Books are full of brilliant characters, fantasy more so than any other genre. But what makes a beloved fantasy character, the Gandalfs, Dembeldore’s and Percy Jackon’s etc. I think it takes a very skilled writer to make us care about a character, to make them real and make a reader engage with them. A writer who is very successful in doing this is J K Rowling. Each one of her characters, save Voldemort and a few others, have become almost like a family or friends to the legions of fans and readers. She manages to create a rich history for almost every single one of the characters in her back, whether it be tragic, happy or mysterious it is almost always complex and allows us as readers to find things in common with the character. As a result her characters are not only memorable but they feel real, as if beyond the pages they are having lives.
Tolkien also created some very memorable characters, Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf among them. Like Rowling his world and characters have rich, detailed histories and it isn’t entirely unbelievable that they had lives before and after the books.
So why is it that we, as readers, become so attached to these fictional characters? Why do we follow their adventures so fervently, root for them, shout at the book to encourage them? Perhaps it is because the writer has created someone we can look up to (in characters such as Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Lyra Belacqua), or someone we find we have something in common with. Whatever it is, i think it is the mark of a terrific writer to make us care about someone who is, ultimately, words on a page.
My own favourite literary character has to be either the Spook from Joseph Delaney’s Wardstone Chronicles (Last Apprentice in the US) or Percy Jackson. The former simply because he is a richly written character who in some ways reminds me of my grandad and the latter because i, just like the Potter book, grew up with the Jackson books and i read them when i was the same age as Percy – in some way i felt i grew up alongside him.
And so, when i started writing my own fantasy series of books i wanted to create a cast of characters that readers would fall in love with, root for and find something in common with. I started by plotting out histories for each one, developing their families, motivations etc. As the four books unfold i will reveal more and more about the characters hopefully allowing readers to become more and more engaged with them.
So, what is your favourite fantasy character and why? Please comment below and let’s see which one is most popular.