Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fictional Characters Are Old, Dear Friends

Just the other day, I finally finished the Wheel of Time series started by Robert Jordan.  It was the second epic fiction I ever started reading, and honestly it is probably the most memorable of all time.  Before his passing, everyone was scared of Robert Jordan not being able to end the series because it was growing too long, and fans feared the worst when it was announced he did pass away.

Luckily he left extensive notes, so when Brandon Sanderson took over the helm to conclude the series in a trilogy, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.  In the foreword of the first book in his trilogy, Mr. Sanderson wrote one of the most touching and most true statement that resonated deep within my soul.

“I love this series as I have loved none other, and the characters feel like old, dear friends from my childhood.”

A simple sentence but it captures what, to me, seems the essence of reading a good is.  Over the years I’ve read many books, and so many characters....  But the best ones are like living the events.  Being there with the characters.

When Rand Al’Thor escaped his home village with Perrin and Mat, I was there with them.  When Richard Cypher fell in love with Kahlan Amnell I experienced it as well.  I felt Phedre no Delaunay’s dismay at being betrayed by her own body, and Imriel de la Courcel’s passion as he stalked his wife’s killer all the way across Siberia for revenge.  I grew up with Jo March and found the hero hidden deep down with Jason Bourne.

In the end, these well written characters weren’t just characters in a book.  I experienced their lives, felt their pain and triumph, right there with them.  These books contained life experiences, and these fictional people are my old and very dear friends.  I know I’ve quoted this line before, but Tyrion Lannister in George RR Martin’s series that started with A Game of Thrones said,

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

I honestly don’t think I’ve read a more true line.  The fact is, I’ve lived quite a few different lives.  I lived and experienced things I never had in this world.  Most people have never seen the shadow on the ground that makes you realize that a dragon just flew over you.  But I have.  I remember that dread.

Just as I remember the dread of Lisa Larimore entering the school of Darkmoire for the first time, or the power hungry feeling of Tetsuo getting such unbelievable powers that he can’t control.  There is a Budhist belief that things exist within your mind and that makes them real.  To me, all these old friends of mine are real, just as El’Mindeeya Do’Katal is real, as is the Dawn Star.

What are your favorite characters from fiction?  Are any of them like old dear friends to you?  Please respond below in the comment box, because I always want to know what my readers think!

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