I recently discovered ‘Jeeves and Wooster’ on YouTube, and although it’s a comedy (and a very well-acted one), I don’t find it very funny.
Maybe it’s because I’m seeing it through the eyes of someone living in the 21st century, but I find Bertie Wooster a very sympathetic character for two reasons. The first is he is pushed around by a lot of people (his Aunt Agatha and Florence Craye to name just two) who take advantage of him and/or force him to do what they want. There’s a difference between being assertive and being a bully.
The second reason is Bertie can’t say no to anyone. Come to think of it, he isn’t exactly allowed to say no, is he?
Of course, it could easily be said that Jeeves is just as manipulative as Florence or Stephanie Byng. The difference is he’s doing it out of concern for Bertie’s welfare (I hope) and without him, Bertie wouldn’t be able to get out of the situations he finds himself in.
I know the books were written in a very different time. But someone being manipulated and bullied is always sympathetic.
“That was a good start,” Sorcha remarked.
“What do you mean, ‘good start’? We only caught two Runners.” Alasdair wished he’d taken something warm with him. The chase was over and he was beginning to feel the cold air again.
“Exactly! Barton said there were only about two or three out at any time. Two’s better than none, right?”
Suddenly, Conall’s ears twitched and he bounded away down the street, Lyall close behind him. Alasdair and Sorcha followed their wolves until they reached the main square of Redcross. Alasdair remembered going through there at least twice the previous night. He yawned, blinking sleep out of his eyes – and stopped, staring ahead of him.
There was a girl in the square. She wore a pale pink dress that reached just below her knees and left her arms bare. Her blonde hair was loose and brushed past her shoulders; it glimmered gold in the morning light. She had her back to the Wolf-Lords, but Conall and Lyall stood right in front of her.
Conall stepped up to her. She kept perfectly still as he sniffed her right hand. Lyall padded away, back to where Sorcha was waiting.
Alasdair walked towards her, his feet making no sound. “Hello.”
Conall spotted him and trotted past the girl. Just as he reached Alasdair’s side, the girl looked over her shoulder and Alasdair felt his world tremble.
Her eyes were the same shade as the sky above them: a clear, beautiful blue.
She looked as if she had been born of the morning itself.
It was a relief to admit it.
Isabel had put it off for so long. She hadn’t even been able to admit it the last time she’d spoken to him. The words wound around her throat, choking her.
They still choked her whenever anyone said his name or asked if she’d heard from him. They were like thorns, constantly digging into her.
Then the morning came. She saw him across the river and ran to meet him and then his arms were wrapped around her.
She finally admitted to herself that she was in love with him. And she could breathe.
The whole castle was almost in complete darkness. Candles and fires flickered in only a few rooms, leaving the stone corridors as cold as the night outside.
Lorna wished it was a clear night. Clouds obscured the moon and stars. She imagined the forest outside with the moon shining down on it, silver light captured in the snow and stars looking down through the black tree branches. Mira was now too large to walk in the castle, but the Aqua was safe in the underground cave. Lorna had been reassured the pool would be sufficiently warm for her. The outside air couldn’t touch it.
The doorway loomed to her left, black and huge like the mouth of a cave. “If there’s nothing else,” she said, “I’ll be…”
“I don’t want you to go.”
He never took his eyes from the fire. The flames danced, sending light across his face.
“Stay here with me.”
Slowly, carefully, Lorna stepped over to the chair next to his and sat down. She stayed beside him for the rest of the night, neither of them speaking. They watched the fire until the shadows retreated at dawn’s light.
He’d heard the stories. Everyone had. Stories of surviving long winters with barely enough meat to feed their beasts; stories of enemies with their throats ripped out, staining white snow with crimson.
Nobody called them legends. A story isn’t a legend when it’s true.
Before the wars, over two hundred Wolflords roamed the land. Now there were less than fifty, but their number was steadily growing. It would only be a matter of time before they became as powerful as they once were.
All Ephraim could do on winter nights was huddle under his blanket, watch the moon through his window and listen to the howls.
Everybody loves an underdog story.
An underdog is someone who ‘is thought to have little chance of winning a fight or a contest’ or someone who has ‘little status in society’. Which is why we love it so much when they come out on top.
In Black Rose, all Changers fall under the second definition. But there’s a kind of Changer that’s even lower than that: the Rovers. Rovers are Changers that have either left their Clan or have been ‘asked’ to leave; this is pretty important since the Changers place such a high value on community and their Clan. They’re basically rootless, whether by choice or not.
Luke left his Clan when he was fifteen and was semi-adopted by the Silver Clan, the Changers living in Silverdon. His status as a Rover actually helps them: since he isn’t technically a Silver, he is only one of two Changers allowed to leave the Forest. His ‘underdog’ status comes in handy.
That is, until he becomes well-known.
A character’s clothes can speak volumes about who they are. For instance, if someone appears in a book or television programme wearing dark clothing (particularly black leather), you just know they’re going to be trouble. Spike, Derek Hale and Negan are perfect examples of this.
Isabel Monray likes to wear black because she wants to give the impression of someone you do not want to mess with. Of course, anyone who actually knows her will see right through this.
She doesn’t want to appear vulnerable or afraid, even though she is in a very vulnerable position. Someone tells her if she’s not afraid, she’ll be all right; interestingly, that someone is wearing leather when she says this. But wearing the right type of clothes to show off your confidence doesn’t mean you actually are confident.
Later Isabel starts wearing her black jacket because she wants to wear it, not because she feels she has to.