Getting redeemed is often reserved for villains, but today, I am going to be talking about all kinds of characters. Top 5 Wednesday’s topic for this week is so on point that I have to join in.
There are very few redeemed villains in my reading experience–at least, not ones I can remember. Many of them are like mini-villains. It’s sort of like when you play video games and you have varying levels of villains that you have to face.
Before I go any further, I want to include this fascinating article on redemption arcs in media and literature. Its author highlights different stories with redeemed characters (effectively and ineffectively).
Redeemed Characters #5. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
There are two characters that come to mind. First, Zoya, the bully who gave Alina a hard time while she was training. Plus, I think there was a bit of flirting with Mal, which is the most strange thing ever. Let him go, Alina. Let him go. Speaking of infatuation, Zoya and her attraction to the Darkling made her sympathetic to me. I do think she redeemed herself–her relationship with Alina is complicated; however, I like that Zoya slowly is redeemed through her loss.
The other character who seemed unpleasant at first was Baghra. She was not just unpleasant; she was oftentimes cruel to the point of breaking Alina down. My biggest surprise was not just Baghra’s backstory or her relation to the Darkling. I think it was the loss and sadness she experiences. Once I read about her story, I felt immediate compassion for her.
Want to hear my Darkling playlist? I am embedding it here for you!
Redeemed Characters #4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
It is no surprise this book is on here. Rhys and Tamlin redeemed themselves. Actually, this is something I may explain later on in another post. Suffice to say: I do not hate Tamlin. Like many men in this series, their possessive nature is frustrating. But, even before the final book in the original trilogy, I understood what it’s like to be scared of letting people go. To me, that’s what redeemed Tamlin. He is not controlling out of malice. I think he’s afraid because he’d lost Feyre before. Given that the story is set in a world where partners are crucial, I think maybe his fear wasn’t so out of place.
Oh and obviously, I know Rhys has redeemed himself in A Court of Mist and Fury. It was glorious to see the tension between him and Feyre unfurl.
Redeemed Characters #3. The Falconer by Elizabeth May
Sorcha surprised me so much in this trilogy because I did not expect to see enough of her. She seemed to be a taunting figure who antagonized Aileana for funnies…until Aileana is stuck with her.
Kiaran is another heartbreaking figure in the second and third novels. He has to fight a tradition that helped two kingdoms function. I don’t think I’ll ever not gasp at the ending of this trilogy.
Redeemed Characters #2. Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
I didn’t ever think I’d like Gollum as much as I do now. His redemption came from reading about Bilbo’s own struggle with the One Ring. Reading about Frodo’s battle with temptation as he tries to destroy the ring also heightened my sense of compassion towards this sad little dude.
Oh, and obviously, the redemption in LOTR could be about Boromir. I am not sure why I never connected with that bit of betrayal in the story. Perhaps I need to revisit the stories.
Redeemed Characters #1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
You probably never saw this coming. How can I rank Lewis above Tolkien? It’s mostly because Edmund and Eustace have a longer, more developed redemption journey. I wish Susan got a chance to be “redeemed” (I have no clue why liking nylons and lipsticks makes her unworthy of Heaven, but okay, Lewis).