Hey guys! Last month I came across this fabulous history-inspired book tag created by A Book Without End and just knew I had to do it. I love history, I even debated doing my Master’s in it or getting a professional degree in Public History before settling on becoming a Librarian, so the history love runs deep. What better way to learn about both bizarre events in history and books than with this incredibly fun book tag?!
|Emperor Elagabalus drowning his court in flower petals. Literally.| Name a book villain who would totally do this.
This sounds like it would fit The Empath, the fabulously dramatic, beautiful, but ruthless antagonist of Vale Aida’s clever fantasy novel Elegy. The Empath has long red hair and a billowing red cape, and the author’s tag for her character on tumblr is #drama emperor dervain teraille, so this is right up his alley!
|When King Philip II of Macedon sent the Spartans a lengthy threat of what he’d do if they did not yield to him, and they answered with a sarcastic one-word response -“if”| What hero/heroes would most likely answer like this to a threat from the antagonist.
Apparently I like my heroes and anti-heroes snarky, because two immediately popped into my head: Breq, the brusque former Justice of Toren ship from Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch series and everyone’s favourite teenage criminal mastermind, Kaz Brekker of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. Breq does not care at all what others think of her (she’d also fit the Alexander Hamilton fighting the entire party one) and is in the process of taking revenge against the emperor of the galaxy Annander Minnai herself, so I can’t imagine her being scared off by a lengthy threat. Kaz Brekker is just clever enough to call a bluff and to follow through on a crazy heist plan that can’ be done. He’s definitely the type to reply in this fashion!
|When Australia declared war on the Emus, and lost| A book that did not end up like you expected (in the terms of the plot).
I didn’t really know what to expect from The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner and I spent the first half thinking, ‘okay it’s good but I don’t think it’s 4.26 stars on goodreads good!’ and then the last third of the book hit me like a train. I totally didn’t see where the book was going and I found it to be moving, well-written, and an excellent portrayal of depression. It’s definitely a book that’s somewhat inconsistent and rough around the edges, but it does all come together in that poignant last third of the book.
|Lichtenstein sending its army of 80 men to attack Italy and coming back with 81| A book you thought would be bad but actually ended up really liking.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho when I first started reading it and for the first sixty pages I thought it would be simply a poor imitation of one of my favourite books, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. But as I kept reading I found that yes, certainly there are similarities. Both are books about magic and magicians set in regency England. But I was quite charmed by Sorcerer of the Crown, which is ultimately lighter and fluffier, but also more diverse (both protagonists are PoCs, one a woman and the other a freed slave). Additionally, its diversity allows the author to comment on prejudice at the time.
|Alexander Hamilton challenging the entire democratic-republican party to a duel| A character who would totally do this.
I guess there are a few ways to take this, either a character who is all out of fucks to give and doesn’t care what others think of them, in which case Breq from Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword fits (that’s actually kind of the plot of the book – the world going but that’s not how it’s done! and Breq shrugging and carrying on), or an impulsive and stubborn character issuing a foolish challenge. The second meaning is definitely Will Scott in Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings. He blunders right in, especially early in the book, without listening to advice and it’s endearing but also makes me want to facepalm. Oh Marigold.
|The Chinese setting monkeys on fire and launching them at British ships| A book based on a great idea/concept
Sure these days the YA dystopia is a genre in and of itself, but even within the genre there’s room for innovation and that’s what I found in Erin Bow’s The Scorpio Rules and The Swan Riders. The duology is set in a world where wars over water are common, but an artificial intelligence called Tallis has taken over and has an unusual way of keeping the peace. Tallis has taken a hostage from every world leader – their child heirs – and if any government declares war, their hostage’s life is forfeit.
|Emperor Caligula calling for an assembly just to tell everyone he could kill them all| A villain who just loves to gloat
The first villain who comes to mind is actually Voldemort in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Voldemort seems to love gloating over Harry, doing so in Goblet of Fire and waiting for his followers to arrive to kill Harry, and again in the final book when he believes that Harry has been defeated. Villains who gloat before they’ve actually done the deed really need to take a page from Adrian Veidt’s book…
|An old civilian woman aiding in the killing of their besieger King Pyrrhus by throwing a tile at him| A minor character you can totally imagine helping the heroes like this)
I had trouble coming up with a minor character at first but then it hit me, Calla from The Raven Cycle quartet. I can definitely see bold Calla throwing a tile (or more) at someone who deserved it.
|When the US sent tanks, Special Forces, Tae Kwon Do experts, soldiers with M-16s grenade launchers etc., all just to cut down one tree| A book you really don’t understand all the hype around it.
