Hey there! Today I’m participating in an amazing tag/challenge/thing called (you guessed it) The Smashing and Dashing Character Awards. These used to be hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and the grand tradition has been preserved by Katie @ I’m Charles Baker Harris, and I was reminded to do them by Sarah @ Sixty-Something Trees. (Go check out all those bloggers! I love all three and smile very big when I see they’ve posted something new.)
The rules are simple: There are several prompts relating to characters. You answer each one with a character from a book you read this year (well, technically last year now). I believe they are supposed to be characters from a book you first read in 2020, but I may end up including some rereads, since I *cough* reread a ton last year.
Onward to glory (for the characters) and agony (for me, who much choose just one in each category)!
(…who did not choose just one in each category, fyi)
most relatable character
✨ PERI from The Lightest, Heaviest Things. Peri goes on a quest with her best friend and a new, otherworldy acquaintance, but she struggles with feeling alone the entire time. Pretending everything’s okay even when it’s not. That is (unfortunately) very relatable.
She sighs. “You’ll be okay,” she tells me firmly.
I don’t want to be okay.
Wink cries into my shoulder some. I just let her, wondering if we can both be the brave one. Maybe we can all be the brave ones, this big-picture part of my mind wonders. I like that thought. Go bravely. Be bravely. I never would’ve thought to be bravely, until just now — maybe Ull’s odd use of language is rubbing off on me. But, it has a different meaning altogether than simply “be brave.” I like it. I want to write it down.
most pure animal companion
✨ MAUD from Another Kingdom. This one was really hard for me; apparently I don’t read many books with animal companions at all, let alone pure ones. But then I thought of Maud. She’s… strange. She used to be human but now looks like a squirrel with a human face, and she can do magic via sparkly-light-fairy-rainbow stuff that I don’t quite get. I’m pretty sure she’s pure and noble, though. It’s just hard to get over the squirrel thing…
✨ PRIA + PAX from the Breeder trilogy. These two tie because they are both fierce! Pax was born into a society that pretends he doesn’t exist, and even his outcast friends would hate him if they knew what he was. Meanwhile, Pria has to cope with realizing her whole worldview was built on a lie. But somehow they both survive and keep fighting — for each other, for their friends, for their world.
collage for Pax made by the author (and I cannot figure out how to make it bigger or center it!)
am i surprised that i loved you??
✨ THE FOOL from King Lear. I read this book for school and didn’t really expect to like the story at all, let alone the fool character. BUT he’s amazing! He reminds me of Wit from the Stormlight Archive (actually it’s the other way around, considering when the books were written) and he is the best. If nothing else, read the play for his sake. (And also for the other characters and their arcs. And the metaphor of sight. And… you know what, just read it, okay?)
LEAR. Dost thou call me fool, boy?
FOOL. All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast born with.
✨ EUGENIDES from the Queen’s Thief series. I wouldn’t necessarily describe him as a “sassmaster,” but I just had to include him in here somewhere. GEN 😍😍 You know how sometimes authors or readers like to call characters their children? I don’t usually do that but I would happily claim Gen if he would allow me to. I think he belongs to Megan Whalen Turner though and I am very okay with that because maybe someday she will write more Thief novels?? (Note: I haven’t read book six yet! No spoilers please!) Gen is… a mystery I dare not explain to you. Once you read The Thief and The Queen of Attolia you will know enough to fangirl, so go do that, please.
“I was listening,” [Eugenides] said, aggrieved. “I closed my eyes to listen better.”
“What did you hear?”
“I’m not sure,” he said. “That’s why I was listening so closely. I may have to ask the baron to repeat some parts of his report on his grain tax.”
“I am sure you can arrange an appointment.”
“I am sure I can too.”
✨ CASSIUS from the Red Rising trilogy. I’m not sure what the technical definition of “antihero” is, but Cassius is a semi-antagonist who ends up… well, still being the antagonist, but also being a lovable charrie that I just want to hug. At his first appearance he befriends the MC Darrow, but then Darrow does something awful to Cassius’ family (not exactly on purpose) and tries to keep it a secret. Which… does not go well. So then they are on opposite sides in a conflict but still have immense respect and love for each other and wish they could be friends again, and — the CLIMAX of Morning Star — I *will not* spoil it for you! But it’s awesome!
