1. Axis Rivkahson SunSoar
The Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass
Axis is the epitome of a fantasy hero – strong, brave, willing to do anything to protect his loved ones and his country/land, surprised and humble about his heroics and of course very handsome with a mane of golden hair, strong features and a muscular form. He was the first hero I thought of when compiling this list because he was the first hero I read about that really made me go “wow, what can’t this guy do?”. Before reading the Axis trilogy (also called the Wayfarer trilogy) I had only encountered the “unlikely hero” (as seen farther down this list) and this was the first really meaty, adult fantasy series I read where the hero knew he had to step up and fulfil his duties. While there were moments in the series where Axis didn’t want to be the saviour of all the land (fair enough) ultimately he stepped up to the plate and lived his destiny. After all he was the subject of a prophecy – why fight it? 😛
2. Torkyn Gynt
The Trinity Trilogy by Fiona McIntosh
Tor is another classic handsome/brave/strong hero but unlike Axis he must hide the main thing that makes him heroic – his Sentient powers (telepathic and related powers of the mind) – because they are forbidden. Because of this he has a level of caution and humility about him paired with the ego of a man with vast abilities. He embraces his destiny (as The One – an individual destined to defeat the mighty Orlac, a powerful sentient who is close to breaking free of his imprisonment) quite readily and goes to some pretty extreme measures (such as being stoned to death and nearly dying another half-dozen or so times) to fulfil it as well as to save and/or protect his one true love Alyssa. He also manages to attract a bevy of gorgeous ladies (when he is not with Alyssa of course); use his wit and cunning to get out of some sticky situations and come up with some great one-liners.
3. Lyra Belacqua AKA Lyra Silvertongue AND Will Parry
His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
I couldn’t choose between these two pre-pubescent heroes as they are equally heroic in the last two books of His Dark Materials (The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) so I thought I’d cheat and choose both 😛 Through several dimensions Lyra and Will face endless perils from soul-eating Specters to Harpies in the Underworld, to deadly Angels as well as several full-grown adults trying to kill them and take what the possess. In the process Lyra almost has her daemon (an animal companion that every person in her dimension has and are deeply connected to) taken from her; Will looses two fingers and is forced to kill a man; and they both must die to enter the Underworld. Pretty heavy stuff for a couple of 12-year-olds but throughout it all they are brave and determined to do what is right – go Lyra and Will!
4. Bilbo Baggins
The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
Bilbo had to be included in this list as he is the ultimate reluctant hero. He doesn’t want to travel with a bunch of dwarves to face a dragon miles from his home just because a wizard tricked him into it. He’d much prefer to stay in his cozy hobbit hole, enjoying plentiful teas throughout the day. But despite his reluctance he still goes and survives giant spiders, a creepy cave-dwelling riddle master and a dragon to get the job done, and return triumphant. I can’t wait to see the upcoming movie 🙂
5. Harry Potter
The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
I know HP related stuff pops up a lot in these Top
10s but what can I say, I’m a hopeless Harry Potter fan 🙂 Harry just had to be on this list because despite the fact that he doesn’t want to be the chosen one and is humble to the point of irritation sometimes, he faces THE ultimate bad-guy of the Potter universe, He Who Shall Not Be Named aka The Dark Lord aka Voldemort in some form in almost every book of the series. The only exception is The Half-Blood Prince and in that one he has to retrieve a horcrux from a cave filled with zombie-like critters and he sees his mentor get killed when he can’t prevent it so you know, give the guy a break. When you weigh up all the battles he wins and his age during all of them, not to mention the sheer number of times he almost dies, Harry truly is an exceptional hero (honourable mentions to Neville, Hermione, Ron, Luna, Ginny and heaps of other HP characters, but ultimately I had to pick The One :P).
6. Rowan of Rin
The Rowan of Rin series by Emily Rodda
Rowan was one of the first heroes I really identified with as a kid. He had absolutely no aspirations to be heroic and in fact as a scrawny, gentle and soft-spoken kid who cares for livestock he’s an unlikely hero too. But despite no one thinking of him as the heroic type, especially himself, he is constantly being thrust into life and death situations where he must save the day, mainly because he pops up in every prophetic vision the town crazy/prophet has when she’s consulted. Even though he is unlikely and unsure of himself he always manages to prevail through his kind, brave heart and problem solving skills, proving that you don’t need to be buff and macho to be a hero.
