top 5 tuesday: Characters to Team Up With to Rule the World

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm.  This week’s topic:

SEPTEMBER 26TH – Top 5 characters I would team up with to rule the world!

Characters’ moral compasses may vary.

51bcsc2fcflSansa Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin).  My girl!!!  I think I’ve waxed eloquent about my love for Sansa Stark enough on this blog, so I’ll just get right to it.  Sansa is the sort of character who has a tremendous amount of growth, and while I wouldn’t necessarily want to team up with her 11-year-old self to rule the world, the young woman she becomes is one of the most formidable and capable characters in the entire series.  She learns from the best and the worst alike, and she knows how to navigate the complex political situations she finds herself in.  I want to team up with her to save Westeros and then dismantle the patriarchy.

23437156Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo).  (I would just like to point out that Sansa and Kaz are like….. the very embodiment of the two Types of characters I always fall for.  The dichotomy of my being summed up in this one unlikely pair.)  Anyway, this one doesn’t require a whole lot of explanation… Kaz is the sort of character you’d rather have on your side than against you, so while he may not be the most trustworthy person in the world, I’ll take my chances.  He’s the sort of criminal mastermind who could easily take over the world if he decided that would be an advantageous course of action.

41cigepew5l-_sy344_bo1204203200_Henry Winter (The Secret History by Donna Tartt).  Henry is one of the most memorable characters I’ve ever encountered.  He may not be a Good Person, but I don’t think he’s a bad person either… and at any rate, he’s another one who I’d rather have on my side than against me.  Plus, his idea of taking over the world would probably include ‘make The Iliad required reading for everyone’ and let’s be real, that aligns very nicely with my own agenda.

1371Helen of Sparta (The Iliad by Homer; classics).  Anyone powerful enough to (inadvertently) bring about a war is someone I want to be partners in crime with.  Helen is one of my favorite characters, and the thing that makes me defend her character is how little agency she has in her narrative: she’s stolen by Paris and then her husband Menelaus wages a war to get her back.  The question of what Helen herself wanted has long been debated – did she go willingly with Paris, or was it kidnap? – and anyway, I’m saying all this because I want to give Helen a narrative where she’s in total control.  i.e., Ruling the world.

pillars-of-the-earthAliena of Shiring (The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett).  Aliena is one of the most capable characters I can think of.  She goes from being brought up in nobility to having absolutely nothing, to starting her own business as a wool merchant.  She’s someone who gets shit done, and above that, she’s also just a deeply good person.  I’d gladly rule medieval England with her.


 

Which character(s) would you team up with to rule the world?  Comment and let me know!

top 5 wednesday: Favorite Minor Characters

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the goodreads group to learn more.

May 24th: Favorite Minor Characters.

It’s Wednesday again?!  Usually I prepare these posts in advance, but this week it snuck up on me!

Anyway, minor characters.  Let’s go.

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Andromache (The Iliad by Homer).  As if I could go a week without mentioning the Iliad.  Very few characters in this thousand-page epic can be described as ‘minor,’ but as she’s only in a couple of scenes, I think Andromache fits the bill.  Wife of the Trojan hero Hector and mother of their son Astyanax, Andromache’s character adds some much-needed humanity to this larger than life story, and her scenes are always my favorite to read.

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Volkheimer (All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr).  Half of what’s so compelling and heartbreaking about this book are the characters that Doerr creates – each one feels so three-dimensional, not just the two main characters.  Frederick, Etienne, and Jutta are all likewise incredible characters (Frederick in particular), but the one that stands out to me the most from this story is actually Volkheimer, one of the students that Werner meets at his Hitler Youth school.  Volkheimer, massive and imposing in stature and a star pupil, seems to be the model German soldier.  But he’s also quiet and thoughtful and loves classical music, and he’s gentle with Werner and their friendship is so compelling.  One of the best things about this book is how Doerr really brings to life how tragic the Hitler Youth was, and how these children really were just victims – Werner and Frederick and Volkheimer in particular.

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Finnick Odair (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins).  ‘Mockingjay’?  Never heard of it.  I’m only familiar with the third installment of this franchise called ‘Finnick Odair Lives Happily Ever After’ – it stars Finnick, and, you guessed it, he lives happily ever after.  Not sure what happens with Katniss and the revolution and all that, but Finnick!!! lives happily ever after!!!

