On the Inheritance series (Eragon)

The Modern-Day Perceval

By Joshua Pantalleresco

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

–Christopher Reeve

Heroes are the foundation of epic fantasy. I’ve enjoyed heroic tales ever since I picked up my first comic book at the age of eight. There was something larger than life about someone making a difference that stuck with me. It influenced me to read my first fantasy novel. Fantasy and comics aren’t that different at heart: Both feature great evils bent on destroying all the heroes hold dear, whether it’s something personal like their family or something larger such as their hometown or even the whole world. What fascinates me to this day is how each hero responds to crisis.

There are different kinds of heroes. Some are like Superman or King Arthur and possess all the tools to become a great hero– they have the skills, the knowledge, and the inherent conscience to know right from wrong. Then there are the heroes like Perceval, who have to learn what the right thing is, and are heroic because of their courage and despite their limitations.

Perceval is my favorite kind of hero. He’s one of the earliest characters in literature that starts out like you or me. He struggles with the finer details of good and evil and, like us, doesn’t know all the answers. Many characters after him have had similarly humble beginnings. Take, for example, Peter Parker. Peter is a science kid from Queens who is bitten  …

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