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The Chosen Hero

It is a trope that has been overdone, especially in fantasy, or so everyone seems to say. A prophecy of a Chosen One, a child born to be special, or a man or woman blessed by the gods to be better, stronger, wiser, braver, the one foretold who will save the world. And so he or she does.

I suspect my mind wandered this direction because this is the time of year when readings and songs talk about a Chosen One, a hero sent to save his people, a messenger of G-d. Now, the idea of signs and foreshadowings is not limited to Judeo-Christian traditions. King Mithridates used the legends of Alexander and Cyrus to have himself shown as one foretold. Some Chinese traditions hold that the mother of Confucius was visited by a special animal, a ki-lin, that foretold she would bear an especially blessed and noble child.

As a plot trope, however, the Chosen One is easily abused and overused. Fantasy, as I mentioned, leans toward this more than some other genres, just because it is often closer to the “source material” than are, say, thrillers, or cozy mysteries. A number of fairy tales show that the princess or rightful prince will always be known because of their unusually noble attributes, even if raised by a swineherd or poor but honest woodcutter. (No, I have no idea what happens if they are raised by a dishonest woodcutter.) That goes very far back to the ideas of nobility by birth, sort of a genetic thing that makes dukes and princesses dukes and princesses, and peasants peasants, for hundreds of generations. Now days, readers get a little bored with it. Unless you do it very well, and can find a way to still make the character appealing.

Too often, the Chosen One is written as having life on the “easy” setting. Everything comes naturally. Once you put them on a horse, they know how to ride. Hand him a lance and he can shishkabob the dragon without any further training. They are born leaders, everyone knows it, everything is easy, problem solved.

Yawn.

The “hidden hero” can fall into this as well. That swineherd’s son who seems unusually charismatic? And who loves tales of knights and warriors and legends of the old lost nobles who defeated evil creatures? At this point the reader might be flipping pages to see if you, the writer, have anything new or if this is Prydain 2.0 (if you do it well) or something to skim and put back without buying.

I admit, I played with this in Daughter of the Pearl. One of the characters is a Chosen One, but is not the Chosen One. There might be others. And Leesan most emphatically does not want anything to do with saving the world. She wants to marry, raise sons, and avoid having a bad mother-in-law. That’s it. Chang has other goals, which do not include any of what Leesan wants. At the end of the story, Leesan still doesn’t think she’s any sort of Chosen anything, but she accepts that someone has to run things, and to keep Chang out of mischief {cue Mission Impossible theme}. Does it work? I think so, but I’m biased.

Tropes are there to be played with, to be kept in mind and avoided at times, to be embraced whole-heartedly at other times. It’s all in what we bring to them and how we use them. Do it well and readers will keep handing money to you, no matter what you do.

75 Comments
  1. Well, just looking at it from a literary POV, the Genesis Eden story indicates that Adam has divine commands and job skills relevant to priest, prophet, and king, while Eve is an “ally” (‘ezer) in all of these fields.

    The interesting bit is that, in the literature of other Middle Eastern cultures, these are skills and commands given only to specific kings, gods, heroic descendants, etc. But in Israel, everybody got everything. All humans are chosen ones!

    December 9, 2018
    • Oh, and similar stuff shows up in the Gospels with the relevant male and female persons, which makes sense because of all the other Genesis parallels and references. A good deal more.specific, however, because of how things are set up.

      Still, there is a general sense (particularly in Acts) that “pretty much anybody can do a good job in most jobs, if picked”, which is almost the opposite of chosen one stuff in some Indo-European societies.

      December 9, 2018
      • Mike Houst #

        It’s been my experience that 80% of the population can at least do an acceptable level performance at 80% of the tasks out there, provided they are given some competent instructions before hand. Sad to say, the bell curve has a lower end; and about 20% of the population can’t find their backsides with both hands, a map, compass, GPS, polling the audience, calling a friend, and using their lifeline, all at the same time.

