blether breakdown, fantasy, science fiction

Blether Breakdown: Hoachin’

As part of my launching my blog properly I wanted to add in more interesting or unique blog features. What better way to make things more unusual to try and loosely connect Scots words/phrases to bookish lists? Bear with me, some of these connections from the meaning of the word to the idea for the list might be a little loose.

Hoaching — ; busy, jumping, mobbed

Usually I’d say that an area is hoachin’, like a shop or cark park, but I could equally describe it as jumping or mobbed. Picture a really crowded or busy area. For bookish purposes I’m going to loosely connect it to a large cast of characters, because I could say that the book is hoaching with characters. Let’s not examine that connection too closely.

Epic fantasy books are probably the biggest culprit for having a large cast. One of my favourite uses of a large cast in fiction is in A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. I’m sure most people are aware of how many characters are involved in A Game of Thrones, and the list only expands from book one. Even if you watched the show and were surprised at how large the cast was, there were key character missed out for the sake of simplifying the plot.

I loved A Song of Ice and Fire in particular for how it handled a large multiple point of view cast. Each character felt distinct and clearly defined to me despite multiple characters being introduced with similar names. Once I had the names organised in my head by the end of book one I fell in love with this cast. I never forgot who any of our main characters were and while sometimes I couldn’t keep their names straight in the beginning I could always keep the character and their arc straight in my head. Characters were a massive reason why I loved this series so much, especially as they felt so real to me.

For both of my Sanderson series on this list we have large casts handled differently. In Mistborn we have a large team working together on the greatest heist their world has ever seen. And in Way of Kings the cast is large but made of distinct characters all in different locations and working on their own distinct goals similar to A Game of Thrones. Sanderson’s characters do fall flat for me because don’t feel like rounded, developed characters that I could imagine in any other world or scenario. I often finish one of these books wishing the characters had been more fleshed out, but I always follow the plotline easily and can keep track of everyone. And while Sanderson loves to make up names, they are usually fairly distinct from one another which helps!

In Seveneves, we follow a group of humans as they try to survive a apocalyptic event that blows up the moon. There’s a race against time to save as much of the human race as possible by sending people up to the International Space Station. Our main cast is a mixture of characters who were already living and working on the ISS and notable people from the surface. Tensions are high when so many people are crammed into the system of ships designed to keep everyone alive. I liked the strain this put on the interactions between characters who don’t always see eye to eye about how humanity should move forward.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle uses its large cast as a plot device as you follow a mysterious, unknown main character as he replays the same night over and over again to save Evelyn Hardcastle. The twist? Each day is spend in the body of a different person, viewing the events from their unique perspective and possibly affecting the events of the next day with today’s actions. I highly recommend this book, a murder mystery with a science fiction twist. Just describing it to you makes me want to pick it up again.

And Leviathan Wakes is my second favourite depiction of a large cast in this series. It makes sense as one of the authors worked under George R. R. Martin who has my top spot. The same care for character work shines through the entirety of The Expanse. I can comfortably say that the crew of the Rocinante all feel fully developed and like they could step off the page into the real world. The character arcs in this series has affected me emotionally more than any other book on this list.

I read the Priory of the Orange Tree earlier this year and had to take a brief break to scream into a pillow about how much more I wanted from this world. The characters in this cast are all from wildly different countries in the world, and one of the aspects I enjoyed so much about the use of the large cast was how well it lent itself to the worldbuilding. As each character was from a different country they had different attitudes to dress, proper behaviour, dragons and many more aspects. This made the worldbuilding feel more intimate and helped me to understand the parts of the world that were seen less. I would also like to add that the romance in this book was sapphic, slow burn and had me on the edge of the page desperate to get to the resolution the whole way through.

And for my final entry to the list, The Emperor’s Blades blew my mind. I devoured book one, then waited anxiously to get a hold of the rest of the trilogy so I could see where the plot was going. This cast was more structured than others in the list because the book primarily follows three siblings after their father, the Emperor, dies under suspicious conditions. One is in the capital city surrounded by politics, the other has been with an elite fighting force for training since youth and the heir is far away in remote mountains as they learn everything essential to being the Emperor of the Unhewn Throne. Each sibling picks up their own group of friends, followers or enemies throughout the books to make up an extensive cast. This whole series felt really dynamic and fast paced, but one of the aspects is the limited communication available between each sibling. This leads to interesting character directions and interactions between the siblings. I highly recommend this series.

That’s all for my overly long list of hoachin’ casts. Let me know if you enjoyed this format for discussing books, and if you want to learn what any Scottish phrases mean in the future!

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