From Twitter, this thread:
I immediately thought of many of the characters in Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series, who are 2500 years old, but from their behavior you might as well knock off the zeros because they act more like they’re 25. What is even the point of living thousands of years if those years don’t touch you? I realize there are lots of vampires like that in paranormals, but the Black Jewels is definitely the series that leaps to mind for me.
I should add, I quite liked this series. Many things about it appealed to me. It’s just that I would have liked it better if she had let the characters all be the ages they acted. There was no enormously compelling plot point that turned on so many characters being thousands of years old, so why make them thousands of years old? Especially why do that and then ignore the psychological effects of immortality?
I wonder what Tenai would have been like if her obsessive hatred for Encormio had been limited by a normal human lifespan. In fact, I wonder what Encormio would have been like if he’d died at eighty instead of going on and on and on? He was older than the Martyr, if you remember — which means over 2000 years old. He certainly did not act like any normal person. We don’t even have to have met him in person to know that.
Anyway: other immortals in SFF. There are hordes, of course, and while some of them act like normal twenty-something people, some don’t. From the Twitter thread:
Our connection to other people (in any sense, not just romantic) defines us. Immortals have seen countless people come and go. They’ve forgotten more people from the first 200 years of life than they’ll meet in the next 100 years of life. How does that affect perspective? … When writing a 1000 year old, a good thinking point is to imagine that every mortal in the world will be born, age and die in 1 year. They’ll flit into and out of your life like pet mice. How much value is it possible to place on them? Where does their value to you lie?
Exactly. Taranah, the king’s aunt, told Daniel that Encormio thought of ordinary people the way that people think of dogs, and she didn’t mean nice dog owners either. Mice is probably a better comparison.
Remember my other immortal character? We did meet her directly:
People and dynasties and countries come and go, says the Kieba, or something very much like that. It is a mistake to grow too fond. Remember that line? By the time we meet her, Kieba isn’t very human at all. For a couple different reasons, granted, but one was certainly her odd sort of quasi-immortality.
Let me see, other immortals — Oh, right, here is one of my favorites — or two of my favorites:
Doro and Anyanwu, very different people handling immortality in very different ways. Of course Doro has to kill people in order to maintain himself, but also he’s just a lot older than Anyanwu. A LOT older. Humans are very much like mice to Doro. Anyanwu just maintains herself at any age she wishes, so she hasn’t been pushed into callousness the way Doro was. I loved this book, but it didn’t resolve anything. Anyanwu comes to accept a relationship with Doro in which she is relatively powerless; we see how that looks from the outside in a later book. Not just anybody could make me enjoy and admire a book where the central relationship is so pathological. Butler pulled that off all the time.
If you’ve got a favorite SFF novel featuring an immortal protagonist or immortal secondary character, drop the title in the comments!