        December 9, 2018
  2. I would say that, in the West, a lot of Chosen One stuff is an excuse to introduce “untrained person getting trained quickly” or “unlikely but competent person”. Also, “person with weird or underrated skills that turn out to be critical.”

    December 9, 2018
    • The early archetype for the Nerd-Who-Saves-the-Day?

      December 9, 2018
      • I have that one. It was a fun concept to use, the pasty, pimply kid sits down and cranks out the idea needed to partially save the day.

        As the series has progressed, The Nerd turns out to be the scariest one of the bunch. Because he’s the one that sits and thinks about how to blow up planets when everybody else is thinking about Important Stuff.

        December 9, 2018
    • Mary #

      And, of course, you rarely have the Choosing One as so much as a hint.

      December 9, 2018
  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    Chris Nuttall’s Emily (in the Schooled In Magic series) is sometimes called a “Child of Destiny” (ie a Chosen One) but she hates that title mainly because her mother’s name is Destiny. 😈

    Still on the one hand, the Allied Lands can be said to need a “Chosen One” (in more ways than one).

    On the other hand, Emily hasn’t had an easy life so far in the Nameless World. IE Her instructors expect her to learn this magic and she has “interesting” reactions to the way things are on the Nameless World. Some of which (especially with the bits of our world that she introducing) is creating enemies.

    On the Gripping Hand, there was that time loop thing where apparently her presence in the Past of the Nameless World was necessary.

    December 9, 2018
  4. Regarding these ‘Chosen One’ archetypes, in the beginning, I enjoyed the Harry Potter series. But I look back and realize that I was hoping the entire time that Rowling was going to subvert this trope and make Neville Longbottom the true Chosen One, making Dumbledore a Machiavellian schemer par excellence, willing to hang Harry out as bait while Neville is safely hidden under Voldemort and the Deatheater’s noses.

    Of course, Snape resents this being done to Lily Potter’s only son and protects him while nursing a growing resentment that Dumbledore would do such a thing and is all too willing to kill him when asked.

    I could see Voldemort squaring off against Harry, using almost all his power and resources to take him down, only to have Neville appear as the real Chosen One, in time to save Harry and the Wizard World with his understated courage and Sam Gamgee-like dependability.

    Alas, Rowling chose not to throw the Biggest Twist of All Time (and one that made sense and had been sufficiently telegraphed since Book 1), and gave us an entirely underwhelming climax that of course descended into a (yawn) wizard Duel, devoid of real creativity (especially in light of how creative Rowling could be).

    It would have been Epic.

    December 9, 2018
    • I almost mentioned that “which one really is it” question, but opted to skip it.*

      *OK, I forgot to finish the post until yesterday afternoon. And almost forgot it even then! It’s been a strange week.

      December 9, 2018
    • Worth noting, though: Neville is the one who takes out Voldemort’s last horcrux, which allows Harry to kill Voldemort.

      December 9, 2018
      • Which leaves a small door open to possibilities… 🙂

        December 9, 2018
      • Nevil is literally the Chosen One, the Sword of Griffindor choses him. Harry Potter is basically a horcrux, created by accident because Voldemort is an incompetent jackass.

        December 10, 2018
      • Zsuzsa #

        Harry, Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione, Crabbe, and Voldemort himself also all take out a horocrux, allowing Harry to kill Voldemort. There was nothing special about Neville’s role in that respect.

        I don’t know that I would want Neville to have been the chosen one. I rather prefer the way it was in canon: it could have been Neville but it wasn’t because of Voldemort’s own choice and the fact that for all his talk of blood supremacy, it was the half-blood Harry he feared. However, I would definitely prefer an ending that wasn’t, “You see, if you ever defeat the owner of the elder wand at anything, it becomes yours, even if the ex-owner wasn’t using the want, didn’t have the wand in his possession, and in fact had no clue that he was the owner of the wand.” (And given that rule, Harry’s delusional if he thinks he will die as the undefeated owner of the wand.)

        December 10, 2018
        • I suppose that’s true, the Sword of Griffindor chooses lots of people. Rather fickle, that sword. ~:D

          December 10, 2018
        • Heh, which is one thing the movie actually did better than the book: he snapped the freakin’ thing in half and pitched it into a chasm.

