A huge trope in the fantasy genre is characters who are royalty, and whilst it has been done over and over, I actually really love this fantasy stereotype! Having characters who are kings and queens, or princes and princesses pretty much guarantees that the story is going to epic in proportion: when royalty is involved, treachery will be rife, wars will rage and kingdoms will rise and fall!
That’s why I thought I’d do a post all about my favourite royal characters from books, whether they’re courageous and noble, or crazy and despotic (by favourite I mean I like their characterisation…not that I like their actions!). Let me know in the comments who would make your list of favourite fictional royalty!
- Aragorn from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Aragorn is your stereotypical ‘noble exile King’ character, and may even be the origin of this stereotype. First introduced as the nomadic Strider, he becomes an integral member of the Fellowship of the Ring, guiding the rest of them with his quiet competence, impeccable morals and incredible courage. Yes, he’s a ‘goody goody’ kind of character, but it’s hard not to like him!
Plus I think they got him exactly right when they cast him in the films – I think Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn was perfect!
- Arutha from The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist.
Arutha was one of my favourite characters from the Riftwar Saga, as I liked that he was a quieter, darker foil to his older brother, King Lyam. Whilst Lyam rules, Arutha is generally seen in the books setting out on epic quests with his small band of friends, and I like that his best features – being brave and clever – are offset by some flaws. For example, he’s quite a brooding character, and he’s generally considered to be less instantly likeable than his brother. But I loved him anyway!
- Dalinar from The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson.
I loved Dalinar as a character, mainly because he’s so wonderfully complex! When you first meet him in The Way of Kings he seems like such a kind and gentle character, yet he has a dark and very violent past in which he was known as a deadly warrior, ‘the Blackthorn’. His bloodlust and ferocity is legendary, and I especially like how Sanderson explored this more – and his regrets about his past actions – in the latest book, Oathbringer.
- Nikolai from The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo.
One of my favourite things about Leigh Bardugo’s books is her characterisation, and I especially love some of her wittier characters, particularly Nikolai Lantsov. Jovial, sarcastic, but also incredibly clever, literally any scene with him in is a lot of fun, and I love his verbal sparring with Alina.
However, I also like that he isn’t just comic relief: he’s also incredibly capable, and he certainly isn’t just a pampered prince, as his secret identity as a successful privateer goes to show!
- Dorian from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.
Dorian is another more light-hearted royal character, who has more to him than meets the eye. Whilst he originally comes across as a bit of a ladies man who just likes parties and nice clothes, he’s ultimately shown to be very compassionate, loyal and clever.
As the series goes on and he goes through some truly terrible ordeals, he gets a bit of a harder edge, and I think this makes his character progression one of the most interesting in the series. He’s certainly the character who seems to have changed and grown the most of all of them, even Celaena.
- Rhy from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.
Rhy is yet another fun-loving royal with a penchant for parties, but who has a heart of gold underneath it all. I loved his relationship with his adopted brother Kell, and whilst Kell is physically more capable than him, thanks to his magical abilities (and generally takes on the protective older brother role), Rhy shows in many ways that he is willing to risk just as much for his brother.
I also really liked his complicated relationship with Alucard!
- Arsinoe from Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.
The Three Dark Crowns series isn’t short of queens, but of the three of them, Arsinoe is definitely my favourite! Not only do I like that she’s the ‘underdog queen’, I just feel like she has more spirit than the other two, and I like her sharp wit and sarcasm.
- Elian from To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo.
I really liked Elian from To Kill A Kingdom, mainly because of how much of a reluctant royal he is. Despite being heir to the throne and caring deeply for his people, he despises the politics of court and is much more at home out at sea with his loyal crew.
- Khalid from The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.
Khalid is just such a wonderfully complex character…you know from the beginning of the book that he has done some terrible things, and is considered to be a monster and madman by his own people. Yet things are not what they seem, and I loved discovering how much more there was to him, under the guise of a cruel and despotic Caliph.
- Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.
Cersei Lannister is far from a pleasant and likeable character: in fact, she’s one of the main antagonists to the more heroic characters in the series like Jon Snow and Arya Stark. She’s cruel and ruthless, is in a super creepy relationship with her twin brother and raised the demon spawn that is Joffrey Baratheon…but you have to admire how strong of a character she is in a cruel world where women are second-class. She is every bit her father’s daughter, and uses every ounce of her cunning to keep her family on top.
And as with Aragorn, I think they cast her perfectly in the Game of Thrones TV series. Lena Headey is such a good Cersei Lannister!
So who are your favourite Royal characters? Do any of mine make your list?