Sunday, June 7, 2009

Outcasts, Misfits, and Heroes

by Trish and Nancy

This is a summer for outcast heroes. The seasonal blockbusters kicked off with Wolverine, followed by Jim Kirk in Star Trek. You could also make the case that Spock is a misfit hero, a son of two worlds who doesn't entirely fit in either. Into the mix dropped John Connor, who spent most of his youth on the run (and if you love strong heroines, check out Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on DVD).

I love this time of year, when all the big summer, popcorn movies -- the ones with superheroes, badasses and things that go boom (to borrow a phrase from you, Nancy) start hitting theaters. I love the misfit heroes because it's so much sweeter when they become a hero, you know? I enjoyed Wolverine, but I LOVED Star Trek. Have seen it twice, and it was worth the price of admission both times. I think Kirk is a misfit of his own making. He takes actions that purposefully make it an outcast. But Spock is an outcast -- from not one, but two worlds -- because of something he can't control, his parentage. I haven't seen Terminator yet, but I want to. Hopefully, soon.

I'd love to claim credit for the "boom" thing, but I think I got it from Jo. Someone blogged on boom a while back. Anyway, I've seen Star Trek only once so far but am eager to see it again. Despite being such a Trek geek, I don't think I'd love it as much if the characters hadn't pulled me in. Zachary Quinto was great as Spock, and he had big shoes to fill. The original Trek episode "Amok Time" revealed the dichotomy in Spock (I think it was that episode), but this movie really explored it. You make a good point about Kirk choosing to be an outcast while Spock was born one.

Misfit and outcast heroes don't just appear in movies, though. They're a staple in books, too. Acheron spent most of his youth as a despised outcast. Hugo in The Unknown Ajax (Georgette Heyer) is despised by his family until he saves their skins and they realize he isn't the bumpkin they assumed he was. Beast of "Beauty and the Beast" is a classic example. By extension, so is every hero in stories based on that tale.

Jayne Ann Krentz's Gideon, the hero of Ravished, is shunned by his community until the heroine, a fossil hunter, forces him into the light. Sabrina Jeffries' Marcus North, Viscount Draker, in To Pleasure a Prince is feared by Society until love forces him into its circles.

Two of my all-time favorite books have outcast heroes. The first is Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi. Pam is writing contemporaries now, but I first fell in love with her historical romances because they're Americana and she writes fantastic characters. Jess is a very unconventional hero in that he's "slow" because he was oxygen deprived at birth. But he's so very endearing and totally believable as a hero. He reminds me a bit of Forrest Gump -- a bit slower but he knows what love is. And you totally understand why the heroine, Althea, would fall in love with him.

The other book is Jackson Rule by Dinah McCall (original cover at left). The heroine, Rebecca Hill, is a preacher's daughter, and Jackson Rule is a convicted killer who has done his time when she hires him to work in her greenhouse. He just wants honest work, something that is often hard to get if the stigma of prison is attached to you.

Getting back to the geeky movies we so love, the reboot of Jim Kirk has a wild edge Shatner never did, maybe because we didn't see the original Kirk in bar fights. Is wildness part of the outcast or misfit hero?

I think it makes them more interesting, a bit of the bad boy that readers often love to fantasize about because they'd never date or marry them in real life. The fantasy of taming the wild/bad boy is a powerful one. I do love stories where the outcast hero, who might not seem destined for a happily-ever-after or had anyone believe in him, gets both in a strong heroine. I love that message there being love out there for everyone, even heroes who don't make it easy to love them. It's also interesting to see characters like Kirk go from reckless, self-centered men to selfless heroes. It's a big, interesting character arc.

While not necessarily romantic-type heroes, the misfits are common on TV programs too. Look no further than Monk or House. Or the many different characters on Heroes.

I didn't even think about Monk! I agree with you about Heroes, too. And one of my favorite series, featuring an ex-covert agent who doesn't know what to do with himself, is back. If you haven't checked out Burn Notice on the USA Network, you've missed a treat.

Getting back to your point about bad boys, though, I also like to see them find strong women who can get through their armor. There's a reason the reformed rake (Rhett Butler, anyone?) is such a popular hero, but wild guys don't tame so easily in real life. Books are a safer way to explore them.

