Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This Might Be Cheating... - Top Ten Tuesday #1

Since I have restarted blogging, I've come to wonder what I was thinking in choosing Tuesdays and Thursdays as the days on which I will write as these are the longest days of the week.  If I meant that they somehow defied the standard progression of time and lasted 25 hours instead of the usual 24, this would be "fine", if regrettably insane.  Rather, I mean they are the days on which I spend the most time at the office.  Still, I plan to stick to my schedule regardless of the inconvenience.

As this is my first foray into Top Ten Tuesday, it may also be the first you've heard of it.  Therefore, a quick rundown might be due:

Top Ten Tuesday is a blogging feature conceptualized by the writers of Broke and Bookish.  The rules are simple - each week, there's a new featured topic which you can use to create your list, and then you just link it back to them.  It isn't necessary to come up with ten items for your list, but ten works best both functionally and alliteratively.  Two would be too few, twelve too many, and anything from twenty on up would be considered Cruelty to Bloggers unless it is a very broad topic.

Today's topic is "Top Ten Favorite Characters in X Genre".  Now, the likely assumption would be that the "x" is meant to imply "insert your own choice of genre here".  However, I have decided instead to see it as the algebraic "x", a variable with no set value except when one is applied to it by either the formula or the person working on it.  Thus, I am simply going to list my top ten favorite characters - thankfully, they're mostly characters from fantasy novels, so I am only cheating a little.

Genre 1 - Satiric Fantasy
Defined here as fantasy written with intent to poke fun at aspects of modern life. Ex - Terry Pratchett, William Goldman's The Princess Bride
1.  His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Ankh; Commander Sir Samuel Vimes (The Discworld Series - Sir Terry Pratchett) - An obstinately unrefined workaholic, Sam Vimes has to balance the politics of high society with the pressures of keeping a lid on Ankh-Morpork's criminal society (those of them who don't have permits, anyway).  A man of seeming contradictions - in fairly short order, he goes from hoping someone will get murdered so he can escape from his vacation to arguing that the life of a maid should matter as much as the life of a duke - he manages to keep the gears of the city turning thanks to an occasionally sharp wit, a keen eye for things that don't fit, and a substantial amount of luck. Favorite Scene: Getting Home by 6, from Thud!
2. Archchancellor of Unseen University; Mustrum Ridcully, D.Thau., D.M., D.S., D. Mn., D.G., D.D., D.C.L., D.M. Phil., D.M.S., D.C.M., D.W., B.E.I.L. (The Discworld Series - Sir Terry Pratchett) - A blustery mountain of a Wizard, Ridcully is instantly likeable not for his wit (which he keeps hidden for the opportune moment, like an assassin's blade), but for his overbearing confidence.  Once described as a locomotive, Mustrum isn't one to let go of an idea once it gets into his head.  While he occasionally borders on pomposity, he generally manages to carry it off with a healthy amount of charm and, when that doesn't work, shouting.  Favorite Aspect: Having read through most of the Wizard books at least once, I cannot shake the impression that, despite their liking for the city, there is something... rural about that wizards.  That is, they act rather like chickens... or cows... or perhaps sheep.  Livestock, at the very least.  Is it a wonder then that a country wizard manages to keep them in line so well?
Genre 2 - High Fantasy
Defined here as fantasy that takes place in a fictional or secondary world, often with its own highly developed histories and languages. Often written in a more refined tone than other forms of fantasy, with more clearly defined lines between good and evil.  Ex - Tolkien & Lewis
3. Gimli, son of Gloin (The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien) - Since 1954, Gimli has been competing for the title of Everyone's Favorite Dwarf with the likes of Thorin and Grumpy, his ratings rising significantly after his appearance in the documentary The Lord of The Rings. Gruff, but enthusiastic, he provides a different perspective on the events of the War of the Ring, somewhere between the high speech of elves & men and the agrarian Hobbits. Favorite Scene: During the lament for Boromir, he is left with the East Wind.  Though it isn't said, I cannot help but imagine he was a bit grumpy about this.
 4. Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien) - The one who started it all, Bilbo is by far the most levelheaded of the Hobbits, which makes it all the more surprising that he left on his adventure in the first place.  A tad whiny, he nevertheless manages to find the courage to accomplish some great things (perhaps at the back of the pantry, after the dwarves cleared it out).  Favorite Aspect: No matter how ungrateful the dwarves may be at one time or another for his aid, he never stops being helpful, even when there are giant spiders involved.
5 & 6. Kaladin & Syl (The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson) - This one's a double, as the two are fairly inseparable.  Kaladin, the worn down soldier-turned-slave, and Syl, the sprite (called spren in this work) who stands by him.  The two seem an odd couple, with him spending most of his time trying to save himself and those around him, while she mostly... well, dances.  However, both prove to be more than they first appear, but you'll have to read this most imposing book to find out more.  Seriously, it's 1,280 pages, you could use it as a weapon (though I recommend reading it instead).  Favorite Scene: Syl defending Kaladin from the deathspren.

