The Champion of Man

Zeus, son of Cronos, vies for power with the Titans of the preceding generation. Fearing the eclipse and truncation of their own divine power and position, the Titans fight back. All but two, rather; Prometheus, and his mother Themis. Why, one might ask, has such prominence been given to this Prometheus when the myth-cycles of the ancient Aegean are discussed? He’s no Olympian, nor is he a ferocious fighter or even a secondary participant in the belligerence of the Titanomachy.

To begin, one must place Prometheus in the context of the myths. Etymologically his name is ‘Forethought’, a powerful asset the Titan is delineated as utilising on multiple occasions in the myth-cycles. Of equal importance is the prominent role Prometheus plays in the fate and tribulations of mortals – a curious feature, given that such interference and influence is an Olympian habit that one might argue is almost exclusively their realm. So, Prometheus already stands as something of an iconoclast, a rebellious figure who refrains from the epic conflict between his race and the Olympians, and again as a divine agent of action and interaction regarding the mortals of the world beneath.

The importance of Prometheus in the ancient Greek myth-cycles cannot be overstated; like Zeus, Athena, and Ares, the consequences of Prometheus’ intervention in and intercession on behalf of mortals and their affairs carries substantial weight. Dependent, of course, upon the variation of the early creation myths one presumes, Prometheus is either directly responsible for the creation of mankind, or is present at their creation and notes that the Olympians have distributed all of their respective gifts to the animals preceding mortal man. In this circumstance Prometheus grants them the gifts of a civilised mind, encompassing art and literature, science and mathematical cognition, agricultural aptitude – the very tools needed by man to overcome the savage, primal gifts bestowed upon the animal kingdom.

The concept of bestowing ‘gifts’ upon mortals, men in particular, is also an important concept to bear in mind, for Prometheus’ next great boon is stealing fire, to then pass its secrets down to mankind. Some interpretations see this not as literal fire, with which to cook, heat, and chase away the primordial darkness of night (Nyx), but something more profound; in that the ‘fire’ represents the passion for inspiration, for the ceaseless pursuits of life and survival where the race of men may be threatened by potential extinction as other of the ages preceding them (particularly the irreligious iconoclasm of the Silver Age). Prometheus’ granting of gifts to mankind could also be seen to usher forth progress, across these demarcated ‘ages’; wherein each epoch or new generation is granted slightly more wisdom in civilising arts, paradoxically, as both Hesiod and Ovid remind us, tend to propagate man to further acts of dominion and self-sufficiency, ameliorating their sense of honour and gratitude to the divine powers, as well as eroding the bonds of friendship and the immutable laws’ of hospitality set down by Zeus (particularly those regarding safe haven and sanctuary, sharing the fruit of one’s oikos with a stranger, and the negative reception of the xenos in one’s lands).

Such gifts as Prometheus grants are not in isolation. The sacrifice at Mekone, seen to settle the dispute and supposed lovelessness between Zeus and mortals of the Iron Age (Hesiod’s supposed era), could be seen perhaps as Prometheus seeking to forestall the destruction of yet another age/race of man that the Emperor of the Olympians finds distasteful, rebellious, ungrateful; an increasingly self-reliant and capable age of man that approach the Gods not as supplicants seeking to propitiate and receive aid, but as a race beset by hardships that they struggle to overcome in their own capacity, blaming the Gods for the burdens of their mortal tribulation and adversity. Asabeia, if you will; a literal and wilful display of irreverence and contempt towards the Olympians whom mortal man is yet indebted to for the marvels created by the divine Pantheon, including the very animals that sustain man in his hunger.

We know from Homer and the Trojan myth-cycle of the Heroic Age, as elsewhere, the unpleasant consequences of hubris, and the immense affront to the Olympians that man’s pride in his own abilities and competence engenders. Diomedes’ rampage (Iliad V), the daimon upon him and super-powered with Athena’s divine favour, fells many a Trojan, wounds Aphrodite, but oversteps Athena’s mandate when he attacks Apollo. With Athena’s revocation of her condition to only attack Aphrodite, Diomedes’ great raging spirit ensures that even mighty Ares, god of war, flees the battlefield… from a mere mortal. Diomedes’ ultimate fate is less certain, though most traditions conclude that the great hero never made it home, nor saw his beloved wife again. Not as heavy a price as some, but as a favourite of Athena one could assume that divine favour provided commensurate protection against.

