Reading Challenge: 20 in ’20

I love me a reading challenge.  I rarely finish them but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy trying.  And sometimes they do help motivate me.

I’m borrowing this challenge from the Captain at The Captain’s Quarters.  I’m using it to help me catch up on books and authors I should have already read a very, very long time ago.  I listed the number of ratings each book has on GoodReads after the title and author.  I thought it would be fun to see how many others have read them before me.  Spoiler: Eight of them have more than 100,000 ratings, and all but one have more than 10,000 ratings.

Simpsons Shame

These are books that seem destined (or maybe already are) considered to be classics of the genre.  Books that for some reason or other I keep putting off.  Maybe the blurb doesn’t speak to me the way I want it to or I already attempted them multiple times (I’m looking at you The Name of the Wind) and just never finished, but didn’t dislike enough to officially DNF.

11-22-63 Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King : 386,635 – This is the oldest book on my TBR.  I own it.  It was one of the first I added to GoodReads back in 2015.  I think it’s the time travel that’s putting me off.  I realized a couple years ago time travel and all it’s wonderfully mind bending paradoxes sort of puts me off.

The Name of the Wind Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss : 642,245 – I’ve started listening to this multiple times.  I even made it like halfway through on a road trip to Ohio once.  It’s just so long.  Also- I’m putting it back on Rothfuss since there’s no third book in sight.

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Spakowski Witcher 3

Blood of Elves (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski : 62,301 – I was reading these before the show was a thing.  Right after I sank like 500 hours into the very wonderful Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video game.  I don’t know why I keep putting it off.  I was excited for this too since it’s the first full length novel set in the Witcherverse.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson : 83,654 – This one is just intimidating because of it’s length.  And the fact that it’s hard science fiction.  Which always goes over my head.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells : 45,161 – There’s a lot of Murderbot love circulating out there.  But I heard that Murderbot likes to watch TV (who doesn’t?) and I became a little concerned it wasn’t going to be what I wanted it to be.  My expectations have been reset, which is a good thing, but also caused me to drag my feet in picking it up.

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles #1) by Bernard Cornwell : 34,056 – I don’t even have a good reason for not having read this one.  Favorite author.  Favorite subject.  Good reviews.  It was actually pretty hard to find (I wanted to purchase it and no bookstore ever seemed to have it).  I did finally track down a copy, I just need to make the time.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey : 142,112 – Why are there so many books in this series?  The thought of reading all nine is a little daunting, but I know this is well loved by several readers I trust.  And hey- maybe by the time I finish the series will be complete.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson 1

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1) by Steven Erikson : 82,296 – I’ve heard this book comes with a steep learning curve, which is why I’ve put it off for so long. But now that I’m thinking of it, the same could be and has been said of two of my other favorites: Too Like the Lightning and Ninefox Gambit.  So who knows.  Maybe it’ll be a surprise favorite.

The Shining and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King : 1,027,773  & 165,444 – I wanted to read both before seeing the new Doctor Sleep movie (and maybe The Shining).  I’ve started The Shining at least twice that I remember.  It’s just so darn slow.  But it’s hard to feel like a real Stephen King fan when I haven’t read it.  So.  2020 will be the year.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky : 43,448 – I started this during a bad reading slump and just never finished.  Not because it wasn’t good, I got further with this than I did any other book during that reading slump.  But somehow it’s always harder to go back to something you’ve started previously.  Anyway- this book gets lots of love in my virtual book club so it’s becoming a priority.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.jpg

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood : 207,217 – Here’s a super shameful secret.  I’ve never read a single thing Margaret Atwood.  A lot of it has to do with her attitude toward genre fiction and her insistence that she doesn’t write it.  It just feels really disrespectful to her readers, not to mention seriously out of touch.  Anyway- I don’t have much interest in The Handmaid’s Tale though I would like to check it out someday so I’m going with this one.

Malice by John Gwynne

Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen #1) by John Gwynne : 13,583 – After coming to the sad conclusion the Abercrombie is not quite what I’m looking for, I’m hoping Gwynne will fill the void.

