Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Magnetism of Heroism

Merlin’s Blade by Robert Treskillard is a good novel. It tells an entertaining tale. It maintains moderate tension. It exhibits clean writing. But truthfully, it is a story to which I would not give much additional thought except for one thing: Merlin.

Because of Merlin’s actions, I was drawn into the story. Because of Merlin’s character, I kept reading and thought about the story after closing the cover. Why? Because Merlin was heroic.

Now, it is not uncommon for me to find characters I like, who make me laugh, who make me cry, with whom I identify and whom I cheer on. Yet these things are not heroism. Heroism goes beyond these, something that is easy to forget in the world of flawed but likeable characters. Indeed, heroic protagonists are quite rare, and they are becoming rarer, even in a genre which lends itself easily to such characters.

True heroes, I suppose, appear unrealistic to our cynical society. Too perfect—though interestingly, the characters with the greatest heroism are not those without faults, but those whose heroism trumps their flaws and doubts.

Yet when a true hero appears on the pages of fiction, we are often irresistibly attracted to them. Why? Because heroes embody all the things we crave.

They are strong, for how else would they be able to take the stands they do? They are caring; their sacrifices would be impossible without it. They are hope-filled; they believe good will triumph in the end, though they may never see it. They are dependable and trustworthy; they are champions of second chances; they’re principled; they’re generous of heart and hand; they’re transparent.

And despite all our cynicism, we want to believe true heroes can exist. We want to believe, to paraphrase another heroic character, there’s good in the world and it’s worth fighting for. We want to believe there’s hope.

Heroic characters, whether in story or life, give us that hope.

1 comment:

Fantasythyme said...

Chawna, Good point about why we like to read about heroes. Maybe too, we enjoy reading about heroes not for what they were but for what they became. Until a hero makes a choice that makes a difference, they're just an average person. Heroes provide hope atht we too can make a difference. Merlin's choice to became a hero didn't happen all at once, it happened over time with a series of choices. he stood for what was right, even at a cost to himself and his family, and didn't yield to temptation.