Yesterday, I said this:
Edmond Dantes is a fantastic protagonist because he is aloof, chilling, and powerful. Because his own internal thoughts are largely hidden from the reader, he is also an ambiguous protagonist who could very well go all the way, wreaking terrible vengeance on those who wronged him. Each time he steps back from complete vengeance, that decision is powerful.
I can think of just a handful of other novels in which a protagonist or important secondary character reminds me of Edmond Dantes as the Count of Monte Cristo. Here we go
–Aristide Courveur, in Champion of the Rose and Bones of the Fair.
Aristide is aloof, chilling, and powerful. He isn’t driven by revenge, and he isn’t a man of mystery, but he seems similar to the Count in some pretty fundamental ways. Also, although he isn’t driven by the need to seek vengeance for past injustice, you don’t want, for example, to be responsible for the death of the woman he loves. Or let him catch you aiming to do any harm to his country.
–Francis Crawford in the Lymond Chronicles
Lymond isn’t chilling in the same way as the Count of Monte Cristo, but he does pick up the mysterious background, in a way. I mean, everyone knows who he is, but almost no one knows what happened to make him the man he is when the series opens. He plays a deep, deep game, like the Count. Vengeance is something he has his eye on, though it’s not his prime motivation. He’s not as powerful; that is, Lymond is often driven by events, not driving events. Nevertheless, when I think of protagonists who remind me of the Count, Lymond is one I think of.
–Kirth Gersen in a series I haven’t actually read: The Demon Princes series by Jack Vance. Here is the description that led to my placing this series on a Count of Monte Cristo list:
The story of Kirth Geren as he exacts his revenge on five notorious criminals, collectively known as the Demon Princes, who carried the people of his village off into slavery during his childhood. Each novel deals with his pursuit of one of the five Princes.
As you see from the first entries in this list, I wasn’t specifically looking for vengeance plots, but for protagonists who remind me of the aloof, composed, secretive, deadly Count of Monte Cristo. I don’t know if Kirth Gersen has any of the same personal qualities, but wow, he sure sounds like he’s got the vengeance thing down pat. I was never a big Vance fan, but if any of you have read this series, what did you think?
–Nicholas Valiarde in The Death of the Necromancer
I know I KEEP mentioning Nicholas lately, but what can I do? Driven by long-term plans of elaborate vengeance, check. Secretive about his background, check. Not exactly aloof, but he can be chilling. He’s unmoved by a lot of things that would make other people flinch. He’s certainly very dangerous if he’s your enemy. He hasn’t got the same public aura of dangerousness, he hasn’t got the immense wealth, but still, I think he belongs on this list.
Can anybody add to this list? Who else reminds you of the Count of Monte Cristo?