Brian McLellan Sins of Empire

Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder #1) by Brian McClellan : 9,573 – Military Fantasy.  I realize it’s not something that everyone gets excited about, but when the action scenes are written well I think it’s probably one of my favorite subgenres.  I have high hopes for this.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb : 212,259 – She has written so much that I think I really just didn’t know where to start with Hobb.  This might not be the best place, but I already own it, so…

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson : 255,777 – I’ve never read Sanderson.  And honestly just the blurb has me cringing away in fear.  But it has all these awards and a super high rating and like everyone has read it except me… So I’m obligated, right?

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow #1) by Anthony Ryan : 66,267 – Ryan has been on my radar a long time.  I finally read something by him last year, A Pilgrimage of Swords.  It was a quick novella and not necessarily one of my favorites, but it was because I wanted more of what I’d read.  Hoping this scratches that itch.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy #1) by N.K. Jemisin : 46,482 – This series isn’t nearly as popular as Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, but I tried The Fifth Season and it just didn’t grab me the way I wanted it to.  I think the abused children sucked a lot of the joy out of it for me.  But I do like her style and I think this one might be more my speed.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi : 30,774 – Nope.  Haven’t read Scalzi either.  This is likely to be a group read for February, so I might as well read him in a group setting and see what all the fuss is about.

The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K Le Guin

The Word for World is Forest (Hainish Cycle #5) by Ursula K. Le Guin : 14,121 – I actually have read Le Guin before.  I wasn’t a huge fan of A Wizard of Earthsea – but it was a middle grade book and I don’t have a great history with YA or children’s books anyway, so I’m willing to give her another shot.  Especially knowing how well loved she is.  I picked this one to continue with because I love a good forest setting.

And there it is!  My 20 in ’20.  I’m really excited for some of these and feeling pretty hesitant on others, but either way, I hope to be more educated in my two favorite genres come 2021.  Many thanks again to the Captain for letting me tag along with my own Ports for Plunder.

Have you read any of these?  Are there any super popular books out there you haven’t read yet?

Top Ten Tuesday: Series to Finish

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is a freebie.  I decided to go with series I’ve started and haven’t finished yet.  Usually when I find a series I love I read them all back to back.  For whatever reason- these are series I enjoyed and still want to finish, but stalled on somehow.

Tensorate by J.Y. Yang – I enjoyed The Black Tides of Heaven, but I think the reason I stalled out on this series was that it felt complete as it was.  I also wasn’t thrilled about the character featured in book two.  Regardless, these aren’t a huge time commitment, and I’d still like to finish… Someday.

The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski – (Sorry- I can’t figure out how to link to the english version of the series.)  So I will say- that while I haven’t been disappointed with the Witcher (I adore Geralt) it doesn’t quite live up to the masterpiece that is the game, which is why I think I haven’t continued.

The Grail Quest by Bernard Cornwell – I have no good reason for stalling on this series.  I loved Thomas of Hookton and I love how the little easter eggs Cornwell left for it in Agincourt.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown – This is a series I never finished because the stupid bookstore didn’t have a copy on hand of Golden Son and had to order it.  In the meantime I picked up three other books and never got back to it two weeks later when it finally came in.

The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – This series hasn’t been completed yet because I miss Eugenides.  Everything about these stories is pretty simple, and without his POV it’s been difficult to get into the rest of the books.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King – Not even going to lie- The Gunslinger is just not very good.  I’ve been told the series gets better, but it hasn’t helped me get to it any faster.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – Yeah, yeah.  I’ll get to them someday.  Maybe when they are finished?!

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff – I enjoy these stories because of the format (pictures, texts, wiki files) but that’s the only real appeal for me, which is why I haven’t been in any rush to read the third book.

The Wild Dead

The Bannerless Saga by Carrie Vaughn – Book one, Bannerless, was a rare five star read for me.  I’m not sure why I never continued with The Wild Dead.  I think it’s another case of book one being complete enough to act as a stand alone.

