I thought I’d throw this question out there to see what kind of responses it elicited. I’ll get us started…
Gandalf – This is an obvious one, but I always loved Tolkien’s Gandalf. He’s wise, he’s powerful, he speaks his mind and he is really, really beautifully written. That leads me to say, if you only know of Gandalf from the LOTR movies, you need to read the books. The movies were good and Ian McKellen was probably as good as I could have expected anyone to be, but the movies moved quickly, focused on action centerpieces and left stuff out, meaning that I don’t know if all of Gandalf made it to the screen, if that makes any sense.
Merlin – Perhaps after mentioning Gandalf, Merlin is obvious, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the bard/wizard/wisdom character. I like the more traditional Merlin of most Arthur stories, I like the slightly strange and enigmatic Merlin of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, and I like the more Celtic vision of Merlin from Lawhead too.
True story. When I was younger, I wanted to get two dogs when I was older, and I wanted to call the older one Merlin and the younger one Gandalf. Currently, we have a cat named Xavier. All that to say life doesn’t always turn out like you plan.
Fflewddur Fflam – Speaking of bards, who can forget Fflewddur Fflam? Of course you might be thinking that you’ve forgotten him, but if you’ve ever met him, I doubt you could have forgotten him. He’s a character in Lloyd Alexander’s marvelous Chronicles of Prydain. Fflewddur is a fairly comical character, a traveling bard/minor king who has a magical harp that makes beautiful music but is also sensitive to fibs. Whenever Fflewddur lies, a string breaks, and since he likes to stretch the facts, the strings break a lot.
(By the way, if you know Alexander’s series, then you know about Gurgi. Gurgi is the main reason why I wasn’t much of a Dobby fan in the Harry Potter books. Dobby seemed too much of a lesser Gurgi.)
Gareth – O.K., this could be a stretch, calling Gareth a fantasy character, since I’m referring to the Gareth of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, which is a series of long narrative poems Tennyson wrote over the period of many years, all about Arthur, etc. Gareth is the first story you encounter about the round table and the knights thereof after reading the introductory idyll, “The Coming of Arthur.” Gareth is the epitome of chivalry and heroism in that story, and I won’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil it in case you ever pick it up and decide to give it a chance (despite the challenge of the poetic language, the stories are beautiful and rewarding).
In a nutshell, Gareth is only allowed to go to Camelot and be with his older brothers in Arthur’s service after he promises his mother to work in the kitchens for a set time – she’s hoping he’ll tire of the work and come home again – but he goes and works cheerfully until he’s released from his vow. When he is, he goes to Arthur’s court and is immediately assigned a quest to help a young lady named Lynette. She thinks he is a kitchen helper and not a real knight, and ignorant of his noble birth, feels that Arthur has scorned her in appointing Gareth to her cause. She thus treats him badly all along the way, and Gareth never complains and never responds in kind, and as his valor and nobility is proved, she slowly comes to realize her mistake. It’s a wonderful story!
Reepicheep & Puddleglum – I love Aslan as much as the next person, maybe even more. Still, I wanted to say here that I love the whole range of characters that Lewis populated his world with. The Beavers, the bulgy bears, both horses from The Horse and His Boy and of course Reepicheep and Puddleglum. The valiant mouse and the Marsh-wiggle are characters that left an indelible impression on my young mind.
I could go on, but I won’t. It’s your turn. Who do you like, and why?