Middlemarch Madness

Middlemarch Madness II: Voting Day Three

It’s that time again, Persephoneers! Today it’s the eights vs. the nines and the threes vs. the fourteens. Are you ready?

Today’s match-ups:

8. Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett) vs. 9. Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White)

3. Ramona Quimby (Ramona Collection by Beverly Cleary) vs. 14. Winnie (Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit)

8. Coraline (Coraline: The Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman) vs. 9. Mrs. Weasley (Harry Potter  series by J.K. Rowling)

3. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter  series by J.K. Rowling) vs. 14. Lirael (Lirael (Abhorsen Trilogy) by Garth Nix)

8. Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen) vs. 9. Thursday Next (Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde)

3. Irene Adler (Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle) vs. 14. Idgie (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg)

8. Catelyn Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire, Books 1-4 (A Game of Thrones / Clash of Kings/A Storm of Swords /A Feast for Crows)  by George R.R. Martin) vs. 9. Susan Sto Helit (Death series by Terry Pratchett)

3. Daenerys Targaryen (A Song of Ice and Fire, Books 1-4 (A Game of Thrones / Clash of Kings/A Storm of Swords /A Feast for Crows)by George R.R. Martin) vs. 14. Angua (Guards series by Terry Pratchett)

Happy voting!

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

151 replies on “Middlemarch Madness II: Voting Day Three”

I’m a newbie, so it’s probably not my place to make suggestions… but I’m going to throw one out anyway:

Would it be possible, in future competitions, to limit entries to one character per author? Or maybe one per series? For those of us who aren’t enamored with Pratchett, Martin, and/or Austen, it makes the contest less exciting. For those who are, allowing those characters to dominate shuts out lesser known authors who we might like to hear about for the first time.

I hope this doesn’t come off as being critical. I think this competition is great fun, and a terrific idea!

I like this idea. I have zero clues about who the Ice and Fire ladies are, because I haven’t read those books. I don’t particularly like Harry Potter, so the awesomeness of those ladies is lost on me. I think maybe one more round of preliminaries to pick a single rep from each author would make the full bracket more interesting.

I kind of like this idea, but for a different reason (and I speak as someone who nominated three Austen ladies.)  I just like the idea of not having to “split” the author vote, if that makes sense.  Or at least the series vote (I think that would be acceptable – sometimes different series have very different feels/character types.)  I’m not sure I’m 100% behind it – how would I CHOOSE between Daenerys and Arya?  How could I decide between Emma and Elinor?  On the other hand, it would save me an actual Emma v. Elizabeth vote in the actual bracket, and maybe get Martin fans more solidly behind one character or the other…I could see that working.

Most of the witches books are pretty good on their own as well. I am particularly fond of Maskerade and Lords and Ladies. 

And it probably doesn’t work as a standalone, but Night Watch (in the Vimes arc) is one of the greatest works of fantasy I have ever read in my life. It’s like Terminator 2 meets Les Miserables.

That order guide is amazing!

I LOVE the Watch novels most of all and will plug them until the end of days, with the Death books a close second (not least because of the two amazing characters of Susan and, ofc, the BIG MAN HIMSELF). I wasn’t as keen on Moving Pictures but the rest of the so-called ‘Industrial Revolution’ books are good too.

Another good place to start would be with the Tiffany Aching novels. They’re technically YA, but they get seriously dark in parts (there’s a bit near the start of I Shall Wear Midnight… I don’t think I need to say any more, but those who’ve read it will shiver), and the protagonist is fantastic.

If you want to start with a standalone, Small Gods might be a good introduction too.

“Not My Daughter, You Bitch” defined an entire year of my life. Sorry, Coraline. Mrs Weasley doesn’t just represent a random character who got a great line; she represents the truth that a strong character can be emotional, loving and eminently normal. She is the badass lurking within every underestimated housewife and every eminently ordinary mother. I’m not always the biggest fan of Rowling’s prose style or even her plotting, but Mrs Weasley could live next door. Her scenes show (I would argue, more than any other character in the entire Potterverse) a living, arse-kicking woman who embodies (along with many Potterverse mothers) Rowling’s exhortation that love is stronger than cray cray bitches. Mrs Weasley fucking rocks.

And have you tried her scones? No really, they’re a dream, darling. You must try them. Her clotted cream gave my life hope.

