Filed under Trends & Tropes on December 9, 2008
Tagged: Chronicles of Jord, fantasy fiction, heroes, Logan Shadowhand, protagonists
There are many different types of heroes, each with their own set of motivations and methods. Picking the right protagonist for the story is an important task for a fantasy fiction writer. While I don’t subscribe to the theory that characters can take over a story and rewrite it, I have experienced struggles in writing for Logan Shadowhand based on the hero type I envisioned him as and the themes I wanted to explore in my Chronicles of Jord stories. An anti-hero will follow a different course to reach a goal, or have entirely different goals, than a child of destiny.
A hero can be composed of multiple types, allowing the writer to build a more complex character. I used five different hero types in constructing Logan, with him favoring one particular type more than the others during the various drafts of Shattered Amulet.
In the most literal sense, the anti-hero is merely a protagonist whose character and goals are the antithesis of a hero. What defines a hero tends to change as cultures evolve, however. The anti-hero of classical literature is quite different than the 16th century Faust or the 1930′s Sam Spade. Adjectives like brooding, gritty or ruthless might be used to describe a modern anti-hero.
The Child of Destiny
Prophecy is a common trope in fantasy fiction. When a hero is the subject or focus of a prophecy, they might be a child of destiny. Belgarion, from David Eddings’ Belgariad, is an example of a child of destiny.
Logan Shadowhand spent some time as a child of destiny, though he was chosen by a deity during a time of need, rather than the fulfillment of an existing prophecy. I abandoned this particular storyline when I replaced the settings pantheon with a single god and decided that Logan might not be the protagonist in every single Chronicles of Jord novel.
The Everyman Hero
The everyman hero is nobody special, until a crisis comes upon him (or her) and they rise to the occasion. Frodo Baggins is a good example of an everyman hero.
The Reluctant Hero
The reluctant hero doesn’t go seeking adventure and fame. In fact, they even resist when it comes knocking. They may or may not possess the skills necessary to be a hero. When the chips are down, however, the reluctant hero comes through.
A reluctant hero could also be an everyman hero, or even an anti-hero. Your average peasant or merchant would much rather stick to their daily routine rather than risk life or limb. And reluctance can lead to unconventional methods and goals. Bilbo Baggins could be considered a reluctant hero.
The Rogue with a Heart of Gold
A softer, gentler, kinder anti-hero, the rogue with a heart of gold possess that rough exterior, which often rubs traditional heroes the wrong way and can cause the rogue to end up on the wrong side of the law. Underneath it all, however, is a desire to do good. Sometimes that desire needs a catalyst before it is revealed. Robin Hood and Han Solo are rogues with hearts of gold. Logan falls somewhere between the anti-hero and the rogue.
This is hardly a comprehensive list of hero types. What major types am I missing? What types of heroes do you prefer to read or write about?