So, banditas and buddies, who's your favorite bad, outcast, or misfit hero? Do you like the summer blockbuster or like your movies quieter?


Nancy said...

Okay, I dunno if it's fair for me to take the bird (really not sure the dog wants him around), but I did wait a while five minutes before posting, so we'll see.

Nancy said...

Well, looks as if he comes home with me. The dog will have to cope. Maybe I can enlist her to give him some exercise. He has gotten rather lazy of late.

Trish is on the road today, so she'll be popping in when she can. Meanwhile, give us your thoughts about outcasts, misfits, and heroes.

Nancy said...

Uh, that was a WHOLE five minutes. Aack!

Virginia said...

Hi Nancy, congrat on the bird! I was going to bed and decided to check in first. Rhett will always be my favourite misfit of all times. I loved the man! I will check back tomorrow when I get a chance. Still have the kitchen torn apart, I am going to paint it now, have to take the wall paper border off first. See you later!

PinkPeony said...

Hey Nancy! I'd say you should keep the long as you're not planning on serving chicken fricasse for Sunday dinner. :)

Favorite bad boys in film...two come to mind immediately..Paul Newman's character in "Long Hot Summer" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and James Dean's Jett Rink in "Giant".

I've read so many books with bad boy heroes! Sandra Brown's "Slow Heat in Heaven" has a very sexy bad boy, Cash Boudreaux. What is it about bad boys in southern locales? I adored Cam Rohan, the sexy gypsy outcast in Lisa Kleypas' book.

Minna said...

Well, David Eddings's Althalus comes to mind.

Nik Kershaw - The Riddle

Enigma - Beyond The Invisible

Annie West said...

Ooh, lovely post. I adore misfit heroes. Was chuffed when you mentioned Hugo in 'The Unknown Ajax' as he's possibly my fave Heyer hero. Well... I might have to reread a few to be sure but that's one I regularly reread. Such a misfit, and such a glorious hero too.

There's something so intriguing about the man who stands apart from the rest, don't you think? The one who doesn't blend in with the crowd. I recently saw 'Twilight' with my daughter. Now there's a misfit hero. Can't wait to see 'Star Trek' as I keep hearing wonderful things about it.

As for an outcast hero, how about Anna C's Matthew in 'Untouched' or on a lighter note, Rupert (be-still-my-heart) in Loretta Chase's 'Mr Impossible'?

Helen said...

Congrats Nancy I am sure the GR and the dog will get on for the day

Great post Nancy and Trish, I love bad boys turned hero and yes I would have to agree with Virginia Rhett will always be on of my favourites and I really love House and Monk.

I loved Marcus in To Pleasure A Prince that was a great book what about Kylemore from CTC he is another favourite hero for me.

I haven't seen any of the movies I rarely go to the movies the next one I know I will be going to see is the next Harry Potter movie and well what can I say I think Harry is a great hero.

Have Fun

Laurie said...

I liked Iain Mackinnon from Pamela Clare's Surrender. He was in prison. He's pressed into service as a Ranger for the English. He leads his men in the likes of Scotland's William Wallace... he has very loyal followers. He saves Anne risking his life and his future.

Nancy said...

Virginia, you're painting and papering in your kitchen? That sounds like a major project.

I loved Rhett Butler as a teenager, and I think Clark Gable embodied him perfectly.

Good luck with that kitchen project.

Nancy said...

Hi, Pink Peony--no chicken on the menu! Much as the gladiators and cabana boys complain about him, I think they'd miss the rooster. At the least, they'd miss having him to complain about! Right now, he's on top of the china cabinet with the dog down below, watching him. We'll see how things develop.

I don't know why so many bad boys seem to have southern settings. All the ones you mentioned do, I think, though I haven't seen the Newman movies in a long time. I know lots of southern men who aren't bad boys. OTOH, I've met quite a few who were. Hmm.

Nancy said...

Hi, Minna--

I don't remember Althalus. I'll have to look him up.

Dina said...

I love summer blockbuster movies as well as quieter ones too. Gonna see Terminator again today and will see Wolverine and can't wait for the new Transformers, lol.

Nancy said...

Hi, Annie--The Unknown Ajax was one of the first Heyers I read. I think her books must've been reissued that summer, and they were my introduction to the Regency. I noticed that Harlequin has been issuing mass market editions, and Sourcebooks has come out with nice trade size ones.

