Friday, March 20, 2009

Five names that don't work for me

(This one does, by the way)

1. The Unknown Warrior
from Dawnthief, by James Barclay

The Unknown Warrior’s mysterious past forms a subplot of this novel, but I found it impossible to take the character seriously with a name like that (and the other characters calling him “Unknown” didn’t help).

A humorous fantasy might have pulled this off, but then his spouse and child would probably have been called the Unknown Wife and the Unknown Baby.

2. Roque Mayo
from Marry A Man Who Will Dance, by Ann Major

Are you able to tell Roque Mayo’s gender from the name? I wasn’t. I have no idea how to pronounce the first name, and the second makes me think of either a clinic or a condiment. If you’re curious, click here.

3. Faraday
from The Wayfarer Redemption, by Sara Douglass

To me, Faraday is the famous physicist Michael Faraday, not the teenaged heroine of a medieval fantasy. It doesn’t matter how diligently the story works to make such a character convincing if they’re stuck with a name that has too much weight and connotations.

4. Angel Clare
from Tess of the d’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy

Even given that this book was first published in 1891, when the name “Angel” could conceivably have been applied to a masculine candidate for the heroine’s affections, coupling it with the last name “Clare” is like a double dose of estrogen. I know Alec D’Urberville is the antagonist, but at least his name doesn’t bother me.

5. Ael t’Rllallieu
from My Enemy, My Ally, by Diane Duane

The Romulans are my favorite race in Star Trek, and I enjoy those novels of Diane Duane’s which flesh out their history and culture.

That being said, when I try to pronounce Ael’s name I sound like I'm gargling. Maybe it’s the Romulan version of “She sells sea shells on the sea shore”, and if you can pronounce it correctly, you’re from their world.


Maria Zannini said...

Ref: ...when I try to pronounce Ael’s name I sound like I'm gargling.

That's hilarious! And so true.

Anonymous said...

That would be Iñigo Montoya, just saying.

JH said...

Don't forget "Duncan Idaho," or maybe just "most of the cast of Dune." ;)

Madison said...

I actually like Ael's name. Diane Duane is one of my fav authors and I have several Star Trek books that she has written. But I guess this is the perfect example of to each his own! :)

Marian Perera said...

Alas, that was back in my salad days, when I was green in judgment and cold in blood.

After trying to pronounce the triple-consonant names in Eric van Lustbader's Pearl series - names like Rekkk, Nith Batoxxx and Wennn Stogggul - I'll take Dune any day.

DniC said...

Oh...I remember Ael...I still can't pronounce his name.

Marian Perera said...

Hey Madison,

Most of the Romulan (or should that be Rihannsu?) names in Duane's books are well-chosen - they sound foreign but oddly mellifluous as well.

It's just the occasional one that's nearly impossible to pronounce. I liked Ael as a character, though.

Anonymous said...


Forget his name being stupid. Angel from "Tess" is my most hated male character *ever*. And I don't mean the kind you love to hate. No, I utterly despise that hypocritical prick who deserts Tess when she tells him that she was raped.

I swear, she kills the wrong man! (hmm...this gives me an idea for a blog post)

Uh, on a happier note: The Romulans are my fave ST race, too. Definitely underused.