phedre is one of my favorite characters of all time. She's a courtesan who's also a spy who's also a damn good scholar. She knows more languages than ANYONE would suspect (and certainly not her patrons). And she knows the power of knowledge. "All knowledge is worth having."--says her teacher Delaunay, and Phedre takes this to heart as she encounters deep-rooted plots, schemes, and manipulations though her seemingly innocent work as a high demand and highly specialized courtesan. The majority of the revelations of the extremely complicated political plot happen when Phedre is in the library, or when she and her fellow apprentice Alcuin put there heads together. All throughout the novels, knowledge and the discovery of it is a common theme. Seldom do you have a character whose deep respect for knowledge drives and unveils the plot. I love these books.
5. Maerad from Pellinor by Alison Croggon
Ah, Pellinor. This was the series of my youth (*shakes cane at young'uns*). This was--and remains--my favorite YA ever. Maerad starts off as a slave in a mountain keep. When she escapes with the help of her soon-to-be-mentor Cadvan, she's taken to a magical city of the Bards where she finds acceptance, kindness, and magic. I remember Maerad reveling in the wealth of knowledge around her--books of wisdom and magic, words of power. The entire series is an ode to the spoken word. Alison Croggon is a poet, and she absolutely writes like it. Maerad's transition from miserable servitude to sudden respect, from a crude world of pain to one of beauty and high thoughts, is one of the best written such transitions I've come across. Really lovely.
6. Nathaniel from Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathon Stroud
Another mage! Nathaniel is a young magician's apprentice who has disgraced himself horribly, and now finds his studies proceeding at the pace of a glacier thanks to the lost trust of his cut-rate master. Not to be held back, Nathaniel takes to books in intensive and secretive self-study, abandoning flesh-and-blood masters who've failed him for the masters of the past. Nathaniel's tale is that of vengeance of the introvert--believed to be inconsequential, he turns his ambitions to extreme self-improvement and makes himself a brilliant sorcerer by the power of books alone. Best of all, these books feature one of the most hilarious smartass characters I've ever read: Bartimaeus. My FAVORITE children's series.
7. Jaenelle from Black Jewels by Anne Bishop
Following with a series that is distinctly NOT children's ... Jaenelle is a young witch of unheard-of power, residing in the comfortable residence of Hell while she slowly recovers from betrayal by her blood family. Believed to be Witch, the prophesized avenging spirit who has the power to save the Three Realms from the powers of a malicious usurper, she's isolated and alone because of her potential--even the High Lord of Hell himself fears her, sometimes. Jaenelle buries herself in novels as a way to bridge the gap between herself and others of the Blood. By sharing books, she learns to trust and make friends with others who would have been scared off by her power--in return, they learn to trust her, and see her as a person, and not only Witch.
8. Irulan from Dune by Frank Herbert
I'll admit it, I only read Dune and Dune Messiah, and I consider Dune to be the start and the END of the series because of the dissapointment in following books. That said, Irulan the Princess and Bene Gesserit hardly makes an appearence in Dune. How we know her is through the chapter headings, usually featuring excerpts from her books about Paul-Muad'dib. Irulan's strength lies in research and literature. As one of many daughters of the Padishah Emperor, she is trained in observation and mental strength. Despite the fact that she only physically appears at the very end, we learn a lot about Irulan through her writing and research. And, of course, in the end she only has the comfort of her books. Nothing more.
9. Flavia from the Flavia de Luce Mysteries by Alan Bradley
11 yr old mad scientist, detective, and A+ sister botherer! I love the Flavia de Luce mysteries because they are so FUN, and Flavia with her obsession with poisons is the best. Flavia discovers her passion in old, dusty books of Chemistry that she finds in her rambling house. Living with 2 sisters and a distant but affectionate father, she immerses herself in the sciences to occupy her mind and finds that she's actually quite brilliant at it. Flavia's obsession is a story of science and love of books--love of information imparted by old masters, whose word lives on. It's also quite useful in solving a number of strange cases that arise in the sleepy town that they live.
10. All right ... I'm stumped. I could swear that there's a Malazan character who fits this list but it's been so long that I can't remember. (Speaking of which, I NEED to get on Toll the Hounds). Who's YOUR favorite character who reads?