Cassius lets his helmet retract and winks at me. His face is harder than when we first met. But every now and again there’s that twinkle in his eyes, like a light inside a far-off tent, making you feel warm even though you’re still outside. And I am outside. He thinks I don’t see how wounded he is. How I’m a replacement for the brother Darrow of Lykos took from him in the Institute. Sometimes he looks at me and I know he sees Julian.
the best friends of all
✨ LEO + ROSE RED from the Tales of Goldstone Wood. These two spend a summer together on the mountain and then don’t see each other for years. Leo does a lot of terrible things. Rose Red has many terrible things done to her. Leo banishes her, Rosie loves him anyway, and then there’s that one scene — any Knights present know what I’m talking about — that just doesn’t quite wrap up their relationship just right. But regardless, they’re such good friends and I love how they stick together through it all.
“What’s the good of a story that ain’t got a happy endin’?” the girl demanded, crossing her arms.
Leo considered. “Maybe it does have a happy ending. At least, when it’s actually complete. I mean, this part of it is sad. But maybe something good will come from it still? I suppose you have to read all the legends together to know for sure, but I don’t know all of them. This one is sad, but there might be a story out there somewhere to make it happy.”
The girl nodded. “I’d like to know that story someday.”
best villain to hate
✨ DEATH-IN-LIFE + LIFE-IN-DEATH from the Tales of Goldstone Wood. This brother/sister duo are a terrifying pair and you never want either to have any control over your soul.
✨ TOROL SADEAS from the Stormlight Archive. Another despicable villain, but unlike Death and Life, he is a human who used to be nice (whereas the Goldstone villains are draconic spirits rather like Satan) and was once a good friend to a protagonist. But. He has completely changed his mind and point of view. I was fine with some of his choices (you know, it’s okay to disagree on what the right thing is, especially if your former best friend has declared that God is dead and all the slaves in the land are actually demons), until, well, I wasn’t. I won’t say any more but, yeah, he’s a pretty awful guy.
best vs worst YA parents
✨ BEST: ARTEMIS I + ANGELINE FOWL from The Fowl Twins. I think this series counts as middle grade, not YA, but I honestly didn’t read much YA in 2020. Artemis and Angeline have vastly improved from their appearances in the original Artemis Fowl series but are still struggling to be good parents. You can’t really blame them, though, since their oldest son is on a mission to Mars and their twin pre-teens keep hijacking their planes and traveling the world with fairies.
✨ WORST: VIN’S PARENTS from the Mistborn trilogy. One of them pretends his daughter doesn’t exist and assumed her mother had been killed (and was fine with it). The other (*minor spoilers*) killed one of her children and sort of enslaved another to an evil spirit. So. Easy pick for worst parents.
ship of all ships
✨ EANRALDERA (EANRIN + IMRALDERA) from the Tales of Goldstone Wood. He can’t stop talking; she literally can’t talk. They are THE BEST couple I’ve read about in a long time.
Her eyes pleaded with him to understand, to try. Under that gaze, Eanrin had no option but to sit and stare at the scribbles in the dust, stare with all the intensity a cat can muster. His pupils dilated until the golden irises were like rings of eclipsed sunfire. Imraldera watched him, chewing her bottom lip and waiting.
At last the cat lashed his tail and raised his whiskered face to her. “I’m sorry, my girl. It looks to me like the Greater Stick Bug pursues the Lesser Stick Bug over the back of a giant alligator. Can’t make a thing of it otherwise.”
✨ FOXLILY (FOXBRUSH + DAYLILY) from the Tales of Goldstone Wood. You didn’t think I’d only talk about one ship, did you? These two are, well, not the best of friends from childhood and it takes several other crushes, a botched love letter, a runaway bride, and several other calamities for them to truly see each other.
[S]he brandished [her rag doll] menacingly. “I am King Shadow Hand of Here and There! And I will slay you, fiend of darkness! Slay you and save my fickle fleeting Fair from your evil mound!”
“I don’t remember that… I remember him losing his hands. I remember him bargaining with the Faerie queen. I remember him fighting the twelve warriors. I don’t remember a maiden,” [Leo said.]
The girl, undaunted, read…
Oh, Shadow Hand of Here and There
The stone of ancients kills
To free his fiery, fickle Fair
From death beneath the hills!
Leo rolled his eyes, then turned to those gathered round. “So who wants to be the damsel in distress?”
“Do you want to be the fickle Fair?” [the girl-king] said, drawing near to [Foxbrush].
