The hallmark of a good book, in my opinion, is when you stop worrying about the plot and are more concerned about the characters. It is no mean task creating engaging characters within the limits of fiction, but plenty of authors have managed it. Here are some fictional characters I’d like to meet (some of these I have already reviewed in detail, and thus the links):
- Edgar Wield: Reginald Hill has created more than one exceptional character, but the magnificently ugly Sergeant Wield remains my favourite. I wrote a bit more about him here.
- Barbara Havers: Elizabeth George seems to have created the character of Sergeant Barbara Havers to represent the exact opposite of what you’d expect a cop to be like: dumpy, almost slovenly, in appearance, and abrasive in manner. Throw in a sad domestic situation, and she seems more cut out for committing crime that solving it! But underneath the aggression and disregard for authority, lies a likeable and vulnerable human being. Partnering the handsome Inspector Thomas Lynley (the eighth earl of Asherton!), Havers is in reality a very good cop and has saved Lynley’s aristrocratic behind many times. It is hard figuring out exactly why one likes Havers; perhaps it is because she is so ordinary, so flawed, that we all find a little bit of ourselves in her.
- Lan Mandragoran: The uncrowned king of Malkier, Lan is also Warder to Aes Sedai Moiraine in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books. Intensely loyal, a blademaster of some repute, and recklessly brave… it is hard to find words to describe him.
- Daine Sarrasri: One of Tamora Pierce’s many splendid creations, teenager Daine is a wild mage in the kingdom of Tortall. Despite her young age, she has quite a reputation among humans and animals alike.
- Numair Salmalín: It is hard to talk of Daine without mentioning her friend, teacher, travel companion and later lover, Numair. A decade and a half older than Daine, he is exceptionally tall and well-built, swarthy, with a dark mane of springy hair that he ties back. His eyes are dark and voice soft. A black robe mage, one of the most powerful in the world, Numair had for years had to support himself by juggling on the streets because he was running for his life. Apparently, there is to be a whole book about him, so I won’t say much. Enigmatic, scholarly, absentminded, yet humourous and gentle, Numair can go on for hours and hours… and hours… if you ask him a simple question.
- Nynaeve Al’Meara: A brave and remarkable woman from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time! Starting off as the young Wisdom of a small village, Nynaeve comes up in the world to become an Aes Sedai and an unacknowledged queen. She marries the man she loves; yet manages to retain her dignity and individuality. Unlike Jordan’s other women!
- Carrot Ironfounderson: Captain Carrot can be found inTerry Pratchett’s Discworld books. A human brought up as a dwarf, Carrot is very proud of who he is—no matter that he is six feet tall at least! Carrot emanates goodness from every pore of his self, and would be sickly sweet if not for the fact that he has absolutely no idea how “good” he is. In reality, he should have been king, but fate had other plans for him. He’s also in love with his colleague Angua, who just happens to be a werewolf!
- Andrew Dalziel: The rude, corpulent Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel (Dee-ell) is very easy to dislike. But under the abrasive demeanour beats a soft heart. Extremely intelligent and extremely politically incorrect, you can love him or hate him, but you cannot be indifferent to him! It is usually amusing to have him around because he keeps making inappropriate comments all the time, most of which are the kind everyone thinks of, but no one really has the guts to say. Oh, I forgot to mention, this brilliant creation belongs to Reginald Hill.
- Keladry of Mindelan: When it comes to size and strength, Lady Knight Keladry would match any man, but she never lets anyone forget that she is a woman. Yet another of Tamora Pierce’s inspiring female characters, Kel is a natural leader and very courageous. Though she attended “knight school” openly as a girl, she had to fight prejudice all the way and prove herself many times over.
- Moiraine Damodred: Nope, this list wouldn’t have been complete without her, would it? An Aes Sedai from the Wheel of Time, Moiraine and her Warder Lan fight a battle that they cannot win, yet cannot afford to lose. Moiraine sometimes comes across as cold and calculating, but her single-minded dedication to her cause is remarkable. Her relationship with Lan is interesting to say the least. However, all said and done, not all readers (myself included) are happy with the way her tale has “progressed”! Of noble descent, a small but beautiful woman, she wears a blue jewel called the kesiera on her forehead. Currently unattached, there is a hint at a rather distressing romantic alliance with an older man. In her younger days she and her best friend Siuan were lovers, but both seemed to have gravitated towards men subsequently. Difficult to write more without giving anything away—suffice it to say that she is Jordan’s most enigmatic character, and you cannot escape her aura if you read the Wheel of Time.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and heavily influenced by what I have been reading in the recent past. I might also add more names in future. Meanwhile, I’m curious: who are your favourite character/s? Leave your answers through the comment system.