Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Killing and Maiming Characters

Have you ever bruised your finger? I did, and let me tell you, it's not fun. My poor little pinkie turned funny colors and puffed up. However, it did give me this idea for a topic, so maybe something good did come from it.

I don't like characters in the books I read to die. It's that simple. If it's a good, meaningful death, I won't complain about it - but anything less and the book pretty much killed itself in my eyes. This is very odd, considering that I used to read nothing but murder mysteries.

It seems that in mystery novels though, more often than not in the ones I read, the more villainous person was the victim. Usually it was a really vile character that got killed first. Sometimes you could even sympathize with the murderer (though I probably shouldn't be saying that).

Then, once I started reading fantasy novels, I realized how often likable people were killed in the worst ways possible. I can deal with death - even if they kill off my favorite character - as long as it's meaningful. It seems that, entirely too often, death is just a shorthand way to say that battle/war sucks. I guess it could be there to be more realistic, but I've never really needed my reading to be realistic.

One of my favorite fantasy series ever left everyone alive at the end of the story. Of course, they weren't all exactly 'whole' by that time. One character lost his arm, from the elbow down I think. Actually, two characters lost one arm each, but the first one got a really cool knife prosthetic. Another character lost an eye.

For me, I really liked the way that trilogy handled it. Yeah, it was a difficult fight - but everyone was still alive and, even if not 'whole', doing fine.

So, what's your experience with death and injuries in books? Does it bother you? Do you like it because it's more realistic? I'd love to hear your thoughts.