With the Goddess in mind, her dear friend Pallas nearly overcame her in practicing the arts of war; enraged, Athena kills Pallas, later taking the name as one of her (many) epithets. So too with the aetiological myth of Arachne, a weaver of such immense talent as to declare herself better than the goddess – Arachne’s fate, once bested by Athena in weaving, is to spin forever, the silken threads of the spider, a transformative damnation. The prevarication Agamenmnon displays upon finally reaching home after the Trojan war, where his adulterous wife Clytemnestra goads him into walking upon Tyrian purple (a gesture of such excessive pride to mar or soil such opulent finery beneath one’s road-dusty feet) nonetheless gives way to the man’s hubris, and ensures the leader of the Achaeans a violent, unpleasant end. Indeed, few of the Achaeans return home inviolate and safe after the sacking of Troy; most encounter and succumb to myriad punitive circumstances at the hands of the Olympians or their agents for the violation and sacking of Troy’s temples and the rape of Cassandra (dragged as a sanctuary-seeking supplicant from a statue of Athena). So too does man’s disrespect toward the Gods or excessive pride in their own cleverness warrant divine retribution – Sisyphus’ perennial toil with the great rock up a hill that would simply roll down again should prove sufficient a lesson to not attempt to deceive the Gods.

Returning to Prometheus and the Iron Age of man, the Titan seeks to resolve the dispute between man and Olympian amicably, in that man will offer sacrifice to the Gods in respect and worship, yet will partake and thus enjoy some of the offering. Zeus, as the God-King of the Olympians, is given the first choice of which part to accept hereafter, Prometheus’ intercession to benefit man being the deceitful arrangement of the portions, dressing the delectable, nourishing meat of the sacrifice in the stomach, whilst covering the inedible bones with the glistening fat – the latter, for appearance’ sake, appearing the easy choice. Zeus accepts this, either deceived by the Titan, or knowingly to engender sufficient grounds for retribution against an age of man he already is displeased with. Thus, Zeus takes away fire from man, leaving man cold and reeling in torment of the darkness.

It is this outcome that serves as the catalyst for Prometheus’ greatest gift, the fire, which he steals from Zeus and returns (or grants) to man; Zeus in his rage binds Prometheus to a mountain, there to have an eagle devour the Titan’s liver each day, only for it to regenerate each night – and thus is Prometheus destined to endure, until a (semi) mortal hero (Herakles) one day frees him. Prometheus is not the only one with gifts to bestow, for man’s woes and harms are multiplied from the supposed ‘boon’ of Pandora (all-gifts), the race of woman who Epimetheus (after-thought) accepts on man’s behalf, despite warnings from our favourite benefactor. Pandora, who carries the jar (pithos, or perhaps an amphora, if one were to take a remarkably pessimistic extrapolation of wine and the ills and excesses alcohol can create), opens it and releases all manner of additional suffering upon man, it is not merely toil and physical hardship from the elements and the Gods, so too must man now contend with disease and sickness (among other innumerable evils). What remains in the jar is hope – synonymous with the very fire that animates man’s conscious rejection of retreat, of relenting in the face of insurmountable obstacles. It is this gift that is Prometheus’ greatest benevolence of all.

My preferred interpretation, such as it is, stands to reason that Prometheus intercedes time and again on man’s behalf to save us, to increase our ability and capacity to care for ourselves, to endure privation and hardship, to strengthen and improve and ultimately, survive. In mankind does Prometheus see the future; for the Titan, fore-thought is his great burden, yet with such an immense talent, he also possesses the sole opportunity to intervene and alter events. While the modern world may yet retain an appreciation for the Olympian pantheon and the mythic traditions of ancient Greek culture, the daily worship of, and obeisance to, such divine powers has all but faded from the world in millennia past. Thus, Prometheus, his race wronged by the heavy-handed wrathful might of Zeus, sees in mortal man a mirror of himself – a rebel, a wilful iconoclast seeking to overcome the oppressive tyranny and the hypocrisy of Zeus’ rule.

In mortal man has Prometheus found his avenger, and though such vengeance takes hundreds of years to truly unfold, Prometheus plants the seeds for an age of man, imperfect and flawed as the Titans, to overcome the divine hegemony of the Olympians, to re-shape the world as they desire, and ultimately, to abandon Zeus and his pantheon as dusty artefacts, legends and myths, never again to receive their apportioned share of the sacrifice.