Narcissa and Molly = bamfs. Total bamfs. And Lily was too. I always think Rowling was hugely influenced by the presence of her children in her life, because there are so many mothers whose love for their children transcends everything in Harry Potter.


Might I also add that even when she was aware that one of her sons had died, in other words that her EXPRESSLY GREATEST FEAR HAD BEEN FULFILLED, she STILL managed to duel and win against one of the most powerful dark witches of the era. That is bamf bamf bamf


Okay, well, it was for a couple reasons.

1) My first reading of it was an all-night-day blitz the day after it came out, and my experience of it was extremely hazy.

2) A lot of it just…didn’t seem to make sense. There was too much coincidence when it came to refinding the sword, and I felt like a lot of these particular plot elements would have been better if they had been introduced earlier in the series.

3) Too many ends were tied together by the end; and I hated hated HATED the epilogue. How mentally disturbed did Harry have to be to name all those kids after his dead friends?? SERIOUSLY

1) Fairs.

2) Agreed. There was definite “mid-series-change-of-feeling” joltiness going on. Suddenly the Deathly Hallows were really important and even though it plotwise made sense sort of, it was still really awkward and sudden.

3) BAHAHAHA AGREED. JK said that was one of the first scenes she ever wrote, and uh, it shows. As a rule, I hate epilogues; I much prefer vague open-ended fade outs OR if you’re going to do an epilogue, do it properly and don’t shy away from making it too long. (see; Tolkein).

Bizarrely, one of the things I love about Tolkein is that the epilogue is so damn long. The books are long! The story is intricate and massive! The epilogue should get to be long too. I loved that the films spent a whole half hour wrapping things up, it felt natural and it deflated you, relaxed you, brought you down from that high.

Also, epilogue = even worse in film form. “Let’s put Emma Watson and Bonnie Wright in Burberry and give them eighties hair! That’s old!”

My cinema audience audibly laughed at that scene. Truly awful.

Bahaha you’re so right about what they did in the movies with it. It’s funny, because overall, the 7th movies were probably my favs (although I wanted Neville to be just as badass there as he was in the books, dammit!)

Reading LOTR, for me, is much better if you do it as a literary criticism than lazy-fun-reading. If I approach it as a criticism, I’m a lot less bored when he spends pages and pages on description, because I’m actively trying to tie all the metaphorical threads together.

ETA: Did the epilogue in the films really take a half hour? Daaaamn I never counted that. They flow so naturally I never realized it!

It’s actually more like 45 minutes. I watched all three films back to back a couple of weeks ago, and by the end of it I had been with them for so long (and it was so late) that I was actually solidly weeping for the entire time.

My sister walked in looking somewhat afraid at me and I was like “I’M JUST SO HAPPY THE RING WAS DESTROYED. NOW NEW ZEALAND CAN BE AT PEACE AGAIN.”

I enjoy reading LOTR as an exercise in fantasy. I have to read him really differently from other books; I physically put together his descriptions into a solid, teeming world, and then it works. He’s sort of the difference between an impressionist painter and a photorealist painter – you spend all your time on a photorealist painting staring at the complete-ness of it, whereas impressionism encourages you to create the thing you’re seeing.

I get really pretentious about books. Apologies, baha.

Hah, you don’t sound any more pretentious talking about it than other people I’ve heard who gush over LOTR – The Books. In fact, I’ve heard pleeeenty who were far worse.

You do have a good point about it, though; it just doesn’t read like a lot of other books do.

And seriously, I don’t even have to watch the movies back-to-back. I choke up every time Frodo leaves. EVERY TIME.

@Silverwane Samwise Gamgee may or may not be my dream husband. Whenever he goes off with Rosie I get this peculiar feeling like he’s an ex I know I should wish well. Adele Someone Like You feeling.

I get way too into films. This is why I can’t watch horror.

@antonym Hah, that sounds absolutely adorable. No patronizing meant. :)

I can’t do horror, either. The last horror movie I watched was The Shining, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it in relation to real life events for the next two weeks.


Doesn’t help that his film character a) gets LOADS of sexual tension with Frodo (so much so that I have a drinking game where you drink every time one of them pauses and it sounds like they’re about to say “I love you”) and b) is SO FUCKING ADORABLE I COULD PUT HIM ON CUSHIONS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

Ahem. I have a lot of love for hobbits.

@antonym I was never sure whether to read those moments as sexual tension or not. I figured it was a sort of All’s Quiet on the Western Front sort of beyond-romance closeness between two comrades-in-arms…but I could definitely see an argument for that being sexual tension, anyway.

