Good authors know how to pull a reader’s strings. For example, they make you hate a character, then later on they show you a side of him or her that gives you pause.
This brings me directly to Mr. George R. R. Martin and his Song of Ice and Fire.
Through the first two books, Mr. Martin made me hate Jaime Lannister. I mean I absolutely despised him! For those who have not read the series, Jaime Lannister is a knight. While handsome and supremely skilled in the ways of war, he’s also a ruthless, child-killing (well, almost) villain. And there’s even more to it, but I don’t want to spoil it for those who have not read the series yet. In the third book, A Storm of Swords, Mr. Martin springs his trap! He actually made me respect this villain, even like him a little! I almost feel guilty even writing this knowing what this guy has done! And that’s what makes Mr. Martin great.
It’s the same feeling I got when reading Jack London’s brilliant deconstruction of the Nietzschean Superman in his amazing novel The Sea Wolf. London makes you loathe the implacable sea captain Wolf Larsen, but in his ultimate destruction you learn to pity him. It’s the swing of emotions the writing engenders that helps make the story great.
Plenty of other examples of this surely abound. Care to share a few of your own? Any characters you’ve given up for total louses, but then had to re-think?
Let’s hear about them!