A huge thank you to all the book bloggers who came together for the top 5 project! There are so many books out there, and the top 5 project is a fun way to showcase some great finds and explore more book blogs! Todays guest post from Myth and Magic Book Club features their top 5 morally grey characters.
About the Bloggers
Two English majors met trying to find their way at a tech startup in 2012. Through hatred of math, love of online shopping and talking about books while drinking we became friends.
Jill moved to San Francisco in 2016, for which she and her Lord of the Rings Pez dispensers were appropriately punished. In 2019 Katie moved to Boston, with a stop in Washington DC.
Though on separate coasts, good and bad books still keep them together. That is how Myth and Magic Book Club was established in 2018. The books reviewed on this blog are primarily urban fantasy and paranormal romance, but you’ll see a little bit of everything in the fantasy realm. We love witches, fae, vampires and demons.
What makes a morally grey character, you ask?
A character that has just as much good as evil? A character who thrives on chaos? A character who says the ends justify the means no matter what?
All great questions. We would actually argue that many of our favorite characters have a dash of moral ambiguity, in that they do a few things that are questionable, or they dance along a line between good and bad, but overwhelmingly heroes and heroines tend to stay on the “side of good.” We want to explore our favorite characters that dance a little bit further from that line. We used a common character alignment chart to think through our choices. Check out an example below with some well known fantasy characters. You’ll find that most of our top 5 list is in the Chaotic or Neutral/dipping into Evil categorizations.
Zak Andrii, otherwise known as the Crystal Druid, is a fan favorite in Anette Marie’s series The Guild Codex, and the soon to be published book The One and Only Crystal Druid. He is the definition of Chaotic Neutral, often showing up to assist the Tori, the main character, when he is most needed, but then often disappearing without warning. His actions seem totally evil as he is first introduced as a hooded figure accused of kidnapping young kids with nowhere else to go. It’s only after Tori hatches a plot to catch the Crystal Druid, and gets kidnapped in the process, that she learns his motivations are far from selfish. Zak acts against the law because he sees it as his best way to keep those fae and human who are under his protection safe.
Manon is first introduced to us in the Throne of Glass series firmly believing that her actions are always the correct ones. She has been raised to believe certain rights are hers as an heir to the Blackbeak Witch-Clan. Unfortunately, these things often happen to be hunting and killing Crochan witches, and we, as readers, know this is wrong. Throughout the series Manon slowly comes to re-think her upbringing and the lies she has been told, and her actions reflect this paradigm shift. Although she starts out firmly in the lawful evil category (following the rules laid out for her by neutral evil Grandmother), she eventually lands in the lawful neutral category, fighting for the side that she now believes is the right choice against an even greater enemy of other-worldly demons.
Xifeng is a walking example of the “road to hell is paved with good intentions” proverb. She is committed to following her destiny, but continually makes the morally ambiguous decision when confronted with a choice. She is a good example of lawful evil because she follows the path laid out for her, but with every chance to choose between the “good” vs “not good” thing, she always chooses the not good option, which slowly digresses into the evil option. She thinks these choices will help her reach her promised destiny, but really she is edging closer and closer to evil until the woman at the end of the novel is wholly different than the naive, hopeful girl who started it.
Kaz Brekker is the notorious leader of the Dregs, a gang of criminals in Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. He’s a classic heist leader, sometimes a conman, sometimes a thief, sometimes just fighting for a place in the world. I consider Kaz a chaotic neutral. He has his own moral code, but it certainly doesn’t fit into anyone else’s. He’s best described as “A liar, a thief, and utterly without conscience. But he'll keep to any deal you strike with him.”
The Catwoman we meet in Soulstealer doesn’t have a lot of options. She always seems to be trying to make the best choice out of what she has. She needs to take care of her family so she fights and steals. To ensure her sister’s future she joins the league of assassins, but with every gang or every education the world tries to give her, she rejects their philosophies, she has her own goals and she’s willing to do whatever it takes. While an argument could be made that due to this rejection of all other’s moralities, she’s a neutral character, I’ll make the argument that she’s also chaotic. She’s truly willing to set the world on fire to accomplish her goals. When questioning if the ends justify the means, she will absolutely say, yes.