For further reading, I recommend:

Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days

Homer Iliad & Odyssey

Aeschylus Prometheus Bound

Euripides Oresteia, Elektra, & The Trojan Women

Ovid Metamorphoses

Ken Dowden’s Uses of Greek Mythology

Morford & Lenardon’s Classical Mythology (9th ed.)

J Larson Ancient Greek Cults

Guest post composed for the ‘Catalogue of Heroes’ for fellow Fantasy author, D E Olsen, of the excellent (and free) Eagle’s Flight: First Chronicle of Adalmearc.

Viman

I dream the ancient highlands, those rugged distant peaks,

the chilly sighing river-wash flowing through the sprawling trees;

of craggy grove-capped heights, and sullen, mist-wreathed glens,

a silent longing swells the heart, the yearning melody;

as climbing daunting stony towers wrought from wind-hewn rock,

and iron shards and broken years a legacy laments;

that spectral, weathered home.

I see those sacred highlands, the greying cairns that speak,

the fens and boggy mires trod by none but ghostly, fading feet;

of withering hail and gentle clouds, sunlight bereft of heat;

as winding threads of aeons past and sundered futures spent,

and stirring coronachs that onward echo whence inscribed on timeless stone;

a final, sombre tome.

The Promethean Benevolence

When the Titan Prometheus stole both nourishment from propitiatory animal sacrifice and fire from the Olympians, to bequeath both benevolently to mortals, he set a precedent in some regards. The iconoclastic and independently minded hero; delineating the extant potential for the third edge of the coin toss, where neither heads nor tails comes down, but the balancing aspect betwixt and between.

This is the shadowy possibility, and the most slender of chances, however remote or unlikely that remains in every decision, to simultaneously be a force for good and positive accretion for the innocent, a force for ill-will and detraction toward the overbearing excess of the corrupt or greedy, and the selfless embrace of whatever punitive consequences are engendered through the act of ensuring balance.

In Prometheus perhaps we can see the complicated nature of man more than any other of the Titans, Gods, or other mythic figures. Son to a dethroned scion, relegated to an ignoble or understated fate of idle tolerance or dismissive neglect as the Olympians take centre-stage in the Greek pantheon, Prometheus beholds the possibilities of the future and seeks to actively embrace them, to usher them forth and cultivate harmony and balance between the Gods and mortals. Thus, the proverbial wheel of destiny and evolution may continue to spin without deleterious disequilibrium; the sort that typically precludes the ongoing existence of sentient life as cataclysmic rupture (or rapture, perhaps) ensues.

This noble Promethean altruism, specifically the notion that a Titan, a demiurge, or a particularly sympathetic psychopomp would pursue the wilful restoration of balance, and promote humanity’s interest in advance of their own deified kin, is a charming fantasy, and one that resonates with the timeless nobility of heroic sacrifice. It is in the acts of such heroes that we can find an almost euhemeristic inspiration; that once great figures of antiquity were willing to risk their all for the betterment of lowly mortals; that a being of such immensity and power might choose suffering and ruin, damning themselves to an unpalatable fate for their transgression against the supreme authority or condition to restore balance.

How marvellous must these stalwarts long since relegated to myth and legend have been? Through their efforts they would ensure that lesser folk may yet endure, the mortal burdens lessened and their grime-studded humble faces, even if only temporarily, might yet cast a gaze upward, hearts and minds skybound, while the seeds of hope for tomorrow could take root in the most fertile soil of the human heart.

And beyond the dying twilight of the Gods of antiquity, we find now the world over many an enthusiastic recreationist or resurrectionist celebrating Blot, Samhain, or otherwise, supplicating the Gods for benevolence and favour in spans to come. I cannot help but wonder if the fallen, neglected deities of millennia past yet hear these prayers and paeans. If enough people believed in one of the Old Ones, might that be sufficient to restore them to their ethereal dominion in guardianship over man and the Earth, or is this merely an optimistic prognostication?

Perhaps it is truly a euhemeristic gift from benevolent souls long since forgotten; a prominent didactic legacy to educate and inspire in man the importance of harmony and balance, of the noble curatorship of this scarred, imperfect paradise we inhabit. To continue fanning the embers and cinders of hope, that one day, it may erupt into an all-consuming, all-cleansing conflagration of the most noble aspects and elements of humanity.

In any case, the Promethean heroes of the ancient world have set a profound example. May the world find others upon whom to bestow this mantle in millennia to come.

