GB Readalong: Killing off main characters
Last week, we faced the deaths of not one but three of the Gentleman Bastards. The Gray King is nothing if not thorough, as we can see from his meticulous tearing down of Capa Barsavi and everything he owns and controls. But Locke, the Thorn of Emberlain, wasn't actually that much a threat to him, so why take out almost everyone he cares about? Maybe because of that big tongue of his...
Whatever the reasoning, we lost three endearing characters and the series won't be the same without them. How do you feel about killing off major characters? Do you think it's a cheap way to get more shock value or a gutsy narrative device?
For me, it depends on whether the deaths seem justified in the context of the story. If the death comes out of nowhere and didn't seem necessary or realistic, I get pretty furious.
Hopefully this reference is veiled enough to avoid spoiling things, but this death made me the angriest out of anything I've read/watched. IT WAS SO FREAKING POINTLESS AND OUT OF NOWHERE OH MY GOODNESS.I generally...for lack of a better word, enjoy...when I'm thrown off kilter by the death of a beloved character. So many authors just assume that their main characters are invincible and terrible things can happen to other people but never our shining stars. I get annoyed with that pretty quickly, which is one of the reasons I love this series: bad things happen to everyone, especially our main characters.
I can't see I'm happy that Calo, Galdo, and Bug are gone, but I can say that I think it was justified. The Gray King is ruthless, and he knew how to cut the deepest and crush Locke. Killing the other Gentleman Bastards made sense from his POV, and it was totally in character considering his previous actions (Nazca! *cries*).
In the infamous Game of Thrones, I actually really liked that a major character died at the end of book 1. It seemed in character for the person/people involved, and it set the tone for the world really well. I was shocked and angry, but I respected George RR Martin making unconventional decisions.
Then Books 2 and 3 happened and people were dying left and right for now apparent reason and I lost the respect I had. Deaths don't necessarily all need to mean something, but the callousness with which he disposed of huge swaths of main and important characters made me not care about any of the existing ones. What's the point of getting to know someone if they're just going to end up dead?
I think Scott Lynch did a great job of ensuring that the deaths of the other Gentleman Bastards makes us care about Locke even more, instead of less. That moment when he cradles Bug's head and tells him he's sorry that he couldn't protect him...Locke has grown. It isn't "richer and cleverer than everyone else" anymore: he has lost something precious, and it's a sobering wake up call.