Planetfall by Emma Newman – I know why I haven’t moved forward with these other books yet and it’s because I was less than pleased with the ending of Planetfall.  I didn’t get the sense it was a question to be answered in later books, it felt like a standard issue non-ending.  I’m willing to give book two a try, because people say such good things about these books, but another ending like that and I am done with this series.

State Tectonics by Malka Ann Olders

Centenal Cycle by Malka Ann Older – I love this series and I think they are way underhyped for what you get.  They’re diverse, and feature all kinds of cool tech with some bad-ass women protagonists.  The only reason I never got to State Tectonics was because I read the first two with a group of buddies and we somehow never ended up setting a date for book three.

What about you?  What series have you started and not finished?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Fearsome Females

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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Today’s topic is character freebie, and this post is long overdue.  The truth is, all my all time favorite characters are male, and most of my favorite authors are men.  I can’t answer why because I honestly don’t know. So today I’m going to give a shout out to the strong female protagonist (or sidekick), which I probably don’t talk about enough.

The characters below, listed in no particular order, are not only not damsels in distress, but they are probably bailing their male counterparts out of a sticky situation.

Mackayla (Mac) Lane of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning – Admittedly, we know we can count on Barrons to show up when Mac gets in over her head, but let’s not forget the Mac does a pretty good job of holding her own most days.  I mean- I wouldn’t survive a rhinoboy… especially not while keeping my fingernails painted.  I love that she manages to still be very feminine while also being tough.

SoC_LB

Inej Ghafa of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Inej has had a really traumatic life.  Honestly I think she should be far more broken inside than Kaz considering what she’s been through, but mentally and physically, she’s a warrior.  I adored her for it.

Kinsey Locke of Locke & Key by Joe Hill – This is one book (graphic novel) where the girl really was my favorite character.  She might be tough due to in-book magic, but she also experiences a lot of growth over the course of all six books.  Far and away my favorite character from that series.

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

Willa Herot of The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley – Have you ever heard the song “Two Black Cadillacs” by Carrie Underwood?  I feel like Willa Herot is the wife in that song.  Like if you cheat on her- she’s not coming for the mistress, she’s coming for you.  And she’s probably going to laugh about it later over tea.

Ferius Parfax of the Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell – She’s a fast talking, card slinging, Argosi wanderer with a thousand tricks up her sleeve and a soft spot for a kid named Kellen.  If you’re in a sticky situation- Ferius is the person you ask to clean it up.

Hild of The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – Sorry Nona Grey, Hild is the original warrior nun.  She don’t take no shit from nobody, and I love that she’s one of the few character’s that’s ever allowed to put Uhtred in his place.

TD_SJK

Nemesis of The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid – Here’s one I don’t mention.  Nemesis is actually a bioengineered weapon.  Only death will stop her.  Seriously.  It’s the way she’s programmed.

TLW_MC

Sarah Harding of The Lost World by Michael Crichton – Here’s something you might not know: Michael Crichton was writing strong female protagonists before it was the cool thing to do.  Sure they probably all resemble Lara Croft, but I remember reading the scene where she literally carries Dr. Ian Malcolm out of the trailer hanging over the cliff on her back and I think I might have actually cried.  A) Because he was taken from us too soon, and B) because fuck you Steven Spielberg for changing that scene.  Harding spent this whole novel rescuing the boys and I just loved her for it.

Circe_MM

Circe of Circe by Madeline Miller – Circe spends a lot of the early pages being a doormat, but those later chapters when she figures out she doesn’t have to remain a doormat?  Ugh- loved every minute.

Yennefer of The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski – In the debate between Triss Merigold and Yenn, I’m always going to be team Yenn.  I love that between her and the supposedly emotionless Geralt, she manages to be the least emotional.  I don’t see this dynamic often in literature or anywhere but it never gets old for me.

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Gaela of The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton – I had a lot of complaints about this book, and even some about Gaela, but damn it, it didn’t stop me from admiring her.  I can’t really explain why I loved her so much without spoilers – but I was cheering her on the whole time.  If the tragedy in this book had been that the antagonists won, I wouldn’t have shed a tear.