Inspiration Ethereal

I walked alone through the sand, sharing the intimacy of the early morning with none but myself. Clouds, distant and voluminous, betrayed the commencement of the sun’s lambent ascendancy. And as the creeping tide swept in about my legs, the crisp chill of the ocean’s infinity ensconcing, a suddenness overcame me. I continued, allowing myself to wander deeper inward, whilst my body paced forward methodically across the shore-break. Rockpools punctuated my journey; an occasional downward glance to check the stability of my footing and the surfaces upon which I was treading, heading in a direction I felt, rather than consciously selected.

At the precipice of the foremost rock formation, barely inches above the water level, I knelt, eyes closed and head bowed in solemn reverence, communing with the Gods, extolling their virtues, and offering in propitiation my earnest gratitude. Neither subservient nor undignified in my obeisance. The waves rolled in. The infinity of the ocean embraced me. A breath, an exhalation, and I opened my eyes. The sun rose, majestic and awesome, to imbue the world with light and warmth, to renew the energies of living motion once more.

And at that threshold of a spiritual singularity, I felt the stirring notion that I had seen this before. That I was not as I am, or was, but as I might yet become; and in that edifying moment, a recognition, imagining that I could almost see the first of the twin suns had risen to grace the dawn of Anaimon.

A fanciful notion propagated by introspection and a deep, humble appreciation of the sacred natural energies that govern our world. So fixated upon the modern, many overlook the fundamental essence that facilitates life. In that fleeting, all-encompassing sense of oneness, I found a familiar visage staring at me through the veil. The concordant suns a blossoming radiance behind. And I recalled what must become of that face, and the one who wears it.

One pares the veil, seeking those roots which no man can know. And in sacrifice, one sheds past, present, future; a becoming of an otherness unto oneself.

Until Melrakki claims.

Atmosphere and Imagination

The cognitive power of the human mind never fails to astonish and bewilder. We can subsume mere words upon a page into a vivid and firmly ensconcing ‘Otherworld’ that delights and enchants the wakeful consciousness utterly. We can peer through small symbols inscribed in ink upon recycled tree-pulp and see an entirely different world than the one we know and recognise as reality.

We can even transcend conscious awareness of the bounds of our constructed idea of the living world around us, finding the absurdity and comic, the tragic and the heroic, the epic expanse and the infinitely detailed in a wondrous synergy of ideas and emotive delineations. Such is the magnificent grandeur and forceful energy of literature.

Atmosphere is a precarious and vital element in building and sustaining an ‘Otherworld’ that will engage the imagination commensurately and retain this deep interest. All writers have their various techniques and stratagems for cultivating and crafting this atmosphere; both tone and content are remarkably valuable for shaping the way a reader might access and connect with a particular scene or chapter. But how does the author find this atmosphere and channel it? Does it come from within, or without; a product of introspection and pure creativity, or is it malleable, shaped and influenced by external stimuli?

For my part, the most rewarding scenes and creations are wholly drawn from my imagination, much of it from dreams and nightmares experienced in the long watches of the night, or from peripatetic meditation and contemplation in the early hours before dawn breaks. That said, when it comes to capturing these scenes and images from my mind, I often draw on music to complement the task of writing. The style of music that informs my writing mood can, at times, actually steer me into a completely different scene or delineation than that I’d originally envisioned; the external tone and atmosphere of my writing soundtrack can imbue further inspiration and tonal consistency.

Of course, the ‘Otherworld’ need not be indirectly shaped or influenced by music alone. Impressive and captivating visual stimuli, particularly the natural environment, I find compelling; some of my favourite scenes have sprouted as loosely defined ideas that a wander through the woods or a quiet pre-dawn stroll along bluffs that tower above the ocean helped to further refine and frame to a most satisfactory and enjoyable state.

There is a palpable energy, almost magical, to such quiet places and secret spaces of the soul that only solitude, at a remove from all the noise and overwrought distractions of the modern world, can propagate – and it is when I am surrounded by this atmosphere that I do my best work, and that my imagination races furiously to all manner of colourful and creative notions.

De Iucundus Opus

I broached, and indeed, traversed beyond the threshold of the first third of my current efforts composing the sequel to Anaimon: The Starfall. Having broken the 100k word mark on the sequel, the manuscript is taking shape nicely, with substantial elucidation and elaboration punctuated with some heart-palpitating moments that developed rather organically.

As such, there were a few scenes that were originally unplanned or in a differential sequence; such was the inspiration that they mandated my concerted focus which was commensurately applied. Few things in life are as compelling or delightful as crafting and cultivating a work with the written word; doubly so when the framework and narrative of the aforementioned work are drawn wholly and solely from the imagination of the author. So it is that the sophomore novel continues in develop with an end goal of, a little optimistically, year’s end – replete with this gleeful and animated author writing in furious bursts between life’s wonders and the small novelties of daily life.

