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At Bookflurries last week melpomene1 made a comment:

cfk, have you ever done an antihero bookflurries? :) or one on supposed heroes that are unlikable? There are so many in both categories!
It has been a while since we did this and I agree it is fun.  It seems to me that villains often have interesting aspects and heroes sometimes fall down.  That is why they are not boring.

I realize that Desperadoes are from the Old West, but I like the connotation of desperation in the word.  Don’t back these dudes into a corner.  

There are some heroes that I just cannot like though others do and some that I do like that make other readers upset.  The hero and villain do a lot of heavy lifting in a story so the more complex they are the better.  Pierre in War and Peace is so different from Prince Andre and by the end of the book he gets his just reward, thank goodness.  I watched Pierre grow and change, suffer and deal with it.  Maybe that is why some heroes and villains are so memorable.

I am not thoroughly happy with Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera.  He is brave and all that, but he has had an easy life.  On the other hand, the Phantom seems to me to manipulate Christine by using her love for her father and the music box to influence her.  I still agonize with him.

My list is from the top of my mind and I have one real person there, Henry II of England.

Wiki says:

Henry was an energetic and sometimes ruthless ruler, driven by a desire to restore the lands and privileges of his royal grandfather, Henry I. During the early years of the younger Henry's reign he restored the royal administration in England, re-established hegemony over Wales and gained full control over his lands in Anjou, Maine and Touraine. Henry soon came into conflict with Louis VII and the two rulers fought what has been termed a "cold war" over several decades. Henry expanded his empire, often at Louis's expense, taking Brittany and pushing east into central France and south into Toulouse; despite numerous peace conferences and treaties no lasting agreement was reached. Although Henry usually worked well with the local hierarchies of the Church, his desire to reform England's relationship with the Church led to conflict with his former friend Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This controversy lasted for much of the 1160s and resulted in Becket's death in 1170…

Henry's reign saw significant legal changes, particularly in England and Normandy. By the middle of the 12th century, England had many different ecclesiastical and civil law courts, with overlapping jurisdictions resulting from the interaction of diverse legal traditions. Henry greatly expanded the role of royal justice in England, producing a more coherent legal system, summarized at the end of his reign in the treatise of Glanvill, an early legal handbook. Despite these reforms it is uncertain if Henry had a grand vision for his new legal system and the reforms seem to have proceeded in a steady, pragmatic fashion. Indeed, in most cases he was probably not personally responsible for creating the new processes, but he was greatly interested in the law, seeing the delivery of justice as one of the key tasks for a king and carefully appointing good administrators to conduct the reforms…

In 1163 Henry returned to England, intent on reforming the role of the royal courts. He cracked down on crime, seizing the belongings of thieves and fugitives, and travelling justices were dispatched to the north and the Midlands. After 1166, Henry's exchequer court in Westminster, which had previously only heard cases connected with royal revenues, began to take wider civil cases on behalf of the king. The reforms continued and Henry created the General Eyre, probably in 1176, which involved dispatching a group of royal justices to visit all the counties in England over a given period of time, with authority to cover both civil and criminal cases. Local juries had been used occasionally in previous reigns, but Henry made much wider use of them. Juries were introduced in petty assizes from around 1176, where they were used to establish the answers to particular pre-established questions, and in grand assizes from 1179, where they were used to determine the guilt of a defendant. Other methods of trial continued, however, including trial by combat and trial by ordeal. After the Assize of Clarendon in 1166, royal justice was extended into new areas through the use of new forms of assizes, in particular novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor and dower unde nichil habet, which dealt with the wrongful dispossession of land, the right of inheritance and the rights of widows respectively…

Henry II appears in a number of modern plays and films. The king forms a central character in James Goldman's 1966 play The Lion in Winter, set in 1183 and presenting an imaginary encounter between Henry's immediate family and Philip Augustus over Christmas at Chinon. The 1968 film adaptation communicates the modern popular view of Henry as a somewhat sacrilegious, fiery and determined king although, as Goldman observes, Henry's passions and character are essentially fictional The Lion in Winter has proved an enduring representation of Henry, being remade in 2003 for television. Henry also appears in the play Becket by Jean Anouilh, filmed in 1964; once again, however, the character of the king is deliberately fictitious, driven by the need for drama between Henry and Becket in the play. The Becket controversy also forms the basis for T. S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral, where the tensions between Henry and Becket form the basis both for a discussion of the more superficial events of Becket's death, and Eliot's deeper religious interpretation of the episode.

It is probably not fair to include a real person and yet so many important fiction books and plays have featured him that I decided to do it.  Besides the ones mentioned above there are the stories by Sharon Kay Penman, Time and Chance, and Devil’s Brood.

Here is my list of heroes, anti-heroes, and villains all mixed together that I have enjoyed reading about or watching in film:  

Eugene Onegin
Crocodile Dundee
Robin Hood
Andrea and Mallory in the Guns of Navarone
Dread Pirate Roberts
Long John Silver
Edmond Dantes: The Count of Monte Cristo
Henry II of England
Willy Wonka
Malcolm Reynolds
Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre
Han Solo
Rhett Butler
Francis Crawford of Lymond
Jamie Fraser
Monk (and Hester)
Monk (The TV hero)
Pierre (War and Peace)
The Phantom of the Opera
The Scarlet Pimpernell
Cyrano de Bergerac
Captain Jack
Sir Dominic Flandry

Which ones are your favorites?

I have to share another image from the Poul Anderson series:

Captain Flandry, "The Game of Glory"

page 323

Sunset blazed across violet waters.  The white spume of the breakers was turned an incredible gold; tide pools on the naked black skerry were like molten copper.  The sky was deep blue in the east, still pale overhead, shading to a clear cloudless green where the sun drowned.  Through the surf's huge hollow crashing and grinding, Flandry heard bells from one of the many rose-red spires...or did a ship's bell ring among the raking spars, or was it something he had heard in a dream once.  Beneath all the noise, it was unutterably peaceful.

The thought in the introduction to Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight of Terra is what many of the heroes on the list might say:

If Flandry's fight is not always the elusive Good Fight, at least it's usually the best possible fight that circumstances allow...

On a smaller, human (or other sentient being's) scale Flandry can win, though his victory may come with a price.  Sometimes the price is one which Flandry would not have paid, if he had any choice...

Diaries of the Week:

Write On! Why can't the protagonist just quit?
by SensibleShoes

Thursday Classical Music: The Vigil aided by Samuel Barber, opus D106
by Dave in Northridge

Through the gates of Timbuktu
by mali muso

NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.


Which is your favorite hero or anti-hero or villain?

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