Thisbe Saneer of Terra Ignota by Ada Palmer – Something happens to Thisbe early on in these novels and we don’t actually get to spend a lot of time with her, but we do know that Mycroft is terrified of her.  Which says a lot considering Mycroft’s history.  Also- I really, really want a pair of her killer boots.

Madame D’Arouet of Terra Ignota by Ada Palmer – If Thisbe is the lady putting the knife in your enemy’s back – Madame is the woman framing you for it.  She just gets ickier as the books go on, but she’s never boring.

Gone Girl Gillian Flynn

Amy Dunne of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (major spoilers ahead) – So Amy is the one most readers love to hate, and while I sort of hated the ending too, I have to admit, I’m not sure Amy would be the same character if the book didn’t end that way.  I mean- she’s cunning enough to frame a man for a murder that, never mind he didn’t commit, but didn’t even happen.

That’s actually more than 10, and I feel like I could keep naming names, so we’ll stop here.  I do want to say that while my list has an excess of women you wouldn’t want to double-cross, I don’t think that’s the only way to portray a strong female protagonist, it’s just those types of characters I gravitate to most, regardless of gender.

What about you? Did you do a Top Ten Tuesday too?  Leave me a link below so I can check it out!

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Like to Switch Places With

 

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic was super tough for me.  Most of my favorite characters don’t really lead happy lives- or otherwise live in a world that I would not be likely to survive.  So I didn’t quite make it to ten this week.  I tried to cycle in some fresh ones to talk about too since I feel like I end up mentioning the same handful of books over and over again when dealing with favorite anything.

Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I mean – romance goals, am I right? Aside from that, she’s smart, she’s witty, she’s outspoken, basically everything I want to be when I grow up.

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Gnomon, Gnomon by Nick Harkaway: He’s a shark god.  I think.  Life seems like it would be pretty good if you were a shark god.  At least if I switch places with Gnomon I don’t have to worry too much about dying a premature death.

Batman

Batman – Because flying and gadgets and mansions.

Trynne Kiskaddon, Kingfountain series by Jeff Wheeler: Trynne dual wields swords.  She’s fountain blessed.  She’s the leader of the Oath Maidens.  And she counts the Wizr Merlin among her friends.

Artemis Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara, Artemis by Andy Weir: I know Artemis was sort of divisive for fans of Weir’s other work, but I thought it was a fun, action packed read.  Mostly I’d switch places with Jazz because she lives on the moon.

Yennefer The Witcher 3

Yennefer, The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski:  Alright so I really don’t want to live in a world full of monsters like the ones found on The Continent (yes apparently that’s really its name).  But if I had to live there- I know I’d want all of Yenn’s cunning and sorcery skills to go with it.  Also, there’s something really, hopelessly romantic about Geralt’s last wish, and who doesn’t want to be the target of such affection?

The White Queen Elizabeth Woodville

Elizabeth Woodville, The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory:  I don’t want to live all of Elizabeth Woodville’s life (because it’s so utterly tragic), but most of what comes before the death of King Edward seems like it would be pretty great.  They were called “The Enchanted Court”.  Who doesn’t want to be Queen of an enchanted court?

Lagertha in Vikings

Lagertha in Vikings: Switching places with Lagertha seems most likely to kill me, but talk about strong female protagonist.  She pretty much sets the bar.

What about you?  Who would you switch places with?  Leave me a link in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite couples!

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I am so excited for this week’s topic.  The only thing better than one awesome character is two characters with chemistry.  Fair warning- I went way beyond ten with this, and they aren’t all romantic couples.

 

15. Eric & Jenny from S. by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams – I didn’t love S.  The meat of the book (Ship of Theseus) was boring and didn’t make a lot of sense.  It was only saved by Jenny and Eric and their notes all over the margins.  It’s a slow burn sort of romance and took some time to build.  I love this couple because they fell in love over a book!

