Top Ten Tuesday (18) – Character Driven

Memes 5 Comments 7th October, 2014


Time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of the Broke and the Bookish!

This week’s topic is: Ten Books For People Who Like Character Driven Books



PEP_8351-Edit-XL Bry: This topic frustrates me. Aren’t the majority of novels out there supposed to be character driven? This is a difficult one for me to pinpoint great examples, but I’m going to at least try.

1. The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice – Every book of the series either focuses on the individual story of one vampire, or Lestat takes charge and recounts his many adventures. I can’t think of anything more character driven than that.

2. The Dollanganger series by V.C Andrews – this book is an intensive look at characters, and relies almost entirely on them to tell the story, especially in the first novel, Flowers in the Attic, because the children are left locked in an attic for the better part of two years. This character driven story takes us to deep dark places of family, incest, hatred, ethics, morality, and is guaranteed to keep you reading.

3. Anything  by Robin Hobb – Robin Hobb is a character driven writer, and her first person POV truly elucidates the level of complexity this allows her stories to have. As such a brilliant writer, her characters are genuine and perfectly flawed, conflicted and yet driven, and end up in the worst outcomes because of this. She’s character driven to the max!

4. The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follet – To be able to write two books together that span across hundreds of years purely on the drive of the characters and their lasting legacy is quite a feat, and I feel that Ken Follet manages this stunningly. His characters are very compelling, and drive not only toward their personal outcomes, but are so enmeshed in the larger milieu of the ‘first English civil war’ that they drive to massive outcomes as well.

5. Philippa Gregory? I add this because its literally the only nice thing I can say about Gregory’s work. She is such a nastily biased author and infuriates me on so many points, but damn, that woman writes strongly driven characters.



302722_10152199913595058_122942404_n Fry: Character driven? So, less tugged along by the plot like Cress and Wizards First Rule and more just.. characters? I feel like that’s more of a Contemporary and Romance specialty.

1. The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey– Holy bajeezus you guys. This book focuses so deeply on the characters that despite being in a zombie infested wasteland, you experience Melanie much more. She’s the driving force in this novel.

2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss– It’s mostly told in reminiscing. Though, there are a few chapters here and there that are mainly plot driven.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell– I bring up this book only randomly and only within certain groups of people. But, I love Cath and her character arc and her love of Simon Snow.

4. Highlander Most Wanted by Maya Banks– This is the second book in her second highlander series. The first book is just as character driven, but I found it more poignant in this book. The fact that all the women in this series have some disability or stigma to overcome certainly helps move the plot forward and gives the romance a bit more depth.

5. Game of Thrones- There’s a bit of supernatural stuff happening here and there, but basically it’s a bunch of bratty bitches being bratty at each other and it’s wonderful!


Headshot Carol:

1. The Lord of The Rings– Yes, I am saying this for the Tolkien massive-triology, but I have good reasons! These books are completely driven by the characters. Not just Frodo, the main protagonist, but his family and friends in the Fellowship. When together, their cohesive unit as friends and comrades shines, and when separated there are small and subtle things and events that ultimately connect them, and you care for them the entire way through.

2. Spindle’s End– The first half of the book focuses on Kat, and you stick with her until Rosie grows up. You grow to love and adore her and feel that she’s doing her utmost best. Then when Rosie becomes the main focus of the tale, you love her just as much because you watched her grow up, and want her to find her own ultimate destiny. A pair of characters who are tied together through love, family, and a magic spell that shapes their fortunes and futures.

3.  Deerskin- Another book by Robin McKinley, and it continues with her strong characters that drive the story. Lissar is a great character to follow, and you feel all of her ups, her downs, her pains and horrors, and if she did not fight so hard to go on, there would be no story to read. It is all about this girl.

4. The Harry Potter Series– Oh you BET this is character driven! Not just Harry’s choices as the protagonist, but every choice and every move the characters make in these books shape the course of the plot. Without even one of the characters mentioned in these books, we’d have very little plot and adventure to follow!

5. Full Metal Alchemist– Character driven plot is not just for the novel. It’s for manga too! And no better title deserves to be on this list. Every action taken by the characters in this series, especially Ed and Alphonse Elric, drives the story headlong like a train going down the track.

Written by Bry


I’m Bry, and I’ll be your saucy guide in the realm of historical and supernatural fiction.

With a BA and ongoing MA in History, I am avidly passionate and easily excited over anything written in a time period of my interest. My primary specialty is the Italian Renaissance, but I have extensive expertise in Tudor Britain, Louis XIV France, and am well versed in antiquity and general world history. Because of my deep love for the past, I am drawn to supernatural fiction, particularly when woven together with myth and historical background. I also love high-adrenaline reads, whether its horror, mystery, thriller or well written sex. Give me something to excite me.

When not reading, I am a fitness model, sponsored athlete and personal trainer.

5 Responses to “Top Ten Tuesday (18) – Character Driven”

  1. Beth W

    YESYESYES to the Robin Hobb. I love all of her books, even the two trilogies I haven’t read (yet). Although I’m very curious to hear this rant about Philippa Gregory now. I haven’t read all of her novels, but I never noticed a bias…and now I wonder what I’ve been blind to. Hrmm….

    • Bry

      Have you read any of her books that have Elizabeth I as a figure, whether it be main or side character? She has this dishgusting bias against Elizabeth and no matter what the circumstance, she goes out of her way to make Elizabeth either nasty, disgusting, treacherous, a whore, or more. It makes me CRAZY! There are a lot of other biases present in her work, but her overt, blatant and unapologetic hate for Elizabeth has caused a huge misrepresentation and massive disrespect for a figure deserving of so much more. I may have a deep seeded hate of Mary Stuart for being a shitty shit disturber, but even I wouldnt write her so terribly as Phillipa Gregory handles Elizabeth. Its the worst!

  2. Stephanie

    Though a couple of you profess to confusion (ha ha) I think you nailed your lists and that they are really interesting. I love character driven books and so seeing Robin Hobb on the list piques my interest in her again. I hear nothing but great things about her and own several of her books but when I tried Assassin’s Apprentice a few years ago I didn’t click with it immediately and put it down early on. Saying how character driven she is reminds that its time to give it another try as I was probably just in a weird reading mood. Robin McKinley is a fabulous choice! I included George R.R. on my list as well – those books succeed so well because of the characters, I think. I also think I’ll include Full Metal Alchemist on my TBR. Thanks for the interesting list!

    • Bry

      Haha, that was mostly me! “Character driven” is so vague in my mind!
      On that note, Robin Hobb is a writer that does take a little reading to REALLY get into, primarily because shes a huge one for emotional investment. By the time you realize just how much you really care, its too late to stop! I’d say shes one of the top 5 authors I’ve ever read. Ever! 🙂

      • Stephanie

        That’s pretty much what I hear from everyone about her so clearly I was not in my right mind during my first try. Thanks for the tip to approach her with patience!

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