There is something about the man who stands apart. There's usually a hint of mystery. In a romance, particularly, such a hero has fewer surrounding characters to affect the relationship and often has deep personal issues that provide the conflict. The lone hero is very popular in fantasy and mystery as well, though.

I hope you'll like Star Trek. I'm very eager to see it again, preferably before school gets out and the theaters get crowded.

Here's another question: Do real-life bad boys grow out of their habits, or does something else, like love or a family or business crisis, have to change them?

Nancy said...

Annie, I didn't respond to your comment about Matthew in Untouched or Rupert (haven't read Rupert; sorry). Matthew also has been made into an outcast or misfit, much more than he actually is. Anna has that tendency to do torturous things to her characters. *g*

He's a terrific outcast hero.

Nancy said...

Hi, Helen--Kylemore really does go beyond the bounds, doesn't he? A definite bad boy, and one of the things I thought Anna did well in that book was making part of his transformation the realization of just how far outside the pale he had gone and how wrong he had been. He suffered a lot for his choices, which not all bad boys do, and became a better man as a result.

We're looking forward to Harry Potter. I can't believe I'll be in DC when it comes out. Odds are, I'll have to wait until after the conference to see it.

At least the lines will have died down by then.

Nancy said...

Just FYI, the GR jumped over the dog, flapped enough to reach the kitchen counter, and hopped onto the refrigerator. Where he is eating the last of my mint chocolate chip Girl Scout cookies. Aack!

The dog has fallen down on the job.

I could take the few remaining cookies away from him, but his beak has been all over them. Eeew.

And now there are crumbs all over the floor. At least the dog, being less choosy about beak cooties, is disposing of those. *sigh*

Nancy said...

Laurie, Iain sounds wonderful. I'll have to check that book out. The hero of Shanna, Ruark, was also in prison, for a crime he didn't commit, and was sold as a bondsman.

Dillon, the hero of Beth's wonderful A Not So Perfect Past, is an ex-con who went to jail for protecting his sister. Beth makes great use of that experience in shaping his character and conflicts.

And having been in prison makes a hero an outcast from the get-go.

Nancy said...

Dina, let us know how Terminator is, would you? I still want to see it. It isn't getting great reviews, but that doesn't necessarily mean I won't enjoy it.

The boy was big into Transformers when he was little. He loved the first movie, and I keep meaning to watch it but never seem to get there, as with so much else.

I actually missed getting Amanda Tapping's autograph at DragonCon some years ago because I was searching the dealer's room for a Transformers gift I could bring the boy. Wandering the aisles with Optimus Prime on the brain and not having much luck, I made eye contact with a dark-haired woman in an air force uniform. She smiled. I smiled back and wandered on, briefly wondering why an air force officer was sitting in the dealers room.

Only later, back at my volunteer slot, did I make the connection. Yeah, I know, I'm slow sometimes. I plead distraction. Her hair must've been dark for another role. And she's my favorite on Stargate. And she hasn't been back to DragonCon. Urk!

Anyway, the boy will definitely see Transformers, I'll see it with him if I can get the first one watched, and we're also looking forward to GI Joe.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy and Trish, this is one of my favorite topics! I tend to write outcasts of all sorts, probably because I grew up in a family straight from the Island Of Misfit Toys. *g*

One of my very favorite misfit heroes was Will Parker in LaVyrle Spencer's Morning Glory. Will had been in prison and, in rural Georgia circa 1940, no one was willing to cut him a break.

The heroine, Elly, was a misfit, too. The dreamy bastard child of a mother who was mentally broken by her fundamentalist parents, Elly had married a sweet, useless man early in life and he died when they had two small children and one on the way.

When Will takes up with Elly, everyone in the small town has grave reservations for and about each of them. Watching them heal each other and learn how to be a family is a wonderful ride.

Man, no one wrote misfits better than LaVyrle! I really wish she would write something else, but understand the lure of retirement all too well.

Minna said...

Nancy, the book is The Redemption of Althalus and it's a stand-alone fantasy novel.

Nancy said...

Caren, I have a friend who was a huge LaVyrle Spencer fan. Devoured everything she wrote, which was interesting to me because this friend tends to shy away from conflict and pain, and Spencer's books where loaded with both.

