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Topic: 2012 Fantasy Challenge -- Main Character Discussion

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Subject: 2012 Fantasy Challenge -- Main Character Discussion
Date Posted: 12/1/2011 4:34 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Please post all your discussion of books filling this category in this thread.

 

LISTS ONLY thread can be found here.



Last Edited on: 12/1/11 4:50 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/3/2012 1:22 AM ET
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Saw someone in another section list their challenge for mini-list purposes and thought I'd follow suit. :)

Going light!

Main Character
1. Read a novel featuring a female protagonist.
2. Read a novel featuring a protagonist of color.
-
4. Read a novel featuring a married protagonist.
5. Read a novel featuring a protagonist who is a parent.
6. Read a novel featuring a detective as the protagonist.
7. Read a novel featuring a religious official as the protagonist.
8. Read a novel featuring a magic-user as the protagonist.
9. Read a novel featuring an anti-hero as the protagonist.
10. Read a novel with multiple protagonists.....     Percy Jackson



Last Edited on: 1/4/12 10:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/4/2012 5:09 PM ET
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Main Character
1. Read a novel featuring a female protagonist.
2. Read a novel featuring a protagonist of color:  Shadow Walker by Allyson James.  This is the culmination of a series written by the author featuring a Native American heroine who has power to control and use the power of thunderstorms to defend herself and defeat evil others with magical powers - providing, of course, there is a thunderstorm occurring.  The author lives in the Southwest so she is acqainted with the myths and geography of the area.  The tale includes not only Janet Begay, a stormwalker, but also her lover Mick, a dragon that can take human form and has fallen in love with Janet.  This story begins with Janet becoming trapped in a sinkhole.  Her lover is enslaved by a witch who plans to destroy her.  The plot moves quickly and the lovers find themselves at dangerous odds.  Enjoyed this series very much.  Do hope James writes more about this area and these characters.  
3. Read a novel featuring a character who identifies as something other than heterosexual.
4. Read a novel featuring a protagonist who is a parent:  The Waters of Centaurus by Rosel George Brown.  Sybil Sue Blue is a police sergeant who is stationed on the planet of Centaurus where the inhabitants are loving and peaceful - at least until the appearance of Gibe Girais, whose goal is to rule the planet and expel all earthlings.  The trouble is that this alien is so attractive that he lures both Sybil and her daughter into having sex with him.  He captures Sybil's daughter in an effort to control Sybil and her actions as he has begun to control the inhabitants.  Sybbil has friends both in the seas and on land.  Nevertheless, when she attenpts to rescue her daughter she, too, is captured.  The book is quick reading and fun.  I enjoyed this older novel very much.  4 stars   
5. Read a novel featuring a protagonist who is married:  Dragonstar by Barbara Hambly.  This has been a favorite series for me and I've prolonged it as long as I could.  Love the characters.  There is John, so near-sighted that he cannot see much without his glasses, and Jenny, his wife who has magic enough to be a dragon but chose to remain a human because she loved John so much.   And there is Jenny's dragon friend, Morkeleb, who has forsaken magic an gold to become a Dragonshadow whatever that is.  Their kingdom is being invaded by demons who bring some dead humans back to life while sacrificing others for pleasure and capturing souls to strengthen their wicked magic.  Fun, fun read!  
6. Read a novel featuring a detective as the protagonist.
7. Read a novel featuring a religious official as the protagonist.
8. Read a novel featuring a magic-user as the protagonist.
9. Read a novel featuring an anti-hero as the protagonist:  The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch.  This was an outstanding effort from a first time author.  I became friends with the wily intelligent Locke Lamora and his fellow Gentleman Bastards (thieves).  I thought that this was a very good story.  My only qualm was when Locke went back to his big score after he realized that the Grey King was privy to all of his actions.  Because the character is supposed to be so clever it seemed out of character but that's a small thing when you take into consideration the entire read.  It's one I would highly recommend and I gave it 4.5 stars.  
10. Read a novel with multiple protagonists.  Steampunk!  An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories.    This is a collection of short stories edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant.  The authors have won many fantasy/science fiction awards and include Casandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Shawn Cheng, Ysabeau S. Wilce, Delia Sherman, Elizabeth Knox, Kelly Link, Garth Nix, and Christopher Rowe as well as the following.  Some of the more interesting stories include "Oracle Engine" by M.T. Anderson whose story comes almost totally from Roman history.  Anderson added the design engineer, Marcuis Furius, the oracle engine itself and its prophesy as well as a flying ship or two.  "Finishing School" by Kathleen Jennings is an interesting tale about a school that puts out identical young women.  One young woman dares to defy the teachings and builds a flying machine.  "Everything Amiable Obliging" by Holly Black is an original tale about a house of automatons where an orphan, Sophie, lives with a family who has come upon hard times financially.  Valerian, with whom Sophie has fallen in love, is brother to Amelia who has fallen in love with her automaton dancing instructor.  When the family objects to this romance the house rebels and Valerian's family consents to Amelia's request.  In addition,Sophie discovers tht Valerian may have feeling for her.  "Steam Girl" by Dylan Horrocks is a most entertaining tale, too, full of imaginative story telling from two teen-agers.  But I think my favorite is "The Last Ride of the Glory Girls" by Libba Bray about a gang of train robbers who have a machine to stop time so they can rob wealthy passengers of their valuables.   



