As I already did a post on characters I hate, it is only fair to also do one on characters that I love. All the Heroines that Don't Annoy me on the right sidebar are ones that I love, but I will leave those out of this list because... well, it is clear already that I like them. I shall try not to make this list too male-centered because of that. I am actually really liking this series of posts. Maybe I'll do a "Characters that Surprised Me" one, too. Jamie Lannister, anyone? As before, this list is in no particular order.
1. Marcus Didius Falco, the Falco series by Lindsey Davis - Seriously, if I could marry this witty, sarcastic and thoroughly intelligent Roman private investigator from the 1st century AD, I would. He is just the sort of guy who can always make you laugh, has a mysterious and debonairly rakish past that he set aside for the love of A Good Woman, and is the Keeper of the Sacred Geese. What more could one ask for? He also has a completely INSANE family, which would probably not be fun to put up with as a wife, but is great fun to read about. If you like mysteries, and you like them set in the past, then Falco is someone who should be on your radar.
2. Hermione Granger, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling - This girl rocks my socks, even though she is not on my heroines who don't annoy me list. Why? Because I don't know if she technically qualifies as a "heroine." Splitting hairs, I know, but one must have Standards, after all. Se's such a great witch and just the sort of friend you'd always want in your corner. She isn't blinded by looks or popularity or status and she always stands up for people. All-around rock star.
3. Rose (Josephine), in Sandra Gulland's Josephine Bonaparte trilogy - I thoroughly enjoyed Sandra Gulland's series about the Napoleonic era in France. It is narrated through Josephine Bonaparte's diary, which is a method of delivery that can go very badly if the narrator is not an easy-to-like character (such as Miss Gwilt in Armadale). But Josephine, or Rose as she calls herself, is a kind and wonderfully sympathetic narrator, and discovering France and living through the Revolution through her eyes is a wonderful way to learn more about the period and such a fascinating woman.
4. Freddy Standen, from Cotillion by Georgette Heyer - Cotillion is one of my favorite of Heyer's novels (I have several, I admit) because the two main characters are such good and sweet people. Freddy is exactly the sort of person you'd want in any difficult social situation. He is kind and sweet and funny and always knows just what to say. And he has the greatest friends. Cotillion really shows Heyer's knack for witty banter, and for those of you who still haven't read a single book by her... get going!
5. Ammar, from The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay - I'm such a sucker for the Man Wounded By His Past and Misunderstood By Society character. Ammar is such a great example of this type done well. I think GGK has gotten a bit self-absorbed as an author, referencing his own works and seemingly being paid a great deal of money for each comma he manages to put into his books, but this had not happened yet in Lions. I love this book, and I love A Song for Arbonne because in both of them, he doesn't seem to have gotten into the habit yet of trying to tie all his characters together romantically at the ends of his books (regardless of whether or not the pairings make any sense). And Ammar is just such a sexy character, with a lot of depth and still some boyish playfulness (see rakishness of Marcus Didius Falco above). It works very well.
6. Brienne, from The A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin - My friend Sudha and I talk a great deal about George R. R. Martin and his ability to conveniently forget that he has an entire second half of a complex series of fantasy novels to write. He claims to be very busy all the time, working on his blog and collecting toy soldiers and a library of all his own books in different languages. But before A Feast for Crows, which I found somewhat disappointing, he had a really magnificent run of books peopled by fascinating characters. One of my favorites is Brienne, an ugly woman warrior. I like that Brienne is ugly and does not apologize for it. She accepts who she is, and is such a kind and strong person that eventually, everyone sees beneath the exterior. She is so courageous to do the things she does, knowing that people mock her, and I especially like her affect on Jamie Lannister. GRRM's ability to make Jamie Lannister into a completely sympathetic and easy-to-like character really shows his writing genius, too. I wish he'd utilize that genius more in writing new books, but I guess we must all be patient :-)
7. William Thornhill, from The Secret River by Kate Grenville - Ok, ok, I am aware that I need to get over this book, but once you read it, hopefully you'll realize why I liked it so much! Thornhill is a masterfully created character. He is fascinatingly flawed, so complicated and mercurial. I loved reading about him and about his life in Australia. He's one of those characters that just takes over the book that is being written with his huge, dominant personality. Such charisma- he really leaps off the page.
8. Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - What a stellar guy. He's a great lawyer, he's a great father, he's a great person. And this is a great book. Here's hoping it's not just considered a classic in America, but is a classic everywhere. Atticus Finch is the sort of person who can influence people for the better, who makes them want to be good so that he will be proud of them.
9. Sophie Hatter & the Wizard Howl, from Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - Unlike Edward Cullen and Bella Swan from the Twilight series, this is a magical couple that I love. Howl and Sophie are hilarious together. Sophie is such a strong-willed and fiesty girl and Howl is such a high-maintenance and hilarious guy. They complement and support each other's personalities so well. And, more importantly, they really manage to have fun with each other. I am cheating by putting Sophie on this list since she's a Heroine Who Doesn't Annoy Me, but hey... she and Howl rock my world.
10. Rudy Steiner, from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - This is one of the best books I've ever read and Rudy is one of the greatest characters ever. I think writing a child/teenage character would be really difficult, but Zusak does it so well in this book, especially with Rudy. He's such a sweetheart, always willing to fight for the underdog and always going after what he wants. And a symbol for what the Holocaust (and all wars, really) cost the world- how many brilliant artists, politicians, authors and leaders did the world lose? If there was anyone in the real world that was anything like Rudy... then we have lost too many to even imagine.