You know, my all time favorite ever book is To Kill A Mockingbird, and I've often wished Harper Lee would write something else. I read somewhere that Oprah asked her why she didn't, and Lee responded that she'd said everything she had to say.

Maybe LaVyrle did, too.

Nancy said...

Minna, thanks for the reference. The way my life is these days, I'm far readier to tackle a stand-alone than a series.

Deb Marlowe said...

Hey banditas!

Oh, great topic. I love an outsider, both in a hero and a heroine. I think it's one of the reasons I love Loretta Chase's Jessica and Dain, both misfits in their own way.

I'm a sucker for 'misfits making their own family' kind of story, too. Like in Lilo and Stitch and About a Boy. Tears me up every time!

Louisa Cornell said...

Uh oh, Nancy! The GR has already gotten the best of the dog. What WILL he get up to next?

This is a great post. I LOVE a misfit hero! Dain from Lord of Scoundrels - like Kirk in Star Trek he MADE himself a misfit.

Sebastian St. Vincent in Lisa Kleypas's Devil in Winter. Kidnaps his best friend's fiancee and secures his position as outcast.

Both Kylemore and Matthew from La Campbell's books are true outcast heroes.

All of Sabrina Jeffries Princes in that series were great outcasts.

How about Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans? One foot in the white world and one in the Native American world and not really belonging to either.

I still haven't seen Wolverine and I really want to! In fact I am so entrenched in the writing cave on my days off I can't get out to see any of the movies this summer darn it! Guess I'll have to blow the budget on the DVD's.

Oh and how about Harry Potter? There's another misfit and I REALLY want to see that movie!

Nancy said...

Deb, About a Boy is a movie I LOVE, and most people haven't seen it. Hugh Grant's character is so different from the ones he most often plays, and the growth arc is great. Like Kirk, he's a misfit because he chooses to be, though in a different way.

The evolution of the boy in that movie is wonderful, too.

Nancy said...

Louisa, congratulations on signing with your agent! That's great motivation for caving.

At the moment, the rooster is in the back yard, apparently digging. I'm not sure why. Not sure I want to know why, either. *sigh*

Since the dog is now showing no interest, I've posted the new gladiator, Marcus, to keep an eye on the GR.

Hawkeye's great. I never actually read the book, only the Classics Illustrated comic book, but I did see the movie. Daniel Day-Lewis was fabulous. And parts of it were filmed in western NC.

Another vote for Dain! Clearly, this book is in my future.

My favorite of Sabrina's princes is Alec, the fortune hunter from In the Prince's Bed. I love the bits in there with Astley's, and he has an unusual background. I put Marcus in the blog, though, because his is more a Beauty and the Beast tale.

Murdoch in Patricia Rice's wonderful Mystic Isle series is also an outcast, distrusted and feared by his people. His book is coming up in a month or so, and I'm looking forward to it. She has built him up through a couple of other books. She did the same thing with the Malcolms and Iveses, with Aidan, an outcast from his family.

Gillian Layne said...

If it goes BOOM!, I'm there! Seriously, I expect escapism and a HEA in my movies, and I love action/adventure. Transformers is pretty high on our list this summer. And I'm re-writing the whole ending to Half-blood Prince in my head, since Snape is the hero to me...:) Thank goodness for fanfiction.

jo robertson said...

Great dialogue discussion, Nancy and Trish!

I don't know if these examples are my favorites, but two I really enjoy are Tim from Colleen McCullough's novel of the same name, and Dirty Harry.

TIM, a very slender novel by McCollough of THE THORN BIRDS fame, wrote this story of a "slow," but gentle man coming of age under the tutorship of his teacher, an older woman. This was McCollough's first book and the movie's characters were played by a very young Aussie name Mel Gibson in an excellent portrayal and Piper Laurie. Anyone remember her? A beautiful woman in her youth.

Dirty Harry, of course, everyone knows; he's the quintessential maverick, played by my favorite actor Clint Eastwood. I love every one of those movies! Eastwood played the classic anti-hero to perfection.

jo robertson said...

Oh, and yes, Nancy, perfectly okay for you to capture the rooster. Hey, our our Bandita Buddies asleep on the job LOL?

Oh, yes, Pink P, Paul Newman, one of my generation's best actors. I loved him in COOL HAND LUKE; talk about a misfit bad boy!