I never understood the buzz about Uprooted by Naomi Novak. I read it last year after it had been nominated for just about every major fantasy award, and assumed I would therefore love it and I just didn’t. I didn’t really like any of the main characters, I would have been more interested if Agnieszka’s love interest had been her pretty best friend from childhood instead of the (frankly) quite boring and rude Dragon, and I didn’t find it twisted fairytales or was enough of a unique spin on one to keep me interested.
|That one time in Prague when a Protestant threw a Catholic out of a window, only to have him survive by landing in horse shit which resulted in a large war| Favorite rivalry in a book (series)
My favourite rivalry is not always antagonistic. In fact, it starts out as a teacher-trainee relationship, and develops into a partnership of equals, but quickly dissolves as the two magicians find that they have completely different methods and approaches towards performing magic. I’m talking, of course, of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I love the odd couple vibe of young, daring Strange and reclusive prickly old Norrell and the dependency of their relationship as the only two practicing magicians in England.
|That one time a bucket started a war| A book whose sole existence makes you question humanity (and the publishing industry).
How could I say anything else but Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy? I want to scream at the top of my lungs about how much I don’t understand the appeal of this series, especially given how blatantly misogynistic the books are. The female characters (which there are few of to begin with) are all there to be treated as sexual objects or love interests only. There are gratuitous rape scenes. There is the fact that the male protagonist’s wife is killed off in the first forty pages of the book purely to further the male character’s story and to give him man pain. The worldbuilding is shoddy at best, a strange hybrid of The Hunger Games, random Greek/Roman mythology, and a bizzare colour system. The protagonist himself is not at all likable, despite being a Gary Stu, and in general the book reads like a Michael Bay movie. Save yourself. Do not read this book!
|Julius Caesar being taken hostage by pirates, only to be angry at the low amount of money they demanded and made them demand even more money for his freedom| Some character who would definitely act like this if taken as hostage.
I’m pretty sure this is Felix from Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series. When he’s in his right mind (so not half of the first book) Felix is an incredibly flawed protagonist. He’s vain in appearance, has a damaging view of himself as better than everyone around him (while secretly harboring the inner belief that his humble origins actually make him worth less than others), and he speaks in a deliberate upper class accent. I can definitely see Felix being offended at being offered for a low price.
|The Mexican president who was in office for only about 45 minutes| A character you just feel sorry for.
If you don’t feel badly for Jude St. Francis in A Little Life, there’s probably something wrong with you. After surviving a truly horrific past of physical and sexual abuse when he was a child, Jude is physically and emotionally scarred. However he carries on, becoming a top-notch lawyer, and associating with a group of friends who respect and care for him. A Little Life is a bit of a reverse fairy tale though, or at least one of the oldet fairy tales without the Disney happy ending, where everything that can go badly does. For every good thing that Jude has in his life, something awful balances it out, and he can never fully escape his past, even when he is surrounded by people who love him.
|The General whose last words, before getting shot under the left eye, were “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance”| Which character would most likely meet their end this way.
I took this as a character who is so completely oblivious about what’s right in front of them and my answer is Oliver from If We Were Villains. I was going to say he’s the most oblivious character I’ve ever encountered, but Jerott in The Lymond Chronicles gives him a run for his money. I could see both of them being unaware enough of the world around them to get taken down like this.
I’m not going to tag anyone in particular, but this is a REALLY fun and unique book tag to do, so I highly encourage anyone who is interested to fill this out, pingback to Ella who created it, and feel free to consider yourself tagged and pingback to me too – I’d love to read your answers!