I’m thrilled that readers of The Kingmaker Chronicles have taken to Cat and enjoy following her adventures in both love and battle. With the stories told from Cat’s perspective, it’s easy to get inside her head and really start to understand what makes her tick—her humor and fierceness, her fears and hopes, her hard edges and vulnerable thoughts. If there’s one thing that Cat will never admit to, however—and especially not to herself—it’s to being a hero.
And why not? She’s a person of legendary proportions with magic and abilities beyond compare. She’s an accomplished warrior, with strength and courage, and her achievements and skills are already spreading far and wide. But a hero described like this seems almost one-dimensional and too perfect to be true—and would probably make for pretty boring reading in the end. I like to think that Cat’s doubts and fears balance her strengths, and that the fact that she’s not always sure she’ll win, or even live, but she tries her best and does what she needs to anyway, make her heroic and not just a hero.
So what makes a heroic heroine? I’m sure everyone would have their own thoughts on this, but here are mine.
1. Loyalty. Above all, loyalty is the key. Without it, what does the hero or heroine have to fight for? You choose your cause and you choose your people and then you fight with everything you have to keep them safe and happy. Anything else is a half-assed sham and when a Dragon is breathing down your neck, those without loyalty turn tail and run because their own hides are more important than yours. The hero sticks it out, no matter the cost.
2. Selflessness. In many ways, this goes hand in hand with loyalty. The heroic heroine puts others before herself, and she does it without thought, sometimes recklessly, maybe stupidly, but never with reflection or weighing the pros and cons. There’s never a question of who to put first. It just is.
3. Courage. Courage is what separates the heroes from the not. And courage can come in different forms. It might be courage in the face of terrifying danger. It might be courage to keep going when confronted with pain or loss. It might be the courage to fight for what you want or believe is right. It might even be the courage to tell someone you’re close to that you think they’re wrong. Above all, it’s standing up instead of backing down.
4. A little bit of crazy. In Cat’s case, anyway, a little bit of crazy goes a long way. It’s what makes it possible to throw caution and self-preservation to the wind and jump in front of the monster herself—and always first. But maybe heroes need that wild and passionate edge that makes it possible for them to accomplish the great deeds that most people can only dream of (and probably run from).
5. Humor. Maybe this goes with the crazy, but sometimes, when things look really grim, you’ve just got to make a joke, or else you’ll probably cry. So many people use humor as a deflector. The heroic heroine is no different—she is, after all, human, just like us. And isn’t it better to laugh in the face of adversity than to panic or show your true fear?
6. Fighting skills. Ah. The obvious one. But heroic fighting can come in many forms. In Cat’s case, it’s usually with blades, magic, brute force, and a lot of heart. But there are heroes in any world, real or fictional, and they fight with an arsenal that can include anything from words and ideas to selfless devotion to others to the more obvious deeds and swords and so much more.
7. Hope. And herein lies, in my opinion, the glue that binds all of the above. Hope is essential to any hero. It’s believing you at least have a fighting chance. It’s believing there’s something better. It’s believing that how you act and what you do can have a positive impact on other people. At the beginning of our story, Cat was short on hope. Now we’re two thirds into her tale, hope is alive in her, and she’s sharing it with everyone else. And what’s more heroic for our heroine than being a light for her people to follow in the dark?