          December 10, 2018
          • Argh, hit ‘enter’ too soon, apologies…

            Looking it over, Harry Potter subverts more ‘chosen one’ tropes than not. True, Voldemort singled him out, and the fact that he was accidentally a horcrux meant than Voldemort really couldn’t kill him without killing himself. Neville took out Nagini (and holy crap after the latest film I’m never gonna look at HER the same way again), and Ron and Hermione also took out other horcruxes. Harry wasn’t especially ‘gifted’ in anything buy flying. He might have had a lot of raw power, but he was a kid who was–at best–an average student. (And that only with Hermione bailing him out, heh.)

            His actual talents turned out to be useful to his chosen one status, but not because-of. He was an adrenaline junkie, sure. He had a bit of a hero complex (well, a kid who spent his whole childhood wanting to be rescued from an awful situation might just develop one of those). He had an abused-child’s tendency to take on responsibility for even those things he had no control over. (ie, he’s a control freak) He had a natural bent for teaching and inspiring others–and so helped form a core of other teens capable of fighting back against Voldemort and co. And most important of all, he was willing to make the choice to die for others–something that had zilch to do with any prophecies. In the end, basically, he *chose* to be the “chosen one,” and it boiled down not to magically endowed superpowers, but a kind of fearless, stubborn refusal to give up even when terrified…and even then, if Neville hadn’t managed to kill Nagini, Voldemort still wouldn’t have died.

            (It’s interesting to note, in light of the most recent Fantastic Beasts film, that it’s become incredibly clear that Voldemort–however much folks were terrified of him–was a lame one-trick pony and basically a manchild having a huge tantrum. He probably ended up with a ‘prophecy’ tied to him because he was the sort of idiot who bought into ideas like ‘destiny’ and ‘chosen ones’ and so set up his own downfall. Grindelwald, on the other hand…holy cow, now THAT is a villain.)

            December 10, 2018
    • Yes, but we must forgive Rowling absolutely anything because she made possible my most favorite Ship of all times;

      Pinkie Pie and Draco Malfoy

      Think about it… SO PERFECT!!!!

      December 10, 2018
  5. I have a WIP in which the hero isn’t born with a noble destiny. He doesn’t do anything that any other ordinary man of his time and place couldn’t do as well. What makes him a hero is that he does them while others do not, and so he becomes something of a Chosen One, rather to his dismay.

    December 9, 2018
    • Mary #

      In my NaNoWriMo GameLit novel, three of the main characters get jeered at a lot about how the marvelous coincidences that graced their advent as adventurers were not a mark of Fortuna’s favor — Fortuna lays heavy burdens on real heroes, does not make things easy for them, which is a mark of being Fortuna’s fools. Mostly from the envious, but you know, there are a lot of envious.

      December 9, 2018
  6. “Too often, the Chosen One is written as having life on the “easy” setting. Everything comes naturally. Once you put them on a horse, they know how to ride. Hand him a lance and he can shishkabob the dragon without any further training.”

    I’ve been having a lot of fun with this, now that I see you mention it. My MC George McIntyre is the typical Accidental Hero who has greatness dropped on him from above. He describes it as being the monkey the machine gun landed on when the aliens dropped it in the monkey cage. That’s been fun.

    But it turns out I also have a Chosen One. Alice Haddison. She hunts monsters. She’s a natural-born leader, she’s miraculous with the combat mecha-suit, and she has “magic” sight. She can see the auras of people’s souls. The hair on the back of her neck stands up when trouble is coming. That’s a bunch of pretty cool powers for one person.

    Alice’s life has been on the NIGHTMARE!!! setting since childhood. She’s a shit-magnet. Tools, equipment and vehicles always break around her, making her superstitious. If there’s one evil creature in a hundred mile circle of desert, it’ll be right where she is. If something is shooting at her, you can bet your whole paycheck that it ain’t right.

