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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.

And the Winner in the Category “Male Character” Is…

Okay, I have to confess, this was not my post idea.  I got it from Amber at Feed Your Reading, when checking out her blog.  But what a great idea, so I decided to “borrow” it – with the proper acknowledgments, of course! – and turn it into a series of posts talking about the people and places I like best in books.  So stay tuned next week for my top female characters and worlds/settings!

Heroes and villains – I featured a recent guest post on the often fine-line distinction between them (check it out here), and what Melissa said in that post definitely holds true for me: I like my heroes a little bit bad and my villains a little bit good.  In other words, I like complex characters.  I don’t want obvious – I like twists and turns, characters that I love to hate and hate to love.  The more unpredictable the better.  The more conflicted the better.  The less stereotypical the better.

So my list of favorite male characters is not going to be full of “regulars”.  There will be no Harry Potters, no Prince Charmings, no Atticus Finches (although I do love Atticus – who doesn’t?).  Mine will be a little darker, a little more random, and a lot less prone to agreement by many.  Sure, there will still be a hero or two on there, but they’re not likely to be ones you’re all that familiar with.  Still, they are the characters I’d most love to sit down to dinner (or fight the forces of evil) with, which means they’re characters that I find interesting, intriguing, and ingenious.  All the essential ingredients for a great story, eh?  😉

A Random Sampling of My Favorite Male Characters in Fiction (in no particular order)

  • Howard Roark (The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand) – Stoic, hardworking, misunderstood, visionary, true to a fault – intellectually and emotionally.  Plus he’s an amazing architect who could build your dream house – the dream house you don’t even know is your dream until you see it.  The struggle between his pure idealism (purist ideals?) and the “modern” sensibilities of compromise, acceptance of mediocrity, and unwillingness to accept change is maddening and enlightening by turns, and makes for a very compelling tale about the challenges associated with genius.
  • James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser (Outlander series, Book 1: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon) – Ah, Jamie Fraser, what a tremendous hero you are!  He’s tough, capable, brave, true, loyal, honest, and willing to do whatever needs to be done – even when doing so costs him rather a lot.  And he’s Scottish, which means a grrrrrreat accent.  If I ever get accidentally transported back in time through mysterious standing stones, I do so hope that I run into you…
  • Anonymous Lawyer (Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman) – He’s snarky, ridiculous, mean, sarcastic, and sees right through the inanity of large law firm life while simultaneously praising and embracing the benefits it provides.  In short, he’s exactly like all too many real lawyers I’ve known.  And his tales of tormenting young associates had me rolling on the floor – especially since once was one of those young associates.
  • Lord Akeldama (The Parasol Protectorate, Book 1: Soulless by Gail Carriger) – Teehee, Lord Akeldama just makes me giggle.  He’s flamboyant and over the top and deliciously gossipy and stereotypically effeminate – right up until he pulls the wool over your eyes and/or the rug out from under you.  He’s a ditz with a brain – the best possible kind – and a heart as big and soft as you could possibly want in a co-conspirator.  And he dresses impeccably, of course.
  • Harry Dresden (The Dresden Files – Book 1: Storm Front by Jim Butcher) – Harry is such a great combination of hero and anti-hero.  He’s tough and dangerous and good – but he does what needs to be done, even when it scares the bejeezus out of him and everyone around him.  He’s flawed and human and hysterical, and definitely the guy I want at my side when the forces of evil try to take over the world.  Again.
  • Jack Torrance (The Shining by Stephen King) – “Herrrrrre’s Johnny!”  Jack Nicholson made him famous, but Stephen King made Jack Nicholson’s version ring true.  Talk about a conflicted guy.  An alcoholic writer whose demons threaten him and his family – quite literally – when he tries to make good, Jack’s descent into and then back out of the madness of his own head makes for a damn good read.  And he’s creepy as all get out.  “All work and no play…” indeed!
  • Satan (Hell by Robert Olen Butler) – Robert Olen Butler, you’re a genius.  Of course Satan would seek out a disgraced newscaster to help him spin his reputation in order to secure his power over Hell (and the world) more easily.  Hell, for all I know he already has – it wouldn’t surprise me at all.  How clever of you to notice, and how naturally it reads.  Butler’s Satan is suave, smooth-talking, and slick – rather like the book’s protagonist, Hatcher McCord.  In fact, it was a pretty close call for me on which of the two gentlemen I preferred.  Not so surprising I suppose when you consider the remarkable similarities in their personalities.  Then again, if you want to rule the world (or Hell) – or stage an uprising as a grand distraction – I guess there really are a handful of characteristics you’d better have on hand first…
  • Jakob Kuisl (The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch) – Kuisl’s Hangman is a man of honor, strength, and integrity.  He’s a good man who performs a necessary service that he willingly defends, yet that simultaneously distresses him so much that he has to drink himself near to oblivion to escape its realities.  If you haven’t noticed yet, this willingness to man up and do what no one else can/will do is an essential quality shared by many of my favorite male protagonists.  Kuisl is a prime example, and this willingness is embodied by the manner in which he has raised his eponymous daughter – a strong-willed girl who will go to almost equally great lengths to defend what she believes is right.


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