I really enjoy the creative mind of Neil Gaiman. I haven't had a chance to read his graphic novel work, but I've enjoyed most of his novels and short story compilations. However, I've noticed something odd about his longer fiction - he seems to use a very plain main character.
Take the hero Tristan Thorn from "Stardust" for example. He's a young man who grew up in a little village. He goes off on an adventure to the Fairy world to find a fallen star. Along the way he runs into all kinds of strange and amazing characters, has some pretty interesting adventures and actually finds the star. The story itself is great.
Tristan is pretty bland. He's naive and while he isn't stupid, he isn't the quickest fellow in the room. Other than that, his personality is pretty vanilla. Now I'm not saying that a main character always has to be quirky or anything, but he has to have a little more depth to him. Luke Skywalker, who isn't the most amazing of main characters, had more personality and drew you to him a bit better than Tristan.
It's possible that Gaiman did this on purpose. Maybe he wants the reader to put themselves into the role of the main character, and to do that, he make the character as neutral as possible (something that also seemed to happen in "American Gods").
In the end, Tristan's low key character was a minus to the overall book. I loved the world and adventures Gaiman created, but I was never really invested in Tristan as a character. As a result, the book never pulled me in completely.
What do you think of Tristan's character? Do you think a bland character can hurt a book? Do you think an bland every-man type character is something a writer does on purpose?
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