A post by Marie Brennan at Book View Cafe: New Worlds: Bodyguards
This caught my eye because I love bodyguards. Now all of a sudden I can’t imagine why I’ve never written a novel where the protagonist is a bodyguard. Or an assassin. Or a thief. But in a lot of ways I like bodyguards better than either of those other options because I could do so much with themes of loyalty and trust, which, as you might have noticed, I gravitate toward all the time anyway.
Of course I do have characters who sometimes take on something of a bodyguard role, including most recently Geras, for example. And Ezekiel sometimes takes that sort of role. But that isn’t their primary function.
I won’t say I suddenly want to drop everything else and write a fantasy novel where the main character is a bodyguard, but I will say, I suddenly DO want to add that to the list of future projects.
Now, I doubt that Marie Brennan is going to let this post turn into a list of SFF novels with great bodyguards … although that would be neat … but sure, let’s see what she says:
If money is the carrot, then the stick is threatening the bodyguard’s own life, or that of their loved ones. If you abandon me, you won’t live for long afterward. … That points toward the final motivation, which is loyalty. … Human beings are capable of remarkable altruism, and if someone believes sincerely enough that your life is more important than their own, they may willingly risk themself or even die to keep you safe. This kind of logic gets treated as natural in a society where ideology says some people are inherently superior to others. …
In the moment when a bodyguard’s services are truly needed, and in the aftermath of that crisis, you can learn a lot about both the characters’ personalities and the society they live in.
Bodyguard motivations: Money, threats, loyalty. Obviously I would move straight toward the latter if I were writing the novel. Let’s see what the motivations have been for bodyguards in SFF novels …
Dirisha Zuri… a dangerous drifter, a dark-skinned beauty, Khadaji’s colleague. A ronin, whose expertise in body control and knowledge of the fighting arts drew the attention of Matador Villa. The school wanted her talents… and the galaxy desperately needed her deadly skills.
The motivation here starts off sort of money and sort of supporting good causes and shifts to loyalty and then love.
The motivation is loyalty atevi style, which is to say, man’chi.
And … wow, this is a very short list. So, what else? SFF novels where a bodyguard is either the protagonist or a very important secondary character, not just part of the background or scenery. Oh, I can think of one more. Wait, two:
Maia’s guards are among the most important secondary characters in the story.
Not Cliopher, but two of the other important members of the Emperor’s household; plus plenty of other guards who are part of the background.
What are some others? Now that I’ve suddenly realized this is a trope I like a lot, any suggestions would be appreciated.