Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Top Ten Characters in Fantasy

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a  new top ten topic is set, and this time it's...

Top Ten Characters in X Genre

At first, I thought science fiction might be a fun genre to pick, specifically spacey or far future sci-fi rather than apocalypse or dystopia stuff. Surely there'd be loads of great characters to list!
Pic: Adam Perry (PaladinHerbie)

But then I realised, with a bit of a shock... there aren't very many memorable characters in sci-fi books! Most of the characters I love from science fiction come from TV, movies and games (I suppose I could include tie-in books on my list, in order to include people like Garrus Vakarian, Han Solo, Doctor Who, Star Trek characters and Sarah Connor, but that seems a bit cheatery).

With sci-fi books, the huge concepts and galaxy-spanning visions seem to take over, with characters merely being drawn along with them, recording or observing events. A lot of science fiction characters in books are rather bland.

I also found that all the great characters I could think of were men.You'd think it would be easier to find great female characters in science fiction than in fantasy but it's actually the other way around, at least for me.

Which leads me to a change of plan...

Top Ten (All Female) Characters in Fantasy

This was much easier. My list of top fantasy characters allowing either gender would be about 90% female anyway.

1) Sophie Hatter, in Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Haha, this makes it on to every list doesn't it? Sophie is brilliant though!

2) Daenerys Targaryen, in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin. I know she's a bit of a marmite character - some people love her, some people hate her - but you can put me firmly in the love camp. She's determined, brave, powerful and pro-active, but can also be caring and principled. I like her faults too - she feels real to me, and even though some of her actions are woefully wrong-headed, unlike most of the characters in the series she does always seem to be doing what she believes is right (which is why I also quite like Stannis, despite almost universal hatred for him).

3) Hermione Granger, in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Bookish, smart and brave, and a great friend... who doesn't love Hermione?

4) Tenar, in the Earthsea series by Ursula le Guin. She's not a fighter or a mage; she doesn't have to be superpowered to be an interesting character. I like that she isn't put into the typical love interest role, and that she is shown growing in strength as she ages, and not abandoned as a character when she becomes old.

5) Angua/Cheery/Susan/Tiffany/Nanny Ogg/Granny Weatherwax... I can't possibly just pick one female character from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. They are all awesome!

6) Lady Berwick (Bear), in The Red Knight by K.T. Davies. Not one of the main characters, but completely steals every scene she's in. She's a fun-loving, confident, brave woman who's also an extremely skilled fighter and has an interesting secret. She can also be a complete pain in the ass, and she knows it! Captain Alyda Stenna is another fantastic character in the story, only just beaten to the mention by Bear.

7) Annabeth, in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Daughter of Athene - clever, trustworthy and brave, with a strong sense of morality.

8) Cathy, in Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman. Cathy is such an easily likeable character. I've never been able to sympathise very strongly with characters who 'just want a normal life!' but with Cathy I really did. She convinced me that the mundane world, with its video games, comfy clothes and tea, really might seem like paradise to someone trapped in a Regency-era-like magical world. And she stays true to what she wants the whole way through - Will expects her to fall at his feet after helping her, and I was quite satisfied to see that she didn't.

9) Zinzi, in Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. Zinzi is a great character (and I adore her sloth!). She's smart, passionate, cynical and sassy, and she won't let people push her around if she can help it. She can also be a little rash and self-centred, and lazy in her approach to morality. I liked her flaws as well as her good points and found her a really interesting person to read about.

10) Sonea, in The Black Magician series by Trudi Canavan. In many ways Sonea is a little like a female anti-Harry Potter. She's suddenly flung into a magical school, but everyone dislikes her and believes she has no place there. I thought Sonea coped with her troubles well; she's determined and fiercely loyal, and her heart's always in the right place.

And now I'm going to be on the lookout for more science fiction YA! Not only does YA tend to be more character focussed, it's amazing at giving us great female leads. Can anyone recommend any for me?

What about you? Who are your favourite characters in science fiction and fantasy? :-)


  1. Great list! I definitely love Daenerys and her dragons! One of my favourite fantasy series. I also have Hermione on my list! I read Between Two Thorns a fortnight ago and really enjoyed it. It was quirky and really different but I found Cathy a bit of a mixed character. I loved how she knew exactly what she wanted in life but I thought that sometimes she didn't make life easy for herself. But then again that's what makes her strong and brave so I'm a little on the fence with her! Great list and thanks for sharing :)

    Also I'm a new follower! As soon as I saw that picture of Mass Effect I knew that I'd have to follow you. It is one of my favourite series and I'm currently playing Mass Effect 1 on PS3 as it is now available to play on there. :)

    Becca @ Lost in Thought

    1. Thanks Becca, and thanks for the follow! :-D I love Cathy, but I know what you mean - she never lets up or trusts anyone does she? In the end I decided I really liked that about her, but I can definitely see why others might find her a bit frustrating at points.

      The Mass Effect series is just so amazing isn't it? - my favourite games! If I ever did a 'Top Ten Characters in Video Games' it would probably end up being entirely Bioware... xD

      Following you back! :-D

  2. Replies
    1. She's great! I think she made almost every 'fantasy characters' or 'YA characters' list! :-D

  3. I love Dany! And Hermione of course is a great choice!

    Check out my TTT.

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

  4. Nice list! Yup, I'm a Hermione fan too. :) Catelyn Stark has always been one of my favorites in ASOIaF, and I was very fond of Ygritte as well. (Sorry, not really a Dany fan, but reasonable people can disagree!)Thanks for stopping by.

  5. These are all awesome picks but I do have a soft spot for Hermione Granger, thanks for sharing!