    When she meets the main character she’s already been fighting freaks, weirdos, serial killers, perverts and actual monsters since she was 13. Her eldritch sight and unnaturally powerful combat skills have kept her -barely- alive, mostly sane and semi-functional through a series of trials that would have killed anybody else. Her encounter with the nano-tech zombies left her with a 14 inch abdominal scar, inflicted by a finger. She had to chop the thing’s head off with her guts held in by duct tape, using a shovel.

    After that, things start to get really tough for her. ~:D

    But on the bright side, she gets to do things like carve “Loser!” into the hide of a titanic Chthonic squid demon with a plasma cannon, and she has friends for a change, so she’s pretty happy.

    Its just that the hair on the back of her neck keeps going up…

    December 9, 2018
    • Sandman29 #

      What’s the name of your book you’re referencing? It’s sounds like something I might be interested in.

      December 9, 2018
      • BobtheRegisterredFool #

        Not published yet, last I heard.

        December 9, 2018
      • Coming closer to publishment. Much, much closer. Really. Would I kid you? ~:D

        First in the series, Unfair Advantage.

        December 9, 2018
  7. I’m looking back at my current story, and my MC has the issue that she’s been prepared to be a Chosen One, if one is needed. Think along the lines of upgrading a computer or adding after market parts to your car.

    And, oh boy, one is very much needed and we’re going to find out why in later books.

    And the cost of what the Chooser did to hide her from being found before she was needed.

    December 9, 2018
  8. Noted, for further reference and consideration.

    December 9, 2018
  9. I remember one such Chosen One story that played around with it as follows. The Chosen One is born, prophesied that when they’re born the end of the Evil Magical Tyrant is at hand. Said Tyrant finds them when they’re still an infant and kills them, gloating to their chief advisor about their cleverness in defeating the prophecy. The advisor then knifes them, saying to their dying former master: “The prophecy said their /birth/ would signal your end. Nothing said /they/ would kill you.”

    Though you’d think that one of these days the Evil Magical Tyrant will grow some smarts, adopt the Chosen One at birth, and then raise them to be a spoiled, pampered nobody dependent on the Tyrant for everything. Would they really have the nerve to kill the person who is responsible for every good thing in their life?

    December 9, 2018
    • Terry Sanders #

      The villain tried that in THE LAST UNICORN, I think. Didn’t work out well for him…

      December 9, 2018
      • John R. Ellis #

        Lir truly loved Haggard, though Haggard didn’t (couldn’t) love him back. His end came more from that fact that Unicorns really -were- the only thing that gave him joy and he WOULD have every one…even if it ended up costing him everything.

        December 10, 2018
    • Also in the original She-Ra, where the villain was a good (adoptive) father to her but lousy to everyone else.

      December 9, 2018
      • Bob #

        More a kidnapper than an adopted father, and he kidnapped her for revenge, not because he thought she’d be particularly ‘special’ or ‘chosen.’ She rose through the ranks on merit before she got any superpowers.

        December 10, 2018
      • Have you seen the new SheRa? Oh, my stars and garters, the art. It is very SJW.

        December 10, 2018
        • Bob #

          No.

          No no no no no no no no.

          No.

          December 10, 2018
          • That pretty much covers my statement concerning what my bleeding eyes beheld while viewing just the netflix trailer.

            Although I may have added a HELL no! in there.

            December 10, 2018
        • Mike Houst #

          Couple of lesbian relationships in that new cartoon too. SJW on the warpath.

          December 10, 2018
          • Yeah, totally a kid’s show, right?

            I didn’t get that far. I saw the SheRa character drawn to look like an adolescent boy, and that was me out. I gather from your comment it goes sharply down-hill from there.

            Note to the SJW Outrage Battalion: Little. Kid’s. Cartoon. It is a cartoon meant to be viewed by little kids. Some subjects are suitable themes for a KID’S CARTOON and some are not.