14. Thaniel & Mori from The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley – I love these two because you’re never quite sure where they stand with each other.  It’s a will they/won’t they, but if you love nothing else about this book, you’ll be dying for a Happily Ever After by the end.

13. Claire & Jamie from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Ugh.  These two.  Listen- Outlander is a phenomenal book, and I absolutely love how much Jamie loves Claire.  I included them despite the fact that I only ever read the first book through to completion. Why are they so damn long?  (And no I haven’t watched the show.)

12. Caris & Merethin from World Without End by Ken Follett – The Pillars of the Earth series are some of my favorite historical fiction books of all time, and World Without End  remains my favorite of the trilogy.  If you aren’t ugly crying by the time Caris’s face is revealed on the angel overlooking Kingsbridge, there’s something wrong with you.

11. Eugenides & Irene from The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner – This is some of the best YA Fantasy Fiction out there.  I’ll admit that when Eugenides revealed his love for Irene, it came as a little bit of a shock, but I really just wanted him to be happy.  I love that Turner left so much to the imagination about their relationship.

 

10. Anita Blake & Jean Claude from the Anita Blake novels by Laurell K. Hamilton – I know Hamilton drove this series into the dirt after all of 8 books or so.  Honestly I don’t care.  Of all her lovers- Jean Claude remains as one of the ones who loved her first, loved her best, and loved her most.

9. Ken & Mishima from Infomocracy/Null States by Malka Ann Older – This was another slowly, but lovingly built romance.  The best part?  Aside from an odd scene where Mishima physically attacks Ken, it seemed like a totally normal relationship.  No over the top expectations, no premature confessions of love, no waiting until they were ready to get married for sex.  Honestly- they are probably one of the realest couples I’ve seen portrayed in literature.

8. Mira & Carey from The Moon and the Other by John Kessel – Mira and Carey are interesting because their relationship is already somewhat established by the time we join in on their story.  Also- this book will rip your guts out, douse them in kerosene and light them on fire.  It’s that good.

7. Falcio val Mond & Ethalia from The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell – There are better romantic couples on this list- but in these books Ethalia was badly needed.  Poor Falcio just doesn’t ever seem to catch a break, so his stolen moments with Ethalia always put a smile on my face.

6. Apollo & Simmea from Thessaly by Jo Walton – (MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THIS SERIES) I don’t even know how to label these two.  I think they are platonic friends officially.  But I think Simmea tends more towards romantic love for all of book one, and Apollo completely loses his shit when he loses Simmea.  This is far and away the most complex couple on this list.

 

5. Uhtred & Gisla from the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – (You didn’t honestly think we’d get through this list without Uhtred making an appearance did you?  Brace yourselves- he’s got two more spots on this list.)  I loved when Uhtred and Gisla were together.  She was like the voice of reason in his life.  The only person he genuinely listened to, and one only woman he sleeps with that he seems to truly respect.  This was not a HEA and it ripped my heart out.

4. Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – Yes it’s terribly cliched.  No I won’t take them off.  It doesn’t require more explanation than that, does it?

3. Kaz Brekker & Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – If I’m being honest- the entire SoC crew and their significant others belong up here.  None of the relationships in this book suffered needless angst and I feel like that’s pretty rare in a YA novel.

2. Elma & Nathaniel York from The Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal – Instead of explaining this one I’ll leave you with this very short story available free on Tor.com.  You’re welcome. https://www.tor.com/2018/07/02/read-mary-robinette-kowals-the-lady-astronaut-of-mars/

1. Mac & Barrons from the Darkfever series by Karen Marie Moning – No- I don’t care that Barrons suffered a total character assassination in the past couple books.  I don’t care that Moning has run out of ways to pit them against each other.  They remain my favorite book couple of all time, and when I thought about my list they were the first two to come to mind.

But I promised more than romantic couples right?  So here we go:

My favorite frenemies:

 

4. Ballister Blackheart & Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin from Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – From the moment I first saw these two on the same page I was shipping them.

3. Dolores Claiborne & Vera Donovan from Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King – This probably takes second place as one of the more complex relationships on this list.  They love-hate each other, but they have each other’s backs.  Stephen King sort of killed it (okay he actually killed it).

