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The Once and Future King (The Once and Future King, #1-4)
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2010 Reads > TOAFK: Hero vs Protagonist

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message 1: by Missy (last edited Oct 25, 2010 02:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Missy (booksofmissy) | 14 comments T.H. White's is a great Arthur. He is good and not prim he is human and not ugly(in spirit). Something that I miss in modern fantasy is the hero figure. Now a days we have way too many protagonists and way to few heroes. People who are good and not naive seem to have evaporated from our popular literature.

What do you think?


message 2: by Brad Theado (new)

Brad Theado | 217 comments I have been thinking the same thing myself lately. It seems like everything i read anymore has a flawed hero. I can understand why, its a reflection of what we see in our real life heroes. Steroid abusing sports heroes, politicians who can't keep their stuff in their pants, and bad cops pepper our nightly news.

Do we still have real heroes today? None jump to mind.


message 3: by Sean (new) - added it

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Who ever said heroes need to be noble? That certainly isn't the case in classic literature. Achilles, Jason, Hercules, Aeneas, Gwydion and Siegfried are all supreme jerks -- heck, half of them are rapists.

Arthur sure isn't noble in many of the medieval stories. The Alliterative Morte Arthur, for example, presents his life as a tragedy -- after uniting all Britain, he turns his attention to the continent, with the intent of conquering the Roman Empire. But his neglect of his kingly duties leaves an opening for his steward, Mordred, to seize the throne for himself. Arthur is camped within site of Rome when news comes of Mordred's treachery, and he has to pack up and go home to retake the throne. (And we all know how that goes.) He doesn't come off much better in Sir Launfal where he's a cuckolded fool, or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight where ... well, let's just say none of the knights come off very well in that one.


message 4: by Tim (new)

Tim (zerogain) | 93 comments As I've had a few recent figures in my estimation go from Hero to Zero, it is my cynical observation that a "hero" is a whitewash. They are prefect because they won and got to present their side of the story best, eliminating the embarrassing parts, dropping the mistakes, and playing up their role in events. Every time I hear about a great hero in history I have to wonder what got swept under the carpet.

There are certainly great people, and there are just as certainly those who will leave their mark, but none of them are great to everyone unless you whitewash their pasts enough.


message 5: by Missy (last edited Oct 27, 2010 08:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Missy (booksofmissy) | 14 comments Sean you are right, heroes don't need to be noble and certainly are not in classic literature.
I guess my feeling is a sort of nostalgic regret for the loss of the sort of hero that is aspirational. Maybe "hero" in the Superman vs the Batman sense.
I want to show my son some great Fantasy books with main characters that emulation would suit. One of the reasons that I like the The Once and Future King is that it adheres to this standard.
I feel a sort of regret that currently (by which I mean over the past 10 or 15 years) there doesn't seem to be much interest in making a noble character that isn't laughably one dimensional.


Missy (booksofmissy) | 14 comments Brad wrote: "I have been thinking the same thing myself lately. It seems like everything i read anymore has a flawed hero. I can understand why, its a reflection of what we see in our real life heroes. Stero..."

Man that is not very hopeful. lol
You could go a couple of ways with this.
There is the Nelson Mandela and Stephen W. Hawking rout. The heroes of our culture type.
or
There is the my mom is a hospice nurse and my dad teaches special education rout. The heroes of our daily lives type .
Both groups leave a bit to be desired as we are all human but as Ernest Hemingway said "As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary."


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