Monday, August 7, 2017

His name is Will (or Wil)

Will Stanton (The Dark Is Rising Sequence)
Will Parry (His Dark Materials)
A common tactic utilized by Fantasy authors is to give their main protagonists common, unremarkable names – likely so that the readers will be able to more easily identify with them. 
The name Will is perhaps the best example of this, as four of Fantasy literature's most noteworthy authors employed it: Susan Cooper in her The Dark Is Rising Sequence, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice, and Terry Brooks' Original Shannara Trilogy.

One can almost feel a kinship between them just by looking and, in fact, I once wrote to Philip Pullman via his website asking him the following: "Did you name Will Parry after Will Stanton from Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence? I thought you might have because your Will leaves his mother with a Mrs. Cooper at the start of The Subtle Knife." His reply was brief and pointed "In a word, no." – but, frankly, I do not believe him. Naturally Will Parry is very different from his Stanton counterpart but, given the evidence provided in my question coupled with Susan Cooper's fame and the fact that the two even look alike, I take Pullman's brevity and word choice as a way to dodge my query. 
Will Treaty (Ranger's Apprentice)
Wil Ohmsford (Original Shannara Trilogy)

 As to the rest, three of the four had, shall we say and to avoid spoilers, issues with magical thingamajigs, two are orphans, three have blond hair, three had complicated love lives, three had somewhat gruff and unshaven mentors, and all four experience difficult journeys.

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