Last Edited on: 9/25/12 11:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 21
Date Posted: 1/15/2012 1:37 AM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
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I have read Bloodstone by Nancy Holzner and have used it for my female protagonist slot.  This book had bad writing, an idiot plot (EVERYBODY was an idiot), and flat characters.  Anything that made the first book in the series interesting is long gone.  Avoid this book.

Date Posted: 1/25/2012 10:57 PM ET
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I'm using A Hundred Words for Hate by Thomas E Sniegoski for the category of detective as protagonist.  A Hundred Words is the fourth in the Remy Chandler series.  Remy is actually the angel Remiel who has chosen to renounce Heaven and live amongst the mortals.  He is also a private detective.  While the characters are old testament biblical (cherubim, seraphim, etc.,) it seems to be more of a Greek drama involving the Olympian gods.  There are supernatural beings of great power who are petty, jealous of mortals, obsessed with revenge and status, and capable of carrying a grudge for eons.  Mortals tend to get crushed.  This book has Remy searching for the key to the Garden of Eden.  This is definately an action orientated book, so there's not a lot of character development.  I wish there were more scenes with Marlowe, the labrador.  He's my favorite part of the series.

Date Posted: 1/26/2012 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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Thanks for the info.  You've just saved me a couple days of reading and a credit!  I thought the first in the series - A Kiss for Apocalypse - had promise, but I've liked both of the next two books less than the one before.  If there's no character development and little Marlowe, I'm not going to bother reading any further.

Date Posted: 2/8/2012 1:26 AM ET
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I've read and am using Ink and Steel by Elizabeth Bear for my multiple protagonist category.  Ink and Steel is told from the viewpoints of Kit Marley and William Shakespear.  I loved the way the choices and consequences unfold for the characters.  I find the subtheme that the beliefs of humanity can change the essential reality of the Fae, Satan and God interesting.  What is reality?  The story or the subject of the story? I love the Promethian series and this is my favorite so far.

Date Posted: 2/20/2012 9:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/21/2010
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Main Character
1. Read a novel featuring a female protagonist. Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul Completed 1/15
2. Read a novel featuring a protagonist of color. Magic Street by Orson Scott Card Completed 2/15
3. Read a novel featuring a character who identifies as something other than heterosexual. Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott (in progress)
4. Read a novel featuring a married protagonist.
5. Read a novel featuring a protagonist who is a parent.
6. Read a novel featuring a detective as the protagonist. New Tricks by John Levitt Completed 01/05
7. Read a novel featuring a religious official as the protagonist.
8. Read a novel featuring a magic-user as the protagonist. Witchling by Yasmine Galnorn Completed 2/6
9. Read a novel featuring an anti-hero as the protagonist. The Knowing by Wills Larraine Completed 01/24
10. Read a novel with multiple protagonists. The Grand Crusade by Michael Stackpole Completed 01/02

Date Posted: 2/20/2012 10:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/21/2010
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First, let me say that I love this category. I've had a lot more success with it than others so far.

