On writing

Characters are everything in your story

One of my favourite all-time literary characters is Robin Hobb’s Fool, from her Tawny Man series (and the Farseer books, and he also makes an appearance in Liveship Traders). And yet, I nearly didn’t read the first book.

I had not read the Farseer (Assassin) books at the time. I got Fool’s Errand out of the library on one of those sweeps that I do when I am looking for something—anything—to read. Pick up a book; yes, it’s a fantasy; no, I haven’t read it; yes, it’s standalone or the first in a series. I read the first few pages, thought, “Ho hum, just another introspective story about some guy who has powers. Boring,” and put it down again.

Sherylyn is more forgiving with books. She picked it up too and actually read far enough into the book to meet the Fool.

“You have to read the Fool,” she said, and I trusted her taste to read enough of the story to become interested.

So after she finished the book I picked it up again, skimming the first bit until Fool came into it, and I read it avidly from there.

I have read these three books probably a dozen times since (and I read the start now, too). They rate highly in my all-time list of favourite novels.

What makes these books so good? The relationship between the two main characters, Fitz and the Fool. And not just these two, but every other major character in the book is fantastic. There are lots of characters to love—not too many to hate, and I like that in a book —really decent, well-rounded characters with a lot of depth.

It helps that there’s an interesting plot behind this, not to mention a well-crafted world, but it’s still the characters that drag me in. It’s the characters that pull me back to the story time and time again.

And to think that I nearly didn’t read the novels to begin with.

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