One of my favorite character archetypes is the cinnamon roll: a character who is wholesome and innocent, too good and pure for the broken world in which they live. Cinnamon rolls bring out the best in other characters. Often in peril, they must be protected at all costs. I adore books with a great cinnamon roll character. Here I would like to share seven favorite cinnamon rolls in science fiction and fantasy.
Klara from Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Book Blurb: From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.
In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?
Cinnamon Roll Review: Klara is the ultimate literary cinnamon roll: you just want to give her a giant hug and never let her go.
Klara is an artificial friend adopted by a family to be a companion for their daughter. The book is told from Klara’s very innocent point of view. She only has partial comprehension of what is happening around her, and she always assumes the best in people.
Since Klara is solar-powered, she views the sun as the source of life and healing. She has constructed a religion considering the sun as her god. Her prayers to the sun are so innocent and touching, as is her battle against pollution (which blocks the sun).
I won’t reveal anything else about the plot, as I don’t want to spoil this very engrossing and beautiful story. Let me just say that Klara proves to be the most human of any of the characters, despite being an artificial friend. She is such a sweetheart and a cinnamon roll in every respect.
Auri from the Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss
Book Blurb: Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place.
Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows…
In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.
Cinnamon Roll Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things tells the story of several days in the life of Auri, the reclusive, innocent, and damaged girl whom Kvothe befriends in The Name of the Wind. In fact, it is Kvothe who gives Auri her name, a perfect name for this girl who only emerges in the moonlight.
Auri lives in the Underthing, an underground labyrinth below the University, where no one can find her. She is obsessive-compulsive and makes sure that everything in the Underthing finds its right place. Or perhaps she is just more in tune with the true nature of objects and helps them to find their own right place.
Kvothe and Auri have a tradition of exchanging gifts when they meet before enjoying Kvothe’s beautiful lute music. In this short novella, we follow Auri in her daily life in the Underthing. She also spends a lot of time preparing her special gift for her next meeting with Kvothe.
Auri is my favorite character in The Kingkiller Chronicle. She is so sweet, kind, and innocent: an absolutely delightful cinnamon roll. She has captured the hearts of countless readers and inspired beautiful fanart (such as the artwork here by Manweri) and music, most notably the amazing band, Auri, based in Finland. (Check out their music!)
Some reviewers have criticized that not much happens in this novella, which is a valid criticism. But this book is so elegantly told and paints such a touching picture of Auri and her simple life. I love it, and I hope you will too.
Syl from the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
Book Blurb: From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings, book one of The Stormlight Archive begins an incredible new saga of epic proportion.
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.
One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.
Cinnamon Roll Review: Sylphrena, more commonly known by her nickname Syl, is an honorspren who bonds with Kaladin in The Way of Kings. Syl is only visible to Kaladin and usually takes the form of a young translucent woman about the size of Kaladin’s hand.
Syl brings out the best in Kaladin, helping him to overcome his depression to be the hero that she knows he can become.
As an honorspren, Syl values honesty and hates lies. She values characters who display honorable traits and challenges Kaladin to live up to these expectations. In contrast to many other cinnamon rolls, Syl is usually the one protecting Kaladin, rather than the other way around.
Like Auri above, Syl has inspired much beautiful fanart, such as the image depicted here by Lyraina.
Read my full review of The Way of Kings and other entries in The Stormlight Archive here.
Gog from King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Book Blurb: In book two of the Broken Empire trilogy, the boy who would be king has gained the throne—but the crown is a heavy weight to bear…
At age nine, Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath vowed to avenge his slaughtered mother and brother—and to punish his father for not doing so. At fifteen, he began to fulfill that vow. Now, at eighteen, he must fight for what he has taken by torture and treachery.
Haunted by the pain of his past, and plagued by nightmares of the atrocities he has committed, King Jorg is filled with rage. And even as his need for revenge continues to consume him, an overwhelming enemy force marches on his castle.
Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight. But he has found a long-hidden cache of ancient artifacts. Some might call them magic. Jorg is not certain—all he knows is that their secrets can be put to terrible use in the coming battle…
Cinnamon Roll Review: The grimdark world of the Broken Empire is the last place you might expect to find a cinnamon roll. But Mark Lawrence bakes a sweet, delicious treat with Gog, the leucrota child who is adopted by Jorg in Prince of Thorns, the first book of the series. Although he appears monstrous on the outside, Gog is just a little boy and brings out the humanity in Jorg’s grim heart.
The second book of the Broken Empire trilogy, King of Thorns, is told on multiple timelines. The timeline that immediately follows the events of Prince of Thorns concerns Jorg’s quest to help Gog control his powerful fire-magic. Although Jorg is advised that Gog is too dangerous to keep alive, he is committed to helping Gog master his incredible powers and embarks on a quest to find the fire-mage Ferrakind, with the hope that he might train the young Gog.
Gog is one of my favorite characters in King of Thorns, bringing an innocence to an otherwise bleak world.
Also check out my Travel Guide to the Broken Empire.
Percy from Hills of Heather and Bone by K.E. Andrews
Book Blurb: The bones of the dead hold stories.
