The Sword and Laser discussion

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Ever read a book where you *hated* the hero/protagonist?

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message 1: by Jeff (last edited Jan 31, 2011 02:36PM) (new)

Jeff Petre | 6 comments I just made it through John Ringo's "Live Free or Die", and I have to admit that by the end of it, I wanted to punch Tyler Vernon in the face.

Live Free or Die

I don't consider myself very political, and perhaps if I were more familiar with US political leanings, this book would have made more sense to me.

I didn't want to judge the politics of the book, but with each chapter the plot points and increasing ludicrousness of the extremes of serendipity in the case of the hero, I could not help but start to think how much I'd enjoy seeing the main character get some kind of comeuppance - Anything to wipe the self aggrandizing smirk I imagined off his face!

It's really annoying too - I loved the initial idea of this book. Aliens make contact, other aliens hold earth to ransom, locals come good with interesting and ingenious plan - but even though I've bought the second in the series - "Citadel", I'm afraid to even begin it if it is going to infuriate me all over again ...

Anyone had any similar experiences? I won't judge you, if you don't judge me!


message 2: by Sean (last edited Jan 31, 2011 05:11PM) (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Jeff wrote: "I just made it through John Ringo's "Live Free or Die", and I have to admit that by the end of it, I wanted to punch Tyler Vernon in the face.

Live Free or Die

I don't consider mys..."


If you think that's bad, you haven't tried Ringo's Ghost. You really don't need to either, as there's an epic review of the book and sequels that contains all you need to know.

Anyway. Mike has rescued a number of nubile college women from rape and torture at the hands of jihadists, slaughtered innumerable terrorists, killed the president of Syria and Osama bin Laden, and plugged the author's favorite bands and movies. Also, the United States has, as a punitive measure, dropped a low-yield nuke on Syria. You would think that would be enough for a book. Hah. As I said earlier, that is JUST IN PART ONE. In part two, Mike, independently wealthy after getting the bounty for Osama, is now doing a lot of fishing on his newly-purchased and heavily-armed yacht. He meets up with two young college girls and invites them onto his boat, where he promptly introduces them to the joys of BDSM. With emphasis on scenes that incorporate non-con and slavery scenarios. But don't worry! He gets their moms' permission first.

No, really. He does.


And that's only the tip of the iceberg.


message 3: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6376 comments I'm almost done with Live Free as well. I'm just getting restless with all the engineering talk.


message 4: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Hansen (midagegeek) | 10 comments I have to admit that for years I hated Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. I thought that he was whiny and not the least bit heroic. When I heard Elijah Wood was to play the role in the films, not being a fan of his, I thought it was a perfect match, but not in a good way.

Imagine my surprise when I felt the tears running from my eyes when Frodo volunteered to bear the ring to Mordor. Wood showed me the courage of Frodo and the depths of the struggle that he went through. It is one of the rare times when a movie has improved the experience of reading a book.

Jeff


message 5: by Larry (new)

Larry (lomifeh) | 88 comments For me it's Thomas Covenant from Lord Fouls Bane. I really despise the dude so much that I just stopped reading the book. I know I should pick it and move through it but meh.


message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Pettit (jrpettit) | 1 comments I agree with Larry, Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. I read the entire series but at times almost put it down because of the character.


Nukethewhalesagain | 27 comments I am just starting to read Lev Grossman's The Magicians and from the first chapter I can tell that I'm not going to (and we're not supposed to) like the main character very much. This is fitting, since it's inspired by the Harry Potter books and I didn't like Harry Potter very much.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Not hated really, but I didn't like how Roland changed in the third book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series (The Waste Lands).


message 9: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) | 1081 comments To a certain point I hated Thomas Covenant for the same reason that I love him, kind of ironic. He is one of the only character that I see out there that does not really accept his role as the hero.


message 10: by Aeryn98 (new)

