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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Magic Thursday - What makes a tortured hero?



Who can resist the appeal of a tortured hero? I certainly can't.

Every time I read a book with one of these characters it usually ends up as a keeper on my bookshelf. Why? Because there's something unbelievably attractive about a man who overcomes incredible obstacles to find himself, a soul mate and love.

Take Bren, the hero from Christina Phillips' book, CAPTIVE.

With the rape and murder of his wife at the hands Dunmacos, a Roman leader with a sadistic reputation, he's wracked by survivor guilt and torn apart with hatred for the Celtic Druids whom he believes should have saved her instead of him.

To avenge his loss, he hunts down and massacres Dunmacos then disguises himself as the soldier in order to spy on the Roman army for the Briton king. He spends three years in this role, taking on the reviled persona of the feared leader, killing anyone who ever knew Dunmacos to avoid being exposed and does what he can to sabotage Rome's efforts to conquer Britain.

With only his skills at deception and subterfuge, killing in the name of his king, and haunted by his failure to save his wife, he doesn't see himself as worth anything or having anything to offer a woman who might love him.

Irredeemable? Maybe. Tortured? Hell, yes. Irresistable. Oh, yeah...

Let's take a look at another tormented hero. Zsadist - from LOVER AWAKENED by J.R.Ward. I've worn out the spine on this book and need to get a new one, that's how many times I've reread it.

This vampire warrior is the ultimate tortured hero. The guy bears some serious, serious issues involving intimacy and any sexual relationship with a woman thanks to being kidnapped, raped and used as a blood slave when he was a young man.

His reputation as a Black Dagger Brotherhood warrior is legendary, friends and foe alike fear his anger, and his sinister deeds strike terror into them.

This is a powerful, heart-wrenching story of Zsadist's journey to come to terms with what was done to him and how he discovers that he can love and be loved. I don't know how many times I cried for Zsadist, over what was done to him and the destructive perceptions he had of himself.

Tortured character? He's at the top of the list.

Not to left out, what about Zarek from Sherrilyn Kenyon's DANCE WITH THE DEVIL?

Another man reviled for his fearsome reputation as a warrior, one believed to have gone insane. Totally misunderstood by everyone, but then Zarek was never one for sharing his past or explaining his actions. Thank goodness for Acheron and his understanding and identifying with his nature!

What a past Zarek's had - the bastard son of a Roman noble, disfigured by a lifetime of abuse, reviled for his appearance, enduring the worst sort of life after being sold as a slave then once he was made a Dark-Hunter and began taking out his anger and pain on the Daimons (the bad guys) in full view of the public, he's exiled to Alaska and shunned by other Dark-Hunters because of his actions.

This man's never had a gentle word said or kind action bestowed upon on him. So, do you think he might have some serious trust issues? Then, to top it all off, he finds himself being judged by a justice nymph who'll determine whether he lives or dies. Any wonder he has the reputation of being a cold, angry cynic?

Damned? Many seem to think so. Worth saving? Depends on your point of view - I know a few Gods who'd be glad to see him dead (Artemis, anyone)? Tortured? Well and truly.

How can you not empathise with Bren, Zsadist or Zarek? The odds are stacked against them, they're well behind the eight ball, every one's against them (cliches abound!). How can they possibly redeem themselves?

Certainly not through their own self-destructive actions, but how about the love of a good woman? Could that help? Oh, yeah, you betcha.

They have such a long way to travel but the end reward is well worth the angst, the tears, the resistant transformation. The struggle and journey these heroes are put through makes their redemption all the more satisfying.

So, you just gotta love tortured heroes. They make for one heck of a good read. For that matter, a good dozen re-reads!!!

Do you have a favourite tortured hero? And care to share? Come on, I dare you!

8 comments:

  1. Hey Kylie,

    I'm right with you on Zsadist and Bren. I think Xcor will also prove to be one. I LOVE a tortured hero - they're the best kind!
    I also have to say Kresley Cole excels at torturing her heroes. Demon from the Dark is a good example... Malkom Slaine - a demon turned vampire against his will (which makes him half of each), sold as a blood slave, raped by a vampire master and betrayed by his mother, his best friend and the woman he loves before exchanging a hell plane for a prison on earth. Will Carrow, (his Bride/Mate), be able to prove herself and regain his love? Sigh...
    I've currently got a tortured hero of my own to write about - and I can't WAIT to get to his story. Even though he's my own, I'm relishing finding out about him...
    Thanks for the post Kylie - an excellent one!

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  2. Great post Kylie.
    I can't go past Sherrilyn Kenyon's Acheron when it comes to tortured heroes. I have read that book so many times and still love it.
    I agree with you on Bren too, I mean who doesn't feel for a guy who is pretending to be one of the most reviled men in the legion?
    The things authors put their heroes (and heroines) through.

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  3. So many heroes, so little reading time - CT, I've yet to discover Kresley Cole and Malkom Slaine but boy, does he sound like he fits in this category!!!

    Hey, Peta, I LOVED Acheron's story, don't know how many times I went for the tissue box! (but I'm afraid I was less impressed with his heroine, and I think that may have been something to do with the build up of expectations. I mean, geez, how long had we been waiting for Acheron's story and anticipating it???

    The longer I'm in this writing game the more I recognise and appreciate a good story where we put our heroes/heroines through the wringer. Hard to do when we first start out as writers but with practise we become such meanies! LOL :-)

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  4. Oh, definitely all three are tortured souls. Very tortured souls. Zsadist - good grief what he went through and the ramifications being felt so many years later. Have you read the novella of Zsadist and Bella in the Insider's Guide. How he had to come to grips with being a dad? oh, goodness, more tear-jerky moments. The love of a good woman helps them down the direction of love and self respect. It's still a rocky road, but so much lighter in not being alone. Go those women.

    I haven't gone as far into the DH series to read Acheron's story. Looking forward to it - love learning a little bit more about Acheron with every book.

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  5. let's not forget Barrons from the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. Stephanie Rowe's Soul Fire series is all about the tortured alphas and Elizabeth Naughton (sp?)Eternal Guardian series! so many tasty men ;)

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  6. A veritable smorgasbord of tortured heroes here - sigh... :-D

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  7. Kylie, thank you for including my darling Bren with such a stellar line up of tortured heroes! He's one of my all time favorites of all the heroes I've written. He sure deserved his happily-ever-after :-)

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  8. He did indeed, Christina - CAPTIVE is my fav.story of yours so far! :-)

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