Saturday, April 28, 2012

Imperfect Heroes

Does a hero have to be physically perfect? One of my favorite fairy-tales is Beauty and the Beast. I just read a book titled The Snow Bride based on this fairy-tale and fell in love with the hero who was far from looking like a Prince Charming. This hero had other qualities that made him loveable besides perfect looks. He treated the heroine with respect and risked his life to protect her.


I’m working on a story right now that has a hero with a crippled leg. A former warrior and king, his injury has left him bitter and filled with revenge. The heroine works with him to heal his physical and mental wounds. In another story I am working on, the hero has a brutal scar on his face that marks him as a traitor. In Of Water and Dragons, my hero has a scar from a battle wound that injured his eye so that he could no longer serve in the Roman army.

Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Those who can see past physical imperfections and into the heart of the person are truly gifted. In Celtic lore, a king had to pass certain tests to be king worthy. One of those tests was seeing past an old woman’s visage to the beauty within. A Celtic king had to be able to see beyond what others would see and not be fooled by appearances. But the Celts revered physical perfection in their kings—they had a law that stated the king had to be whole in body and mind. Proof of this is in the story of Nuada of the silver hand in Tuatha de Danaan legend. He could only keep his place as king by receiving a silver hand to replace the hand he lost in battle.

In modern society, we focus too much on perfect looks. It’s refreshing to see or read about a hero that isn’t perfect. If I had a choice between a selfish handsome hero and a caring scarred hero, I would choose the Beast over Prince Charming without hesitation. What’s inside a person is more important. Looks eventually fade anyway.

Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author

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A Greek vampire, Celtic kings, vengeful goddesses, an ancient faery curse…

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All three books of my Dark Goddess trilogy are available in Print and Ebook. Set in dark age Scotland, I mixed history with a Samhain/Beltaine myth that revolves around an Irish clan and the goddesses Brigit and Cailleach.


Jess Schira said...

Pesonally, I prefer heroes that have some flaws. It's probably why Beauty and the Beast and Phantom of the Opera have always been personal favorites of mine.

I love your story about the Celtic king. I've never heard it before, but found some interesting parallels between it and the YA WIP I've been writing.

Kathy Otten said...

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites too. I also loved Phantom of the Opera with Gerard Butler. I've done heroes with spectacles, an eye patch and limp, scar on the face, alcoholic, and a missing arm. I love reading stories with wounded heroes so I guess that's why I love writing them.

Susan said...

Hi kelley,

it's fascinating that you have found inspiration in Celtic history and Scotland's Dark Age. I'm always interested in reading about new heroes who don't fall in the typical frame of earls, dukes and successful businessmen. it"s hard to recondition women's fantasies to look outside of conventional terms but kudos to you for achieving it.