Aeryn98 | 175 comments Yeah, I have to agree with Thomas Covenant. I couldn't bring myself to actually care about what happened to him. I kept thinking he's going to get better. Have some revelation and become a more like-able person......nope. There had to be something I was missing if all these people loved the series, so I kept reading. I felt the same way about K.J. Parker's Engineer series and R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series (the only one I couldn't finish). I didn't like any character in those. I mean, I get it, anti-hero. But can you have an anti-hero that is like-able?


message 11: by aldenoneil (last edited Feb 01, 2011 01:14PM) (new)

aldenoneil | 1000 comments mauve1976 wrote: "Not hated really, but I didn't like how Roland changed in the third book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series (The Waste Lands)."

Interesting that King himself said he started to dislike Roland at some point, too.


message 12: by Paul (new)

Paul | 26 comments Larry wrote: "For me it's Thomas Covenant from Lord Fouls Bane. I really despise the dude so much that I just stopped reading the book. I know I should pick it and move through it but meh."

I agree Larry. I hated Conenant and therefore the whole series (I have tried to read it twice because people say its a classic....a classic piece of ****). I also try to read Stephen R. Donaldson's scifi series (Gap series? I can't remember) and hated that as well. I guess I saying "no Donaldson for me thanks".


message 13: by Jeff (last edited Feb 01, 2011 02:25PM) (new)

Jeff Petre | 6 comments Aeryn98 wrote: "I mean, I get it, anti-hero. But can you have an anti-hero that is like-able? "

I submit that the most lovable anti-hero has to be Wile E. Coyote. Hated him as a kid - Road Runner was the hero to me, outsmarting the terrible Wile E. As I got older though, the Road Runner became a pest, and Wile E's determination became the real focus ... not really high literature, but hey :)

By the sounds of it, I might just chalk up the audible credit I spent on Citadel to experience and move on :)


message 14: by Patrick (new)

Patrick (halfadd3r) I really disliked Harry Potter.

The rest of the characters and world in the books were pretty good, but I just couldn't make myself like Harry Potter himself.


message 15: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Outside of books, I can't stand Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My biggest disappointment in the series was at the start of the third season, when Xander starts to go off on her for all the crap she pulled the previous year, and then zombies show up and interrupt him. My favorite moment was in the first season of Angel when His Broodiness told her to get the hell out of his show.


message 16: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) | 1081 comments Patrick wrote: "I really disliked Harry Potter.

The rest of the characters and world in the books were pretty good, but I just couldn't make myself like Harry Potter himself."


I hated Harry in the fifth book, he was all being emo from the last book.


message 17: by Jlawrence, S&L Moderator (new)

Jlawrence | 964 comments Mod
Randy Waterhouse from Stephenson's Cryptonomicon drove me crazy with his smug "I'll-just-blather-here-about-something-tangential-to-remind-you-how-clever-and-amusing-I-think-I-am" way of communicating. It started to ruin an otherwise brilliant book. Never finished because some multi-page email (letter?) from Randy late in the novel grated on for so long, I closed the book in frustration.

Might have been some strange overreaction. I want to try it again some day.


message 18: by Don (last edited Feb 02, 2011 10:05AM) (new)

Don (walsfeo) | 37 comments Larry wrote: "For me it's Thomas Covenant from Lord Fouls Bane. I really despise the dude so much that I just stopped reading the book. I know I should pick it and move through it but meh."

It took me nearly a year to get through that first book because I kept throwing it across the room. I kept picking it back up because I had purchased the first three all at once and I hoped book one would get better. Looking back I can't remember if the overall writing style was as bad as I thought or if I really just despised the main character. I know I hated Thomas Covenant and how he was presented, and that could have tinted my perception of the rest of the book.

I eventually threw out all the books after tearing them into bits.


message 19: by Don (new)

Don (walsfeo) | 37 comments Kevin wrote: "To a certain point I hated Thomas Covenant for the same reason that I love him, kind of ironic. He is one of the only character that I see out there that does not really accept his role as the hero."

