Monday, December 12, 2011

Complex Characters (aka Let me Fangirl George R. R. Martin)

I've decided my favorite characters--heroes or villains--are the ones that I'm not really sure about.

In the last few months, I read all five of the books in George R. R. Martin's series A Song of Fire and Ice. One of the main plotlines revolves around The Game of Thrones because 15-20 years before the book opens, there's a rebellion, the former ruling family is overthrown and most of them killed off, and the leader of the rebellion makes himself king. Only he was a better solider than he is a king.

I could say I devoted a lot of sleepless nights to the several thousand pages in the series so far because I love the worldbuilding. (I do, it's the closest thing to Middle Earth I've ever read). I could say it's because I love the fact that no one is safe that I know GRRM won't pull any punches. (Sometimes, I don't love that, though.) Or I could say that I love the twists, the gasp inducing scenes that always convince me I have to read just one more chapter. (There are some big ones).

But really, it's the complexity and moral ambiguity of all the characters. Because for each character, everything happening in the books relates to that rebellion, to what happened to them in their past. They remember events differently and their actions are based on those memories. When I first started reading book one I was convinced who the good and bad guys where, only when I got to book two and started reading from some of those "bad" guys' points of view, I realized they weren't all that bad. In fact, in some instances, my opinion was completely turned on its head.

There are other great examples of really complex morally ambiguous characters that I've loved. When I was reading Harry Potter my opinion of Snape and whether he was good or bad changed with each book. And it took me most of The Hunger Games to figure Haymitch out. And that's why I found them so interesting.

First published on 8/8/2011, this post in its original form can be seen at Brave New Words.


Petra @ Safari Poet said...

Warner from Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me is somebody that comes to mind. Yes, he is bad and the things he did can't be excused, but there is something more there and I wonder if that something is going to be a game-changer. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into things :-)
We'll see.

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