Last Saturday I looked at the
Top Five Most Hateable Characters in A Song of Ice and Fire
– so this week I’ll be looking at the most likeable characters within the series. Like I said last week, A Song of Ice and Fire doesn’t really have any heroes or villains, just people with their own motives and personalities. These are the characters that have traits which make them stand out as being some of the most honourable and likeable. They don’t have to be perfect or clean cut – just have enough interesting traits to make the audience like them as a character.
For this list, I am setting some ground rules. First of all, like last week’s Top Five THERE WILL BE HEAVY SPOILERS – at least up until A Feast for Crows, simply because I haven’t read A Dance of Dragons yet, but it is next on my list. So if you don’t want any spoilers, please look away now.
Secondly, this list is purely based on POV characters within the series that are still alive. Therefore, with regret, Eddard and Robb Stark won’t be making any appearances. Don’t get me wrong I think that they are amazing characters, but for the purpose of this list they won’t be appearing.
Ok, here we go! EDIT: Characters listed in no particular order - just the order I choose to show them.
1. Arya Stark
Many consider Arya the “heroine” of the series. I don’t necessarily think that is true – but she certainly is one of the strongest characters and one that has one of the most incredible journeys of all the characters.
Arya Stark completely goes against the conventions you’d expect of a Highborn girl. Whereas most ladies of high birth in Fantasy stories tend to be little more than just pretty maidens, Arya is a fighter and wants to learn how to fight and defend herself. She’s feisty, sometimes reckless, but she knows what has to be done and will always try to find her way out of a situation – even if it involves death.
Let’s just look at the journey that Arya’s had since she came to King’s Landing in
A Game of Thrones. She was trained by a Braavosi swordsman, watched her father executed, sent to the Knights Watch, kidnapped by the Lannisters along the way, then became a slave of the Boltons before escaping and being picked up by the Brotherhood Without Banners, then kidnapped by the Hound and finally escaping to the Free Cities to join the Faceless Men. All this – and she’s only just a kid! But through this, Arya is forced to grow up quickly if she hopes to survive.
Through her hardships, Arya seems to pick up a rather unhealthy obsession with death – to the point where she recites a list of all the people that have wronged her and prays for their death. Some of which she has even killed herself. But given how most of the people on her list do deserve to die in some way then we can still vouch for her as a character.
We love Arya because of the incredible journey that she has had and the fact that she’s come out from it a much stronger person than she was before. Sure, there are times when she does show fear occasionally, but then she remembers her mantra – Fear cuts deeper than swords. Now that she is part of the House of Black and White, I am very interested to see where she goes from here – and whether her obsession with death will have any ill effects on her.
2. Sansa Stark
Poor Sansa Stark. She is the character I feel the most sorry for. She really has gone through a lot of crap during her life.
When she was to marry Prince Joffrey Baratheon she couldn’t be happier – after all, it’s always been a dream of her to marry a handsome prince. But boy does her life quickly descend into hell when Joffrey shows his true colours. Not only does he force her to watch when her father is executed, but he constantly has his guards beat her, strip her and humiliate her for his own amusement. And yet Sansa never does anything wrong!
Though she may be a kind of damsel in distress, Sansa is a very sweet and somewhat naive character that doesn’t mean harm to anyone. The fact that she is constantly beaten up as “punishment” every time her brother Robb Stark wins a battle in the War of the Five Kings really makes us feel for the poor girl. She’s trapped in a marriage that she cannot escape from, a prisoner of the Lannisters through no fault of her own.
She does eventually escape from the Lannisters thanks to a cunning plan by the treacherous Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger, but even then it doesn’t seem like she’s out of the woods just yet. He takes her to the Vale, dyes her hair and renames her Alayne Stone so that her true identity is hidden (given that Joffrey had been poisoned at this time and Sansa was the prime suspect) and reveals to her a plan to retake Winterfell and reveal her secret identity. Given Littlefinger’s track record, I’m suspicious of this.
Sansa is a character that we desperately want to turn out ok given the horror she has been forced to endure. I do wish that she would stand up for herself a bit more, but I reckon that she’ll show her strength soon enough and prove she’s not a punching bag.
3. Samwell Tarly
Samwell’s another character that I do find myself feeling sorry for – but unlike Sansa he actually has proved himself to an extent.
Sam is the son of Lord Randyll Tarly, a fierce military warrior. However, Sam is a fat, cowardly and incompetent fighter of which his father was disgraced with – so much so that he sent him to the Knight’s Watch so that he could not disgrace the family name. Under the Knights Watch he serves no better and ends up getting beaten up and bullied by the other members. Only Jon Snow shows Sam any kindness and the two do become close friends. It’s because of Jon Snow that Sam remains in the Knights Watch, although he still remains a bumbling coward.
Despite this, Sam is highly intelligent and of great knowledge. He becomes the steward to Maester Aemon and eventually does join the Knights Watch in a ranging quest to stop the wildings. It’s through this that Sam befriends a young wilding girl by the name of Gilly, whom he starts to get a bit of a crush on.
Sam is your typical “bullied” character that has little self esteem and constantly put down by others due to his ineptitude, so we do feel sorry for him. But Sam does actually show acts of bravery through the course of the book. He even slays an Other using a dragonglass dagger that he found – and there are few that can say they faced an Other and lived to tell the tale! I also love the relationship and “unspoken love” between him and Gilly, Sam really wants to be with her, but knows that he can’t break his vows (as those who take The Black have to forsake all others in duty to their brotherhood).