Dragonspell (Dragonkeepers Chronicles, Bk 1) - this was a light read that included dragons, magic, and various races. It draws strong (and fairly obvious) parallels from Christianity, but it did not seem to me to be a Christian book that tried to be fantasy - rather a fantasy book that happened to include Christian parallels. I found this book to be enjoyable, and went as far to lend it out to a friend. It is a coming of age tale following a girl that was a slave - until she found a dragon egg. This is the first book in this series and I am looking forward to reading the second one (which is not currently available on paperbackswap).

Magic Street - I could have used Anansi Boys as a double entry here and in mythopeic fantasy, but I chose not to. I am glad that I went in search of additional books featuring a protagonist of color, because this one was much more entertaining. Oddly enough, it could also fall under mythopeic fantasy. This is the story of a boy who was raised in an affluent African-American community of Los Angeles. He was found as an infant in the park and was adopted by one of the women who lived in the neighborhood. When he grows up, he finds a portal into another world and finds out a lot about himself. I found this novel to be unique and entertaining. I would recommend it.

New Tricks (Dog Days, Bk 2) - This is the second in a series that also fits into urban fantasy. The protagonist is a magic user who has an Ifrit (in this a magical familiar) and used to enforce the laws binding magic users. Now, he is a guitar player who somehow winds up investigating odd magic-related deaths (I'm interpreting that as detective). This book got a lot of negative reviews, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually readable. There was nothing earth-shattering about it, but it was a diversion from real life, which is what I was looking for. The main character is a bit shallow and he doesn't seem to 'get it' as quickly as one might like, but to me that just made him more realistic. The first book was better (and less predictable) than this one, but I am still willing to give the third a chance.

Witchling (Otherworld, Bk 1) - I had a suspicion that this book was going to be closer to paranormal romance than I typically like, and I was not disappointed in that regard. But, I kept seeing it pop up as an available book, so I figured I'd give it a try. This book centers on one of three sisters who are half-human, half-fae. She's a witch (sort-of). I think there may have been more description of her physical assets and the numerous trysts than there was magic. The premise was interesting and that's what got me through it. The strong female lead did still need some help from the guys, which is not really my cup of tea. I might actually swap this one out later in the year for someone a little more magical.

The Knowing - This book is about a boy who was being hunted by the priests from his nation. He spent a few years with an assassin before joining the military. Then he wound up governing a small town that became very important politically in the midst of a war. Without giving too much of the book away, the protagonist was not the kind of person who would have been considered a hero - he didn't put the people before himself, he didn't want to be a part of anything, his history was sullied.  Having finished reading this book, I forgotten several times what it was even about. I kept waiting for something more to happen - for the climax to truly happen. I believe there is a sequel to this book and perhaps it has a bit more plot definition. I don't think I will look for it though.

The Grand Crusade - This is the final installment of a series that I really enjoyed. Honestly though, you shouldn't read the description of this one until you have read the other two (Fortress Draconis (The DragonCrown War Cycle, Book 1). The second, in fact, was one I finished in one day - staying up through the night to read it. The series is Heroic Fantasy with multiple characters having equal story lines in the second and third book (the first centers on a boy thought to be the prophesied savior of the world). It had magic and elves and swords and dragons, with a mixture of some more unique races. This book wasn't quite as good as the second and did leave me a little disappointed, but overall I enjoyed this series. 

Date Posted: 3/18/2012 2:43 AM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
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I have read Shadow Heir by Richelle Mead for the protagonist who is a mother.  This is the fourth in the Dark Swan series.  Eugenie Markham's son to be has a dire prophecy that has a number of powerful people working to destroy him before he's born.  Eugenie spends about half the book in hiding from the Fae, has her twins (the other is girl), and hides them with sympathetic humans.  