2. Jorg & Rikey from Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – I don’t know if the term frenemies actually applies to these two, but poor little Rikey sure can’t catch a break from Jorg.

1. Uhtred & Alfred from the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – I told you he’d be back.  These two are honestly one of the most entertaining pairs I’ve ever read in literature.  They need each other, but they hate each other, but they love each other.

But wait!  There’s more!

My favorite bromances:

 

4. Geralt & Dandelion from The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski – These two.  There’s nothing I love more than Dandelion getting into trouble and Geralt coming to save his ass.

3. Jackal & Oats from The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French – That moment when Oats shows up at the Betrayer Moon to fight the centaurs but really it’s just to see Jackal?  Perfection.

2. Kest & Brasti & Falcio from The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell – This is probably the penultimate bromance.  These guys are literally the three musketeers… rewritten.  And their banter is the highlight of all the books.

1. Uhtred & Finan from the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – Uhtred and Finan to me are like the book version of Ragnar and Floki.  It’s pretty obvious there’s nothing Finan wouldn’t do for his pal, and I’m happy Cornwell had the good sense to keep him around for more than a single book.

Whew- sorry that was long.  Book couples are one of my favorite things.  But you know what’s painfully, sorely, obviously missing from this list?  Female friendships. (Sistermances- is that a thing? Can we make it a thing?)  If you have one on your list please link to it so I can check it out!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Heroes

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Hello!  I apologize I’ve been on hiatus.  October and November are super busy months for me at work and December hasn’t been looking up either.  A couple weeks to go and hopefully I can get back to reading and blogging regularly.

Today’s TTT was a freebie.  I’ve already listed my top ten favorite villains, so I wanted to go the opposite route and talk about my favorite heroes.  We’ll venture into four forms of media today: Books, TV, Video Games and movies, so I’ll apologize in advance for not making this post completely bookish.

TJC_JW

10. Apollo in The Just City by Jo Walton (review here) – The Just City is a book that I feel like doesn’t get talked about enough.  It’s incredibly relevant, beautifully told, thought provoking, and entertaining.  Apollo is a favorite, not only because of the transformation he goes through, but because of his complexity. He’s thoughtful and loving, but also sometimes driven by rage, and clearly very flawed.  (You see a lot of that in book two: The Philosopher Kings.)

Gladiator

9. Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator – Gladiator is one of my favorite movies of all time (and that’s saying a lot because it’s largely a tragedy which I find incredibly depressing). He’s a reluctant hero, driven largely by love for his family.  When he is first asked to help make Rome a Republic again he declines, wanting instead to return to his home.  He embodies just about every quality you could ask for in a hero, and despite not really trying or even being in a position to do so, he succeeds in his goals.

DarkFever

8.  Jericho Barrons in the Darkfever series by Karen Marie Moning – Jericho is arguably one of the least heroic characters on this list.  I wouldn’t say he undergoes a major transformation throughout the books, but as we come to know more about him and better understand him, it’s hard not to be sympathetic.  Also- the man is damn entertaining to read.

Uncharted

7. Nathan Drake in Uncharted – You’ll notice a large part of my list is comprised of video game characters.  Aside from television- you’ll spend more hours with game characters than you ever will with book or film characters.  Furthermore, being that you control them, it’s really, really hard not to become attached.  Nathan Drake first appeared in Uncharted in 2007.  He’s a charming, fast talking, scrappy adventurer.  He seems to have a knack for getting himself into trouble. When the last game released in 2016, I was literally sobbing my eyes out at his ending, both because it was perfect for him and because I knew it was the last game he’d star in.  (In case you’re curious about Nathan Drake: I just stumbled across a 15 minute short film that nailed everything I love about him.  You can find it here.  Also- where is the full length film and why is that not a thing already?)

