The Secondary Folks in A Song of Ice and Fire
This pick might be a bit unbalanced because of the sheer volume of characters in the books, but George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire seems to me to have the best sidekicks. In a world of kings and queens, knights and ladies, magic and murder, there’s a lot of room for secondary characters to lurk in the shadows or stand stalwart by their master’s side. Good and Evil and all the shades in between, here are a few of my favorites:
Bronn, a sellsword who manages to make himself indispensable to Tyrion Lannister. Always quick with a quip and not about to take anybody’s crap, ruthless with a hazy sense of morality.
Podrick Payne, Tyrion’s squire. Quiet and seemingly cowardly, Pod shows his bravery and resourcefulness time and again.
Sandor Clegane, bodyguard to Prince Joffrey. Scarred in childhood, Clegane earned the nickname “The Hound” for his unwavering loyalty and savage nature, but shows his humanity in unpredictable ways.
Samwell Tarly, sworn brother of the Night’s Watch. Friend to Jon Snow, Sam is bookish and cowardly, not suited for his life in the wastes of the foreboding North – but he always means well and has a heart too kindly for his harsh surroundings.
Then there is one character who straddles the line between lead and secondary character with great success: Brienne of Tarth, the no-nonsense warrior whose rigid sense of duty and idealistic adherence to the concept of knighthood make for some of the most fascinating character development in the whole book series. She’s tough and unapologetic for it, not a beauty but more concerned with right and honor than becoming something she doesn’t want to be. Brienne seems at her happiest, most content, when she is in service to someone or something she can believe in. Yet she is a frequent viewpoint character in the books, giving the reader a unique perspective on the ongoing “game of thrones.”
With so many fully realized and complex characters, A Song of Ice and Fire is a must read for any fantasy lover.