I see you, Wyrd & Wonder Challenge creators and I see what you’ve done posting this particular trope on this particular day and I’d just like to say….may the force be with you. 😉
For today’s prompt in the Wyrd & Wonder Challenge I’m going to be talking about a few of my favorites that fit this trope, which seems to be one of the staples of the fantasy genre. (Just more evidence that Star Wars is Fantasy. I’m just saying. It’s Fantasy.)
The Orphan Trope in Fantasy also usually comes paired with The Chosen One trope. Fun times! I’ve read quite a few of these in my time as a fantasy reader. Probably one of the earliest that I remember is The Belgariad by David (and Leigh!) Eddings. Now, looking back these books are not particularly great. They’re basically tropes stitched together with stereotypes and are somewhat problematic at times but I did enjoy them in my early days as a fantasy reader and they served as a good introduction to the genre at the time. In the Belgariad our hero is Garion–an orphan raised by his Aunt Pol on a farm. So, basically Star Wars. 😉 There is a long journey and lots of fun characters and of course some secrets to be revealed. And Garion is very much a chosen one, to no surprise of anyone except perhaps teenaged me.
You find a lot of this trope in stories geared towards younger readers too, not that its exclusive to that. One of the most famous examples (besides Star Wars) is, of course, Harry Potter by she who must not be named. Harry never had a chance to know his parents because they were both killed when he was a baby (spoilers, sorry!). But he does eventually get to know more about them throughout the course of his saga, for better or for worse. And it’s interesting on whether or not Harry is actually a Chosen One because it’s later revealed that this particular ‘chosen one’ could have been one of two people and Harry just got…lucky? Unlucky? Hmmm. Despite everything I do still have a lot of love for HP. I read it at a time when the hype was real and it was fun to experience such a vibrant fandom along with so many others.
Swinging over to adult fantasy, one of my favorite orphans is Fitz Farseer from The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. Now, these books and I have a long history where I read one and am both extremely into it and extremely frustrated by the characters and want to chuck them all into the sun. But part of the fun? of these books is the intense rage you feel at not only the very obvious villain getting away with everything but also the other characters’ inaction in dealing with them. Ahem. But I’m not hear to talk about Regal. Fitz! He’s an orphan and a royal bastard who is taken to live with his uncles and becomes the royal assassin’s apprentice. Of course once he becomes an actual assassin he doesn’t do much assassinating so I feel like the name of these books are a bit misleading. Don’t go in expecting him to be dealing out much in the way of assassinations. But he has a cool wolf pal so that’s fun! (PS: I hate Regal sooooo much!) Anyway. Read these books, they are one of the few popular series that I feel really lives up to the hype. Is he a ‘chosen one’? Well, he’s certainly *something* and seems to be a catalyst of sorts for certain events. I’m sure I’ll learn more whenever I get around to reading the rest of the books in this universe. 🙂
So, those are a few of my favorites. Why is this trope so popular? Well, it’s familiar and probably evokes a feeling of nostalgia. But digging deeper it’s nice for adventure stories involving young people especially because no one’s parents are going to show up and tell them they can’t storm the castle. It also can make for some compelling storytelling (if now a bit cliched) with plot twists if there are birth secrets involved. I guess even after all these years I’m still a bit of a sucker for a birth secret trope. 😉 What are some of your favorite characters that fit this trope? Leave a note in the comments, I’d love to chat!