This book has so many things wrong with it.  This is supposedly the last in the series but ends on a semicliffhanger. And the ending sucked anyway.  I won't go too far into it as far as spoilers go but despite supposedly hating lies and deception, the main character uses them herself frequently with her friends, allies and lover.  And she's planning to deceive her children as well.  Have the part fae twins grow up as the children of the human couple without training or knowledge of the prophecy is just going to end so well.  Why do I feel a Greek tragedy approaching?  She also specializes in making stupid choices.  What to do, who to trust, where to go and so on.  She consistently manages to do the wrong thing every time.  The series had an interesting start but failed completely as to it's ending.

I am using Hounded by Kevin Hearne for the magic user protagonist category.  As an Archdruid, he could also be considered a religious official as protagonist. This the first in the Iron Druid series.  Atticus O'Sullivan is over 2000 years old and the last druid.  One with a magic sword, a wonderful Irish Wolfhound, a vampire for a lawyer and a very nasty Celtic love god as an enemy.  There were a few plot holes and a few silly parts but this was fast, funny and had a lot of great characters.  I love the concept that all the higher powers are real--the Celtic gods, the Greek gods, the Hindu gods, Buddha, Coyote, Jesus, Mary, Allah and Elvis.  There are also multiple versions of gods.  For example, there is the original conception of Thor and then there is the version of Thor derived from the comic book.  I'm not sure where Hearne will go with this but I want to read the next book.

 

 

 



Last Edited on: 3/18/12 2:43 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/6/2012 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
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Lisa, I also just read Hounded and really enjoyed it.  I'm about a third of the way through the second and so far so good.  I will definitely stick with this series!

Amy
Date Posted: 4/21/2012 7:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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Question:

For "protagonist who is a parent" does the protagonist have to be a parent at the start of the novel?

Date Posted: 4/22/2012 3:34 AM ET
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For "protagonist who is a parent" does the protagonist have to be a parent at the start of the novel?

I would say that. . . not necessarily, but if the protagonist isn't a parent at the start of the novel a significant chunk of the novel needs to be about the process of becoming a parent, so to speak. . . but use your discretion!

Date Posted: 6/19/2012 7:36 AM ET
Member Since: 8/21/2010
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I'm having a lot of difficulty finding one to fit "religious official as the protagonist" does anyone have any suggestions?

 

Thanks,

Chris

Date Posted: 6/19/2012 10:19 PM ET
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I've been trying to come up with some good ones for this myself.  It depends on how you want to define "official."  If you define it as someone with some sort of authority within the church, your choices are narrower than if you define it as anyone with a recognized position.

I like defining it as "authority position" - even if it's being in charge of something as small as a congregation.  I've come up with:
Catherynne Valente - Dirge for Prestor John trilogy (priest-king)
Sharon Shinn - Samaria series (head of angels)
Marion Zimmer Bradley - Mists of Avalon & probably the rest of the series.
Ursula Le Guin - Tombs of Atuan (part of Earthsea series)
Stephen Lawhead - Tuck (friar, probably but this is the 3rd in a series)
Margaret Atwood - Year of the Flood (possibly, not sure if this is fantasy or sci fi)

If you define it as any sort of formal position, there's also:
Jacqueline Carey - Kushiel trilogy (priestess)
Scott Lynch - Gentleman Bastards series (priest)
Stacia Kane - Unholy Ghosts (investigator)
Patricia Bray - First Betrayal (reclusive monk)
Stephen Lawhead - Byzantium (monk?)

And there's plenty of books staring gods of one sort or another.  Which seems rather outside of religion to me.  Well, unless they have large amounts of worshipful followers sarificing to them.

Date Posted: 6/21/2012 9:42 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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More religious official recs:

Servant of the Underworld, by Aliette de Bodard (Aztec priest)

. . . I swear I had more ideas for this when I proposed it.