Several of Micheal Moorcock's main characters didn't accept their roles as hero, so if you like weird pulpy fantasy, check him out.


message 20: by Patrick (new)

Patrick (halfadd3r) Kevin, THANK YOU! Whenever I mention that I don't like Harry Potter most people act like I just ate a puppy. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who got annoyed by him.


message 21: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) | 1081 comments Donald wrote: "Kevin wrote: "To a certain point I hated Thomas Covenant for the same reason that I love him, kind of ironic. He is one of the only character that I see out there that does not really accept his ro..."

I have read all the 6 original books of Elric, the basic for my favorite character of all time, Drizzt.


message 22: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Miller | 3 comments Thomas Covenant in Lord Foul Bane comes to mind.
Though on the surface, he is sympathetic but what he does is inexcusable.
But ultimately you can't put it down.

I see from perusing above, I am not alone. So, I also add Alex in A clockwork orange. But his age might have something to do with it.

Daniel Miller
www.phineasbean.com


message 23: by Larry (new)

Larry (lomifeh) | 88 comments Paul wrote: "Larry wrote: "For me it's Thomas Covenant from Lord Fouls Bane. I really despise the dude so much that I just stopped reading the book. I know I should pick it and move through it but meh."

I ..."


Yeah I've never been able to get past the first book. It's on my shelf. I try and always finish a book, this is one of the few I've not been able to finish. Glad to see it's not just me though.


message 24: by Micah (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments I read a couple of Vince Flynn books awhile back, at the request of a co-worker. Hated every minute of them and the damn "hero." But I had to finish both of them because I didn't want to let my co-worker know how much I disliked them. The authors story line and "hero" is nothing more than a Tom Clancy rip off in my opinion. And a poor one at that.


message 25: by Dennis (new)

Dennis | 90 comments Nukethewhalesagain wrote: "I am just starting to read Lev Grossman's The Magicians and from the first chapter I can tell that I'm not going to (and we're not supposed to) like the main character very much. This is fitting, ..."

I felt the same way, but I found that he develops quite a bit, so don't lose hope.


message 26: by Al (new)

Al | 159 comments I tried out one of the Tribesman of Gor books and found the protaganist hugely unlikeable.


message 27: by Philip (last edited Feb 08, 2011 04:19AM) (new)

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments Jlawrence wrote: "Randy Waterhouse from Stephenson's Cryptonomicon drove me crazy with his smug "I'll-just-blather-here-about-something-tangential-to-remind-you-how-clever-and-amusing-I-think-I-am" way of..."

Too funny! I'm listening to the audiobook now and think I just went through the particular e-mail you mentioned. I rather like the tangents the story takes, they're usually pretty funny. I'm a fan of long books, but I imagine that's just the sort of thing that drives people who don't like them nuts. I typically find Randy Waterhouse to be self-deprecating. If you give it another go, maybe you won't dislike it as much as you remember.

Or perhaps the audio version would do it for you, William Dufris does a great job conveying the self-deprecating humor I mentioned.


message 28: by Vance (new)

Vance | 362 comments Funny, I had not read this thread yet, but was listening to the podcast and as soon as he mentioned the topic, I said, out loud, "Thomas Covenant!". Then Tom said that most were mentioning . . . Thomas Covenant.

Odd, though, I still liked the series. The world-building was great and the other characters well done.


message 29: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie (ubergek) | 4 comments YES!!! There have been some characters that have made me very angry.

Not Sword or Laser but in high school we had to read Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Our teacher said we'd either love it or hate it. I was ok with the book as a whole and have read more Hardy since, but I hated Tess! She was so whiny and was constantly feeling sorry for herself even though most of her struggles were due to her own bad decisions. She never seemed to have learned from her mistakes.

I also found most of the characters (especially the lead) in One for the Money by Janet Evanovich so incredibly annoying I didn't finish the book. It is beyond me how this has lasted as a long running series. Then again, there is Twilight, too...