On the fringes of Errigal, Morana longs to exchange a life of hiding for a peaceful one with her husband, Percy. While Percy’s bloodgift lets him grow plants and heal broken bodies, Morana’s a boneweaver, despised and feared because she can hear bones and raise the dead. Morana doesn’t want to be seen as a villain from the old stories and instead spends her time gardening, writing the stories of the dead, and fending off a spiteful chicken.
Morana and Percy’s lives are shattered when a group of Failinis tasked with capturing boneweavers and rogue bloodgifted find them. On the run and battling the elements, ancient creatures, and the loss of all they called home, Morana and Percy search for any sanctuary left in Errigal. Morana must choose between the call in her blood or the family she holds so close to her heart if she and Percy are to survive.
Cinnamon Roll Review: Hills of Heather and Bone has a rustic cabincore feel inspired by the Scottish countryside. The core of the novel is the loving relationship between Morana and Percy. The maturity and genuine love expressed in their relationship, through both words and actions, is a welcome contrast to the shallowness of romantic entanglements found in many romance and romantasy books.
Morana and Percy share a healthy and positive relationship, but they also face many realistic problems:
“A fragment of a memory jolts through me, a baby held in roughened hands. Tears sting my eyes. Percy looks at me, his brow wrinkled with a question I don’t want to answer.”
Percy, whose full name is Percival, is such a cinnamon roll. His personality reminds me of Sir Percival, one of the Knights of the Round Table, who has a childlike innocence which protects him from worldly temptation. Morana and Percy also defy the usual physical representation of couples in romance books. The axe-wielding Morana is much taller and stronger than her delicate, scholarly husband, and she also suffers from chronic pain. Hills of Heather and Bone also has strong mental health themes, including overcoming grief and depression:
“I wrap my arm around him and stroke his damp hair. His shoulders heave with quiet sobs. We cling to each other while the world continues to turn.”
K.E. Andrews has written a rustic gem of a novel, a deeply emotional story built around a realistic, loving couple who resonated deeply with me as a reader.
Christopher from Phased by Victoria Tecken
Book Blurb: According to the Domestication and Assimilation Organization (DAO), Val and Lyla Blackwood are the most dangerous kind of werewolves. Although they were raised in the wild, their Trueblood heritage has made them little more than experiments for years. Now, their freedom depends on their ability to become as human as possible, thrown into an assimilation school with humans and werewolves who have never known what it means to be wild. Trapped in a world where they don’t belong and fighting to stay one step ahead of the horrific past that chases them, any wrong move could send them back to those stark white cells, losing their last chance of freedom.
Cinnamon Roll Review: Val and Lyla are two Trueblood sisters, powerful werewolves who struggle to control their primal instincts. Lyla seems to have more control over her emotions and, as a result, a greater control over her phasing behavior. Val, on the other hand, is more powerful but volatile.
The relationship between the two sisters is at the core of the novel. Tecken creates a realistic portrait of two sisters who love each other but have frustrations in their relationship.
There’s a compelling cast of side characters, my favorite being Christopher. He is intelligent, thoughtful, kind, caring, and in need of protection from a werewolf friend. Truly a cinnamon roll in every respect.
I love his character development throughout the novel and how he plays into Victoria Tecken’s themes of mental health, friendship, and found family.
Check out our full Review and Discussion of Phased by Victoria Tecken.
Marcovaldo from Marcovaldo, or The Seasons in the City by Italo Calvino
Book Blurb: Marcovaldo is an unskilled worker in a drab industrial city in northern Italy. He is an irrepressible dreamer and an inveterate schemer. Much to the puzzlement of his wife, his children, his boss, and his neighbours, he chases his dreams – but the results are never the ones he had expected. Translated from the Italian by William Weaver.
Cinnamon Roll Review: Marcovaldo is a pure and innocent man, captivated by the simple things in life. In this collection of short stories, Italo Calvino tells the tales of Marcovaldo as he experiences the four seasons living in a city somewhere in northern Italy, where the people of the city are more streetsmart and cynical than the innocent Marcovaldo, who always finds a way to turn an ordinary day into a magical fairytale.
Italo Calvino constructs this book to cycle through each of the seasons, with stories focusing on spring, summer, autumn, and winter, and then continuing on to the next year.
Each season, Marcovaldo is enraptured by one of life’s simple pleasures, often relating to unexpected natural beauty or delicious food. Marcovaldo is viewed as a simpleton by the more jaded people of the city. But he finds pure joy in the simplicity of seeing wild mushrooms growing by the street, country birds flocking around his urban dwelling, or sharing his delicious sausage with a young boy who doesn’t like his fancy but bland lunch.
Each story ends with a plot twist, very much in the style of a folk tale or fable, and Marcovaldo always proves to be a bit too naive for this cynical world. Still, his innocence is uncompromised by the time we start the next season.
This is such a delightful collection of stories, all written with simplicity and beauty. Marcovaldo is a wonderful and loveable character, and the writing style perfectly matches his innocent personality. Marcovaldo is my favorite Italian cinnamon roll. And if he had one, I’m sure he’d share it with all of us.