I must also extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to another local author and indefatigable community commentator Mark Booker, who has provided a small feature of Anaimon: The Starfall in the September edition of his compact community newsletter. There is sadly a conspicuous absence of news and interests from my local town in much of contemporary mainstream media, so it makes for a humbling reflection indeed to find one both amiable and consistent in its focus (and certainly doesn’t hurt to get a positive nod in my direction).

Have a browse of the article, and for the locals, more of Mark’s excellent coverage of all things relating to the village here: Lambton Local.

Finally, I’ve uploaded some of the character art and corrected the purchase links for the Paperback and E-book editions of Anaimon: The Starfall. Should your artistic proclivities be so inclined, I’d love to see some more pieces. It’s one thing to visualise a particular character in your mind, and another to see that character so vividly fleshed out before your eyes.

Traits of the Hero

There is something fascinating and truly compelling about the concept, however archaic and idealised, of The Hero. The Hero exemplifies all of the noble characteristics; discipline, virtue, prudence, wisdom,  courage, physical and mental fortitude, emotional resilience, patience, temperance, and an utterly indefatigable and incorruptible spirit. These heroic traits represent an all-consuming dedication, a peerless commitment to a higher ideal or goal, and a sublimation and subjugation of the individual’s wants and needs in service of something more than themselves.

One can find so many worthy and admirable traits in the brief list above, but I’ve often contemplated why these tenets of The Hero are so universally applauded, and yet appear only reticently or inadvertently embraced in much of the recent fiction I’ve read or heard about. Are there any true heroes left in fantasy, I wonder?

Those antiquated, anachronistic bastions of pure goodness and selfless heroism had something; a fundamental something perhaps that in our incessant hyper-critical and morally ambiguous cynicism we’ve lost, or resiled as the stuff of childish longing and fanciful imaginations. Yet everywhere reality confirms that it still exists, even if not in the same individuals consistently throughout a lifetime.

The front line of military service can be seen as exemplars, where brotherhood, camaraderie and commitment to their honour group drives them – the brother on your left and right is what you’re fighting for. The firefighter who dives headlong into an inferno, the police officer who goes above and beyond to extract a child from the grip of a violent and abusive parent, the ambulance personnel who weather assaults verbal and physical to provide critical care even to the undeserving – why are such grand testaments to human courage, duty, and discipline seen as something worthy of derision, or to be undermined by self-serving, hypocritical and predatory protagonists of our fiction?

Grey morality in the real world facilitates and propagates much that is unpleasant and unfortunate. What is good for the individual’s hedonistic impulses is not necessarily good for the civilisation, or for any bondmate, kin, or comrade to said individual.

Grey ‘heroes’ sometimes do the right thing because it suits them or is ultimately to their own benefit; true heroes do the right thing because they want to make the world a better place. And if such optimism is naive, misplaced, or a frivolous effort, what does the grey heroes’ world look like by comparison? What does a world, a future, bereft of hope, really look like?

With that in mind, the sequel to Anaimon: The Starfall, progresses rapidly.

A Man’s Legacy

A man I will never meet, once wrote in a book that does not exist.

“Every Rooster gotta die someday. What’s important some ain’t so much how he died, as why he lived. And that’s where his measure counts, mind, Gods or no. It’s what a Man left behind; what parts of himself he cut away in the long spans, and what he managed to keep, through and true, while marking his time. Every Rooster gotta die someday, and only his sons will remember why”.

The contemplation of a man’s legacy, what he leaves behind, when all else is cast aside, gives me pause for considerable introspection. I ruminate thus upon the lives and actions of characters like Wandering Star, Braiding Spectre; even Little Fire for all the precocious verbosity of his youth, and I marvel at the dichotomy between erudition and enigma that each displays, almost as if by another hand than my own.

What can a warrior hold to when all his wars have ended? In times of peace, is the warrior merely biding time for another conflict, emitting a secret breath of relief while all others regret the suffering and cost? The paradox of death being the only life he knows.

What does a scholar hold to when the very institutions that gave him his insight and wisdom are corrupted, dilapidated, and expunged from his world? Are the lessons he learned as important when the edifice of their very transmission has ceased? The paradox of memory being the sole key to his future.

