Happy Sunday Bibliofriends,
There’s a brand new theme for this month’s Six For Sunday lists and I’m so excited to get stuck in to Characters Ahoy! I think we can really underestimate at times just how important some characters are to stories and the way that we as readers interact with them – particularly those side-kick, lesser-known, periphery characters who can be a tiny cog in the big machine of a story yet crucial to making the whole thing tick.
As I kept filling out these lists each week, I became glaring aware of the fact that my choices of characters/novels seem to be limited to my ‘God-tier’ kind of books – I could literally fill each prompt with characters from my favourite worlds (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Throne of Glass) but then I keep getting bored of picking the same well-known fictional people over and over again. So this month, I’m trying to be a little more diverse in my selections of characters and although I can’t cut out some of my favourites completely, hopefully you’ll start to see a wider range of influences from all across my reading pile!
This week is all about Clever Characters. For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. Steph also hosts a Twitter chat for Six For Sunday each Sunday evening around 6pm but I never seem to make it as I’m always busy! Maybe this month…?! 🤔
I find ‘clever’ such a tricky bracket to put characters into. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines ‘clever’ as “having or showing the ability to learn and understand things quickly and easily”. The main problem, is that being clever can sometimes be heavily stereotyped, and not always in a positive way. Clever characters are often the bespectacled book-swots, straight A students who don’t have many friends, or plain characters merely exist to retain a lot of information.
So often, we forget about the other definitions of ‘clever’ such as “skilful” or for an object, “something well-designed”. Being a teacher, I think clever characters are important representatives in today’s fiction. We encourage our students to perform their best in a system rigged with exams and gradings when actually, all of us has an ability to be clever in some element of our life and not all of us fit the education-style mould when it comes to proving our cleverness.
So here’s to my six clever characters who, despite being invariably different, are all shining beacons in being their own kind of clever.
Hermione Granger – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Dubbed ‘the brightest witch of her age’, Hermione’s character maintains all of the ‘cleverness’ tropes: exam success, homework always completed (her own AND Harry’s and Ron’s), good grades, can often be found in the Library, avid reader etc… She even starts of the whole series being lonely and having very few friends. But towards the end, being part of the golden trio and masterminding part of the downfall of one of the greatest villains in fiction, Hermione’s cleverness is celebrated by all – and let’s face it, Ron and Harry wouldn’t have made it through their first year at Hogwarts without her!
Wade Watts – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I have so much love for this novel! Wade Watts makes it onto this list for his extensive ‘cleverness’ knowledge of James Halliday, 80s pop culture and his brilliant problem-solving mind. I can’t say much else without blurting out spoilers to the whole book, but his ability to try and figure out the reality from the virtual reality, spot the red herrings in a challenge riddled with easter eggs, and try to crack the mind of one of the greatest inventors in the Ready Player One world – he truly deserves his place on my clever characters list.
Magnus Bane – The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
For me, Magnus Bane is the saving grace of the The Mortal Instruments series. I love his quirkiness and the cool edge he brings to the Shadowhunters’ world. What gave him a spot on my Clever Characters list is the fact that he always seemed to know exactly what to do whenever anyone came to him for help. He’s a mightily powerful warlock and I definitely wouldn’t want to be pissing him off!
Gandalf – Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Where do we start with Gandalf’s cleverness? His extensive range of magical abilities, his skills as a tactician, his knowledge of the routes, passes and ways of Middle Earth, his sharp, quick-thinking when in danger… Everyone looks to him as a leader because he is often able to give guidance and counsel – that’s definitely earned him a place on my list.
Robert Langdon – The Dan Brown novels
Similarly to Wade Watts, Robert Langdon is an expert in his field has a vast knowledge of history related to conspiracy theories and organisations around the world. His photographic memory also helps him to quickly solve puzzles and outsmart the antagonists and rivals he’s often working against.
Don Tillman – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
As a Professor of Genetics, there’s no doubting that Don Tillman is clever. But what I find endearing about Don’s character is that he’s one of those ‘clever people’ who knows everything there is to know about his speciality but really has no idea how to navigate human existence at times – especially when it comes to Rosie!
There we go. Six clever characters, each showing cleverness in different ways and positive lights, but all of them being comfortable and confident with who they are deep down inside.
Which clever characters would make your list? What traits do you think define cleverness?
As always, leave your links below or drop me a comment to chat!