There are a lot of fun books in The Elder Scrolls games. In length, they were more like independently bound short stories and essays, covering a variety of genres: histories of the setting (sometimes with meta-narratives that address the diverging plots of earlier games), simple pulp adventures, tantalizing notes, silly scraps of ideas and joke concepts, and the occasional serial narrative that actually built into something bigger.
My favorites of these stories have always been the adventures of unambitious clerk Decumus Scotti, as chronicled in the serialized chapters of A Dance in Fire and The Argonian Account by the in-universe author Waughin Jarth (sadly, I don’t know who the real author of these tales is). The stories are at least one part The Hobbit, one part Bartleby, the Scrivener, and one part Heart of Darkness. I couldn’t fully articulate why, but since my first exposure to an isolated chapter of the story in Morrowind, I’ve always been fond of this pathetic, middle-aged man, someone who so completely lacks ambition and almost completely lacks agency. He is consistently acted upon, forced into ever more dangerous situations, and he just bends with the blows. He somehow comes out on top, or at least no worse than he was at the beginning, and it typically has very little to do with anything that he actually does.
I am by nature a personality who tends to bend to pressure rather than resist. Certainly when I am at my happiest, I let myself bend, go with the flow, stay in the moment. I also like the idea of a mundane, uninteresting, middle-class, middle-aged clerk finding himself in the middle of an interesting, exciting story, even if it was a story he wanted no part of. It probably sounds rather pathetic, but a part of me always felt a kinship with the fellow. Only a part of me, though. I may lack ambition, and like Scotti I enjoy telling stories about adventure but would prefer to sit the actual adventure out, but I’m not particularly lazy, and I don’t avoid work, and I’m not a liar, and I’m certainly not corrupt or an embezzler.
I don’t view Scotti as an icon or fictional role model. I delight in A Dance in Fire and The Argonian Account because of their wry, dark humor. I appreciate the irony of Scotti as protagonist or even hero. Scotti is bland and uninspiring. Scotti is like if Bilbo went off on his adventure and never learned anything from it, never grew at all. Yet for every master thief and vampire and tragic hero to appear in the fiction of The Elder Scrolls, Scotti was delightful for just existing, without pretension or even purpose.