Dark Moon Defender, by Sharon Shinn (female lead is a novitiate for the Moon Goddess. . . but this is book #3 of the series, and while it stands somewhat alone it doesn't entirely)

. . . the protagonists of Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series all end up as saints. . . but that position's kind of outside the church hierarchy, so it doesn't fit the category as well. . .

And if you're willing to count science fantasy novels -- which technically the the Sharon Shinn angel series is as well -- then you could read C. S. Friedman's Black Sun Rising (a priest) or a couple of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels (The Forbidden Tower, Rediscovery, both of which feature Keepers who are religious leaders). They are all set in the far future on a planet where humanity has reverted to a feudal system and there are magic-like elements that are given a pseudo-scientific rationale (Shinn has the genetically engineered angels and a starship-cum-god; Friedman has demon-aliens and a planet whose reality is shaped by faith; Bradley has telepathy and alien powers that are godlike).

Date Posted: 6/21/2012 10:52 PM ET
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I thought the category would be easy too, until I started thinking of examples.  Maybe it's because there's so many great priest minor characters that it seems obvious that there should be a lot of great priest main characters.  And I have thought of several wonderful books staring religious officials... only to realize they aren't fantasy.  Sigh.

 

Pratchett's Small Gods?  (I don't know for sure but it sounds like it might fit.)

Date Posted: 6/22/2012 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 8/21/2010
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Well, I am certainly glad that I am not the only one who has had difficulty with this! Sounds like there are far more religious officials as supporting characters than protagonists in fantasy. Actually, I scoured the internet in search of suggestions and discovered that the genre is much more likely to cast the religious official as the antagonist. Even then, though, I wonder why there aren't more anti-hero protagonists. Something to think about if any of you also happen to be writers.

I ran across this one:

Last Rainbow by Parke Godwin

My concern is that I'm not sure how big of a role St. Patrick actually plays - whether it is a dual protagonist or a supporting character. But, I thought it looked interesting at the very least, so I figured I'd check it out. I do have some time left to find something to fit the categories that I've been putting off. I'm sort of just picking books up from my TBR pile and hoping they fit into some category.

Thanks for all of the suggestions. Good luck to everyone in finding something that fits AND is enjoyable

 

 

Amy
Date Posted: 8/17/2012 10:56 AM ET
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Is A Canticle for Leibowitz SF or fantasy?

Date Posted: 8/17/2012 11:33 AM ET
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Never read it, but I'm pretty sure it's SF.

Amy
Date Posted: 8/17/2012 4:24 PM ET
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Darn. I wanted to suggest it for the religious official category and also use it myself. Oh well.

Date Posted: 8/17/2012 9:21 PM ET
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Read A Canticle for Leibowitz anyway.  Yes, it's definately science fiction.  But it's GOOD.

Small Gods definately fits.   I would say Hearn's Hounded series should fit with a little stretching.  The main character is the last remaining Druid in existence.  I would think the later books by Elizabeth Bear in the Deed of Paksenarrion series (after she becomes a Paladin) would fit as well.

Date Posted: 8/23/2012 10:19 PM ET
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I've read The Lies of Locke Lamora for my antihero protagonist category.  This book has been reviewed here previously so I will just say this twisty, convoluted, action packed novel of a thief and his compatriots is excellent and highly recommended.  For those looking to fill their religious official category, this book would fit as Locke is a priest of the nameless god of thieves.

Date Posted: 8/24/2012 5:57 PM ET
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I loved The Lies of Locke Lamora.

My only caution with it is that the second book, Red Sea Under Red Skies, ends on a little bit of a cliff hanger.  What's worse is that the author has been having some medical issues and the 3rd book is several years (4?) overdue at this point.  The current publication date (November, 2013) cannot be trusted.

I don't have much faith that the series will ever be finished, but at least the first book can be read as a stand alone with no issues.

Date Posted: 9/13/2012 8:26 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
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What about the Camber of Kuldi (Culdi?) series?  I think it's Katherine Kurtz?  An oldie, but one of my favorites.



Last Edited on: 9/13/12 8:28 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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