The Hardening of a Hero

Have you ever wondered why the heroes and heroines of fantasy novels tend to lose their sweetness and vulnerability when they become a warrior? What is up with that? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tale about the pushover who becomes the butt-kicking do-gooder but… do they have to lose all of their endearing character traits?

Nope. I don’t think so. And I’m sure I am not alone. When I sat down to write Eiagan’s Winter, I had one plan I mind—my main character would be the personification of depression, anxiety, and anger—a way for me to grasp those seemingly insurmountable circumstances and overcome them. As I wrote, though, I discovered my main character had a lot more to her than grit and fury.

Beneath everything, there was a spark of humanity. She was feminine and soft, and everything you wouldn’t expect a heroine to be. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it, but consistently I receive reviews that start out something like this… “I wasn’t sure I would like this at first because the main character is so unlikeable, but the more I read, the more I saw her layers.”

That’s what I wanted! I was so excited people received Eiagan the way I intended her to be—complex! Let’s face it. We all have our moments when we can’t even stand the sight of ourselves in the mirror. We have days when people are our worst enemy, and we lash out. But we also have days where we are exactly the right soft spot for another person to land.

So, tell me, what books have you read where the main character remained true to themselves, or better, showed more sides of themselves to the world as they fell into their role as the hero or heroine? What characters do you love most because they didn’t harden themselves or turn into an egotistical jerk just to be “strong?” Or maybe the reverse happened. Perhaps the character was hard and softened as they grew into their roles? Send me to all the great books!

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