Something I’ll never be sorry about is how much I enjoy yelling about my favourite women in fiction – particularly fantasy, which is my favourite genre – but I think the leading gents I read and love have been a little left behind, so today I’m here to rectify that.
On the whole I do tend to relate more to the women I read, and I tend to gravitate more towards books that have women at the centre of them, but there are some men I encounter in books who I might not necessarily relate to in the same way I would a woman, but I desperately want to adopt them and protect them at all costs. Having said that, the four men on my list today (my ultimate favourite guys from my favourite genre) were all written by women, which is interesting…
Maia Drazhar from The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
I’ve mentioned plenty of times that this is my favourite novel, so it’s probably not surprising at all to see Maia on this list. Maia is inherently kind and fair, and the kind of character who doesn’t let any hardships he might have faced excuse any bad behaviour on his part. After the sudden deaths of his father and his older brothers he’s suddenly thrust into the role of Emperor, and from the beginning he uses his new power to assist the less fortunate because he understands he’s in a position of enormous privilege. I adore him.
Kaz Brekker from the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
On the opposite end of the scale, we have this absolute car crash of a human being and I love him dearly. This is another one of my all-time favourite books and so much of my love for this book is down to its characters and, while I do love all of them, Kaz is my murderous son and still one of the most compelling characters I’ve ever followed. He’s so clever – I love a clever character – and what I love most is that he’s not a con artist and thief who’s making a living from other people’s misery until he can find the means to make an honest living. Kaz is good at being the kind of person you wouldn’t want to encounter in a dark alley, and I love how he embraces that.
Patroclus from The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Will I ever be over this novel? I very much doubt it. Madeline Miller’s version of Patroclus is one of the sweetest beans in fiction, his sweetness actually rivals Maia’s, and I must admit it took me a little while to warm up to him when I first read this novel. Once Patroclus has you, though, say goodbye to the safe space you’ve been keeping your feelings in because this book will destroy you. What I love about Patroclus is how, in a lot of ways, he reads like a female character we might typically see in a lot of the traditional historical fantasy out there, pining over a handsome man whom he hopes doesn’t get killed on the battlefield, while developing a talent for healing wounds rather than inflicting them. And yet he is still very much a boy, and I love how he quietly challenges so many of our gender stereotypes.
Alizayd al Qahtani from The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A Chakraborty
Ugh I love Ali so muuuuch. He’s such a flawed character; he’s not very good at compromising at all, but I love that so much of that is because he wants to stick to his beliefs and his principles even if that means having to go up against his own family, whom he genuinely loves. He’s the kind of honourable, innocent nerd, who’s having to learn that the rest of the world isn’t as honourable and innocent as he is, that I love, and I want only good things for him in The Empire of Gold or I’m going to riot. Of the three major characters in this trilogy, I think Ali is the one with the most compelling character arc and a character who feels very different by the end of The Kingdom of Copper than he did at the beginning of The City of Brass.