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.