Genre 3 - Modern Fantasy
Defined here as fantasy that, while possibly set in an alternate world, is darker in theme and language.  Lines between good and evil may be blurred and, at times, the question of who is on which side of that line may be raised. Ex - Lewis' That Hideous Strength, J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan
7. Mr. Bultitude (That Hideous Strength - C.S. Lewis) - For those as-of-yet uninitiated into the wonder that is C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, I will give this minor spoiler:  Mr. Bultitude is a bear, and not an intelligent one as is the case with the Bulgy Bears in Narnia, nor is he tamed.  In other words, he is bear that someone decided to name Mr. Bultitude.  It is rare in fiction for any animal beyond the three prime suspects - dogs, cats, and horses - to play a significant role within the story beyond, perhaps, serving as something to hunt, fight, or be chased by.  Thus, to see  one in a role that could genuinely be considered heroic is refreshing. Favorite Aspect: He is a bear named Mr. Bultitude, and that is all that need be said.
8. Foaly (Artemis Fowl Series - Eoin Colfer) - It being some time since I have read the Artemis Fowl books, I cannot think of any specific examples of Foaly that come to mind, instead having more the shape of him worked out in my head.  Typically in fantasy literature, centaurs are the wise sages or wild savages (only four letters apart, yet so much further in meaning).  It's nice to see a neurotic, nerdy one to add some variety to the otherwise bifurcated masses of literary horsemen. I raise my glass - or would if I had one - to Foaly, for challenging the severely limited career choices available to Centaurkind and striking out on his own.  Now that the floodgates have been opened, perhaps it is only a matter of time before we see Centaurs taking up other roles - maybe we'll even see one as President some day. ...Actually, that might be a bit of a stretch, seeing as it's made Foaly into something of a paranoid shut-in.  Also, they're imaginary, but it's the thought that counts.
Genre 4 - Children's Fantasy
If I need to define this, then this is the fantasy for you.
9. Basil Stag Hare (Redwall Series - Brian Jacques) - If I had to answer, definitively, what it is about Basil Stag Hare that I like best, I would have a bit of a problem doing so.  Be it his "tallyho!" personality, his loyalty, or his apparent descent from a food compactor, there is a great deal to like about Basil Stag Hare. My opinion of him may be somewhat coloured as the Redwall books comprised a large portion of the books I read during my "formative" years (a phrase which I feel makes me sound like a jump of playdough), but nevertheless, he will always be one of my favorite characters.  After all, he is the inspiration for a character of my own, though it may be some time before you all get to meet him. Favorite Memory: Laughing hysterically at the descriptions of him eating.
Genre 5 - Fantasy Authors
10. J.R.R. Tolkien - Perhaps the most overlooked character in a novel is the narrator.  When the role is not held by a character within the storyline,  we often overlook the one who is telling the story.  In the years of his life that Tolkien devoted to shaping Middle Earth, he created a world of such richness and depth and endless possibilities that the stories feel almost more real than our actual histories. Having read a large portion of Tolkien's works - not nearly all of them, but I intend to get there eventually - I can honestly say that the author himself is one of my favorite characters.
And there you have it! My very first Top Ten Tuesday.  I imagine I wasn't supposed to go quite so long at it, but I was rather enthusiastic about the subject.  Perhaps next time I shall attempt to answer each item as a haiku?

Top Ten Dead Authors?
A little bit morbid, no?
Ok, fine, Lewis.


  1. I like your statement about the narrator/author of the story being a character himself. And the haiku is cute.

    I'm not sure I really like Ridcully that much. I mean, he's funny, but Death is my favorite Pratchett character. Of the rest of the characters I recognize, I agree that they're pretty awesome.


    P.S. Honestly, I don't know why I'm always commenting on your posts when you never comment on mine. :P

    1. My dear sister,

      Perhaps it is time that I reveal to you a little secret about myself. It is this - I am slow. At most things besides eating and running, you far outpace me. Indeed, it is something of a miracle that I have now completed three Nanowrimo Challenges in a row. It's not that I don't WANT to post on your blog, it's simply that I run out of time :P

      Honestly, I will make an effort to comment on your blog posts... when I have a computer of my own again. :)