A post over at one of our favorites HelloGiggles inspired me to write of my own devotions to literary characters. I wasn't too much of a reader growing up, and females weren't a heavy presence in many of the books I was reading. T.A. Barron perhaps wrote them more than any other popular young adult/children's fantasy author. And I found myself reading Louis L'Amour books just to have a quick read so I could meet my quota. We didn't have a great selection at our school's library. Books were very much directed towards boys or girls. It was westerns and sports books geared towards boys and romances and babysitting adventures with girls. So I typically found my literary crushes in X-Men, because that's where strong females were most present! Thankfully I met good taste in books at college, where I fell in love with so many great characters. It's strange that someone who went into college as an English Education major didn't fall in love with books until college, right?
My first literary crush would most definitely be Storm from the X-Men. Bold, rational by heart, and incredibly strong as a person and a leader, Ororo Munroe ripped out my heart (not co much like she did Marrow's though) with every panel. Whether she was fighting her possessed friends (it's best when it's Cyclops) or comforting her friends like the beautiful scene between her and Iceman while his dad was in the hospital, Storm blew me away. Her ties to nature, love of plants, and claustrophobia were aspects of her personality I could admire and relate to. (I couldn't relate to her goddess complex, though.) She was a nurturing individual, yet could be ruthless if called for. I couldn't get enough of her, even with her weird-ass lines in the animated series. ("I shall meet you at the monorail!")
HUSK (GENERATION X)
Paige Guthrie, or Husk, was my second crush. She was written to be the up-and-coming leader of the X-Men, but when Scott Lobdell left Generation X and subsequently X-Men, his influence on her rising prominence fell to the wayside. Though Paige ended up being a sloppy mess of a damsel in distress and sexing up Angel in front of her mother, Paige has shown great resilience, strength, reason, and devotion since her inception. She became an environmental activist at the end of Generation X, became a babysitter for a broken Banshee, hacked into the government's files in an attempt to gather intel on their real agenda with O*N*E*, pushed for logic and solutions to the enigma of Proteus and Blindfold during Necrosha, and killed every vampire in her way while looking for a newly sired Jubilee. Looking back, I realize I had a fondness for strong female women long before I was aware of what that even meant.
Onward to my fictional life outside of comics...
RHIANNON (THE LOST YEARS OF MERLIN)
When I first started to get into fantasy in middle school, there was T.A. Barron's Adventures of Kate trilogy, The Lost Years of Merlin series, and The Great Tree of Avalon trilogy. Kate was a fun and engaging protagonist whose strength, curiosity, and intelligence tugged at my heartstrings. But it was Rhiannon "Rhia", Merlin's love interest, that beckoned me. Rhia is selfless and intelligent, doing everything she could to save Merlin, even at the risk of her own life. She was crucial to Merlin figuring out what he believes in, how he views the world, and the decisions he makes. Not to mention, she was one with nature, and I love nature!
EOWYN AND GALADRIEL (THE LORD OF THE RINGS)
Then came Eowyn and Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings. How could I not love the mysterious and all-powerful elf queen who shapes and protects middle earth? And how could I not love the woman who fell in love with Aragorn (because who wouldn't) just because he was something exotic, unattainable, heroic. He was what she wanted to be. She wanted to fight for what she believed in, and she did. And she did so with courage and outwitting the Witch-king of Angmar, who vowed that no man could kill him. But apparently a woman can! Instead she fell for the nice guy with a ton of daddy issues and low self esteem who also wanted to prove his worth. I'm swooning right now at the thought of these two lovely ladies who didn't get enough pages. But when they do appear, their presence is felt. (And, yes, it was totally Eowyn who slayed the Witch-king.) And Cate Blanchett in the films makes me melt. Every. Time.
RHAPSODY (SYMPHONY OF AGES)
Lo and behold, I had also discovered Elizabeth Haydon's Symphony of Ages books. Rhapsody became one of the three beings in the world that is able to stop the world from ending as the Namer. She gives power when she names something. Her very being is proof of the power of words, music, and love. Everyone is in love with her, and there's no wonder why they are. She's pretty much amazing and hangs out with some shady folk in her ragtag group: an ugly assassin with a secret heart of gold and a big trollish soldier with little control over language, while she is a musician. It turns out she likes her sex a little rough but smooth, given, it's sometimes with water. Don't ask; just read.
HELEN (HELEN OF TROY)
And then there was Margaret George's Helen of Troy. Helen's being fully fleshed out as a person, rather than an idealized thing of beauty and nothing but a reason to go to war, was a stroke of genius. Helen's battle with destiny and ultimately realizing the gods are controlling her life, just as men are as well, is heartbreaking. The discontent she feels having been free as a child, able to possess property, able to participate in sporting events, and do whatever she wanted, came to a halt when she married. And even when she found comfort in Paris' arms, she was victim to hatred and scorn as the woman who caused this awful war that came to the gates of Troy. Despite everything thrown at her, she continued to live out her life and do the best with what she was dealt.
The Steel Seraglio by the Carey family provided me with plenty of strong characters to swoon over. One of them was Rem, who protected the library of Bessa with her life. When she gave herself up to the new dictator, she wrote words upon herself in languages none of them knew, but she knew. She knew the future and knew languages that didn't exist yet. She speaks with broken speech patterns due to her constant visions and those languages affecting her own. Her fierce protection and love of stories compelled me to love her as well, since she is the embodiment of the power of language. Though she likes women instead of men, it doesn't stop me from crushing hard on her. She's the sort of crazy you could really love in an irrational way.
Who are you literary crushes, both past and present?