Charactersation in fantasy has undergone a major transformation of late (since last two decades) with the introduction of so-called “gritty and realistic” novels. Before that, fantasy had little to offer in terms of character depth. Most of fantasy (including Tolkien) was plot-driven, and now it has become character-driven, which, I believe, is a swell thing. As I think characters are the keystone of a novel and if they are well-drawn, well-developed… well, that’s enough to satisfy the reader in me. Rest of the stuff like writing quality, plot-line matters too, of course, but comes lower in hierarchy.
But once is a while, you come across a character which seems to be dropped in the story just to annoy the crap out of you. The moment you encounter it, you want it annihilated. But sadly, “realistic fantasy” (a bit of an oxymoron in itself, come to think of it) does not work that way. Sometimes, good characters perish too soon and evil ones endure (as is the case with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire in particular).
So. Here is my list of the Five Most Annoying Characters in Fantasy Fiction:
(1) Joffrey Baratheon (A Song of Ice and Fire): The very definition of the word “nuisance”. And not a minor nuisance, no, an ultra-gigantic kind of nuisance. An unavoidable nuisance. This little shit has ruined so many lives, killed so many innocent people that it’s hard to keep track. Sometimes I hate him with so great a passion that I forget he is a fictional character. He started a great war single-handedly by killing an important noble, whom he could easily ransom, the war which in turn killed another million people.
In comparison, another character–Ramsay Bolton–is probably even more vicious and cruel than Joffrey. But he is hardly annoying, he is simply… eerie. It is quite safe to give Joffrey the esteemed award of the Most Annoying Character in Fantasy Fiction.
(2) Prince Regal (The Farseer Trilogy): Regal is actually very similar to Joffrey–both are princes, both are contemptuous of people lesser than them (that means pretty much everyone, as they see it) and both are extremely, extremely unlikable. However, Regal has one thing is his favour which makes him a little bit less annoying than Joffrey: his actions don’t affect the world as much. While Joffrey become a king pretty early (a cruel, stupid king) in A Song of Ice and Fire saga, Regal is left craving for it (I won’t tell you if he does become a king or not, in case you plan to read the series). By the way, if you haven’t read this fantastic series, I suggest you do it now. Regal aside, it is pretty enjoyable.
(3) Rand al’Thor (The Wheel of Time): Whilst the previous two characters were meant to be unlikable, Rand was just poorly conceived and badly written. He is, in my opinion, one of the worst and most tiresome protagonists in fantasy. Always whining, always crying and being a weakling even though he is supposedly the most powerful man in the world. Reading the parts in the series when he is around (being the major character, he’s around far fucking too much for my liking) makes me yawn widely enough to accommodate a tomcat in my mouth.
(4) Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle): A close second in the race to the most annoying protagonist in fantasy. An epitome of bad characterisation. Not that Christopher Paolini did anything remotely approaching good (or original) in the book. Or any book.
(5) Hermione Granger (Harry Potter): Okay, I realise I’m grossly outnumbered here. Most (if not all) Harry Potter fans would find her well-written and likable. I do not. I find her incredibly annoying. That, and she is frighteningly reminiscent of Sheldon Cooper from that ghastly “comedy” The Big Bang Theory.
Look, even if you know everything about everything (like, if you really do), you still don’t have any right to be arrogant or bossy. Too much pride becomes wearisome very quickly, at least for me. I was surprised that Harry and Ron didn’t strangle her whenever she had one of those pedantic fits–there were so many in the series…
Anyway, these are the five characters in fantasy fiction I found most annoying. How about you? Which character in fantasy you dislike most?