I was reading Thoughts of a Shield Maiden this morning while sipping my coffee before work. Her introduction of her readers to two characters she loves, reminded me that I have a bunch of my own I thought I’d share. These are the “Stand Up And Cheer” characters I’ve fallen for in books, the ones that make me shake off the cynical glasses and for a moment, see the people around me as they could be. Oh, there’s also one or two that belong to a friend of mine that I can not wait to see in print. Ready? Here we go!
Jordan McKell, pilot/captain for hire in Timothy Zahn’s The Icarus Hunt
Jordan is the narrator of the story, and his wry asides coupled with his relaxed tone and self mastery immediately drew me to like him. He takes down the bad guys, uses an ingenious way to stop but not kill them, and then complains that his leg hurts. He’s not superman, but he’s got some serious skills. He’s jaded on his outlook on life (and he has reason to be) but he’s also a loyal friend to Ixil, his first mate. Jordan also has a serious reluctance to kill. He can kill, and does kill, but he doesn’t like it. He’s a sardonic, trained, reluctant killer who is trying his best to figure out what is going on in the book without getting Ixil or himself killed.
He reminds me very much of the character of Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet
Because Jordan is keeping secrets, even from the reader( this is often referred to in literary circles as “an unreliable narrator”), the first time I read The Icarus Hunt I found myself wondering “Who is this guy? What’s his real motivation here? ” And even as he acted the knave and the villain, there was tiny little thread of something that didn’t quite fit. When all the pieces of the puzzle came together at the end of Icarus Hunt, I cheered.
*Aurelius Alma, decorated soldier/ battler of a strange vampiric disease.
Aurelius is in the unusual position of being a man of deep faith and honor, and also in desperate need of blood to continue to survive. He’s a ‘type’ of vampire (he doesn’t sparkle) but he doesn’t need to drain someone of all of their blood to be sated. Aurelius usually incapacitates someone, and then feeds. He also hates himself, but is too afraid to die and be damned. The complex friction of noble soldier and desperate creature make him a very likable fellow. Aurelius spends his time defending those who really have no champion and helping where and when he can. He vacillates between wanting to destroy the corruption in himself, and being terrified to have to answer for his sins. Because the desire for redemption and the need to sate himself are warring in him, he is a fun character to root for and at the same time, groan over.
Edmund Pevensie, British Youth, Traitor, King of Narnia
By now, most of the world knows who Edmund Pevensie is, he’s the middle son of the Pevensie family and in the world of Narnia a great traitor and later a king. He starts off in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as the middle brother of the family. Peter and Susan treat him like a child, the same as they would Lucy, and he bucks against this. He wants to be treated with the same respect that Susan and Peter give one another. But early on, that playing for approval from his older brother and sister show that he needs the approval of men desperately. He’ll do anything to get it, even lie. He doesn’t want Lucy to be proven right after he’s doubted her for so long about this land called Narnia. When he returns from there, the desire for approval pushes him to lie. But it doesn’t get him what he had hoped for, and this makes him angry. Now, instead of working for the approval of his older brother and sister, he plots their downfall.
The reader watches his downward spiral, and at each time, winces as Edmund stubbornly refuses to give up his own desire for recognition. After his rescue from the clutches of the White Witch, and his time with Aslan, Edmund changes. Whatever Aslan tells him, is enough recognition and enough forgiveness that the Traitor-Who-Was becomes the Forgiven One. Throughout the following books, Edmund, called “King Edmund the Just” is the one known for his compassion and his mercy even to those who are his enemies. The solid change in Edmund makes me stand up and cheer, and earns him a solid place in my “Favorite Characters of All Time.”
Now, what about you? Tell me in the comments which characters from books (and why they are) are YOUR “Stand Up And Cheer” characters.
*Aurelius belongs in part and in whole to Megan Marie Grace Johnson, all rights reserved 😉