And the hobbits are awesome and definitely deserving of all the love.

Yeah, it does, doesn’t it? And I get that because I’m constantly tempted halfway through a story to write “in the future”, but I know if I do I’ll ruin it. JK never could do good endings, all of her books go “whump” at the end.

Have to say I voted for Thursday Next even though I have never heard of it.

I’m going to go ahead and say it. I hate Jane Austen.

Flame away ladies, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before! (My favorite being telling me I’m not a real woman because I don’t like Austen. Really?)

I think her work is the most overrated drivel and her female characters are so grating they make me nuts.

The plot of Pride and Prejudice:  “I thought you and your whole family sucked because your mom is cray-cray and your sister is clearly a hooker-to-be and I thought your other sister was a grasping devious bitch, so I’ve been really mean to you.  But now I suddenly love you, so you should love me now too.”


I don’t like her characters or her plots.

I *love* her sentences. She has these arcing sentences which make my inner lyricist happy. I was buoyed through the whole of Pride & Prejudice by Austen’s arch sentences. I also love her turn of phrase.

I’ll take or leave regency Housewives, though.

I’ll give you that I suppose. If I was forced to read that 19th century schmutz I would take Austen over any of the Brontes. I wanted to rip my face off when I read Jane Eyre.

Seriously girl, why didn’t you just run away to the Mediterranean with Rochester? Then he wouldn’t be BLIND! But no, instead they spend the rest of their lives as a pair of sad sacks.

Because he HID HIS WIFE IN THE ATTIC! Rochester is a creepy creeperstine. And don’t give me any of that “It was kinder than asylums,” crap. The asylums do not set the bar high. I have zero understandings of what Jane sees in him.

Of course I would take Jane Eyre over Wuthering Heights any day of the week. The only way I got through Wuthering Heights was to get it as a book on tape and adjust the playback speed so that it sounded like it was being read to me by one of the chipmunks.

Full Disclosure: I like Austin. I have felt a kinship with Elinor Dashwood that is far greater than that of what I have ever felt for any other literary lady. I totally understand, though why some folks don’t. They are rom coms. I don’t pretend otherwise. (and I don’t like the Harry Potter books, so I understand the “What does everyone see that I don’t” angle)

Jane Austen got me through my undergrad finals. Every time I’d studied for long enough I’d reward myself with a chapter, and I got through her whole oeuvre. She is an excellent, funny writer, but definitely of her time, and I can see how her subject matter could bore some people to tears. I hated Persuasion, anyway. But Lady Susan (early epistolary novel of hers) is a hilarious gem.

I just started reading Game of Thrones (halfway through the first one so no spoilers on this thread, please?) but Catelyn Stark ftw.  Let’s show them what a Tully of Riverrun can do.  Because winter is coming.

Dammit.  I have not read a book series where I was immediately invested in so many characters in YEARS.  Probably not since my first reading of Sabriel 12 years ago.

I hate reading a series so many other people have read.  I wasn’t even going to READ this one, except that the library had the first four books in a bundle kindle loan.

Basically I hate people watching me read and going, “Oh, you don’t even know what’s going to happen.  You are so foolish because you don’t know things yet.”  DAMN YOU.  JUST LET ME LIKE THINGS WITHOUT YOUR SCORN AND PATRONIZING!!

Whew.  Sorry.  Had to get THAT one out.

But she’s so stupid. She’s really, really stupid. Can we do spoilery discussions here? Because I could rant on and on about her bland, boringness and stupid stupidity in the most recent instalment in the series. Is she a badass woman? Yes. Someone that I’d vote for? Less so.

Oh. Well… Yeah.

She makes some decisions that are not exactly smart (see above: stupid stupidhead). Go read. Judge for yourself. I was sad about her character in this last one, but hopefully she’ll redeem herself.

That I actually disagree with. While nothing really EPIC HUGE OMG happens in the greater picture, there are huge differences in where all the characters are at the beginning of the book and at the end. But I’m a character nut, so I’m totally fine having the main plot languish around in the background.

I’m definitely with you; I felt back and forth about that sort of crap about the 4th book. On one hand, a lot of the random characters he brought in resulted in some really cool character dynamics, but on the other hand I felt like it was fragmented, and like he wasn’t sure where he was going with the series.