In that moment, realization washed over young Foxbrush; realization that this girl could make him do whatever she wanted him to. And, more horribly still, he wouldn’t entirely mind doing it.
He loved her at once for reasons he could not then understand.
✨ MOLLY + ROGER from Wives and Daughters. These two! My goodness! From the first time they met I shipped them, but it takes so long to get any closure. Which, you know, is kind of one of the major points of the book… Roger is a nature nerd and I just love him. So good. So kind. Molly is struggling to find her place in the world and Roger is there for her.
“I would far rather have two or three lilies of the valley gathered for me by a person I like, than the most expensive bouquet that could be bought!”
✨ SHALLAN + ADOLIN from the Stormlight Archive. They are so sweet together and exactly what the other needs. Also, I love how Sanderson took the arranged-marriage trope and flipped it upside down. They hear they’re engaged and they’re like, “yay, can’t wait to meet my future spouse! So nice to have someone pick him/her for me!!”
“I’m not good with relationships, Shallan.”
“Is there anyone who actually is? I mean, is there really someone out there who looks at relationships and thinks, ‘You know what, I’ve got this’? Personally, I rather think we’re all collectively idiots about it.”
✨ GEN + [SPOILER] from the Queen’s Thief series. The other relationships I’ve talked about in this post are only minor spoilers. This one is too… but seriously, I do not want to be the one to ruin this gem of a series for you. Suffice it to say that I love Gen and this woman together 🙂
✨ MILES + BECKETT FOWL from The Fowl Twins. These brothers. My heart! Whyy are they so precious? 100% recommend reading this series, no matter your age, if you want to meet two lovable boys and also just have a grand time reading about their (mis)adventures.
Myles stopped counting aloud and opened his eyes. “How much do you trust me, Beck?”
Beckett smiled. “How big is the universe?” he asked.
✨ BRIDGE FOUR from the Stormlight Archive. Their bond and friendships and personalities and everything.
must be protected
✨ RENARIN from the Stromlight Archive. I only want to protect him for a little bit, though. Long enough for him to figure out his place and his powers and all that. Then I want him protecting me.
honestly surprised you’re still alive
✨ KATNISS, PEETA, etc. from The Hunger Games. They’re literally in a game where people are trying to kill them.
makes the worst decisions
✨ UNA from Heartless. *counts on fingers* Idolizes relationships, falls for all the wrong men, refuses the literal PRINCE OF EVERYTHING, listens to a dragon…
“Have you ever dreamed of one thing for so long, wanted nothing more than to have that dream fulfilled, only to find out that maybe it wasn’t what you actually wanted all along?”
“I believe that’s called growing up.”
✨ ERRANCE from Moonscript. Also made a lot of bad choices. I don’t want to spoil this one for anyone either, but… yeah. Bad choices. And I think my favorite part of reading Goodreads review for Moonscript is is how everyone is like “Errance!! My BABY! also yeah he was tortured and imprisoned and is super super depressing and dark but… my CHILD!!”
most in need of a nap
✨ JEEVES from the Jeeves books. Poor guy. Bertie needs his help every other second and he never has any free time. (If you’ve ever heard someone say “he was a Jeeves” or something similar and have no clue what it means, try these books.)
want to read more about you
✨ FINNICK from Catching Fire. (Is it weird that I ship him and Katniss?) I really, really, want more Finnick content!
✨ WIT from the Stormlight Archive. Probably my favorite character ever (at least at the moment). He’s simply the best. It’s hard to explain without ruining all the mysteriousness he works so hard to have. But yeah. I would love a Wit book. (Hoping for one someday! Like, the cosmere backstory? I’m still very confused about how it all works.)
Apologies for the length of this post! I love talking about characters, as you can see.
If you want to do this yourself, here are the prompts:
- most relatable character
- most pure animal companion
- fiercest fighter
- am i surprised that i loved you??
- best sassmaster
- best antihero
- the best friends of all
- best villain to hate
- best vs worst YA parents
- ship of all ships
- most precious
- must be protected
- honestly surprised you’re still alive
- makes the worst decisions
- most in need of a nap
- want to read more about you
Until next time, may you make many fictional friends!!
P.S. What are some of your favorite characters you first met in 2020? Have you met any of my favorites?
(Also! Please kindly remember that I have not read Return of the Thief or Rhythm of War yet :))