Nancy said...

Gillian wrote: If it goes BOOM!, I'm there!

And I'm with you. Peter Jackson has a film out this summer, District 9, I think it's called, that he's promoting in his first appearance at Comic-Con (San Diego). It's about aliens in internment camps. I'm not sure it has much boom, and I'm not sure the subject is one I want to visit, as it seems likely to be allegorical.

It hasn't gotten much publicity, compared to the other SF movies coming out.

BTW, Gillian, Burn Notice has lots of boom. The hero's ex-girlfriend, who helps him on jobs, loves to blow things up.

Nancy said...

Jo, Paul Newman has won a fair number of votes today. I haven't read the McCullough books, but they sound interesting.

I remember Piper Laurie. According to imdb, she has worked a fair amount in recent years.

Yep, Eastwood is a great anti-hero.

Louisa Cornell said...

Thanks, Nancy, I am really excited about my agent and I feel like this is a HUGE step in the right direction for me.

You definitely need to read Lord of Scoundrels. I think you'll find that in addition to an outcast hero, the heroine is our kind of woman. Talk about BOOM!

The GR is digging? Never a good sign. Good luck, Marcus! I think the dog was smart to turn the job over to the gladiator!

Joan said...

Two words.

Adam. Black.

THe blackest elf from Karen Marie Moning's Highlanders series. Totally self absorbed, elevated in truth and his mind far above any mortals. Takes the heroine solely for her gift to see him and the hope to use it to return to Fairie...

And then he falls in love.


Joan said...

I LOVED Star Trek!

Loved. It.

I've seen it twice and was thinking about going again today.

I have a major boy crush on Chris Pine! Zach was great as Spock but Chris brought "just enough" of Kirk's wild boy spirit into the's what made him a premier Starship Captain after all!

Nancy said...

Louisa, the GR dug something like a small crater, about five feet across and two feet deep with earth piled up around the sides. Now he's just sitting there watching it.

Marcus feels this bodes ill. I agree.

Nancy said...

JT, this Adam sounds intriguing. As for Star Trek, come down here, and we'll go together.

Yeah, Chris Pine is seriously cute. And I agree that it was Kirk's willingness to flout the rules at times (Prime Directive, anyone?) that contributed to some of his greatest successes.

Maybe that's part of the bad boy hero, that willingness not only to think outside the box but to live outside it.

Nancy said...

I sort of wanted to see Star Trek while we were on vacation. A screen that produces a three-story-tall USS Enterprise holds tremendous appeal. But we were too busy with other things.

Barbara Monajem said...

Congrats, Louisa, on the agent!

Re misfits, don't a lot of Elizabeth Hoyt's heroes fit that bill?

Yeah, Hugo in The Unknown Ajax is adorable. And whoever mentioned some of Loretta Chase's heroes - totally agreed.

I haven't seen Star Trek yet...

Nancy said...

Barbara, you haven't seen Star Trek? Come on with Joan, and we'll all go. Anyone else?

Which Elizabeth Hoyt hero do you like best?

Nancy said...

Latest bulletin from the back yard:

Something big swooped out of the sky. Marcus ducked--though valiantly raising his trident, as even the rooster admits--and when he straightened, there was a giant egg sitting on its wide end in the crater. It looks sort of like abalone and is about five feet high, with proportional girth and an iridescent shimmer.

The rooster is now sitting on top of it. The dog is barking like she senses the end of the world, and Marcus is standing in the "on guard" position and scowling.

I don't think I like this.

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Trish & Nancy! I love outcast heroes. Is it dating myself terribly to admit how much I loved Christian Slater in Heathers? Then again, he's kind of an antihero. Didn't he have to get blown up in the end? Hmmmm.

I also had/have a thing for James Spader in Pretty in Pink. He was SO mean and yet so suave & slippery at the same time. A little like Alan Rickman in Robin Hood. So gleefully bad, how can a girl resist?

I think maybe what I like about all these characters is how they put a girl in touch with her inner bad girl. Even if in the end she chooses to walk away from him & the bad influence he's become, he's initially wildly attractive because of the intoxicating freedom from social mores he offers. There's something so liberating about a bad boy.

But in the end, if he's too bad, you have to kick him to the curb. But while you're together, what a ride, you know?

Thanks, Nancy & Trish, for a great blog today!