            December 10, 2018
        • John R. Ellis #

          I knew the new SheRa was doomed when I compared what the showrunners said to other recent reboots. Voltron Reboot Showrunners: “We loved the old series! We hope to make the new one just as awesome as your memories of the old show.” DuckTales Reboot Showrunners: “We love the classic Disney Afternoon! We love the comic book works of Carl Barks and Don Rosa! We hope we can pay homage to the classic stories -and- add our own!” SheRa Reboot People: “THIS NEW SHOW IS NOT FOR YOU, EVIL OLDER FANS!!!!!1111!!!!!!111ONE”

          …yeah, the writing was on the wall.

          December 10, 2018
    • There’s an element of predestination in the core Chosen One trope, rather like what happened with Oedipus. Depending on how Chosen-ness works, trying to bend the Chosen One from childhood might not work.

      What you’ve described is indeed one way to subvert the original, and I’ve read a version in the Evil Overlord’s Handbook.

      December 9, 2018
      • Bob #

        I’m beginning to hate TEOH. What all the lessons come down to is: don’t be an evil overlord.

        Particularly when all the ‘mistakes’ usually make perfect sense in context.

        December 10, 2018
        • I look at it as a long joke, and occasionally use it to illustrate “where historical figure went wrong” in a way some of the students get.

          December 11, 2018
    • Mary #

      So you get the Perseus situation, where it’s dumb luck and nothing about the prophecy OR the reactions to it that had the slightest contribution.

      December 9, 2018
      • (As an additional note regarding Netflix: I gather the Mowgli show is to be avoided at all costs as well if you have children. Not so much SJW-ness, but rather “take the trauma of Bambi’s mom getting shot and multiply it by a thousand” and you probably don’t want your kids crying their eyes out for hours…)

        As I recall of the movie Willow, the evil queen also tried offing the baby at birth. But it didn’t work, because the midwife got her out. And it wasn’t the baby herself who did it, it was all the other people trying to keep her safe vs. Bavmorda’s efforts to kill her that ended up defeating her. If she’d left well enough alone…she probably would still be in charge. (And boy, wasn’t it weird watching Upstairs Downstairs as an adult and going “BAVMORDA IS A HOUSEMAID?!?!”)

        December 10, 2018
        • Bob #

          I always thought there was sequel bait in there.

          And Lucas DID commission some novels about grown-up Elora.

          December 10, 2018
          • Yeahhh, I read the first of those, back in the mid-90s. It was horrible. Elora was a useless brat, they killed off Madmartigan and Sorsha in the prologue, and Willow changed his name, his family was all murdered, and he became an angsty emo-thingy. It was like the worst of 90s ‘gritty and dark’. Helped along, I have no doubt, by the fact that the co-author was Chris Claremont, one of the primary writers of the X-Men at that time–which were also languishing in a dark, gritty, emo hell at that time, if I recall right. Maybe the other books improved, but I didn’t even finish the first one, because as far as I was concerned, it wasn’t in any way shape or form related to the movie I loved. :/

            December 10, 2018
            • Yeah, I remember reading that one also – and hating it with the fire of a thousand burning suns because … it pitched all the characters and world-building which had been so engaging, in favor of another character and plot entirely.
              Talk about massively click-baiting people who had loved the movie …

              December 10, 2018
  10. Try the web serial “A Practical Guide to Evil: Do Wrong, Right” where the author takes all those fantasy tropes and twists them all over the place especially the “Chosen One” trope. The Black Knight does an epic rant on that concept. He also basically finds and adopts one of the classic “Chosen Ones” in a orphan that had all the makings to become his opposite, The White Knight and turns her into a villain.

    The Empire stands triumphant.

    For twenty years the Dread Empress has ruled over the lands that were once the Kingdom of Callow, but behind the scenes of this dawning golden age threats to the crown are rising. The nobles of the Wasteland, denied the power they crave, weave their plots behind pleasant smiles. In the north the Forever King eyes the ever-expanding borders of the Empire and ponders war. The greatest danger lies to the west, where the First Prince of Procer has finally claimed her throne: her people sundered, she wonders if a crusade might not be the way to secure her reign. Yet none of this matters, for in the heart of the conquered lands the most dangerous man alive sat across an orphan girl and offered her a knife.