And then there is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. These people were so horrible. She was trying to make a point about being true to yourself but it just came off as highlighting much of what is wrong with the world today. It made me irate when I read it.

Jlawrence and Philip, I recently read Cryptonomicon, too. I loved it! Yes, he does often put in rambling uber-geek tangents but I actually enjoyed those inserts. Jlawrence, as many of them don't really affect the main plot, perhaps you could just skip those bits? The story really is epic!

Speaking of Neal Stephenson, I did also love Hero Protagonist in Snow Crash. Thought that was fitting, given the title of this thread. :P


message 30: by Taueret (new)

Taueret | 58 comments Jlawrence wrote: "Randy Waterhouse from Stephenson's Cryptonomicon drove me crazy with his smug "I'll-just-blather-here-about-something-tangential-to-remind-you-how-clever-and-amusing-I-think-I-am" way of..."

If you think you might try it again, try the unabridged audio of Cryptonomicon from Audible. It's not the best reading of Stephenson out there, but it's not half bad and Randy doesn't come across as annoying, more socially awkward (which he is).


message 32: by AndrewP (new)

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2521 comments Not strictly S&L, but for me it would be Aloysius Pendergast from the Douglas Preston and Lee Child books, notably The Wheel of Darkness. After the first few chapters I was really hoping something bad would happen to him. By the end I was expecting him to cure all the worlds hunger problems and broker world peace during his coffee break... ughhh, terrible. Needless to say, I will not be reading anymore of these books.


message 33: by Carmin (new)

Carmin | 5 comments Bella


message 34: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (frontline) | 129 comments I know I've said this before, but I hated EVERYONE in The Mists of Avalon. They are such a whiny group of two-faced, 12th century emo kids I can't stand them. Gwynnefar is by far the worst. She makes her husband do pennance for his accidental sin while she continues to get it on with Lancelet and hates Morgaine because she put a stop to Gwynn embarrassing her brother. There are times when I don't hate Arthur or Mogaine or Lancelet, but even those are few and far between.


message 35: by Carmin (new)

Carmin | 5 comments Andrew wrote: "I know I've said this before, but I hated EVERYONE in The Mists of Avalon. They are such a whiny group of two-faced, 12th century emo kids I can't stand them. Gwynnefar is by far the ..."

OMG I too hated The Mists of Avalon. I had been meaning to read that book since I was 15 and didn't get around to it until recently. So for years I built this book up in my mind. It was such a let down. All the characters were terrible.


message 36: by Vance (new)

Vance | 362 comments Oh, the mention of the Mists of Avalon reminds me how much I disliked nearly all of the women in the Wheel of Time series. Not surprising since Robert Jordan said that all of his female characters ended up sounding like his ex-wife!


message 37: by Kris (new)

Kris (kvolk) a twist is that I really like Jim Butcher books about Dresden but when I convinced my daughter to read them she couldn't stand him. Thought he was a complainer.


message 38: by Danny (new)

Danny (just_jeepin) | 5 comments It's been years since I read it (I need to re-read it) but I loved the Thomas Covenant books and the character. I love the whole anti-hero thing.

I also like the lead character in Stephen R. Donaldson's "The Gap" series. Another unlikely hero.

Maybe it's all tied to the fact that growing up as a child in the 70s all of my Star Wars figures were the bad guys.


message 39: by Jlawrence, S&L Moderator (new)

Jlawrence | 964 comments Mod
Taueret wrote: "If you think you might try it again, try the unabridged audio of Cryptonomicon from Audible. It's not the best reading of Stephenson out there, but it's not half bad and Randy doesn't come across as annoying, more socially awkward (which he is)."

