Character sketch of conventional fantasy protagonists

Fantasy is a genre that incorporates elements of various other genres in it, like: romance, adventure, crime, historical fiction. It is a way in which the most imaginative plots of the author can be brought to life. Modern fantasy novels typically include a protagonist who is up against a seemingly invincible foe. However, this type of protagonist has become mundane and clichéd in today’s era.

 Take, for example, Harry Potter. The protagonist was the son of a couple who opposed the villain of the story and was subsequently killed by him. Harry grew up knowing that he was special and he had a very important task to do i.e., avenge his parents and save the world from Lord Voldemort. The books also included the theme of romance between Harry-Ginny and Ron-Hermione. The entire story had an element of ‘high-school’ in it, as most of the action took place in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The famous Inheritance cycle (also known as the Eragon saga) tells the tale of a young boy called Eragon in the fictitious land of Alagaesia. He grows up with his uncle and cousin, Roran, on the outskirts of a town. One day, he finds a blue egg that hatches into a dragon which he names Sapphira. When the Evil Emperor Galbatorix sends his mercenaries to attack Eragon’s town to find the egg, Eragon escapes with the help of a man named Brom, and together, they travel the land, facing many trials, to reach the realm of dwarves. Eragon also meets the Princess of the Elves, Arya, and like all clichéd stories, starts falling in love with her. He travels to the land of the Elves, to train as a Dragon Rider, and save Alagaesia from Galbatorix. He makes several friends and at a much later stage, impresses Arya with his dedication towards liberating the citizens of the land. Eragon learns about his past a very long time after he sets out on his journey, and this helps him mature. 

21st century fantasy stories have become repetitive with respect to the character of their protagonist. He/she is always someone who has a mysterious past and is bestowed with a special gift which is the key to defeat a villain who is terrorizing the land. With minor alterations to the plot, and adding a tinge of romance to it, anyone can create a new story. This defeats the essence of creativity.  What the fantasy genre needs is a protagonist who is nothing special, has no mysterious past and is just a simple citizen. The theme of an unstoppable foe is evergreen, and if a person with no speciality manages to defeat him, it can also add an element of inspiration to the story. Every book should be able to stir creative juices in the minds of the readers and repetitive plots don’t achieve that goal. Relatable characters, even in a fantasy story, will be out of the box and will open new doors for humans to participate in these stories, without inherently having anything special. This will enable more people to get mesmerized by the world of fiction, and start living books while reading them.

Manan Suraiya

A friendly, imaginative crime-fiction connoisseur who would rather like to be a fighter in an anime story or rather than in real life! Also, an avid reader and writer who pays attention to minute details.

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