The Demise of the Dramatis Personae?

Until recently, my genre of choice for pleasure reading was fantasy.

The typical fantasy series has such a wide range of characters and settings that it often includes a dramatis personae, a listing of characters and their relationships. They often also list common places in the fantasy world to help readers keep it all straight. An example is the Sun Sword series by Michelle West. Spanning years and introducing an extremely complex world with castes and allegiances that sometimes changed from book to book, it included a comprehensive glossary of people and places that I used frequently during the six years that I read the series.

Earlier this month, a friend and I were discussing Rachel Vincent’s most recent installment in her Shifters series, Shift. I had finished the book, but my friend was struggling to reacquaint herself with the cast of characters. Vincent did a good job of providing small details to jog the reader’s memory when mentioning a character, but it wasn’t enough for my friend.

I know that Vincent must have a character rundown that helps her keep her characters straight, especially now that she has begun a new series, her YA Soul Screamers series.

Would you find a dramatis personae useful when you are reading the typical urban fantasy or genre-bending romance novel? If you are primarily an ebook reader, would the format affect your ability to use such a tool?


1 Response to “The Demise of the Dramatis Personae?”

  1. 23 March, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I find a dramatic personae very helpful in complex, multi-character novels of any genre. More than once I’ve ditched a book because it was just too hard to follow!

    Maps are great in any novel where place is important.

    I’ve never read an e-book, so I don’t know how they work and therefore can’t comment on how such a feature would best be used.

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