    Her name is Catherine Foundling, and she has a plan.

    https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/table-of-contents/

    December 9, 2018
    • Seems interesting, but it is not about evil. It is about conflicting theories of good governance and justice. Obviously nobody wants actual baddies as heroes, but one tires of people.presenting someone with a different management culture as “evil,” and then stacking the deck to associate stupidity with “good.”

      December 9, 2018
  11. Oh no the Dread Empire of Praes is Evil and always has been and they do not say otherwise. In this setting the actual tropes are Names that people take on and fulfill that Role with 3 granted “aspects” that are granted to them by the Gods Above for the side of Light and the Gods Below for the Villains. It is just that the latest iteration of the Black Knight, The Warlock. The Assassin. The Captain and The Ranger (collectively known as “The Calamities”) didn’t fall into the typical villain tropes and in fact used them as guideposts for what not to do in getting the current Dread Empress on the throne. This in turn has thrown Creation out of balance and the story is told from the POV of 20 years later and what the MC is doing in trying to prevent the world going back into its old ways which both sets of Gods would prefer. As an example of how Evil Praes is when the Dread Empress holds a party at the Tower the social highlight of the night is to see who failed to bring the proper antidotes to all the poisons slipped in by everyone attending. The Empress rips souls out of people to use as a meat puppet for long range secure communications. Demons are bound to doorways as the door greeter:

    “The Gatekeeper ate the soul of the last person who spoke out of turn to it,” he hissed. “Not even Warlock could have brought you back if it had taken offence.”

    My blood ran cold. Souls couldn’t be destroyed, the House of Light said, not except by-

    “That thing was a demon?” I choked.

    “From the Twenty-Third Hell,” he said.

    His face was calm again, but his eyes were still sharp as a knife.

    “Weeping Heavens,” I whispered. “Who uses a demon as a doorman?”

    Making deals with devils was one thing – they were exceedingly dangerous, but bound by their nature to honour the letter of any deal they made. Demons, though? They followed no rules. Their very existence was a wound upon Creation. At best they could be contained. At worst? Entire kingdoms had been brought down by a single loose demon. And apparently one of the Dread Emperors had thought it was a splendid idea to use one as his greeter. I felt a fresh flush of panic, but got my breathing under control.

    Book 1 Chapter 20

    December 9, 2018
  12. Bob #

    Gene Wolfe made the trope work very well with Severian in The Book of the New Sun, but he did it by not having the hero – or the reader – know about it till after the fact.

    Oh yeah, and in LOTR Bilbo was MEANT to find the Ring, and Frodo was MEANT to have it, and the Ring couldn’t have been destroyed in any other way.

    I’ve also got to acknowledge Robert Jordan, at least with the first six books of Wheel of Time. You can say Rand al Thor gets whiny at times, but up till Book Six Jordan does a good job of presenting one Burdened by Terrible Purpose, foredoomed to follow in his prior incarnation’s footsteps and kill everyone he loved and Break the world again, because the alternative would have been worse…

    Too bad he chose to drag it out for so long. After Book 6, Jordan could have wrapped up the whole series in one, maybe two more books.

    December 9, 2018
    • Bob #

      And in all of the above examples, being the Chosen One…kinda sucks.

      December 9, 2018
    • Joe in PNG #

      I always took the Baggins family finding the ring more about the Will of Illuvitar and less about being a “Chosen One” proper.
      Frodo was not trumpeted in prophecy as the One Who Would Destroy Sauron, nor did he have “gifts” that made him some sort of hobbit ninja-assassin with no training at all.
      In fact, Frodo would have failed in his mission had it not been for Samwise figuratively and literally carrying him to Mt. Doom on his back, and Smegol getting done in by Mordor’s lack of OSHA compliance.

      December 9, 2018
      • Mary #

        That is, actually having been Chosen by a Chooser — makes you at least atypical among Chosen ones. Ah, the irony.