Louisa Cornell said...

Oooh Smoov! Love that analysis of the attraction of the bad guy! And you are SO right. Rickman was just to die for deliciously evil in Robin Hood!

Thanks, Barbara!

Nancy, in reference to the GR. Be afraid. Be very afraid! No good will come of this egg sitting!

Nancy said...

Susan, I'd forgotten Christian Slater. He has a history of bad boy heroes. I loved his Air Force pilot in Broken Arrow, which also stars Samantha Mathis as a gutsy park ranger and John Travolta as a truly despicable villain.

That's an interesting point about bad boys bringing out the bad in good girls. Wild rides can be appealing. Unfortunately, some people have trouble with the kicking to the curb bit.

And in a romance, of course, true loves tames the wild side. :-)

Nancy said...

Louisa, I also don't see a good purpose. The GR is a boy chicken, y'know, so what's he doing sitting up there? I know some male birds nest-sit, but I didn't think chickens were among them.

Marcus has called in Demetrius for backup, and they're both watching the GR egg-sit. The dog, having totally lost interest, is asleep.

At least they're all being quiet.

Lynz Pickles said...

Nancy: drat, you mentioned Dillon before I could! I adore an outcast hero, but even more so one who doesn't really deserve the treatment he's received but doesn't go out of his way to clear his name. There's something about him being resigned to his fate - at least until the heroine shows up and gives him hope - that I adore.

I think my favourite outcast hero is the Beast, in almost any version of the story. I also have some outcast heroines that I love... Yelena from the Study series, for example - you could argue that Valek's also an outcast but it's just not the same - and Lissla from Robin McKinley's Deerskin. They're both so strong, and they've gained that by not having anyone to depend upon.

Minna said...

And what about Han Solo from Star Wars?

Nancy said...

Lynz wrote: I adore an outcast hero, but even more so one who doesn't really deserve the treatment he's received but doesn't go out of his way to clear his name.

That's a perfect description of Dillon. I know Beth will be pleased you liked him so much.

The not wanting to clear his name puts the hero, to me, in a position where he doesn't care about the approval of others. He's convinced he doesn't need it, and sometimes that lets him do what others won't.

Nancy said...

Minna, Han is a great example! What is it Leia calls him? A "scoundrel?"

Nancy said...

Lynz, since the Beast is a hugely popular archetype, I think a lot of people agree with you. His transformation is external as well as internal and very dramatic on both fronts. Maybe that's part of the appeal.

We liked the latest Disney version. Beast did something wrong and paid hugely for it, becoming a better man in the process (and worthy of Belle).

Minna said...

Lynz's comment made me remember Simon Basset from The Duke and I by Julia Quinn.

Minna said...

Nancy, in the other versions of Beauty and the Beast I've seen, the beast is a good man to begin with, but because he has everything, nice kingdom included, some evil witch gets jealous about it and turns him into a beast.

Nancy said...

Minna, what you're describing sounds more like the version I remember, too. I haven't seen the Disney film in years and probably should take another look at it.

Lynz Pickles said...

The Disney version did change things from the original, that's for sure. For example, to differentiate it from Cinderella, they cut out the stepsisters. In the original, Belle has two of them, and the father s a rich merchant. He loses all his wealth, but one day one of his ships comes in to harbour, loaded with expensive goods. He heads into town after asking each daughter what she'd like him to get. The stepsibs both want gowns and jewels, but Belle simply wants a rose, since none grow in the area where they live. The father is unable to get any of the gifts when his ship is seized to pay his debts, but when he stays at the Beast's castle, he takes the rose so he can at least give one daughter a present. The Beast asks Belle to marry him every night, but he doesn't have a limited amount of time or anything, he just loves her, and the evil fairy turned him into a beast because he wouldn't sleep with her - totally NOT Disney-worthy, that. Anyway, the original and the Disney version are so different that they're practically different stories.

Nancy said...

Matthew, the hero of Christie's latest book, Every Time We Kiss, is also an outcast. He took the blame for something the heroine accidentally did, and the secret ties them together in painful and intriguing ways.

Nancy said...

Lynz, thanks for the summary. They do sound very different.

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, that was some quick sleight of hand there! Congratulations.

