March 29, 2020, 09:29:22 AM

Author Topic: Recurring Characters in Fantasy  (Read 4847 times)

Offline Nighteyes

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Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« on: February 22, 2011, 10:12:29 AM »
Obviously the wise wizard - Started with Gandalf, but Brooks, Edding and Feist have all done their own wise wizards now, and of course Dumbledore.  (and apparently even Goodkind.)

But recently I keep spotting the Fool - originally in Hobb, a court jester who hides his or her deep wisdom and ability to foretell behind a foolish facade but since then I spotted a similar character in Fiona MacIntosh's Percheron - though he seems to reveal his true identity and abilities to everyone! And most recently the Wit in Sanderson's Way of Kings.

Any other spotting of 'the fool' character?  Or other recurring characters?
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Offline missoularedhead

Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2011, 05:40:37 PM »
There's Binibek in Tad Williams, although he's not so much a fool -- it's more that because he's a troll (picture a baby Inuit doll), everyone thinks he isn't as smart as he is.  And what about Thom in WoT?  Is that a fool character?
"Well behaved women rarely make history" ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Offline Minesril

Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2011, 06:17:23 PM »
There's the clever slippery rogue.  Think Silk in the Belgariad and Locke Lamora.  But, to be honest, every fantasy (unless it's truly unique) has very same-y characters which are usually based on the classes in D&D or other RPGs.

Offline Zziz

Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2011, 07:01:37 PM »
There's Binibek in Tad Williams, although he's not so much a fool -- it's more that because he's a troll (picture a baby Inuit doll), everyone thinks he isn't as smart as he is.  And what about Thom in WoT?  Is that a fool character?

No way! Thom is a bard.

Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2011, 12:12:32 AM »
I don't think it's so much recurring characters, as recurring archetypes. Each genre of fiction has its own archetypes, crime has the 'eccentric genius', the 'dogged investigator', the 'world weary detective' etc.; horror has 'normal person whose world is invaded', 'Harvard/Oxford Professor of whatever-weird-shit-is-going-on', 'ethereal female psychic' etc.. Fantasy is no different in that regard.

The archetypes are always there, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, if they're employed well. Gandalf, Thomas the Rhymer and Ogion/Aihal; Logen Nine-Fingers, Bigwig and  Roland Deschain; Stephen Huxley, Tristram Thorne and Friti Tailchaser; Meriadoc Brandybuck & Peregrine Took, C3-P0 & R2-D2 and Fred Colon & Nobby Nobbs... You could do that all day of you felt like it. The trick is try and train yourself not to notice them unless they're glaringly obvious; you'll go mad otherwise. ;D
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Offline missoularedhead

Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2011, 04:53:39 AM »
No way! Thom is a bard.

I know Thom is a bard, but think about how he comes across, especially in the early books.  His rag-tag look, his seeming simpleness…and his attachment to the court.  It alls screams 'fool', even if he's a bard. 

Then, of course, there's the fool (who's no fool) in Game of Thrones…and perhaps even Glotka.
"Well behaved women rarely make history" ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Offline MTMaenpaa

Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 05:26:48 AM »
I think that Tyrion from Game of Thrones also fulfills the role of fool at times, though completely willingly and often to devious ends.
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Offline darkshiara

Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2011, 06:58:41 PM »
I think that Tyrion from Game of Thrones also fulfills the role of fool at times, though completely willingly and often to devious ends.

At first I wanted to disagree with you on Tyrion but you know.. he does sometimes fit that role but I think a true fool has very different motives.  I think his major thing is that he knows he can't get the respect he deserves so he does what he has to to serve his own means (just like all the Lannisters).  Even when it seems like he's doing something for the Kingdom, etc it's really about him trying to prove to Daddy (Tywin) that he should be the true heir to Casterly Rock. 

