It’s Friday! This week’s Friday Favourites, hosted by Something of the Book, is all about Inspiring Characters. I tend to keep my list to 5, because old Friday habits die hard. The characters that inspire me are a mixed bag. I’ll try to give a little explanation per character.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I could come up with five whole inspiring characters. My home office has a lot of books, but the bulk of them are non-fiction. I had to get away from the keyboard for a while, and when I came back I actually had a pretty decent list.
Thankfully, I don’t think I’ve talked any of these characters to death in my other posts lately.
Speaking of death…
Death, The Sandman Comics by Neil Gaiman
I wore a lot of black in the 80’s and 90’s. I still have a lot of black clothing in my wardrobe, though I’ve learned the gentle art of mixing and matching. Neil Gaiman’s Death is one of the few touchstones of the Goth movement that have really stuck with me over the past 30-some-odd-years.
Death, in the Sandman series, is both a ferryman and the actual personification of death itself. In the main comics, she’s styled as a goth with a surprisingly cheery sense of humour. In her own two special series (The Time of Your Life and The High Cost of Living), we get to see more of her facets. For instance, every one hundred years she spends a day as a human fated to die. It helps remind her of the human condition, and allows her to retain empathy.
That empathy is necessary when greeting the dead and dying. In one panel, she reminds an infant whose life is cut tragically short that it had what everyone gets. A lifetime.
Death inspires me to hold close the things that mean the most to me, and to try not to take for granted the time I have left on this earth. Or elaborate cosmic simulation like The Sims (I’m waiting for the eventual ‘supernatural’ expansion since we’ve already got weather and pets…)
Varok Saurfang, World of Warcraft
Yes, I’m including a video game character.
I started playing World of Warcraft in 2005. My friends really pushed the friendly multiplayer environment and fantasy setting. I didn’t have any previous experience with the series and its many inspiring characters, as the Warcraft strategy games were geared more toward my brother.
The levelling experience for vanilla/classic WoW players was very…yellow. That’s the colour of The Barrens, a levelling area that took you from 7 to 30. In fact, most of the early levelling area for Kalimdor Horde is very orange and yellow, if you include the starting zones and main city of Orgrimmar.
When High Overlord Saurfang tanks he doesn’t generate threat, he generates promises.
Thousand Needles was created when Saurfang saw a picture of the Grand Canyon
And so on.
In the latest expansion, Saurfang finds himself in disagreement with new Horde Warchief Sylvannas Windrunner. After a lot of soul searching, he realizes that the Horde as it stands is operating without honour, and sets about trying to regain that honourable goal. In the process, he starts the re-forging of alliances that could bring a lasting peace to the world of Azeroth.
Damn, I’m going to miss the old guy and his cleave.
Granny Weatherwax, Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
If you need the inspiration of a strong female character who takes no malarky from anyone, it’s Granny Weatherwax.
Even though the witches in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld claim they have no leader, Granny is the kind of character who can’t help but step forward. She uses her own brand of psychology (or headology) to define and shape the world around her. That’s not to say that she’s some sort of hedge witch dealing in false claims of magic. She uses herbology, magic, and common sense together, often to great result. After all, why waste the energy on a spell when basic physiotherapy will do?
Granny Weatherwax inspires me to keep my feet on the ground, even when I have to look to the sky for information. She reminds me that common sense is not often, well, common. Most of all, she reminds me that one doesn’t have to be “good” or “bad” to be a woman of knowledge and empathy. In fact, the best place to be is probably somewhere in the middle.
Samwise Gamgee – The Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkien
JRR Tolkien was the not only the creator of modern epic fantasy, he also perfected the early “buddy adventure”. Yes, yes, we have Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli riding around the better part of the countryside looking for Hobbits for the bulk of two books, but we also have Frodo and Sam.
As far as chosen ones go, Frodo is…not great. Like his Uncle Bilbo at the start of The Hobbit, he’d prefer just to have a nice quiet life in the shire. Unlike his Uncle, Frodo has a bit of the wanderer in him. Which would have been really fun for the The Lord of the Rings trilogy if he hadn’t been infected by an enchanted sword early in the story.
And then you have Sam, a simple gardener who can’t help listen in at the window. The quiet friend who carries the burdens and listens to the problems, and tries to find a solution when none seems apparent. To mix story universes, Sam is the Original Hufflepuff right to the end. When Frodo finally can’t take anymore, Sam practically drags him the rest of the way himself.
As far as inspiring characters go, Sam Gamgee has inspired me to accept my inner Hufflepuff. Being a simple, down-to-earth good person doesn’t mean you can’t be heroic in your own way.
Brutha, Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
When the god Om is reborn, he comes to the realization that his worshippers no longer believe in him. They believe in his religion. Thus the most powerful god on the Discworld is reincarnated not as a mighty bull, but as a small turtle.
To add insult to injury, the only person who still believes in Om is a simple novice by the name of Brutha. In a world where your power is determined by the amount of believers you have (kinda like Instagram), Om now has to struggle to make his word heard.
Brutha, his true prophet, is one of the most inspiring characters I’ve read. Quite literally! He isn’t afraid to push back against the small god’s demands. He urges messages of peace, tolerance, and kindness. The tolerance is particularly important, because not only has Om seen his own mortality due to lack of belief, the other small gods of the world are in a similar sticky situation.
I definitely recommend reading Small Gods. Terry Pratchett, a self-described humanist, says a lot about organized religion, faith, and belief in one small satire. The last image the book leaves you with is possibly the most poignant I’ve ever read. No spoilers. The book can be read as a standalone, so I urge you to find a copy and discover the story for yourself.
What characters inspire you? They can be any media: Film, Video, Games or literature. Leave a comment down below!