While some books shine thanks to their gripping plots, others enchant readers because of their convincing and memorable characters. They don’t need to have faultless personalities, but their traits and behaviours have to be plausible and feel genuine. A great, complex protagonist is always a plus in any novel. Since I wrote my first post about my favourite protagonists, almost four years ago, I’ve discovered other believable main characters that I soon won’t forget.
Mary Yellan – Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier created magnificent characters. The protagonist of Jamaica Inn, Mary Yellan, is just one of many. She is spirited, determined and curious. Although she is undoubtfully brave, in certain occasions she (understandably) succumbs to fear. It’s striking how she frequently muses on her behaviour towards other characters, particularly her aunt. Despite being well-intentioned, Mary is sometimes too severe with her.
Circe – Circe by Madeline Miller
Bullied and tormented by her siblings, Circe felt like an outcast since a young age. Madeline Miller clearly shows how the life experiences of the protagonist of this Ancient Greek myth retelling shaped her personality. After using her witchcraft powers, Circe is banished to a deserted island, becoming much more independent and less fearful. Her emotions are believable and palpable throughout.
Honor Harris – The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier
The best asset of The King’s General is its well-crafted characters. The protagonist, Honor Harris, is my favourite of the lot, mainly because we get to intimately know her in different phases of her life. When she was young, Honor was bold, rebellious and unafraid of frankly expressing her opinions. After growing up and facing some difficulties, she became much more perceptive.
Briseis – The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
The main character of this Ancient Greek myth retelling is outstanding. Close after becoming a slave, after Achilles attacked her people, Briseis felt numb. But soon she was assailed by deep pain. Despite praying for vengeance, she not only showed empathy for the hurt soldiers, but was also more conflicted about Achilles than she would have liked. Her actions and thoughts are revealing of her contradictory feelings.
Isabella / Lady Trent – The Memoirs of Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan
In the first book in this series, A Natural History of Dragons, Isabella is still a young woman. It was a pleasure to read about her adventures as she follows her dream of becoming a respected dragon naturalist. She is adventurous, intelligent, compassionate and somewhat reckless. She doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes and tries to break free from what is expected of women in her world, which is not that dissimilar to ours in the past. The main difference is that dragons are real animals.
Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Who are your favourite protagonists? Tell me in the comments!