Here's a description of the Fool Archetype:
Quote
The Fool/Court Jester

The Fool can disguise and transmit wisdom into the lives of others through giving a non-threatening appearance of the naked eye.  The expression that "God takes care of fools and little children" captures the essence of this archetype.  Historically, courts had fools and court jesters to amuse its members, but the fool always stood behind the king offering him "insights" about the deceitful behavior or actions of others. When evolved, this energy uses, or finds a soft way to tell the truth; however, if to lie, the fool will choke over the task or quit. The shadow Fool generates critical remarks, manipulates the truth and looks to dismiss the wisdom of others. The Fool is not a clown, which transfers sorrow into joy.  The shadow clown mocks sorrow, or uses it to control you. 

Source: http://rgsmedicalinsight.homestead.com/archetypes1.html


I know there is a reoccurring fool in the Farseer series.   
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Offline Dan D Jones

Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2011, 09:23:29 PM »
I'd say that Tyrion sometimes (intentionally) plays the role of a fool rather than that he fulfills the role of the fool in the story.  It's a subtle but, I think, important difference.

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2011, 08:07:51 AM »
I don't think it's so much recurring characters, as recurring archetypes. Each genre of fiction has its own archetypes, crime has the 'eccentric genius', the 'dogged investigator', the 'world weary detective' etc.; horror has 'normal person whose world is invaded', 'Harvard/Oxford Professor of whatever-weird-shit-is-going-on', 'ethereal female psychic' etc.. Fantasy is no different in that regard.

The archetypes are always there, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing, if they're employed well. Gandalf, Thomas the Rhymer and Ogion/Aihal; Logen Nine-Fingers, Bigwig and  Roland Deschain; Stephen Huxley, Tristram Thorne and Friti Tailchaser; Meriadoc Brandybuck & Peregrine Took, C3-P0 & R2-D2 and Fred Colon & Nobby Nobbs... You could do that all day of you felt like it. The trick is try and train yourself not to notice them unless they're glaringly obvious; you'll go mad otherwise. ;D

Agreed on the point about being recurring archetypes rather than recurring characters.  The skillful writers do a new spin each time though on these archetypes - say as has been discussed Martin approaching a 'fool' archetype figure through the character of Tyrion, or Abercrombie taking the wise wizard and rather than simply doing a Gandalf or Dumbledore again as more limited writers do - the old eccentric man with a white beard who often seems befuddled and has a fondness for sweet delicacies - he gave us an unimposing guy who is clean shaven with a bald head and made him
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an evil cunt
! and Abercrombie again - his novel take on the barbarian (though he now has slightly overplayed the introspective barbarian card.)

Fiona Macintosh's jester and even dare i say it, Sanderson's Wit so resemble the Fool from Hobb it just annoys you when reading the books. 

And if I do read a fantasy novel now with a wise old wizard with a long white beard, who seems to get befuddled easily, has a sweet tooth etc etc and imparts snippets of wisdom, I almost want to throw the book across the room!
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Offline frankiehunter

Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2011, 09:28:49 AM »
There is always the same scheme in fantasy novels as they had established from the middleage ballads and epic songs (hope you know what I mean, because i don't know the exact english term for it).

There is always a hero, mostly a poor person who has seen much injustice and has hidden talents and powers. he/she wants to judge the bad forces or revenge. he/she has always to decide between good and bad, but his decisions always affects his personality and bring him deeper in his personal dilemma.
than there is the mild power who wants to rescue the hero and help him find the way back to the "light".
of course there is the wise power, a guard on the way of the hero, who wants to help to decide what to do next, but in a hidden way so that the hero doesn't get the feeling of being influenced by the wise power.
mostly there are powerful leaders (kings, dukes etc) who command great forces, but are blind about the real threat and depend on their consultants who often set their own advantage higher than that of the common.

but I don't mind the scheme, yes I really like it. for me its very interesting how writers set all these characters and there ways. but when I take a fantasy novel I know what to expect and I love to find out which role everyone plays.
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: Recurring Characters in Fantasy
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2019, 08:45:26 PM »
Bards should be more bards
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