7. Elspeth Gordie
The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody
The first female hero (or heroine) on this list, Elspeth is heroic in a quiet and dignified way rather than the traditional sword-wielding hero. It the first book of the series, Obernewtyn, she facilitates the rebellion of the Misfits (children with unique abilities) to overthrow their captors and claim Obernewtyn as their own. From then on she is a strong leader amongst the Misfits (as head of the Farseekers, a group which can communicate telepathically over far distances), plays a vital part in the eventual battle against the Council and is a strong representative in the negotiations for Misfit rights. But throughout the many battles of the Misfits Elspeth must face a larger burden – her responsibility as The Seeker, an individual prophesied through animal legend as the one who will find and destroy the weaponmachines and prevent the apocalyptic event called The Great White from repeating. Hopefully I will get to read the newest installment, The Sending soon and won’t be too lost as its been a while between books O.O
The Deltora Quest, Deltora Shadowlands and Dragons of Deltora series by Emily Rodda
Lief is in the same class as Rowan – the unlikely hero – but unlike Rowan he quickly embraces his role and learns to fight and weasel out of trouble with the help of his mentor, Barda and tough-as-nails-orphan-girl-who-grew-up-in-a-forest Jasmine. In his quest to retrieve the seven gems that will complete the belt of Deltora, the only weapon that can stop the evil Shadow Lord he not only faces a different mighty beastie which is protecting each gem, but heaps of other minor beasties and obstacles on the way. Then to top it off once the Shadow Lord is defeated he has to go on a second quest in a below ground world to complete the Pirran Pipe which keeps the evil of the Shadowlands away, and even after that he has to travel Deltora AGAIN to find the four legendary dragons of Deltora to defeat the Four Sisters, evil beings that are killing the land. Geez, the poor kid deserves a big break after all that hero-ing! I loved all of these series’ because of all the little riddles and tests Lief and his comrades have to solve and was quite pleased when I caught a couple of eps of the recent anime and saw that it’s faithful to the books while still having an exciting and humorous anime feel to it. I’ll have to borrow the whole lot and watch them in order to relive my childhood 🙂
9. Veralidaine “Daine” Sarrasri
The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce
When Daine takes a job as assistant to the horse mistress of the Queen’s Riders she has no aspirations for battle or anything vaguely heroic, she simply wants to forget the death of her parents and work with ponies, but when she discovers that she has Wild Magic (the ability to speak with animals which eventually evolves into further animal-based powers such as shape-shifting) she doesn’t have much choice as her power is integral in a series of battles against the Immortals, viscous and powerful creatures that have been released from captivity. Daine not only has growing Wild Magic powers but is a great shot with a bow and can wield a blade when needed, so by the end of the Quartet she is a force to be reckoned with. Pretty good for a girl who just wanted to play with ponies!
10. Parrish Plessis
The Parrish Plessis trilogy by Marianne De Pierres
Parrish Plessis is a recent addition to this list who knocked someone else off (who will remain nameless :P) after I finished reading the second book in the series, Code Noir and had to include her crazy butt-kicking self. In the first book she goes from being pretty much a sex slave working for a sleazy crime lord (when she is meant to be a bounty hunter and bodyguard) to being on the run for a murder she didn’t commit, worshipped as a returning god, discovering that she has a parasite inside her that creates violent hallucinations and will one day make her shape-shift and kill her in the process, and eventually involved in a gang-war which kills her ex-boss and leaves her in charge of his patch. In the second book she goes on to kick some more ass when she has to venture into unknown territory to pay a blood debt and gets caught up in a world of deadly plant-like substances grown in a lab and grotesquely altered teens out to kill her. It’s obvious that she doesn’t really want to be a hero, but she is a bit too empathic to be a villain and so she uses her bounty hunter skills to do what she feels is right…while still getting some of the crime-lord perks of course! Plus any woman who can conceal the number of weapons as she does in her latex and leather outfits without impeding movement deserves a mention.