Challenge: Royal Court Book Tag

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I wholeheartedly accept this challenge from Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master, as I said I would do when she first told me about it. I’ve decided that this must exclude picture books and any media besides books—because it is a book tag. I am also assuming this is already an unspoken rule in this game, but I cannot use the same character twice, even as I look over this list and think of how many titles one particular character is owed. (Watch as I destroy the rules!)

These sorts of games are always tricky—not only because they ask me to choose one out of millions of characters that I’ve encountered in more than a quarter of a century, but also because the number of characters that I’ve encountered is so huge, and I have a difficult time combing through all of the possibilities, likely to get waylaid by whomever I’ve encountered most recently.

King and Queen: Your Favorite male and female leads.

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This is my favorite illustration of Cimorene, still toting the symbols of femininity while flaunting the strictures of society. And she’s clearly clever.

Let’s talk about how few books there are in my possession with strong, memorable female leads. Really, let’s. (Some of the onus is on me, of course. There are some books here with female leads whom I like but I just don’t love, whom I don’t feel all that close to, or whom for whatever reason were overshadowed by male co-leads.) But it made the answer to this question pretty simple. Queen Cimorene from Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles keeps her title.

Now let’s talk about the plethora of beloved male leads I have to choose from…. But the more I think about it, the more I think my favorite—and by that I mean most beloved—character is Cammon from Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series! He’s a lead from the fourth book, Reader and Raelynx, surely.

Queen Cimorene and King Cammon will do well together and rule most wisely and justly. He may even be a better match for her than her canon husband—Mendenbar.

Royal First Born: the most loyal character

I'm pretty sure Tolkien never did a character sketch, so we'll let New Line decide what Sam looks like.

I’m pretty sure Tolkien never did a character sketch, so we’ll let New Line decide what Sam looks like.

It takes a special kind of loyalty to follow another character and a cause (by one estimate) 2000 miles, straight to the enemy stronghold, all the while being assailed by outside forces, while that character is slowly going mad, growing weak, and being overcome by an Evil Force. So welcome to the royal family, Samwise Gamgee the Brave from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

I would not mind having Sam as heir apparent.

Second Born: the most laid-back character

That's him there in the pointy, starred hat. That drawing's done by his authoress, so I'd reckon it's the nearest to canon we'll get.

That’s him there in the pointy, starred hat. That drawing’s done by his authoress, so I’d reckon it’s the nearest to canon we’ll get.

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has a name worthy of royalty. The man has seen a lot, and maybe that’s partially why he seems so laid back when we meet him around the sprightly age of 150. He has his fingers in everything, pulling strings like a puppet master, but he greets every new situation with a great deal of composure—maybe because he’s seen so much that he’s already foreseen this very situation arising. Mid-battle scene the words used to describe him are still “calmly,” “as though he had not a fear in the world, as though nothing had happened to interrupt his stroll up the hall,” and “speaking as lightly as though they were discussing the matter over drinks,” (OotP, 813-814). How a 150-year-old man is the second born son of younger parents is a math problem I will not be answering.

Bonus: If I include TV characters and those TV characters do not need to be recurring, it comes down to a battle between Lily and Moku both from the same episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender: “The Cave of Two Lovers.” I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of mind-altering drugs. But they aren’t fazed by giant skybison, ancient curses, Fire Nation soldiers, or traveling with the Avatar.

Third Born: the most headstrong character

This seems to be the original cover art for Dragonflight, the book in which Lessa is introduced.

This was the original cover art for Dragonflight, the book in which Lessa is introduced.

Headstrong still has a positive or at least loving vibe to it. I can think of a few characters of George R. R. Martin’s who have graduated beyond “headstrong” to maybe “incorrigible.” Ramsay Snow/Bolton, for example, is not sane enough to merit headstrong. But Lessa from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series? She’s maybe headstrong, [SPOILER] undermining and disregarding others’ authority first to engineer the downfall of her family’s usurper, then endangering herself and her dragon and by extension the continuation of the dragon species for the survival of dragonriding culture. [END SPOILER] I’d much rather saddle the royal family and the kingdom and the planet with Lessa than Ramsey.

Royal Adviser: most trustworthy character

Ironically enough, Jaron, called for many years Sage, of Jennifer A. Nielsen’s Ascendance Trilogy comes to mind here. He won’t tell me what he’s up to and what he’s doing will seem beyond foolish, but I trust that he has the kingdom’s best interests at heart, and what’s more I trust that his ideas will have the outcome that he wants and that the kingdom wants. He’s one who could fall under several tags. That third born is calling his name too…. *Note: I’ve not finished the Ascendance Trilogy yet. Jaron could yet let me down.

Duke and Duchess: your favorite couple.

This is perhaps the only tag of which I’m immediately certain. It’s Cammon and Amalie from Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series! And I’m only certain because I’ve been asked before whom I would consider my OTP. And now the court gossip really has some juicy tidbits. The king has a consort! (It’s potentially possible that a great deal of their merit as my OTP depends on keeping Cammon happy….)

