1. Hannah says:

    It’s true, so many secondary characters bring life and support to the main through their vivacious humor! Eanrin, as you mentioned, is a fantastic example. And Sam…well…some might actually consider Sam the main character, at least Tolkien did.

    The Wingfeather Saga is stuffed full with brilliant secondary characters, but my favorite, Artham, is not at all humorous. He’s insane, guilt-ridden, and heart-breakingly noble.

    The main character would never go far without all their secondaries. No one would be there to teach them how to be a hero,  to catch them when they fell, or to inspire them to stand taller. What would we do without those beloved secondaries?

  2. Tracey says:

    Gandalf, Eanrin, Fenworth, and Walter are most definitely some of my favorite secondaries! Puddleglum and Reepicheep are also quite memorable. Ah, I have so many beloved characters, but my mind is blanking right now…

  3. Great topic Becky! I love Eanrin: he’s got just the right amount of steel behind his smiles, the perfect balance of mischief, mystery, and grounded reality.

    The trick with secondary characters is to make them not completely dependent on the main character for meaning & purpose. They should be fully realized characters in their own right, with their stories, even if we never get to read about them.

    If you think about it, villains are often the best secondary characters of any tale. However, they can become ridiculous and less believable/frightening if their entire focus is ONLY on the hero. Unless the author’s purpose is to be deliberately cartoonish, such villains lose their charm and terror fast. Instead, the best ones fight the hero because of competing goals/objectives, not simply because they hate their antagonist on a personal level (though that can of course play into it).

    Trap Meridon of Hancock’s Guardian-King series is a great secondary character. Even if I didn’t always like some of his subplots in the later books (the romantic one if book 3 just didn’t work for me), he always conveyed a sense of his own person, his own fire, and his own struggles apart from the protagonist Abramm. He’s also one of the few with the guts to stand up to his friend and call him out on his behavior. I loved that he was a character who was allowed to be a follower of Eidon (God) most of his life, without ever going into a rebellion/salvation plot, who still had real spiritual struggles, didn’t have everything figured out, and yet remained true to his faith even during the worst of circumstances. It’s astonishingly rare to find such characters (ones that I identify with) in Christian fiction.

    And since Hannah brought it up (“The main character would never go far without all their secondaries.”) we absolutely have to watch this clip: https://youtu.be/6Gl3vuQLrKM (wish I knew how to embed with these comments.)

  4. Steve C. says:

    Just watched the BBC presentation of “The Hollow Crown”- which is the Shakespearian trilogy of “Richard ll”, “Henry lV”, and “Henry V”. It was unbelievable.

    Falstaff was played by Simon Russell Beale, and his performance in “Henry lV” was nothing short of perfection. Simply amazing.

    A MUST WATCH!!!!

    • Joanna says:

      I’d argue that Tom Hiddleston made those movies, but yes, they were amazing. 😀 (They made me and my sister dream about a BBC remake of the LOTR series with Hiddleston as Aragorn.)

  5. Pam Halter says:

    I enjoyed Johnathan Rogers’s books, The Wilderking Series. His Feechies (swamp people) were secondary, but they were the most interesting characters for me. Which is a warning to us authors to not make secondary characters more interesting than the hero.

    My favorite secular fantasy author is Terry Brooks. In The Elfstones of Shannara, he gave us a group of gypsies called Rovers. Eretria (daughter of the leader) is a terrific secondary character. She’s strong and interesting, but she doesn’t take over.

What do you think?