First, a bit of business: I’m going to be heading to D.C. next week (thanks to everyone who gave book suggestions!) I scheduled posts ahead, so you shouldn’t see any drop in content. But I won’t have internet access, so don’t be offended if I’m not responding to comments! I’ll read them all when I get back. 🙂 Now, to today’s post…
Two weeks ago I shared five of my favorite female characters, so obviously that must mean that today it’s time for the other half of the population to have their turn. In no particular order, a few favorite male book characters.
Lawrence “Titus” Oates from The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Titus is arguably less than fictional because he was a historical person, an Antarctic explorer who went to the South Pole with Captain Scott. But I’m particularly thinking of Geraldine McCaughrean’s Titus, who appears as Sym’s imaginary friend in The White Darkness. He’s wonderful–charming, funny, caring, and always ready with a sympathetic ear and witty remark. That is, after all, why Sym imagined him. And I have to give you this one, brilliant line: “Titus fixes me with that penetrating stare of his; the one that would make a charging bull elephant stop, think twice, apologize, and saunter off.” Add to that Richard Morant’s voice (he reads for the audio book) and…well, I said it in my review, but it’s the only way to put it–a man well-worth following to Antarctica!
Erik from The Phantom the Opera
Even I don’t know which Phantom I mean here. There are a lot of choices, some of them are books (and in some of them he’s named Erik), so I’m putting him on the list through a technicality. It’s not that I’m crazy about any particular Erik (though if I had to pick, I’d choose Webber’s, who isn’t in a book, or Susan Kay’s, who is). The original character was in a book (Leroux’s) and I’m completely fascinated by the many different variations, which somehow all meld together into this brilliant musical genius who is convinced of his own unworthiness because he’s ugly. The plotline of Phantom, Christine and all that, is practically irrelevant to me–it’s the character I’m interested in.
Sam Vimes from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Sam is wonderful, a cynical, bitter copper with a firm sense of honor. He breaks up riots by gently chiding the participants (backed up by a very large troll), deals with assassins regularly (but not until after he’s done shaving), charts his own course whether the authorities like it or not but firmly believes in the Law, and once stopped a war by arresting both armies for disturbing the peace. Discworld is a strange, strange place, filled with completely absurd and very hilarious characters. Sam is the lead of seven books in the series, and is a sane (but still funny) figure in the midst of the chaos. His character develops a lot from the first book to the last, from spending most of his time at the bottom of a bottle and just trying to stay out of trouble, to Sir Samuel, head of the Night Watch, who is always (ALWAYS) home at six p.m. sharp to read his son a bedtime story (even if a state of emergency has to be declared to make it happen).
Peter Pan, title character of J. M. Barrie’s book (and play)
I don’t know how much I’d want to hang out with Peter–he is a bit arrogant–but I’m so fascinated by the idea of him. It’s not so much the never growing up. It’s the eternal innocence of childhood–related concepts, but not quite the same. There’s a scene in the book when Peter is fighting Hook, who cheats. It’s not so much the gain from the cheating that lets Hook win the fight; it’s that Peter is so stunned by the betrayal of Hook cheating that he doesn’t know how to react. It’s the innocence. Peter can’t imagine even the villain not fighting fair.
Huckleberry Finn from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Don’t mind my battered copy. 🙂 I love the way Huck both fights society, and is shaped by it. He never wants anything to do with the trappings of society–the tight collars and using proper English and so on. Yet we can see how shaped he is by his society in many ways, especially in his understanding of slavery. When he does finally decide, “All right then, I’ll go to Hell,” if that’s what it takes to help Jim, his friend the escaped slave, rather than follow society’s dictates…it’s a really beautiful moment. And on a less profound note, there are days when dumping it all and floating away down the Mississippi sounds appealing!
Honorable mention here to Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean, and to Kirk, Spock and McCoy of the original Star Trek. They’re not from books (at least not originally) so I didn’t put them officially on the list, but they’re among my favorite fictional characters from any source. And I think Jack, at least, would feel insulted to be ignored. 😉