Today I have a guest post from Mr Carr about heroes, check out The Hero's Lot and a giveaway at the bottom.
Series: The Staff and the Sword #2
Author: Patrick W Carr
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: 15th July 2013
When Sarin Valon, the corrupt secondus of the conclave, flees Erinon and the kingdom, Errol Stone believes his troubles have at last ended. But other forces bent on the destruction of the kingdom remain and conspire to accuse Errol and his friends of a conspiracy to usurp the throne.
In a bid to keep the three of them from the axe, Archbenefice Canon sends Martin and Luis to Errol’s home village, Callowford, to discover what makes him so important to the kingdom. But Errol is also accused of consorting with spirits. Convicted, his punishment is a journey to the enemy kingdom of Merakh, where he must find Sarin Valon, and kill him. To enforce their sentence, Errol is placed under a compulsion, and he is driven to accomplish his task or die resisting.
Guest PostHeroes and Anti-heroes:
What makes a great hero?
I believe it’s mostly us. I don’t mean to imply that we are all heroes in the classic sense, far from it, but in the privacy of our comfy, over-stuffed reading chair we soar. The writers who paint their characters most deftly find a way to color their characters with a little bit of our personality. In the pages of their prose, we recognize ourselves, our own struggles and desires, the weaknesses and flaws that we are forced to call our own if we are being honest. By pirating a bit of his reader and blending our DNA with that of his protagonist, the author pulls us deeper into their story. Nowhere is this practice more readily apparent than in the Fantasy Novel.
Yes, I capitalized it.
After the author has built a world that is strange and unfamiliar to us, he must then populate it with people we recognize, but the one we must adopt as ourselves, in some measure, must be the hero, or even the antihero. And so many have done it so well. Consider Frodo Baggins. A hobbit, the least of the peoples, tasked with the impossible: to destroy the one ring of power. How many times have I felt the tasks of life were too much for me? More times than I can count. We not only identify with Frodo’s despair, we identify with his circumstances. He can’t quit. Well, in the journey through life, neither can we. Until the moment we shake off this earth-suit, we have no choice but to continue on the quest, despite everything the enemy (or enemies) throw against. If I can be so bold as to offer an interpretation, I think this might be one of the meanings behind Paul saying “present yourselves as a living sacrifice.” Simply put, it means you force yourself out of bed each day and crawl up on that altar, doing whatever it is your supposed to do. Sometimes it’s joyful, but a lot of times, it’s just hard.
How about another more extreme example: Elwin Ransom in C. S. Lewis’s book “Perelandra.” Who in their right mind would want to be the one to journey to a different planet and have the fate of its souls rest on them? Yet this is exactly the plot Lewis creates and the hero, an ordinary man who studies the origins of words for a living, must confront Satan himself to keep Venus from becoming another, more horrific version, of fallen earth. Ransom’s internal monologues teem with the fears and mental tricks of an ordinary man confronted by inescapable necessity. How many times have I tried to rationalize away a decision because I was afraid or embarrassed or untrusting? More times than I can count. And this is exactly the connection with us that Lewis explores through his protagonist in excruciating fashion. It is fiction at its best, a light that not only illumines its hero, but us as well.
The list of heroes I identify with could fill a book all its own: Frodo, Bilbo, Belgarion, Pug, Errol Stone, Elwin Ransom, The Pevensie’s. The list goes on and on, but they all share something in common; deep down they are all basically good. Scarier by far is when we identify with the anti-hero, when the author reaches into the dark places inside us through his prose and says, “this is you as well.” The list abounds here as well: Harry Dresden, Phillip Marlowe, and Thomas Covenant.
What do they have in common: They refuse to be “good.” They are driven, almost unwillingly, to fight for the right cause, but they do it on their own terms. Perhaps the best of these is Stephen R. Donaldson’s anti-hero, Thomas Covenant. He is aptly named. His first name is taken from the apostle who doubted while his last name implies an agreement made with God. [SPOILER ALERT] But Covenant is a leper and when he is transported to another world, there to save or doom it, his first act is to rape a 16 year-old girl. For over a thousand pages afterward we inhabit the mind of a man filled with self-loathing so deep not even the redemption of the land can purge it. In the 70’s this series sold over 6 million copies. Why? Because through Covenant, Donaldson takes us through an incredibly deep examination of something we all have in common: The struggle to forgive ourselves.
Of course, a lot of this is in the eye of the beholder. I was surprised to read a review for “A Cast of Stones” in which my protagonist was described as an anti-hero. I’d never thought of him that way. To me, Errol was the quintessential fantasy hero: born and living in humble circumstances, he must find a way to survive and save those around him. Yet when I considered his starting point, drunk and literally sprawled in mud and filth, I conceded the interpretation. That’s the wonderful thing about stories: They meet us halfway. Our past and our emotions give life to the words on the page and the story is ours and ours alone because the heroes…
What about you? Who are your favorite heroes and antiheroes? Drop me a line sometime. I’d like to know what you think. Patrick@patrickwcarr.com
A Cast of Stones (The Staff and the Sword #1) by Patrick W Carr
In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone's search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he's joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.
Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom's dynasty is near an end and a new king must be selected. As tension and danger mount, Errol must leave behind his drunkenness and grief, learn to fight, and come to know his God in order to survive a journey to discover his destiny.
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