 

30319086Filippa Kosta (If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio).  I loved all of the characters in this book, James in particular, but probably the most intriguing character is one who lurks somewhat in the background through the whole thing, Filippa.  In this tight-knit group of friends who have known each other for years, Filippa is the only one who remains an enigma, as she’s deliberately vague in sharing any information about her family or home life with her friends.  We find out the reason why that is by the end of the book, and it’s awfully sad, but Filippa remains a favorite because of the sheer strength of her character, because of the things she’s able to accept and deal with where the rest of her friend group is too afraid.  She’s fantastic and I wish she had a larger role – on stage and off!

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Viserys Targaryen (A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin).  It was hard to narrow it down to just one from the massive host of characters in the ASOIAF universe, and this probably seems like a bit of a random choice, but I actually adore Viserys’ character.  Not because I think he’s secretly a good person or anything like that – I love him as a tragic villain.  He’s multifaceted and interested and his relationship with Dany is horrible and compelling.  I wish he hadn’t died as early as he does, especially in the show, because Harry Lloyd’s performance remains one of my favorites in the entire series.

Who are some of your favorite minor characters?  Comment and let me know!

top 5 female characters from literature

Happy International Women’s Day!  In honor of all the badass ladies out there (and because I apparently don’t read enough fantasy or sci-fi to participate in this week’s Top 5 Wednesday), I decided to make a list of my top 5 favorite female characters from literature.  (Note: this was very difficult and I will probably change my mind in ten minutes, but here we go.)


409207Sansa Stark
(A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin): Sansa is a character who’s incredibly close to my heart (and not only because I once commented on a buzzfeed article defending her and received an absolutely shocking amount of vitriol from the male nerd community who felt I was infringing upon their right to attack a fictional traumatized teenage girl).  I see a lot of myself in Sansa, the good and the bad, the quiet strength and also the overly idealistic tendencies.  What makes Sansa such an important character, I think, is that she’s able to navigate this violent and patriarchal society while also retaining her sense of self: she matures, but she never becomes hardened or loses her kindness, which is all too often represented as a naive quality which needs to be outgrown in order to survive.
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harper-perennial-editionEsther Greenwood (The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath): I only read The Bell Jar a year ago, and was overwhelmed by the extent to which I related to Esther.  I think there’s a lot that every 20-something can relate to, that crushing anxiety that comes with a lack of life direction.  But what’s so important about Esther is that while the bildungsroman genre has traditionally been dominated by the male narrative (The Catcher in the Rye, Of Human Bondage, Huck Finn, etc – all great books, but still), The Bell Jar manages to provide a candid exploration of the female experience of mental illness, sex and sexuality, and navigating new adulthood.  Somewhat a stand-in for Plath herself, and somewhat a stand-in for all young women, Esther remains a seminal character for the influence she’s had on the coming of age narrative.
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imgCathy Ames (East of Eden by John Steinbeck): In contrast with characters like Sansa who I admire for their goodness, Cathy is terrible.  But as a character, that’s what makes her so great.  There’s something undeniably compelling about this character who’s described to have been born without a conscience, who murders her parents and shoots her husband without a second thought.  And I don’t even consider either of those spoilers, as they happen so early in the book – there’s still so much more to come.  I can’t think of a character, male or female, who can match Cathy for ruthlessness, and yet, by the end of the novel, I found myself strangely moved and affected by her.  Love her or hate her or love to hate her, she’s utterly unforgettable.
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51-fmbtiw9l-_sx327_bo1204203200_Clytemnestra (classics): Narrowing down my classics lady between Clytemnestra, Helen, and Medea was easily the most time-consuming part of compiling this list. (Honestly, if this list were a bit more truthful, I’d probably have included all three of them, but that would get boring to read.)  I decided to go with Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon and mother of Orestes, famous for murdering her husband after his homecoming from the Trojan War, in order to avenge her daughter who Agamemnon had sacrificed before sailing to Troy.  The exciting thing about Clytemnestra is that in a very patriarchal society, she exists outside traditional gender roles: she rules over Mycenae in Agamemnon’s absence, she speaks in public (a very male-dominated sphere), and she not only orchestrates the plot of her husband’s murder, but she enacts it herself, according to Aeschylus and Euripides.
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Rebecca de Winter (Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier): She’s not really even in the book, and yet she’s one of the most famous characters from 20th century literature.  Honestly, what an icon.  Everything we know about Rebecca, the dead wife of Maxim de Winter, is hearsay, as we follow the second Mrs. de Winter trying to navigate her new life at the luxurious but lonely Manderly estate.  Everything our narrator does is compared by the other characters to Rebecca, who begins to take on a mythologized form – but it turns out the real Rebecca was even more fascinating.
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It was hard narrowing down this list!  Who are some of your favorite fictional ladies from literature?