Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite minor characters!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Minor characters, peripheral characters, secondary characters...people may call them different things but one thing everyone can agree on is how much we love them and how important they are to the success of the novel. You can't put all your energy into creating the lead characters and nothing into the characters that hang around the outside or you'll end up with a cast as thin and as weak as the Queen of Hearts' army of playing cards.

As important as they are I must say this has been a difficult challenge for me, because although I love them and enjoy them in the immediacy of reading about them, they often fall by the major character's wayside in the long term. So I've racked both the Internet and my brains for the minor characters that have lasted in my memory. Some of these are true minor characters who appear for a couple of pages and disappear (not without leaving their mark) while others are only construed as minor because of the largeness of the primary character(s) beside them.

In no particular order...

1. Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter)
Neville isn't really a minor character, especially when you consider how easily he could have been the protagonist in the series. However he certainly is a marginalised character, always pushed to the side and forgotten about. But behind that absent-minded, nervous soft nature is an incredibly interesting and determined boy who just needed someone to have a little faith in him.

2.Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)
If Neville is my favourite male minor HP character then 'Loony' Luna Lovegood was definitely my favourite female minor character. She was so comfortable in her own skin, open to everything and delightfully weird. What made her my favourite though was when Harry sees their portraits painted on her bedroom walls (or ceilings?) surrounded by little gold lettering spelling 'friends' over and over again. It was such a beautiful moment and perfectly encapsulated how amazing she was.

3. Cast of 1000s (Mixed Magic)
  Overworked, exploited and forced into stereotypical roles the cast of 1000s in this short-story go on strike demanding to be treated like real people. Slight twist though, these aren't actors in a movie but actors in the dreams that protagonist Carol creates and sells to the public. This story wonderfully demonstrates how much life and depth the minor characters in a story can have, and how dangerous it is to typecast or refuse to allow them to live off the page.

4. Dave (Trainspotting)
I mentioned Dave in my review of Trainspotting. He was the protagonist for one brief stand-alone chapter but he was such an incredible character that I felt like he was present through the entire book. One of the few non-junkies Dave is struck down with HIV nonetheless, the victim of an infected junkie who maliciously spread his illness. I found him a character of conflict and complexity, he was colourful and full of emotion and took me on a narrative roller coaster I hadn't expected to find myself on.

5. Agrajag (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Agrajag pops up throughout the series (although we don't always know he has) as the unfortunate creature who seems to only be alive so that he can be killed by Arthur Dent. To me this character and the subplot that accompanied him is one of the funniest things in this series. It is so depressingly hilarious and brilliantly visual and had me bent over clutching at my sides with laughter.

6. Doc (The Power of One)
Peekay's German piano and general teacher of life, Doc, was one of the most interesting and troubled characters in the book. Declared 'dangerous' because of his nationality during WW2 Doc is dragged away to prison to wait out the end of the war in his cell. Haunted by past mistakes and mindbogglingly intelligent and wise Doc was a wonderful and intriguing character. 

7. Tom Bombadil (Lord of the Rings)

Tom Bombadil was one of my favourite characters in the entire series. He was such an intriguing character, able to see through the ring's invisibility and unaffected when the ring, he conjured up so many questions about him which were never answered. He disappears from the book as quickly as he appears but he leaves a lasting impression on the characters and readers alike.

8. Mother Abagail (The Stand)
I wasn't quite sure who to pick here because Stephen King does such a fantastic job of introducing every character in this book, so in a way none of them feel minor. Mother Abagail was 108 years old and an agent of 'god'. Whenever I think of this book the most powerful image (other than that of the dark man Randall Flag) is of Mother Abagail, all small and wrinkled sitting in a rocking chair on a creaky wooden veranda surrounded by cane.

9. Ben Cortman (I am Legend)
Ben is (was) Robert Neville's neighbour before he was turned into a vampire. Now he haunts the doorstep of Robert trying to tempt him out. More than anything or anyone else in this book Ben creeped me out, although I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps it was because he sounded so normal, as though perhaps Robert had lost his mind and instead of wanting to gorge on his warm human body Ben was concerned and simply wanted to help his friend. Or perhaps it was the idea that if Robert was tempted by that voice he'd open the door and see not the Ben Cortman he knew but a terrifying monster.I don't know, all I know is that he made my toes curl...

10. Catch 22
I'm not nominating one single minor character from Catch 22 but the entire book. It's been a few years since I read this book but one thing that amazed me about this book was the sheer number of characters, both major and minor, and the work that was put into creating a life for all of them, even if they were only in the story for two lines and had no name.

There you go, there is my list...who did you guys pick?


  1. Sometimes there are so many wonderful minor characters in a story that you feel you must include all of them. I did the same for The Westing Game. How could you pick just one of them?!

    Please stop by my blog and take a look at my list of Top Ten Minor Characters. I'd love to see what you think. And I'd love to have you enter my May Giveaway for the new book Divergent.

  2. Awww, Neville and Luna, you gotta love them. Actually like Luna just that little bit more for her extra craziness. There should have been more scenes with her.

    I loved Tom Bombadil, I was gutted they cut him out of the film.

  3. Luna and Neville are so great, and I agree with you about Catch-22. All the characters are tremendous.

  4. Great choices this week. I was so close to adding Neville and Tom. I chose Marvin from the Hitchhiker's Guide... Nice call on Mother Abagail too!

  5. Mother Abigail, for sure! Good choice.

    Here's mine:

  6. Luna and Neville are fantastic supporting characters. I love them!

    As for Tom Bombadil, maybe it's because I just got passed him, but I thought he was kind of annoying with all the songs he sang. Maybe, I missed the whole point to his character?

  7. Neville and Luna were number 1 and 2 on my list too.

  8. Clearly I had to check out who made your list besides Tom Bombadil! I'm a little sorry that I left Luna off my list, but since I'm a Snape girl from way back, I went with him instead.

  9. Mother Abigail was fabulous!



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