While the themes that authors explore and the characteristics which they give on their heroes and villains are timeworn, they have above these inner themes, such magnificent trappings it is very hard not to be swept up in the tide of joy it elicits. If one were to rank some of the most oft used themes in fantasy fiction, it is that of the chosen one or savior, no other concept is as much loved and reviled as this one.
The concept of the savior or “chosen one” is divisive, however, for many a fantasy series, it has been at the center of complete sagas. Fantasy series, similar to other forms of fiction have a protagonist, a central figurehead around whom most of the elements of the story revolve around. Authors endow their creations with unique traits that set them apart from the vast ocean of their creations, these idiosyncratic traits endear them to the readers and give them qualities with which they relate to the character.
But therein lays the problem with this concept. Not everyone loves the chosen one in Fantasy Fiction.
One counter argument can be the concept of reasoning of the characters success through the story is all due to the “chosen” or “prophesied” emphasis. This can be a lazy or feeble inspiration (perhaps non-motivational at all) for character development in a storyline. It’s as if every incredible victory or ability accomplished is explained to the reader with a basic answer of ‘Just Because’ or an ‘I said so’.
Another reason is the ‘chosen one’ is an over done cliché spanning from King Arthur to Star Wars to Harry Potter. Sure, we can argue until the cows come home that the concept still has not come full circle and can still be applied in fictional works to come.
Oh, but then we get the fans of the chosen one arguing it has pure merit as I mentioned the concept has withstood the test of time. Let me play devil’s advocate with a heavy favorite.
The latest example of one such widely read fantasy series with a chosen one, Harry Potter, has at the center of all the action the ‘Boy Who Lived’. Early on in the series, a special status is attributed to the scrawny pre-teen, who lives in deplorable conditions with equally deplorable relatives. To the boy’s disbelief, he was responsible, directly or indirectly for the demise of one of the most powerful dark wizards the ‘wizarding world’ had ever seen. The whole world of magic thinks he possesses some incomprehensible magic powers, as no grown wizard had proven a match for Voldemort. Further in the series, readers encounter the prophecy made about Voldemort and his rival, which concludes that neither can live while the other survives. Now, for those who oppose the savior telling of stories will raise their hands in exasperation that there was little or no obstacle for the character to ascend to the status of the one whom the most powerful evil being the fictional universe rivals. A more devoted fan would, however point out to the new spin that the series brought to the worn out chosen one narrative.
Let’s see what we can sum up on this that is middle of the road.
Fantasy fiction works written with savoir themes are enough to stock up most libraries in the world. The large numbers of literature in the genre has explored an incredible range of themes and ideas, making the whole “the chosen one” plot line hackneyed and unenjoyably. Yet, there lies something in a yes that seeks someone to root for, either the underdog or the destined hero. Fantasy will continue to supply us with such characters but it must to so with a refreshed take on it. As many popular works have shown us, an author’s imagination is only limited by their own self. Interesting renditions of the hero theme have explored uncharted territory and have enjoyed considerable success. Similarly, unconventional stories with no chosen one, but an ordinary character whose specific choices lead to an extraordinary life have been warmly received. It is all up to personal taste.
So Fantasy fiction fan, where do you fall on this debate?
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