Every Thursday, Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn leads a group of fellow bloggers on “Tough Travels”, a trip through the tropes that populate the fantasy and sci-fi world, using Diane Wynne Jones’ hilarious The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as a guide.
This week’s subject is “Middle-Aged Heroes”:
First off apologies for lagging behind here. But like Bilbo Baggins, I’m hastily runnning behind, trying to catch up. Blame it on middle age. And writer’s block.
We’ll move away from the Belgariad and take a look at Eddings’s other series, The Elenium. Sir Sparhawk is a Pandion knight, a foul-tempered paladin serving the throne. The sworn knight to Queen Elhana since she was a young girl, he was exiled by her father for preventing him from marrying his sister. Now that he has died, Sparhawk has returned to defend his Queen and solve the mystery behind her strange illness.
Ned doesn’t really get much chance to be heroic in the novel, but he is the paragon of honor throughout the first book of “A Song of Ice and Fire,” providing sage wisdom and inspiring his followers as he reluctantly journeys to King’s Landing to serve his king.Of course that honor costs him his head and all sorts of other ugliness, but you can’t deny his heroism. Or his middle-age.
One of the best parts of Robin Hobb’s long-running “Realm of the Underlings” series is watching the characters age. The Farseer trilogy begins with Fitz as a child, and over the course of the multiple trilogies we watch him grow. By the latest (for a couple weeks at least!), we see him as a man in his 40s, content with the country life with his wife Molly and his daughter Bee. When Molly dies of old age, however, he must raise his eccentric daughter himself, and when she is kidnapped, he must go forth to find her again.
Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry may have been young Hobbits when they set forth on their adventures, but Bilbo was well into middle age (and well set in his ways) when he was recruited by Gandalf to steal the Arkenstone for Thorin. His age didn’t stop his adventures, although it did temper his excitement and probably had something to do with him oversleeping and missing the Dwarves leaving in the morning. I understand that, I tend to oversleep after a big meal and a late night of drinking myself.
I haven’t finished this one yet, but how can a tale about Apollo learning to be human not involve some heroism? Especially when he is avenging his dead wife. The Philosopher Kings picks up 20 years after the events of Walton’s magnificent The Just City, with Pythias (Apollo in human form) defending his town along with his wife Simmea. When she is killed he is torn, and (as I understand from the blurb) goes on a quest for vengeance with his daughter, Arete, eventually leading to the Greek homeland.