Lady-in-Waiting and Gentleman of the Bedchamber: two characters that take care of those around them.

“Gentleman of the Bedchamber” is an actual, historical title, as it turns out, and yes, the position was roughly equivalent to a lady-in-waiting at least during certain points in history.

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I actually like this cover, and my one quibble is that her hair could be lighter, but I can also pretend her white blond hair is reflecting the flames.

Senneth Brassenthwaite from The Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn is remarkably good at being drawn off-mission by the plight of others, and she will literally burn down the town, make herself an object of suspicion and scorn, inconvenience her friends, and cause herself pain to protect another.

Kit Rodriguez from Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series also a few times gets all twisted around, nearly destroyed, nearly driven insane trying to help others: his interventions with Darryl and the Martians Aurilelde and Khretef particularly stand out in my mind….

Secret traitor: least trustworthy character

I’m having a difficult time with this one because a lot of the untrustworthy characters that come to mind, I can figure out, and once I’ve figured out their driving motivations, they become predictable, and then I can at least foresee their betrayal, maybe avoid it. In the wise words of a savvy pirate: “a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly.” Caudicus from Patrick Rothfusssecond book in The Kingkiller Chronicles is dishonest, but I don’t know why. [SPOILER] I still can’t see what he has to gain from killing the Maer. Keeping him weak, sure. That increases Alveron’s reliance on Caudicus and keeps Caudicus paid, but if Caudicus loses his benefactor, and his benefactor dies heirless, what does Caudicus gain? Unless he was in the employ of someone who does stand to gain from the Maer’s death! But I’ll never know. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the last of the Maer. Unless the king that Kvothe kills is the King of Vint, who would gain by having the Maer dead. [END SPOILER] Nope. Too much supposition there. A possibility to file away for later.

Court Wizard: a whimsical or fun or magical character

I think I’m going to call in the big names here and invite Tom Bombadil from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to court to sing nonsensical songs and work amazing magics with seemingly little effort. He is certainly capricious enough to be whimsical, and I get the feeling that he is more playful than loose-screwed. Of course he is welcome to bring Goldberry.

Royal Fool: the funniest character.

This seems to be the cover from the first printing in 1927.

This seems to be the cover from the first printing in 1927.

At first I could think of almost no character to give this title too, but then I realized there are books that I own that I would qualify as straight humor, and it must be such a book’s hero that claims this title. In those books, it’s mostly the narration that makes the stories funny, really, and of those stories that sprang first to mind only Mr Mulliner narrates his own stories. So Mr Mulliner from P. G. Wodehouse’s books will be my royal fool—bless him. He won’t realize that he’s the fool and perhaps to his face I will call him my storyteller—but the court will know.

Court Gossip: the character most likely to have and spread secrets

I had some fun looking through the foreign covers for one that better showed Kvothe. This is a Finnish cover for The Wise Man's Fear.

I had some fun looking through the foreign covers for one that better showed Kvothe. This is a Finnish cover for Book 2: The Wise Man’s Fear.

There was that time that Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles was gifted with all of the courts’ dirty secrets… and then sold them to an unscrupulous publisher…. He’s an excellent secret-keeper when he wants to be, but he’s also an excellent storyteller and equally excellent at bending those stories to favor whom he wishes.

Attractive Servant: just because every kingdom needs one

Seems only fair to have one of each gender.

There are several female characters who are the embodiment of attractive, who are defined primarily as attractive. Why is the only male embodiment of beauty that I can remember a cupbearer to Zeus, not given more than a line of recorded dialogue telling characters in a taxicab to buckle up? Other male characters are described as attractive, sure, but it’s not their defining characteristic.

I mean, really! This is the first cover printed for Book 1: City of Bones.

But Aphrodite from Rick Riordan’s books (and elsewhere besides) and Felurian from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles are both beauty and sex itself. I suppose they would have to be on the list of most physically attractive characters, but both are really a bit vapid. Kirra Danalustrous from The Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn and Denna of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles also are both described as having similar effects on the men around them as do Aphrodite and Felurian—but neither is vapid.  I wouldn’t mind having either at court.  Neither would be likely to stay very long in my employ, both being wanderers, but they both might wander back to the castle every so often.

I’d also like to invite Jace from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series to be in attendance. He won’t like being a servant either, but I would like looking at him, and I’d let him snark the royal court since that is a great deal of his charm.

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About Kathryn

My love of books has been carefully cultivated by the adults who raised me and also by the friends who love to share. My life has led me down long library shelves, to online forums, fanfiction sites, the front of a lecture hall, and into the desks of college classrooms. With an English degree and a couple master’s classes in Children’s Literature, I am now a bookseller for Barnes & Noble. I have been an editor for Wizarding Life Networks (the people who brought you Wizarding Life, Panem October, and MyHogwarts now HogwartsIsHere).

2 responses »

    • I’m 99% certain that Cimorene and Cammon are “let’s be allies!” sort of people. I don’t know what Jaron would say, but I never know what Jaron would say. We just had better keep our traitors away from one another… and make sure that your wizard doesn’t convince my gossip to jump off another roof….

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