Sunday, February 16, 2014

Christina Brooke: Becoming a Hero the Hard Way

Hello everyone! Thank you very much to Lee for having me here today.

I'd like to chat today about what makes a hero. The title of this blog is taken from the wonderful children's series by Cressida Cowell, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.

I'm talking about the books, not the movie, fun though the movie is.

Hiccup is a weakling amid a tribe of giant Vikings, where strength and physical courage are the only things his society values. His father loves him but he holds him in contempt, too. Physically, Hiccup is completely outclassed by everyone around him, particularly his cousin, Snotlout.

Hiccup is the son of the chief of the tribe, however, and there's a prophecy he has to fulfill-a Herculean labor-to unite all of the tribes as their king. So Hiccup becomes a hero the hard way, which is to say, he uses his brains to win the day. He makes hard choices that make him unpopular but he always does the right thing, even when he pays a heavy price.

So without any of the traditional trappings of physical strength, good looks or charm, Hiccup shows what being a true hero is all about.

This is such a rich, textured series, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Without in any way preaching, it shows children how to be good people and to stand up for what they believe in, even at great personal cost.

Now, of course we love our romance heroes big and strapping and handsome, but when I write about a hero, it's not those qualities alone that set him apart from the rest.

Honour and integrity are essential in any hero of mine. Marcus, Earl of Beckenham, in THE GREATEST LOVER EVER is big and muscular and gravely handsome-everything we love in our heroes! But he is also the kind of man who always does the right thing when the chips are down. During the story, his deep, almost obsessive love for my heroine Georgie tests his honour and he has to make a tough choice toward the end of the novel:

"Beckenham stood also, braced his hands on the table and leaned in. "Oh, yes. I'm cast as the noble fool in all our family dramas, am I not? The sort of prig who'd sacrifice everything, everyone he loves, for his honor."

Lydgate flung out a hand. "No one else shoved you in that role, Becks. You carved it out yourself, through sheer will and a deep-seated goodness that few of us can even pretend to. Look what you came from! Even that upbringing couldn't bend you or make you less than you were. Don't let her do this to you."

But Lydgate had it all wrong. Georgie would be just as horrified as Lydgate if she knew what he was about to do. The thought made him hesitate, but only for a second. Once he had eliminated Pearce's threat, they could be happy."

I'm pleased to say that Beckenham makes the honorable choice when it comes to the crunch, but the temptation to take what he wants no matter the consequences tests him sorely.

And what are heroes if not men who face the ultimate challenge and overcome?

Who is your idea of a great hero from fiction, movies or television? What qualities do you most admire in heroes?  I'm giving away a copy of THE GREATEST LOVER EVER to a commenter today! (USA and Australia only) 


Laurie G said...

William Wallace in Braveheart. I liked Mel Gibson's portrayal of this reluctant, Scottish independence leader.

Heroes: Selflessness, integrity, compassion and courage.

Captain Horatio Hornblower English naval captain. Loved Gregory Peck in this movie.

Connie said...

Without a doubt, my greatest hero is Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind."

A hero is a man who is comfortable in his own skin, sure of himself but not cockily so, has a great sense of humor and knows how to show compassion for people and animals.

Di said...

True heroes are those that put themselves in harms way to protect others - I cringe every time I hear sports figures described as heroes - the true heroes of today are many who serve in the military, police force & firefighters.

I enjoyed Hiccup's story in the movie - I'll have to look for the books.

Jeanne M said...

Hi Christina!

I love your books and when I finished your Ministry of Marriage series was thrilled to find out that Ministry of Marriage was coming out and your first book in the series, London's Last True Scoundrel was so much fun to read! I missed getting a copy of The Greatest Lover Ever when it came out in December because somehow Christmas (and all the bills) got in the way! I'm so excited that The Wickedest Lord Alive will be released in July so I can pre-order it and not worry about work and family obligations getting in the way!

My "book" hero goes all the way back to the 1960's when I was in High School and our teacher assigned Don Quixote by Cervantes as "required" reading! It was my first introduction to historical romance and who wouldn't love a hero who can see only the good in someone like Don saw "Dulcinea"! That's the type of man every woman deserves - one who will have a "quest, to follow that star ...
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far, and to fight for the right, without question or pause ."

Okay so I also like how he only saw the good side of "Dulcinea". Now that my type of hero!..

erin said...

What a thoughtful post! Congrats on the series Christina :) I'd have to say I look for humor (snark and sarcasm count too!), selflessness and honor. Thanks for sharing!

Beautiful Disaster said...

Thanks for sharing a great post.
Chris Hemsworth or Rhett Butler :)
Loyalty, Bravery, Compassionate, Humourous, etc...

Mary Preston said...

At the moment a great hero of mine from fiction is Ned Stark from the series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE by George RR Martin. Ned Stark is a noble man who will always fight for what is just & true. The fact that it does not end well for him , does not make it less so.