What a great post, girls! Really enjoyed it. As you can probably guess, I have a vast soft spot for misfit heroes. I think if I looked at my faves, the list would have to include Francis Crawford, Lord Dain, the Duke of Jervaulx, ST from The Prince of Midnight, Rupert from Mr. Impossible - misfits all! It's such a powerful emotional arc - the difficult, disaffected man of enormous talent who comes into his own through the course of the story. Works a treat every time!

Anna Campbell said...

Lynz, I'm a beast fan too! It's my favorite fairytale!

Thanks for the mention of Matthew and Kylemore, Louisa. Definitely misfit heroes. Wait till you meet Gideon!

Oh, and I take issue (very politely) with your claim that Dain made himself a misfit. His father's cruelty sets him off and his half-Italian blood makes him feel very out of place, not to mention the fact that he's a bit of a hobgoblin as a kid. I think he takes the rejection and throws it back in society's teeth because he's so proud. It's a great depiction!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, serves me right for reading the posts backwards! Thanks, Nancy and Annie and Helen, for mentioning my guys so kindly. I think it's fairly obvious I find the outcast hero utterly fascinating. I described it once as the lone wolf prowling outside the light of the campfire.

The Unknown Ajax is one of my fave Heyers. Along with Venetia which has another outcast hero - again one who's done it to himself. Hmm, that didn't come out right!

Barbara Monajem said...

My favorite Elizabeth Hoyt hero (so far) is Simon in The Serpent Prince. He's so tormented! I have her latest, To Beguile a Beast, but haven't read it yet.

Other misfits that spring to mind are Miles Vorkosigan and Francis Crawford of Lymond.

Jeez, Nancy, your place sounds lively today. I'll have to try for the rooster one day when I need some excitement. What's going on now?

Lynz Pickles said...

Anna: glad to see another Beast fan. Do you have any favourite re-tellings of it? I really like both of Robin McKinley's, Rose Daughter and Beauty.

Back on the outcast heroes topic, how did I manage to not mention Nicholas Brisbane from Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series? He's so dreamy~~ *lost to fantasy-land*

Helen said...


I am with you as well I loved Iain Mackinnon and Morgan as well I loved those 2 books and yes Nancy you should read them.

There have been some wonderful heros mentioned don't you just love them all it is so hard to choose a favoutite.

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Barbara, great to see another Francis Crawford fan. He really is the ultimate hero, isn't he? And SOOOO tortured!

Lynz, I think Lord of Scoundrels is Beauty and the Beast retold. And then of course, there's Judith Ivory's brilliant Beast with her scarred French aristocrat hero. She did a few books where she consciously linked stories to fairytales. Beauty is another based on Sleeping Beauty. Flowers from the Storm definitely has Beauty and the Beast elements. Hmm, can you think of more?

Lynz Pickles said...

Anna: I recently read The Princess and the Hound - bought it, actually, because it was so pretty, and because the cover said it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It wasn't, exactly, but sort of was at the same time... hmm. And back to Robin McKinley, I'd have to say that her latest offering, Chalice, could qualify, too. I've been dying to read Belle by Cameron Dokey, but haven't gotten around to picking up a copy yet, sadly. And of course, there's Elizabeth Hoyt's latest, To Beguile a Beast. There's also Beast by Donna Jo Napoli - I read it when I was about twelve, I think. It was my first Beast re-telling. The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey puts an interesting twist on the tale, as well. And while I know that Edith Pattou's East is really based on East of the Sun and West of the Moon, I can't help but find traditional Beast elements in it.

Aaaanyway, there are a TON of novels with Beast elements to them, whether the influence is blatant enough that they're classified as re-tellings or subtle enough that only Beast addicts would notice.

Nancy said...

Anna, you're right. Any list of outcast heroes has to include the wonderful, tormented Francis Crawford of Lymond. I think those books were recently reissued.

For those who are NOT Lymond fanatics but may be curious, the books are:

The Game of Kings
Queens' Play
The Disorderly Knights
Pawn in Frankincense
The Ringed Castle

Reading them in order is absolutely essential, and no peeking at the end of book six! They're not the most upbeat books I've ever read, but the payoff was astounding! The redemption of a ruined hero, at last.

Nancy said...

Anna wrote, of the outcast hero: I described it once as the lone wolf prowling outside the light of the campfire.