        December 10, 2018
      • Bob #

        The Hobbits had qualities and attributes in terms of both stealth and inner strength that made them perfect for the job. Not to mention empathy and mercy to a fellow Ring-bearer (not showcased in the movies, but a key aspect of the books) and I reiterate: the ONLY way the Ring could’ve been destroyed was with Frodo (or possibly Sam) as the bearer.

        December 10, 2018
      • Mike Houst #

        The orcs were taking kickbacks, and falsifying delivery and installation reports. Evil Opportunity Employers.

        December 10, 2018
        • I’m stealing “Evil Opportunity Employer” to use at some point. 🙂 That sounds like something Angus the Prairie Dog would say.

          December 10, 2018
      • TonyT #

        And Frodo would’ve failed if he hadn’t been merciful to Gollum; at the end he succeeded in spite of himself, and it took a lot of dedication and help to get to where he could fail on his own but succeed in his mission (Sam, but also remember Aragon & co intentionally tried to distract Sauron)

        I’d say Aragon comes the closest to the classic “chosen one”

        On a side note, there are several examples of prophecy in LOTR. Of the top of my head:
        1. The rhyme about haflings that cause Boromir to travel to Rivendell
        2. The rhyme about Aragorn and his sword
        3. The prophecy about the end of the chief of the Nazgul

        December 10, 2018
        • Bob #

          The thing about LOTR is that ANYONE can make a prophecy.

          Frodo: Touch me again and you will be cast yourself into the fire of Mt Doom

          Couple pages later…

          December 10, 2018
          • One of the reasons the Ring was so dangerous.

            December 10, 2018
    • Mary #

      Or A Horse and His Boy.

      December 10, 2018
      • I love that book.

        December 10, 2018
      • TonyT #

        That’s my favorite of the Narnia books. I won’t comment about whether Corr’s marriage resembles mine 🙂

        December 10, 2018
  13. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    Thoughts on Harry Potter as the “Chosen One”.

    Harry Potter was said to be the only one that could permanently kill Voldemort yet Dumbledore left him in the hands of the Dursley family who at the least emotionally abused Harry.

    If I were Voldemort, I would have had my agents recruit Harry. After all, Voldemort hated the muggles and here was this young wizard who had reasons to dislike his muggle relatives. Since Harry was a major threat to himself, it would be better to get Harry on his side than to make an enemy of Harry.

    Then there’s Dumbledore’s Big Mistake. As Chris Nuttall pointed out in some reviews of the Potter books, the Dursley family wasn’t wealthy and having a baby dumped on them was a major financial blow to them. Dumbledore could have tapped his personal finances (or found a way to access the Potter fortune) to assist them financially. With a little thought on his part, Dumbledore could have made Harry’s life in the Dursley home much better. Sure, Harry’s aunt thought her sister was crazy for thinking she was a magician but the money coming in might have made her treat Harry better. And of course, Dumbledore (or one of his agents) could have kept an eye on how Harry was being raised.

    December 10, 2018
    • Bob #

      Voldemort didn’t have any agents for most of Harry’s life. He was a powerless shadow self.

      As for the rest: the Potterverse makes no sense of you dig too deep.

      December 10, 2018
    • Voldemort was..well, he wasn’t interested in ‘help’ or ‘allies.’ He wanted servants and slaves, and so I doubt it ever even occurred to him to try and recruit Harry. That, and he had “EVUL WIZZARD’ pretty much tattooed on his forehead, and no appealing motivations for anyone who wasn’t already a sadistic bully.

      However, if it had been Grindelwald…? Oh yeah, he’d have tried to recruit Harry. And probably succeeded. Because he was all about the persuasion and appealing motives.

      And now that I think about it, this is exactly what’s going on in the Fantastic Beasts films: an abused child/young man–Credence–desperate for family, identity, and a sense of belonging being very deliberately manipulated and recruited by a powerful and apparently sympathetic wizard…Oh wait, isn’t that what Dumbledore did with Harry…?