I have only read books one and two, so thanks for restricting your comments to what a stupidhead she is (VERY eloquent!). That’s a shame, since as of now, she’s grown SO MUCH from when we first met her in book one.

(notice how I’m NOT ASKING about Sansa  – who I wonder if she’ll come into her badassery in books 3+ or Arya, who, yeah. Cool).

I also ended up liking Sansa a lot. Dany….I found her plotline boring, at first. I would rush through her chapters to get to my faves. But after watching the HBO series, I have a new appreciation for her character, and when I went back and reread the books recently I feel like I “got” her more. But yeah, in the 5th book, she’s a stupidhead.

I liked Dany a lot more after the TV show too.  I think it’s because, for all his many strengths as a writer, George R.R. Martin is not great at writing a teenage girl, and it’s very easy to forget how young Dany is.  But the actress does such a great job of showing her strength, but also her age and her vulnerabilities, and it makes it easier to remember that she’s a very young teenage girl doing a lot of amazing things.  I think this also makes some of her stupid decisions in book 5 make more sense.  A lot of her mistakes are, in my opinion, teenager mistakes.  And I think that’s okay.  I still love her.


Yeah, I think that is definitely one of the things about her, and some of the other younger girls. Sometimes I went “WHY DID YOU DO THAT?” (see Arya and the whole “gift of mercy” thing…no spoilers), but they really lack a lot of experience, and it’s easy to forget that.

For some reason, though, I adore Dany. I really really do.

Exactly.  And it seems to be that post-child, pre-adult stage that Martin is the worst at capturing, so it becomes easy to forget when you’re just reading.  One of the strengths of the show is that you can’t.

And I really love Dany too.  She’s one of my favorite characters.  And I’ve always been big into dragons, so that adds to her appeal as well.

That’s one of the fun things about those books; since you have so many POV characters, everyone has different favorites. Though from what I hear, I think pretty much everyone digs Tyrion….although honestly, there was a little too much Tyrion in book 5 for my taste. But I was also just grumpy we only got a few Arya chapters!

Tyrion is definitely my favorite, no offense to all the awesome kickass ladies.  He just became MORE of a favorite when he was played by Peter Dinklage (although Dinklage is totally way more attractive than Tyrion is described in the books.)  I assumed the reason there wasn’t more Arya in ADWD was because she had chapters in a Feast for Crows, whereas Tyrion, Dany, etc. didn’t.  Martin just started bringing all the characters together again towards the end of the book.

Look Dany, I’mma let you finish, but Angua is THE DEFINITION OF BADASS. She was the first woman in the Watch AND the first werewolf, thus breaking many taboos! She’s a vegetarian! Her shampoo is ‘for a shiny coat’!

Dany’s OK (though I also couldn’t stand her in ADWD), but Angua would eat her for breakfast. She may be fireproof but she ain’t werewolf-proof.


lemme ‘splain this to ya: when @rah29 says Angua would eat Dany for breakfast, that is not a figure of speech.  Angua would eat her for breakfast with a cup of coffee and some toast on the side.

Now, they can both may be bad ass, but seriously.  Put Dany and Angua in an MMA arena and I guarantee Angua’s gonna be the one walking out.

Sure, you put em in an arena, but who ever said physical badassery was the ruler for badassery?

Dany sends armies at her beck and call. She takes a city and frees all the slaves, and they follow her. Her motherfucking dragons are at her beck and call. Angua wouldn’t even get close. She’d be dead on arrival.

(I actually adore Angua…I just like Dany more. ;) )

ok, no problem.  let’s put ’em out in the world.  Angua does not NEED an army.  In fact, she does much, much better without assistance from anyone.  She is a stand alone bad ass.  I still win.

I am in a terrible, horrible, no good very bad mood and this argument is the only thing keeping me sane right now.  Thank you, thank you a million times thank you.

“And then Jack chopped down what was the world’s last beanstalk, adding murder and ecological terrorism to the theft, enticement and trespass charges already mentioned, and all the giant’s children didn’t have a daddy any more. But he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you’re a hero, because no-one asks inconvenient questions.”

Team Susan Sto Helit!

Thief of Time was the first Pratchett I ever got my hands on. I was thirteen, and I fell totally and completely in love with the Discworld, and especially Susan. Since then I’ve managed to acquire nearly all of the books and the entire collection in ebooks, which is more difficult than it sounds when you live in a tiny town France and Amazon isn’t quite popular yet!


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