We know the cliches: the noble savage, the old, scholarly wizard... I could go on. I wouldn't, of course: boredom can be terminal, and these are cliches for a reason! So let's ask a new question: where - and what - are the best twists on those archetypes? The whiny teenager who yes - actually is treated as the most selfish protagonist in history? The noble swordsman who slips cyanide into his opponent's coffee?
Well, here are my choices:
Well, here are my choices:
The Wizard Mentor - Bayaz
An impression of Bayaz from http://keithanim.blogspot.com/ - not as convivial as he looks!
Bayaz seems your average mentor - kindly, mysterious, ancient. Full of words of wisdom for Jezal dan Luthar- until you notice that those words emphasize reputed charity: not the reality! He's close-mouthed and insistent regarding his version of events. Others, however, don't seem to take Bayaz's word as such clear-cut truth: and what really happened with Juvens, anyway?
Bayaz is the First of the Magi from Joe Abercombie's The First Law - and it's quickly apparent that he goes far beyond the archetype. Manipulative, devious - and very hard to defy, what with the exploding enemies - Bayaz is a protagonist you'll love to fail to predict.
The Dark Lord (really, what's with the constant motif of gloom?) - The Lord Ruler
(Art from http://mkingmovies.com/blog/2008/11/16/more-mistborn-fan-art/ - and very good it is, too!)
Of course the Lord Ruler owns the world. He did save it, after all.
The Lord Ruler is the antagonist of Mistborn: The Final Empire - and, as the name suggests, he rules the world. He's also God - or more correctly, part of him. He saved the world from the Deepness, and has ruled it ever since. So how did the Hero of Ages become a despotic tyrant? Can you really rebel against God and his proclaimed natural order? ...And the questions go on.
The Lord Ruler is one of the more interesting antagonists of the series - and recent years. A hero who becomes a villain, but really did alter the world. Though initially seeming as evil as they get (kick the dog moments, anybody?), the more we learn, the more human he seems: and that's pretty human. And he ties into the central mysteries of the book - if he isn't God, how does he do... well, what he does?
The Animal Companion - Nighteyes
Far from being a token character, Nighteyes is a twist on the archetype simply by the existence of his characterisation. Not a human, but not entirely a wolf, he and FitzChivalry share such a deep Wit-bond that neither one belongs entirely to their species - and my, does it show. Nighteyes isn't a human in disguise with a few animal yearnings, either. He struggles to live his own life, and sees things... Well, differently.
Not to mention amusingly. Nighteyes shows what the frequently-used animal companion could be - well, if the author tried, that is. There are some hilarious Fitz-and-Nighteyes moments - and some touching ones. And that Hobb manages to make a wolf a true character in a book populated by humans... Well, it's impressive. Read it! (Well, imperatives are always fun. You don't have to. Really.)
What about your picks? Comment below and tell me!