Warning contains spoilers for Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen series book 1) by John Gwynne, The Farseer trilogy and Fool’s Errand (The Tawny Man trilogy book 1) both by Robin Hobb and The Silence by Tim Lebbon.
I went to collect Sully’s (my dog) ashes yesterday and it got me thinking about emotions I’ve felt while reading. I love books that really pull me into the story and make me care about the characters, often times sharing in their emotions, hurt, sorrow, joy, happiness, anger, betrayal, etc, really feeling the characters come to life from out the pages. There’s been a few characters who I’ve absolutely hated while reading certain books, Joffrey in Game of Thrones (he’s just as vile in both the books and the TV show), Regal from The Farseer trilogy and Roland in Swan Song all immediately spring to mind as evil, hateful, vile characters that I absolutely hated and wanted to see get their comeuppance. But the only times I’ve ever actually stopped reading a book that I was enjoying, nearly thrown my Kindle and cried (yes, I’m a tattooed male and admit I shed a tear over a book) were all down to animal companions.
The time I nearly threw my Kindle was over Malice by John Gwynne the first book in his excellent The Faithful and the Fallen series. Corban one of the lead characters finds a young Wolven cub who he names Storm. During Malice there’s abit where you don’t know what Storm’s fate willbe, I got to that part of the book as I was about to finish reading for the night but I just couldn’t put the book down and even though I had to get up at stupid o’clock for work (that’s 4:30am) I found that I had to keep on reading to find out what happened to her, all the while thinking, don’t you dare Gwynne! If anything bad happens the Kindle gets thrown!…….well I can happily report that I still have my Kindle. 🙂
The only time I’ve actually cried over a book was down to Robin Hobb and Fool’s Errand (The Tawny Man trilogy book 1) . For me, Fitz and especially Nighteyes are two of the best fantasy characters ever created. From the first time Fitz meets Nighteyes as boy and cub in Assassin’s Apprentice you as the reader just know that there bond is going to be something special and it is as they have such a great unique relationship and take you on a wonderful journey over so many years together through both The Farseer trilogy and then Fool’s Errand. Hobb has such a way with words that she makes you really care about her characters and their fate and when the inevitable happens and old age finally catches up with Nighteyes it’s heartbreaking. I have to give praise to Hobb for keeping Nighteyes alive in the Tawny Man as it’s set 15 years after the last Farseer book (Assassin’s Quest) and she could simply have taken the easy way out and had Nighteyes pass away during the time between the two series and just had Fitz mention him and his passing, but she doesn’t and she gives him the swansong he deserves. Crafting such a poignant, heartfelt and beautifully written moment that I’d challenge anyone not to get emotional and shed a tear when reading it. To me, his death has to be one of the best crafted passages in fantasy literature.
Now, the only time I’ve ever actually stopped reading a book that I was enjoying was also due to an animal companion and it was Tim Lebbon’s The Silence. Like everyone else I’ve read the occasional book that I haven’t finished but it’s always been down to the normal reasons like I wasn’t enjoying the book. But with The Silence, I remember I was finding it a decent read and becoming pulled into the story but about a third of the way into the book something happens and the main set of characters (a family) are trapped in their car and as you may have guessed from the title, silence is key to survival. The daughter who is deaf has a pet dog, they can’t stop him barking and the father kills the dog. I just couldn’t read anymore after that and the book got deleted from my Kindle. I understood why the father did it, to protect his family but while it’s only a book and not reality, I know it’s not something I would ever do under any circumstance and because of that I simply couldn’t read anymore.
Well, I guess as a dog lover that the fates of animal companions just really get to me, but surely that’s the point of a great book? To be pulled into the world created by the author and to become emotionally invested and care what happens to the characters and that the relationships the author crafts and creates be it with an animal companion or each other mirrors real life and what we feel.
Well, that’s my first post wrote for musings from a sarcastic mind. 🙂