Monday, July 25, 2005

Following your destiny or choosing your path II

I've been thinking further about the fact that Harry Potter chooses his own path, whilst Frodo Baggins' path is chosen for him, and I've realised that the norm in fantasy fiction is for the hero/protagonist to have their path chosen for them. In Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword, Harry Crewe finds herself living on the edge of a range of mountains near the desert after her father's death leaves her bereft of her home, which is in trust to her military brother. Harry Crewe is kidnapped by the chieftan of the people who live on the other side of the mountain range and finds herself fulfilling an unexpected role which she was destined to fulfil. In a similar vein, in Garth Nix's Sabriel, the eponymous heroine, who had been expecting to finish her schooling and head off to University, instead finds herself obliged to take over her father's role as Abhorsen, a necromancer with the power to bind the dead and prevent them from succeeding in their eternal quest to overcome all living beings.

One of the few fantasy heroines who does choose her own path is Juliet E McKenna's Livak, in The Thief's Gamble and the sequels that make up the Tales of Einarinn. Livak gets blackmailed into assisting in someone else's "treasure quest", and although she is later given opportunities to take her earnings and walk away from the dangerous life she finds herself living, she refuses to take that path. Until she was blackmailed by a bunch of wizards, she had been making a living as a full time gambler and part time thief, tramping the roads across the length and breadth of Ensaimin, and although such a life has dangers attendant on it, they are considerably less life-threatening, on the whole, than the dangers attendant on being a thief to a bunch of wizards and scholars. Livak, however, may be immoral, but she is not dishonourable, and she chooses to remain with the wizards and scholars, and to assist them in their quest. Livak is a good example of a fantasy heroine who chooses her own path, and has been doing so since her teens. In this respect, she is more akin to Harry Potter than she is to Frodo Baggins.

2 comments:

Howlleo said...

Harry may not be forced into his role, but it sure is pretty much expected of him. I mean- he's the one with that scar on his forehead...

Michele said...

It doesn't matter that he has the scar - he *chooses* his path. He could have decided to take note of what Professor McGonagall had told him, particularly after the incident when Norbert was sent away and Harry, Hermione and Neville were caught out of bed, but he didn't. He chose to go after the Philosopher's Stone himself - at the age of 11 - and with very little knowledge of what or whom he was facing.