F is for farmboy

Poor farmboy goes on a quest and winds up saving the world, right? He doesn’t have to be a farmboy; he can be a pig-herder, a baker’s apprentice, or some other menial occupation. You see it everywhere from Lloyd Alexander to Christopher Paolini — poor boy makes good (even if the pig herder goes back to being a pig herder).

Eragon lives on a farm and also hunts to help provide food for the family. Bilbo Baggins doesn’t seem to have had any job when Gandalf came along and picked him as a burglar. Cat Barahal is a poor schoolgirl on scholarship. Wesley becomes the Dread Pirate Roberts. Luke Skywalker is a dirt farmer. (OK, we don’t have to argue about whether Star Wars is fantasy or science fiction here. I’m just discussing the trope.)

The important point is that a simple soul goes on an adventure. Who wouldn’t want that? Most of us get up, go to work, come home — same-old, same-old, every day. We may want riches, we may want adventure, we may just want a change of pace. The farmboys of epic fantasy get that. They’re plucked from their quotidian existence and given a challenge. No one starts a hero, but each of them is given the chance to become one.

Who’s your favorite “farmboy” from fiction?

This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is epic fantasy, and blog posts will cover authors, books, tropes, themes, or anything else I can think of to fill the alphabet. Check out some of the other bloggers participating or follow my blog by e-mail if you like what you’ve read.

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  1. Luke Skywalker is one of my all-time favorites. Another would be Malcom Reynolds from Firefly, a simple soldier fighting for what is right, even if he has to break the rules to do it. It would have been interesting to see where his character would have gone if allowed to stay on TV long enough.

  2. I’m going with Rand al’Thor from The Wheel of Time series. I only got to book eight or so, so I still don’t know how that book series ends! Now that I think of it (and having just had to go re-read the synopsis so I could remember that kid’s name), I kind of want to go re-read the books.

    • Ooh, Rand. Excellent example!

      I think I gave up around book 7. They were coming out so far apart I never remembered what had happened, and the characters never seemed to get anywhere. I might go back and try again sometime.

  3. Or, he could be some poor bloke named Jack who climbs a beanstock.

    • True enough. Every Jack, John, and Hans of fairy-tale fame tends to fall into this category. As does the Goose Girl and many of my favorite female characters.

  4. There are countless examples from fairytales… can’t think off-hand… my brain’s a bit on the slow side (must be all the blog-hopping…)
    Enjoy the rest of the A to Z…

    • So, true. From Clever Hans on.

      Yes, the blog-hopping does keep us all busy, doesn’t it? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. The first ever ‘farmboy’ story SF story I ever read was, ‘Have Spacesuit, Will travel,’ by Robert Heinlein … I was probably 12 or so at the time. That’s when I realised boys got to have all the fun, and began to understand how sexist all my favourite (at the time) SF stories were.

    • Oh, yes. Lots of sexism in SF, sadly. I remember reading a Lucky Starr book by Isaac Asimov that made mention of the sexism, but I don’t remember which one it was.

      Thanks for commenting; I know you’ve been busy with the move and unpacking and all!

  6. Favorite farmboy?

    It’s got to be Rudgar Appenfell from Douglas Niles’ Watershed Trilogy. Mountain climber that gets revived from the dead and becomes totally awesome, saves the world, and gets the girl for a long, happy marriage.

    And he totally has no idea how to fight at first–that’s always refreshing in an epic fantasy hero/heroine.


  7. Kathleen Hammond

    I know this is a late comment, but shouldn’t that be “Farmboy”?

  8. Kathleen Hammond

    We’re not?

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