      I’m not one of those who considers Dumbledore evil, but he has always been a manipulative a**hat…and so is Grindelwald, as it turns out. And however much Albus claimed otherwise, he was still every bit as stuck on the ‘greater good’ idea as Grindelwald. The only difference was Albus really WAS doing things to prevent evil from taking over (and so serve the “greater good’), and Grindelwald is a power-greedy wannabe tyrant who wants to rule the world, and hides it under charisma and persuasive ideas. But the ‘greater good’ outlook is painfully obvious in Dumbledore’s actions, all the way up to his death. (Including his death, since he just as ruthlessly made use of his own death as everything else. Which does put him more on the side of ‘hero’ than not, in the end.)

      It’ll be interesting to see how the scenario of ‘chosen one expy recruited by the Big Bad’ works out. I mean, sure, to some extent the conclusion of the Fantastic Beasts series is foregone–we already know Grindelwald is defeated by Dumbledore–but the fallout for other people is possibly catastrophic.

      December 10, 2018
      • Bob #

        Voldemort was a villain crafted to be engaging for young children.

        Grindelwald was a villain for more mature readers/fans who’d grown up on the series to sink their teeth into, so there was room for more complexity.

        Much the same way with County Olaf in the Series of Unfortunate Events compared to Hangfire in the prequel: All the Wrong Questions.

        Perhaps it goes with the assumption that since they’re prequels, the future villain must still be worse in some way. More evil.

        December 10, 2018
        • I do agree that Fantastic Beasts is HP for grownups. (Not that I don’t love the Potter books, and read them first as a grownup.)

          Eh, I figure it boils down to Grindelwald’s PR still working for him even decades later, that Voldemort is viewed as the ‘bigger threat.’ It’s just that Voldemort is uncharismatic and openly evil–he’s all about Dark Magic–whereas Grindelwald is oh, so civilized. At least on the surface. I’m actually really impressed with Johnny Depp’s performance: he’s finally NOT doing a loony clone of Jack Sparrow, and as Grindelwald is restrained, soft-spoken, and sympathetic. (Even though he looks like the front-man for a punk band. But I suppose they couldn’t resist, as it’s Johnny Depp, and he *always* looks like the front-man for a punk band.)

          December 10, 2018
          • I think Depp was born that way.

            December 10, 2018
            • Yeah, I’m pretty sure he was. Even in ostensibly 18th or 19th century costuming, he still looks punk. (Or Goth. Or both.)

              I think he did a thriller where he was a businessman in a suit, and he managed not to look punky in that…instead he just looked weird. Because he *should* have looked punk.

              December 10, 2018
    • Mary #

      I think no amount of money would compensate for Lily’s learning magic when she couldn’t. Especially with the threat that Dudley would face the same shock when Harry got to go, and he didn’t.

      She should look on the bright side. Imagine if Harry got a letter and so did Dudley.

      (Personally wouldn’t like it long without Dudley’s being a different character; he’s hard to take in large doses. But with that. . . .)

      December 10, 2018
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        Well, extra money likely wouldn’t have given Harry a perfect home-life but Dumbledore could have done more to make it a better home-life for Harry.

        To be honest, Harry’s problems with his relatives turned me off of the entire series but YMMV applies.

        December 10, 2018
        • Mary #

          I think she was trying for the comic evil family but didn’t have the chops to pull that particular one off.

          December 10, 2018
          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

            Perhaps, but I’d be a hard sell for a “comical evil family” especially when a child is the victim of such a family.

            While my home life was OK, I was the victim of emotional bullying from my “peers”.

            No way was it funny.

            December 10, 2018
            • Mary #

              It’s not my favorite trope, but there are writers who can pull it off. The trick is that it’s clearly not real people.

              December 10, 2018
  14. Joe in PNG #

    Thinking about it, wasn’t “Evil Overlord finds, recruits, and corrupts the Chosen One” pretty much the plot of the Star Wars prequels?

    December 10, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      More Sauron suborns creation of Melkor that the elves had incorrectly concluded was Jesus.

      December 10, 2018

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