Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tough Traveling - Middle Aged Heroes


Tough Traveling is a fun meme that aims to tour all the tropes big and small, abhorred and loved that are littered across the fantasy landscape. It was conceived of and is hosted by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and here's how it's explained on the blog: 

Each Thursday, our copy of ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland’ in hand, we shall tour the mystical countryside looking for adventure and fun (and tropes) from all over fantasy.

This week's trope is Middle Aged Heroes:
This hero stuff is usually a young person’s game.  And, occasionally, a grizzled old veteran can get involved.  It is a true rarity for someone to join the good fight for Fantasyland living in that in between ground.
I really like this topic because...well... as I get older I find myself appreciating, even gravitating towards, a more mature hero or heroine.  And the definition of hero I'm using is a protagonist who does heroic things whether those things be the traditional slay the dragon type deeds or something more subtle.  After all with age, supposedly, comes wisdom so a hero shouldn't have to use his/her fists or swords.


Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Harry didn't start the series as a middle-aged hero but I think he's probably getting at least close these days.  It doesn't seemed to have slowed him down probably because he's a Wizard and they have much longer life spans so really he's still a young pup but that's semantics.  I think.  

Ista and Cazaril from the Chalion Series by Lois McMaster Bujold
Lois McMaster Bujold is really fantastic at creating atypical heroes.  Cazaril is in his mid-thirties so not quite middle aged but he has served as a galley slave and it has aged him beyond his years.  Despite his desire to hide from life, he ends up saving the kingdom of Chalion in The Curse of Chalion guessed it...a curse on the royal family.  Ista is the Queen Mother of Chalion and is thought to be mad but that doesn't stop her from having quite the adventure in Paladin of Souls.   Both of these books are really excellent if you have not yet read them!

Aral Vorkosigan in the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster BujoldSo what did I say about Lois McMaster Bujold?  She's awesome.  Especially with the atypical heroes. Aral is Miles' father and only gets to really be the hero of one (or maybe two?) books and quite frankly he's outshone by his wife Cordelia who is a good bit younger than he.  He is a very interesting character however.  I would have liked to include Cordelia Vorkosigan but she is a bit younger when she gets center stage (maybe young 30s) BUT and I am very very, very, very, very, very, very excited and happy about this, the scuttlebutt is that the next Vorkosigan book will be focused on Cordelia!!!  And yes this is the second list this series has been on this week!

Kelsier from Mistborn by Brandon SandersonSo I really didn't love this book but it keeps finding its way onto these lists, lol.  Kelsier is perhaps a secondary character but he is also the hero and puppetmaster of Mistborn.  And he ain't young.

See!  He has gray in his beard!
Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
So Aragorn is apparently 87 which is prime of life for his race which is particularly long-lived (what is up with the long-lived folks in fantasy, one would think we mortals have fantasies about living longer lives...) so that confuses matters but I've always thought of him as being in his early to mid forties.  Regardless, he's no spring chicken though he can still swing a sword with the best of them.  I'm even going to be all cocky and predict that I'm not the only one who thinks of him as middle-aged and that he will be the most popular pick on the lists this week!

Shara from City of Stairs by Robert Bennet Jackson
This is a bit of a gamble because I don't really remember if we even know how old Shara is.  However, my impression of her was mid to late 30s, so a little shy of middle age but close enoughThe practical, sardonic and authoritative approach to all crises speaks to her experience and more mature place in life.  Plus she drinks a ton of tea.

Odysseus from The Odyssey by Homer
Odysseus may not be middle aged when he starts his adventures but he certainly is by the time he ends them and returns home 20 years later.  I always picture him as a more mature hero...perhaps THE iconic mature hero.


That's it for me this week.  Yay for middle age?  Check out the other awesome lists produced by the whole crew of tough travelers over at Fantasy Review Barn.

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