Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday participants are required to list their favourite books that have character names in the title. I rather liked the idea of this topic, especially as I was unsure if I would be able to really complete a full list about it as only a few book titles really came to mind when I initially thought about it. However, after a bit of research I was able to come up with pretty substantial list of potential entries, which included some amazing releases.
To make this list a bit of a challenge I tried to avoid books or comics that had series names included in the title (for example, all the Harry Potter books). I also tried to avoid entries where they added on a name to the main title to designate that a book is going to be about a specific character in a franchise, such as Maul: Lockdown from Star Wars or Kal Jerico: Sinner’s Bounty from Warhammer 40K. I did, however, include a few books from these franchises where the primary version of its title had a character name in it. Despite these limitations, I still had a massive list of awesome books, which I then had to cull down. I ended up having to remove several fantastic reads, but I think the below list really captures the absolute best books I have read with character names in the titles. So, let us see what made the cut.
A compelling Star Wars novel that does exactly what it says on the packet, tell the story of Grand Moth Tarkin, one of the most distinctive villains from the original film.
I am being slightly cute with this Warhammer 40K novel, as Steel Tread is the name of a tank, rather than a human or alien. However, I would argue that Steel Tread was a proper character, due its presence, impact on the protagonists, and because machines are partially sentient in this universe.
The second book in Nicholas Eames’ The Band series, Bloody Rose is a fantastic fantasy read that centred around a group of mercenary monster fighters. The title of this book refers to the infamous leader of this mercenary group, Bloody Rose, who serves as quite the distinctive figure. A fun and captivating book that is really worth checking out.
The first volume of the epic 2015 Darth Vader series was simply named Vader. While this was an unimaginative title, the volume itself is extremely epic as it followed Vader in the aftermath of A New Hope. Perfectly written and filled with some amazing artwork, this was a major volume that not only introduced the amazing character of Doctor Aphra, but also contained an exceptional ending where Vader discovers that the pilot who destroyed the Death Star was named Skywalker.
Top Ten List:
Mort/Eric by Terry Pratchett
I have a hard time not including as many of Terry Pratchett’s masterful Discworld novels as possible on lists like these, and luckily for me there were only two Discworld books with character names in the titles, so I figured I would include both. The first is the excellent novel Mort, which sees Death decided to recruit an apprentice, the titular Mort, who almost immediately starts messing with reality by trying to save the life of a doomed princess. This was a hilarious novel, especially the bits following Death’s midlife crisis, and it sets up a bunch of other interesting Death-led Discworld novels. The other book is Eric, one of Pratchett’s shorter books, that follows a teenage demonologist, Eric, who attempts a Faustian demon-summoning for absolute power. Unfortunately, rather than summoning a demon, Eric instead gets the incompetent wizard Rincewind, who naturally stuff everything up. This was another funny Discworld book, and I love how the cover of this book crosses out Faust and replaces it with a pen-drawn Eric, just to hammer home what this novel is satirising.
The Aurora Cycle by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I had to mention one of the best trilogies of recent years with The Aurora Cycle by Australian authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, especially when all three entries contain a character name in their titles. Made up of Aurora Rising, Aurora Burning and Aurora’s End, these titles all refer to the titular character Aurora (also known as Auri) a time-displaced psychic who ends up being the key to saving the entire universe.
One of the more recent releases on this list was Stephen King’s Billy Summers. An interesting and intense thriller, Billy Summers follows the titular character, an honourable assassin, as he embarks on his final job, only to encounter betrayal, introspection and a girl who changes everything. This was one of the best books of 2021, and I really loved finding out all about Billy Summers.
Easily the best Star Wars book that focuses on a specific character is the epic Thrawn by legendary author Timothy Zahn. This novel perfectly reintroduced Zahn’s greatest character, Grand Admiral Thrawn, into the new canon and is one of my absolute favourite Star Wars novels. Eventually leading to another five connected books (Alliances, Treason, Chaos Rising, Greater Good and Lesser Evil), this was an exceptional read, and I like how the simple title Thrawn tells you everything you need to know about this book.
Years ago, when I was first getting into fantasy I received a cool novel I knew nothing about apart from the title, Eragon. Intrigued by its closeness to dragon, I dove into this great book and quickly became utterly engrossed by the story of teenager Eragon who finds a dragon egg and becomes a legendary hero. I have a lot of love for this book and the Inheritance Cycle series that followed, so I just had to feature this novel on this list.
I really do tend to hit my classics when it comes to lists like this, so naturally I had to see if there was an entry from one of my favourite comic series, Usagi Yojimbo, that I could feature. There were actually several Usagi Yojimbo volumes that contained character names in the title, including Lone Goat and Kid, Travels with Jotaro, and Tomoe’s Story. However, the one I went with was the volume Gen’s Story. This great volume contains a brilliant story that showcases the childhood of fantastic supporting character Murakami Gennosuke, better known as Gen. This comic examines why the often disrespectful and uncouth bounty hunter has such dislike for samurai honour and discipline and served as a brilliant bit of backstory for one of the best characters in this series.
I was spoiled for choice for this list when it came to the works of Tamsyn Muir, as several of her books feature character names in the title. While I was very tempted to feature her first novel, Gideon the Ninth (one of the best debuts of 2019), I instead went with her second book, Harrow the Ninth. Harrow the Ninth was an incredible read that ended up being one of my favourite books and audiobooks of 2020. Containing a trippy and exceedingly clever narrative, this book follows Harrow, a spacefaring necromancer who is going through some major identity issues. An exceptional read, I am really looking forward to Muir’s next book, the 2022 release Nona the Ninth.
I had to include the extremely compelling The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Another brilliant debut and one of the best books of 2018, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle follows a mysterious time-displaced man who awakens in several different bodies during a fancy party at an old British estate. Forced to experience the entire party again and again, the protagonist only has seven chances to discover who murdered the party’s host, Evelyn Hardcastle. Compelling, unique and with a title that immediately grabs your attention, I deeply enjoyed this cool book.
Talon of the Silver Hawk by Raymond E. Feist
Another excellent book I had to feature on this list was the impressive Talon of the Silver Hawk by Raymond E. Feist. While on the surface this title doesn’t appear to contain a character name, Talon of the Silver Hawk is the main character, as it was the name he chose during a tribal vision quest. While he goes by other identities and names throughout the novel, this is the one closest to his heart and it makes for quite a catchy book title. I have a lot of love for this novel, especially as it introduced me to Feist’s excellent and extended Riftwar Cycle, and it is really worth checking out.
The final entry on this list was the cool comic Vader Down. Written and drawn by the join teams behind the 2015 Star Wars and Darth Vader comic book series, this comic follows Darth Vader who is shot down above a Rebel-controlled planet, and must contend with a Rebel army, traitors, the original trilogy protagonists, and all manner of other dangers. An exceedingly epic and exceptional limited crossover series, this is one of my favourite Star Wars comics of all time and it is guaranteed to make you a fan of the current Star Wars extended universe.
That’s the end of this list. As you can see, there are some really cool books and comic volumes out there that make good use of character names in their titles. I am very happy with how this list turned out and I think it captures my absolute favourite books that make use of this naming convention. This might be a list I revisit in the future, especially as there are several other excellent books that I am planning to read soon featuring character names in the titles (for example, the upcoming fantasy book Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry). Until then, let me know what your favourite book was a character name in the title is in the comments below.