Sam has absolutely no malicious features about him and I think is one of the nicest people in the series. Maybe too nice for the world of Westeros. He’s a very likeable character and one that I really hope goes onto do well in the series.
4. Brienne of Tarth
Nicknamed “Brienne the Beauty” as an ironic statement, Brienne isn’t a lady known for her looks. In fact, she’s described as rather ugly and a source of a joke by many men – some of which make wages as to who will take her “maidenhead”. However, Brienne is an accomplished fighter and eager to prove herself as a knight to the naysayers.
Originally part of Renly Baratheon’s Rainbow Guard during the War of the Five Kings, she was in love with Renly and wished to prove her worth to him. However, when he was killed she swore revenge. At the request of Catelyn Stark, she swore an oath to protect her and rescue her daughters, who they believe are both being held captive by the Lannisters. Brienne swears her loyalty to her and makes it her mission to save Sansa Stark.
Brienne is a very headstrong, yet somewhat naive character in the series that is determined to prove herself as a knight. She has a slightly more idealistic view of what a knight should be and is often mocked for her values. Ironically though, she ends up being a better and nobler knight than many of the others in the series – to the point where even Jamie Lannister seems to gain a kind of mutual respect for her. He even gives her a sword of Valyrian steel when she continues her quest for Sansa alone.
At the end of
A Feast for Crows, she is captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners, now lead by an undead Catelyn Stark (killed during the Red Wedding and brought back to life by Beric Dondarrion) who has now become a shell of her former self and believes Brienne to be a traitor working for the Lannisters. Brienne’s fate is unknown at this point – but I do hope that she survives (like I said I haven’t read
A Dance of Dragons yet, so if anyone knows anything, please don’t spoil it for me!)
5. Tyrion Lannister
Hands down, Tyrion is my favourite character of the entire series. I love his wit, his cunning and generally the fact that he can often turn most situations round to his advantage. In fact, I like this character so much that I was most upset when he didn’t make any appearance in
A Feast for Crows.
Born a dwarf, Tyrion Lannister was always hated by his father Tywin and his sister Cersei (mainly because he was responsible for the death of his mother). As such, Tyrion is often looked down upon (if you pardon the pun) by the rest of his family and even other members of Westeros society, a common nickname for him is the Imp. But what he lacks in size (and respect from his peers), he makes up for it in brains. He is a shrewd, cunning little man with high intelligence and believes that he has a lot to prove to gain his families respect. When he becomes the Hand of the King, he is able to manipulate members of his own household and family to gain power, knowing that his sister plans to do him harm and able to keep one step ahead of her – to start with anyway. But like any Lannister, he is capable of great cruelty to anyone who crosses him, even going so far as to torment Grand Maester Purcell when he realises that he betrayed him.
Of all the Lannisters, I think that Tyrion is the one with the most honour. He does show kindness to those who are mistreated and is also one of the few to stand up to King Joffrey, even rescuing Sansa from a beating. However, he isn’t completely a good guy and does look out for himself for the most part – even using the Lannister name and fortune to try and buy his way out of trouble, as he did when he was a prisoner at the Vale. That being said, when he meets Shae (a prostitute), he does genuinely care for her and does try and protect her, so he isn’t entirely selfish.
In the TV series, he is played by Peter Dinkage and I have to say this is one of the reasons why I love the character of Tyrion. More often than not I end up bursting out with laughter at one of his witty lines. He doesn’t play Tyrion for laughs necessarily, but his delivery of the lines are so brilliant and quick that you can’t help but chuckle. That being said, Dinkage also is able to portray the human element of Tyrion and I couldn’t help but feel really sorry for him.
Tyrion displays a much more harsher version of himself near the end of
A Storm of Swords. Blamed for the death of Joffrey and sentenced to death, Tyrion is freed by his brother Jamie and Varys – but not before he confronts his father. In another of A Song of Ice and Fire’s most shocking scenes, he discovers Shae in his father’s bed (with his father on the privy), and then goes on to strangle Shae and then shoot his father. Now on the run, Tyrion’s future remains uncertain. But knowing this little guys cunning, I think he’ll find a way round it.
One of the more honourable members of the Lannister househould, Tyrion has a lot to prove and show that “size doesn’t matter.” He may be small in stature, but big on brains and usually able to turn things round to his advantage. He also is extremely witty and can put even the king down in just one word. And THAT is why, in my opinion, he is the most likable character in
A Song of Ice and Fire.
So there we have it. I am aware that I did leave out some other popular characters, such as Bran Stark, Jon Snow and Catelyn Tully – but I wanted to try and mix up the Houses a little bit otherwise this list would be nothing but characters from House Stark. Also, I don’t really like the change in Jon Snow’s character in A Feast For Crows, and Catelyn Tully... well, let’s just say she’s under the name Lady Stoneheart from now on.
Please feel free to leave your comments below if you think I missed out another likeable character. We’ll have another Top Five next week!
Have a great weekend!
All characters in A Song of Ice and Fire are copyright of George R.R. Martin, but the above artwork are copyright of their respective owners. I claim no ownership of any of the above.