TB_SdC

6.  Falcio val Mond in The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell (review here) – This is another series I feel like doesn’t get enough recognition.  These books are so much fun.  Reading this was a lot like playing Dragon Age.  The banter between the characters is perfect.  Falcio himself is honorable and loyal to a fault.  He’s self deprecating, freely admits he’s not the best swordsman of the Greatcoats, and frequently sings himself out of life and death situations.  He cares a lot for his friends and it shows.

Geralt

5. Geralt of Rivia of The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski (as well as the video games, review for The Last Wish here) – My love for Geralt, admittedly, comes primarily through the game The Witcher 3.  He’s truly unique in that he’s a mutant, and the wider world he lives in actually doesn’t like him or want him around.  Witchers are viewed as a necessary evil (they take contracts to kill monsters, something their mutant abilities make them much more equipped to do).  He’s basically a snarky, mutant, sword wielding ballerina.  What’s not to love? (Side note: Henry Cavill being cast as Geralt in the upcoming Netflix series is a crime.)

Arthur_Morgan

4. Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2 – Arthur would probably be a better fit for my villains and antiheroes list, and truthfully, him being a hero is entirely dependent on how you play (I played the honorable outlaw so we’re going with it). There were a lot of things I felt RDR2 didn’t get right (mostly the gameplay) but Arthur’s narrative is not one of them.  He’s loyal, he cares deeply for the people around him, and he’s willing to suck  venom out of a complete stranger’s leg.  I haven’t even finished the game yet because I’m not sure I’m emotionally equipped to watch that ending. Rockstar, if you’re reading this, I NEED an alternate ending DLC.

Ezio

3.  Ezio Auditore da Firenze of the Assassin’s Creed franchise – I find it really odd that Ubisoft made a character so compelling for three games and literally no more in all EIGHT other games.  (Admittedly, Bayek came pretty close.)  What I love about his story, is that we get to see the full arc, from the time he comes of age to his death.  Like many of the heroes on my list, on the surface, he seems like a carefree, easy going kind of guy, but as his story and arc progress, it becomes clear that he cares a lot about the fate and the troubles of his people.  (Fun fact: the real protagonist of the first few AC games, Desmond Miles, is voiced by the same actor who voices Nathan Drake! Thank you Nolan North.)

Uhtred

2. Uhtred, son of Uhtred of The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – This series has also been turned into a TV Show for Netflix, and Alexander Dreymon (above) does a pretty good job as Uhtred- but ultimately, he’s no Uhtred.  I don’t think it’s Dreymon’s fault, I think the show producers are cutting WAY TOO MUCH of the book’s plot lines for TV Uhtred to live up to book Uhtred.  He is compelling because his greatest downfall is his pride.  I mean, he has lots of reasons to be proud, he’s pretty much unstoppable, but it makes people hate him.  Even though they need him.  He’s a little like Geralt in that way- a necessary evil.

Ragnar Lothbrok

1. Ragnar Lothbrok of Vikings – Ragnar is far away my favorite fictional character of all time.  It’s due in large part to Travis Fimmel, who played this character brilliantly.  In the show, Ragnar is a master strategist.  He’s often ten steps ahead of his enemies (remember season 2 with King Horic? and how he conquered Paris?).  But sometimes he is curiously naive.  He admits he wasn’t the greatest father, and that he wasn’t the greatest king.  Watching him triumph and then unravel slowly over the course of the show were the greatest four seasons of television I’ve ever seen.  All the actors on the show do a phenomenal job, but it definitely lost a little of it’s spark without Ragnar around to break up the tension.

Looking at this list I was really sad not to have any women on it.  I can’t tell if this is mostly due to my personal tastes as a reader/watcher/player, or if modern media is really just lacking that many well written heroines. There are a lot of heroines I can think of that are well done and that I adore, but many of them play supporting roles to the heroes (Lagertha in Vikings, Aethelflaed and Hild in The Last Kingdom, Ciri and Yen in The Witcher, Simmea in The Just City, and Valiana val Mond of the Greatcoats.)  Writers, if you’re reading this- give me a female version of Uhtred or Ragnar (think genius warrior with fatal flaws and a sense of humor.) Readers – if that heroine is already out there- please let me know!