Have you ever read a book in which a beloved character dies?
I'm sure you have; I can think of many characters I've loved that I've had to say goodbye to. Albus Dumbledore, Boromir, Primrose Everdeen, Seymour Glass, and countless others.
In order to move a terrific plot forward, authors must do away with characters. It pains me, but it's true. If a plot is too neatly wrapped up and the author comes away with no blood on his hands (ahem, Stephenie Meyer), I consider that poor writing.
That being said, I find that the book I just read took the whole "blood on his hands" thing a little too far. So far, in fact, I put the book down with 100 pages left and vowed not to finish it. Then I got mad and said I would finish it, but not continue with the series. Then, I finished the book and said I would continue the series, but only if the author did away with no more of my favorite characters. If he did, I was out.
What book caused this crazy bargaining with myself? (Get ready for spoilers if you haven't already read it.)
Game of Thrones.
This is an excellent book; its wide array of characters keep you on your toes and Martin weaves a fabulous, bloody tale. There were certain characters that stood out for me and I loved immediately. Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark, Daenarys Targaryen and...Ned Stark.
I loved Ned Stark from the beginning. His honor, his sense of duty, his love for his children...all of it. His chapters were my favorite.
Then, the author had him killed and he didn't even let me, the reader, say goodbye. You see, he led the reader to believe that Ned would be okay. All my prior knowledge of plot told me that Ned would make it through the book alive. Forever changed? Yes. Scarred and injured? Yes. But dead? No. That thought didn't even cross my mind.
Kill the protagonist in the first book of the series? Madness. And yet, Martin did it. He did it and I was angry and I put the book down and found that whereas I cried over Albus Dumbledore, I could not cry over Stark. I imagine it was the storytelling and the disbelief I felt at what had just happened. I even toyed with the thought that maybe he wasn't dead, and then read the part about Sansa visiting his head on the spike.
I put the book down and said, "That's it. I'm done with this book." That night, I became worried about my other favorite characters and knew I wouldn't be okay until I knew they were okay (I am such a weirdo).
Therefore, I finished the book and found no such loose ends tied up. I don't know if my favorites will be okay, therefore, I will continue reading. Plus, I really want to know how the whole Others storyline plays out. A medieval fantasy with zombies? That is RICH!
I told myself I would not read any more if any of my aforementioned favorites die. I am spoiled, after all, and I want my protagonists to live. Spoiled rotten, I tell ya.
So, do you think I'll stick to it? If Arya, Jon, Tyrion or Daenarys die in the upcoming books (and don't tell me if they do), will I put the series down and curse George RR Martin? Or will I soldier on with a sense of duty akin to Ned Stark?
And, I need to start reading more books that condition me to be not so spoiled. Which ones would you recommend?