Friday, May 6, 2011

30 Days of Genre - What Character Do You Feel You Are Most Like (or Wish You Were)?

Éomer, Third Lord and later King of the Riddermark

Once again, this is a question that was tough to come up with an answer to. First off, I am confining myself to genre fiction characters, because otherwise I would, like most other lawyers, be extolling the virtues of, and aspiring to be like the Harper Lee character Atticus Finch from her masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird. I suspect that if one took a survey of literary-minded lawyers one would find that for the bulk of them their personal hero would be the upright, honorable, and caring Finch. But as great a character as Atticus Finch is, he isn't in a genre novel, and the point of the 30 Days of Genre is to display our love for science fiction and fantasy. Sadly, bookish lawyers who hold down government jobs and practice tae kwon do on the side are in short supply in genre fiction.

Among the characters I considered were Larry Niven's creation Gil "the Arm" Hamilton, featured most prominently in The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton, Andre Norton's Murdoc Zern of The Zero Stone and Uncharted Stars, J.R.R. Tolkien's Boromir, featured in The Fellowship of the Ring, as well as Boromir's brother Faramir, found in the second two books of The Lord of the Rings. And though each of them have characteristics that I think I share, none of them quite fit me the way I think a character should. Gil is resourceful, honorable, and a government worker to boot, but his youthful exploits are far beyond anything that I would have ever actually done even if given the chance. I'm self-aware enough to know I am just not Belter material, even transplanted Belter material. Murdoc Zern, who I have mentioned in this series before, is also an honorable, resourceful individual who solves his problems with his wits, but he takes up a rootless and almost responsibility-free life as a free trader, which I could never do. Boromir and Faramir are, in some ways, two sides of one coin, forming a complete individual out of two distinctly flawed halves (Faramir less flawed in many ways than Boromir), but both have many admirable characteristics that I know I do not have, and at least a few flaws that I hope I do not have.

But Éomer, the Third Lord of the Riddermark, who appears in The Two Towers and The Return of the King, is a character that I would like to be like. In many ways I hope that I actually am like Éomer, and in other ways I fear that I am. He is bold, courageous, honorable, and loyal - all of which I hope to be. He is also headstrong, stubborn, rash, and at times foolhardy, which are attributes I fear I share with him. When King Théoden ignores his responsibilities to defend the Westfold, Éomer steps in against the King's wishes and takes it upon himself to perform this duty. When he encounters Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli as they traverse Rohan, he chooses to trust them, and later becomes close friends with Aragorn, and engages in a friendly rivalry with Gimli over the beauty of Galadriel. Despite the fact that Grima Wormtongue is the closest confidante of Théoden, Éomer opposes the honeyed tongued royal adviser's bad counsel. And Éomer does all of these things knowing that they will result in a sentence of exile, and could result in a sentence of death. I am a quick judge of character like Éomer. I hope that I am a good judge of character as well, as he appears to be. And although I have never had to make a decision that might result in my own exile, I am in a position where I often have to make unpopular decisions, so I can sympathize with Éomer on that score.

But there is a downside to the similarity. Éomer is a steadfast warrior who rallies to his uncle's side to defend Helm's Deep, joins him to confront Saruman, and later leads an eored of Rohirrim into the Battle of Pelennor Field. But when Théoden dies, and Éomer becomes king, Éomer also discovers what he believes to be his sister Eowyn's dead body on the field of battle.

'Éowyn, Éowyn!' he cried at last: 'Éowyn, how come you here? What madness or devilry is this? Death, death, death! Death take us all!'

Then without taking counsel or waiting for the approach of the men of the City, he spurred headlong back to the front of the great host, and blew a horn, and cried aloud for the onset. Over the field rang his clear voice calling: 'Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world's ending!'

And with that the host began to move. But the Rohirrim sang no more. Death they cried with one voice loud and terrible, and gathering speed like a great tide their battle swept about their fallen king and passed, roaring away southwards.

This is a noble scene, but it is also incredibly stupid and foolhardy. Éomer's rage at the apparent death of his sibling drives him to lead his host in a wild and uncontrolled charge, and this quickly gets them into trouble. Even though the men of Gondor sally from the city to try to support the Rohirrim, the forces of Mordor are able to keep them separate, and surround Éomer's men. When his men needed him to exercise good judgment, he throws caution and sense to the wind in favor of blind rage and a thirst for revenge. In short, when the mantle of authority falls upon Éomer's shoulders directly, he behaves in a reckless and unkingly manner. Éomer (and the Rohirrim) are only saved by the fortuitous outcome of Aragorn's long shot gamble to seek out the Paths of the Dead. Even though all is well that ends well in this case, Éomer's penchant for letting his emotions rule his judgment under stress is a trait I have been known to share. I'll just say that if someone ever hurt my wife or children, well, there would probably be some seriously rash actions taken on my part.

So, for all these reasons, I'm going to go with Éomer as the character I am most like.

Go to Day 4: What Is Your Guilty Pleasure Book?
Go to Day 6: Who Is the Most Annoying Character?

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  1. Oh...I love Eomer! lOVE HIM! And I wanted Aragorn to hook up with Eowyn - she's like me, or I'm like her. Perfect choice!

  2. I love Eomer from Lord of the Rings! So brave and honorable...just like all men should be :).

    Hope to see you around my blog again soon...

    I'm announcing my first giveaway next week! :)