What can a soldier, a family man, hold to when the cornerstone of his entire reason for fighting is gone? Does he lament the time lost, or cherish memories of the time he once had? The paradox of fighting against the one thing he cannot prevent.

Levity, Grit, and the Grey Man

Unseemly, dishonourable, villainous, immoral, vile, hateful, destructive; all manner of epithets and appellations pursuant to the ruination of one’s moral character in the pursuit of some warped destiny. Whichever form the abrogation of the common tenets of civilised man might take, it yet holds some macabre appeal; a morbid fascination with the excesses of human action, an often violent contrast against a perceived set of normal behaviours – a violation, deliberate, of the social contract and parameters therein necessary to ensure survival of the species. Harmonious living isn’t exactly the desired end-state for most villains.

Then come the justifications. Conflict is costly, but a necessity for change and growth. One must die, that the group may yet endure. Selfish, opportunistic gain at the expense of those who support you will likely not be allowed to occur a second time, so seize with daring all that you may. There is a price, and blood will call when shed. Overt truisms in many circumstances, but I marvel and wonder at the darker predilections of humanity, and why they make for such fascinating reading.

Oddly enough though, some of the most amoral and self-serving characters in Fantasy literature come across less as blooded, fell-handed conquerors and more as petulant, egocentric children in my reading of late.  The ragged scoundrel and the dust-knuckled drifter, even the proverbial grey-man at least are permitted have a genuine laugh or two along the road to damnation, a shared sense of gallows’ mirth in the face of their timely appointment with the reaper, and perhaps even find themselves a shred of redemption.

The wholly iniquitous can prove engaging (though rarely endearing) as characters, but many fail to find much appeal with me, particularly those who are not bereft of an underlying catalyst or tempered, tragic promissory note that excuses  much of the character’s flaws and abjuration of decency or honour. An emptiness in a villain’s motives can be both poor writing and oversight, or a thoroughly stimulating enigma to unravel  – in some circumstances,  the villain is so alien and utterly devoid of an appreciable perspective the reader can understand or relate to – in a sense, wholly evil, or Total Evil Personified. These magnificent, towering chasms of suffering and decay tend to be so ethereal and unconquerable in scale as to truly make any hero’s journey to extinguish such a force of destruction and despair truly epic.

What of those lesser ‘villains’? The hero undone by his own best intentions, cracked, and bitter? A broken hero, a failed hero, still has charm and appeal for my part. I turn thus to the unscrupulous and ambitious upstart, who might have been a force for good but for some harrowing personal tragedy that skewed their worldview and lead them to serve themselves, ignorant, apathetic, or scornful of any heroic code or honour, in place sacrificing at the altar of self-aggrandisement.

I appreciate the nuance and deftness of characterisation required for the grey man, as a staid template of a villain can easily plummet into an ignominious appraisal as cartoonish, lazy, or uninspiring, robbing the tale of essential conflict. The multi-faceted, extremely ‘grey’ villain or anti-hero who has been broken too many times, however, seems conditionally more vulnerable to their resilience being bested and destroyed utterly, than being merely malleable under extreme duress. A more nuanced, more complicated and detailed portrayal to be certain, yet it feels a chore in excess – and one that is, ultimately, forgivable, or a guilty pleasure for many readers because deep down they acknowledge the tragedies and injustices inflicted upon said protagonist that propagated and engendered a far harsher, realistic, or cynical view of the world where one’s selfishness is the only guarantee for a climactic synergy of destiny and free-will.

So at what point does the broken hero instead become an insipid little goon far too clever for his/her own good? I’ve grown to find this element in some Fantasy, particularly Grimdark, remarkably tedious, especially when much-lauded  works are more a character study than anything else; narrative and world-building eschewed to favour introspection, brooding, and the indulgent, gloating propaganda of the protagonist. Utilising elements of this Grimdark ‘grey man’ morality mandates a requisite, self-designated verisimilitude for my part, and also confounds and frays the enjoyment I might otherwise have derived from reading works that feature such characters.

Thus, a strong character study-as-narrative piece should be riveting, but where does that leave me when I find the character wholly unsympathetic, possessed of an overweening pride, and singularly dismissive of the multiple , deeply damaging traumas encountered and endured but for the commendable way such hardships have given rise to an arse-kicker of epic proportions? It feels… unbalanced.

So I think, in the end, I’d rather have a sardonic chuckle or two, and begrudgingly be along on my way with scalliwags and cut-throats who, after it all ends, are just bad men trying to do good things.