If you’re a fantasy lover like I am, unique character names are just a part of life. Yes, different names come up in other genres, but fantasy seems to be where the most interesting and impossible to pronounce names can be found. I had a great conversation with someone about this topic recently and I thought I would talk about it on the blog!
WHY I LOVE THEM!
I don’t want to say that names get boring, but when you see the same names over and over it can get a little repetitive. I’ve even found myself associating characters from different books later on down the line simply because their name was the same. But when you encounter a name you’ve never (or rarely) heard of, it stands out! You might remember the book a little longer than normal because it was something different. I especially love names from different cultures or names from the past that aren’t really used at the present time. I also feel like a unique name can define or suit a character. When I had my kids I wanted to come up with something that wasn’t commonly used. I wanted it to be something that was unique to them and made them special. Strangely enough, their personalities seemed to match their names, and I feel like this happens in books as well.
Here’s where things get tricky. How many times have you read a book where you got to their name and had NO CLUE how to pronounce it? For me, quite a few. When a name is SO different that you can’t pronounce it, I stumble while reading and have a hard time relating to that character. Instead of reading the name, I see it coming, and just pass it by. Or I will find a way to short form it to make my life easier (Like Shazi from The Wrath and the Dawn series). When the names are so different that you actually need a pronunciation guide (Ahem, I’m looking at you Sarah J Maas!) it might be a little over the top. Don’t get me wrong, Sarah J Maas is one of my favourite authors, but Throne of Glass was a struggle for me. I couldn’t differentiate between the characters because I just couldn’t get a grasp on the names. Once I finally got used to them I actually appreciated her creativity, and think of the character names often. So it did have an impact on me in the long run.
I CAN’T GET OVER IT!
I’m not sure if I’m the only one who does this (please tell me I’m not!) but once I start to pronounce a name a certain way, even when I learn the proper way to say it, I still say it the way I came up with in the beginning. Take Rhysand from the ACOTAR series (not picking on Sarah J Maas, I swear!) for example. The proper way to say his name sounds like Ree-Sand (Reese). I read the entire first book before learning this was how it’s pronounced. But when I started book two, I just couldn’t do it! The way I pronounced it was like Ry-Sand (Rice). The way she meant for it to be said sounds a lot nicer, but I was so stuck in my ways I couldn’t make the change. It just felt so unnatural. Once I start saying things a certain way, there’s no telling me any different!
What do you think of unique character names? Do you love them, hate them, or somewhere in between?
Until next time, happy reading!