I think I will. Another problem was I didn't find the modern plotline as interesting as the WWII one, which I think added to Randy irritation, but I really should give it another go - there were too many other elements of it I really liked.


message 40: by WriterBenjamin (new)

WriterBenjamin | 16 comments I absolutely hated Soltan Gris of L Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth series. It is not that the series is told from the villian's point of view. I liked the villians in Battlefield Earth, so the L Ron Hubbard connection is not that bad. Maybe it is that this is after Hubbard went off the rails after he transitioned from a science fiction author to the leader of Scientology.

Soltan Gris not only grated against my nerves, but the plot ventured into subjects that I'd rather not read about. The series is bad and I only regret that I can't unread it.


message 41: by WriterBenjamin (new)

WriterBenjamin | 16 comments Al wrote: "I tried out one of the Tribesman of Gor books and found the protaganist hugely unlikeable."

He is likeable in the first 5 books. In book 6 he undergoes a transformation that frankly makes me hate him.


message 42: by Beth (new)

Beth (petersonb12) | 40 comments I really could not stand Hiro Protagonist in Snow Crash. I disliked him so much I could not even get 50 pages into the book. And I hate not finishing books.


message 43: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6376 comments I only read the beginning of Snow Crash with the pizza guy.


message 44: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (masupert) | 215 comments Yes!!! Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon. The world, supporting characters and story are incredibly interesting. The main character however dies such stupid things at every turn to jeopardize is his objectives I just want to throw the book across the room.


message 45: by AndrewP (new)

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2521 comments Benjamin wrote: "Al wrote: "I tried out one of the Tribesman of Gor books and found the protaganist hugely unlikeable."

He is likeable in the first 5 books. In book 6 he undergoes a transformation that frankly ma..."


That's an interesting comment. I read #6 last year and did not find it as enjoyable as I remember the first 5. So I'm glad to hear that it's not just me :)


message 46: by Tom (new)

Tom Gehrke (tomgehrke) +1 for Thomas Covenant. When the character performs an act so heinous so early, it's hard to come back from that. I kept reading more out of curiosity. How will he be find redemption? So I found the books interesting in spite of my dislike for him.

Another form a recent S&L book was the William Goldman character (versus the author) in The Princess Bride. Reading that book was a rollercoaster ride. From the highs of the story most of us knew from the movie to the lows of "omg, if I have to read another section about this ass and his dysfunctional family I'll throw *myself* off the Cliffs of Insanity."


message 47: by Sgtdetritus (new)

Sgtdetritus | 9 comments There is a new series out there by Weiss and Hickman of Dragonlance fame. I believe it is called the Dragonships of Vindras. The main character, Skylan, is an absolutely incredible Ass. He spends the entire book doing increasingly stupid and arrogant things until he gets most of the men of his tribe (including his best friend) killed. I don't think I have ever detested a protagonist so thoroughly. Not even Thomas Covenant :)


message 48: by Tom (new)

Tom (tjwebdude) | 11 comments Agreed that Thomas Covenant is pretty despicable, although I loved the first two trilogies of the series anyway... in spite of Covenant.

However, I despise Linden Avery EVEN MORE in the current set of books - Last Chronicles, starting with The Runes of the Earth. She's overflowing with self-pity and self-loathing. It's easy to hate her when she so obviously hates herself.

Get some therapy, lady!

I suppose this is Donaldson's shtick... he takes people that seem irredeemable and gives them a shot at redemption. Still, I'm kind of hoping that Lord Foul and the Ravers just keep her kid in the end (the last book hasn't been released yet). I think the lad stands a better chance at a healthy, happy childhood under their care than with his psychotic mother.


message 49: by Vance (new)

Vance | 362 comments I think this is Donaldson's greatest achievement, creating a world and a series of stories we really enjoy IN SPITE of a main character we dislike!

In his Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through, I found the main character uninteresting (while not hating her), but loved the story!


message 50: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimherdt) | 71 comments Vance - that observation made me laugh out loud - you are right on the money. The great thing about those books as I remember is the world and story arc.

Regards, Jim


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