This week’s Top Ten List from The Broke and the Bookish didn’t sound hard at first glance, but every time I started to pick one, I remembered I’d already used the character in a previous “best of” post. (Many of them were “literary crushes“.) For this one, I tried going to books I loved and selecting the second bananas, the third wheels, and those often overlooked in favor of the leading men and their ladies. However, sometimes I failed and went for one of the more obvious choices because they were too good to pass up!
Top Ten Favorite Characters1. Tom Bombadil (The Lord of the Rings)—Though he only appears in three chapters and is briefly mentioned by characters in a few others, I’ve always had a soft spot for the old “moss gatherer.” After all, he speaks in stress-timed seven beat lines, refers to himself in third person, and can sing trees to sleep. So old he claims to have seen “the first raindrop and the first acorn,” he is one of those characters like the Entwives who is destined for obscurity. As Tolkien put it, “Even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).”
2. Bast (The Kingkiller Chronicle)—I still don’t know exactly how I feel about Bast. I know that he honors Kvothe and that he wants him to come back to himself. It’s the “why” question that’s bugging me. He’s Fae, after all, and he might have something up his magical sleeve. Still, he’s beautiful, mysterious, fiercely protective, and impish in a way that is utterly irresistible. If you haven’t read the first two books in this series, for the love of pete, get started!
3. Pearl (The Scarlet Letter)—How can you not love a character who is, until the last few chapters, a symbol rather than a real person? Yes, until Dimmesdale claims her as his child and dies on the scaffold where he should have been when the novel opened, she is the living embodiment of the scarlet letter Hester wears on her breast. Mercurial, merciless, and (at times) creepy, she never leaves a reader wanting for action.4. Prior Phillip (Pillars of the Earth)—I know he’s not a “minor” character in this work, but compared to Jack Jackson, Aliena, and Tom Builder, he has a lot less screen time. Phillip is such a moral character that he sometimes frustrates what should be simple, but his motive of restoring Kingsbridge is so laudable, I sometimes found myself less frustrated with him than I might have been otherwise. Even when he did something I didn’t agree with, I knew it was never done out of malice. That’s hard to pull off in a character….especially in a work this dense and complicated. Industrious, clever, and not above a political play when it helps the people he loves, Phillip is quite the engaging monk. 5. Tyrion Lannister (The Song of Ice and Fire)—If you’re watching the TV series on HBO or are currently reading the series, kindly skip over this one as there will be some spoilers. Go on, shoo……. Okay, folks. He’s a little person in a world that is built on and run by strength, yet he survives and somehow manages to be near the seat of power at all times! Seriously, he shot his own father in the stomach with a crossbow while he was on the toilet!! How’s that for cutthroat!? As the books have gone on, he has become one of the most dynamic characters, sliding from creepy evil to almost neutral bordering on good. I have a feeling that he’ll still be on the board when this epic series comes to an end in two more books. 6. Marvin the Paranoid Android (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)—Chronically depressed and bored because he has “a brain the size of a planet,” Marvin is one of the characters in Douglas Adams’ universe that isn’t always in the center of the action. However, we’d miss him if he weren’t there. I’ve only read the first book in the series, but I adored him in it. How can you not love something that so intelligent that even the most complex task is no match for him and everyone who tries to access his brain ends up suicidal!? 7. The Wife of Bath (The Canterbury Tales)—Chaucer’s lady was way ahead of her time. Running her own fabric weaving business and on the hunt for husband number five on this famous pilgrimage to Beckett’s shrine, the lovely Wife of Bath knows how to tell a good tale and flirt up a storm with any and all available men on the journey with her. She’s one of the reasons I’m sad Chaucer never got the chance to finish this masterwork; we only get one of her stories and no hint as to which man she might have bagged before they returned to London. 8. Frau Totenkinder (Fables)—Again, if you haven’t read this series, break open your piggie banks and go get as many of the trade paperbacks as you can! In this series, fairy tale characters are real and have been pushed out of the Homelands by the Adversary. Snow White, Rose Red, and every other character you can think of call New York City (and a small farm in rural New York) home. It’s clever, creative, and amazing because Bill Willingham and his team of writers and artists manage to take stories you know and turn them on their ear. For instance, Prince Charming is the same guy from all three fairy tales (he has married Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella), and don’t get me started on Jack (the amalgamation of all “Jack” stories like Jack and Jill, Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack Frost, etc. He’s a totally awesome trickster figure.) But on to the sinister Frau Totenkinder. She’s the leader of the magicians in Fabletown and, like Jack, is an amalgamated character who represents many of the unnamed witches in the tales and legends. She looks like an old lady, frail and weak, but the truth is she is one of if not the most powerful characters to escape from the Homelands. She’s not all sunshine and Gummy Bears though; you can’t always trust her! 9. Colonel Christopher Brandon (Sense and Sensibility)—This awesome character is the epitome of both words in the book’s title. He is practical, good at solving problems, and tactful, but his heart is sensitive to the needs of others. (Though I wouldn’t cast him as a member of the cult of sensibility that Marianne belongs to). Unlike the cad John Willoughby or the daffy Edward Ferrars, he’s a force for good and an altogether perfect gentleman of means and substance. It’s always so lovely to see him get what he wants in the end…though why he would want Marianne has always been beyond me. 10. Annie Wilkes (Misery)—Again, not a ancillary character by any means, but when her name popped up, I had to go with her. I mean, really, who hasn’t wanted to grab an author and cut off his foot for killing off a favorite character? Seriously! There’s something so marvelously wacky about Annie Wilkes–she’s prim and proper and hates all the “cockadoodie” words in Sheldon’s new novel, but she has no trouble whatsoever in running a state trooper over with a lawnmower. That’s a real dichotomy to have in one character. Evil and weird is always such a winning combination! ***I will gladly pay anyone who can tell me why some of my blog posts go all single spaced and italicized without me telling them to. It really gets on my last nerve….that and the fact I STILL haven’t won a Freshly Pressed Award!***