This reminded me of another outcast hero, Fitzchivalry Farseer in Robin Hobb's wonderful Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies. A royal bastard, not really wanted by his kin, Fitz is trained as an assassin but also possesses the family magical gifts.

The reason this reminded me of Fitz is that he has a wolf familiar, Nighteyes. At one point, Nighteyes seeks the company of other wolves and has to prowl the edges of the pack's territory waiting for an invitation to join them.

The Farseer trilogy:

Assassin's Apprentice
Royal Assassin
Assassin's Quest

The Tawny Man trilogy

Fool's Errand
Golden Fool
Fool's Fate

Reading these in order also is essential.

Nancy said...

Anna, I'm not sure I ever read Venetia. I've lost track and will have to check. The first Heyer I ever read was Regency Buck. Soon after, I read Sweet Charity, Fredericka, The Unknown Ajax and Bath Tangle. The heroes in those aren't exactly outcasts.

Nancy said...

Barbara, thanks for the recommendation! I also love Miles Vorkosigan. Sometimes I cheer him on, and sometimes I want to smack him upside the head, but I always keep reading. I think we're about due for a new Miles book.

For those unfamiliar with him, Miles's first adventures are combined in the Baen volume Young Miles, which includes two novels and a novella. Miles lives in a society where all the aristocratic sons go into the military, only he can't. Thanks to a gas attack on his mother when she was pregnant with him, he has brittle bones, a twisted spine, a too-large head, and a short body. But an absolutely brilliant mind.

To make matters worse, his father and grandfather are two of the planet's greatest military heroes. We meet Miles in Warrior's Apprentice (now available only in that combined volume) as he goes over the obstacle course at the Imperial Military Academy, lands, and breaks both legs, washing out of the entrance exams.

So what's the physically frail scion of such a heroic line to do?

Make his own place . . . with boom galore!

Just FYI, Lois McMaster Bujold will be at DragonCon this year. For her, I will brave the lines in Main Programming.

Nancy said...

Barbara, you asked what's happening. Blessed nothing, at the moment. The GR is asleep on top of the egg, the gladiators are chatting, and the dog has dragged the dh off on neighborhood patrol.

Nancy said...

Lynz, Brisbane is great, isn't he? Our favorite McKinleys are The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. I also like Sunshine, a magic and vampire tale for adults. It's a very dark book.

Annie West said...

Hi Nancy,

Well, treat yourself and read 'Mr Impossible' when you have time. Rupert C isn't an outcast but he's a misfit and he brings such pleasure as he causes mayhem wherever he goes, especially in the hearts of well bred young ladies!

Nancy said...

Helen, looks as though those books are in my future ('cause the TBR pile is so dwindling. . . not! *sigh*). And yes, I do think it's hard to choose a favorite hero.

Helen said...

OK I have Mr Impossible here on the TBR pile perhaps I should move it up Annie

Have Fun

Nancy said...

Annie, it's looking as though Mr. Impossible, also is in my future.

I do love mayhem, y'know.

Nancy said...

Anna, Flowers from the Storm sounds familiar. Isn't that Laura Kinsale? I think I read that some years back. I saw somewhere that she had a new book coming out.

Lynz Pickles said...

Nancy: yes, Brisbane is indeed great. Any time I lend one of my Lady Julia Greys out, I warn the friend who's borrowing it that I read about him first, ergo, he's mine. Well, apart from the fact that he's technically Julia's.

As for McKinley, I love... well, everything by her. But the Damar books hold a special place in my heart, since they were the first ones I read, along with Spindle's End. I'm glad to find someone else who likes Sundshine - so many people are put off by the ending, but I like it. It leaves so many possibilities open, and I get to imagine what happens next, which makes for a happy Lynz.

Christine Wells said...

Great post you two! Thanks for the run down on the movies this summer. I love Anne Stuart's books, and a lot of her heroes are outcasts--some for very good reason! Ah, and who could forget the most romantic outcast of all, Heathcliff. Sigh.

Woohoo, Nancy got the GR! Congrats!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy and Deb, About a Boy is a movie I love. I know people who loathe it, though. I think you have to be willing and able to understand misfits in all their many guises to really enjoy that movie. And you must like your protagonists profoundly flawed, which I do! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Gillian, I'll admit to being perturbed that Snape comes down on the bad side in Half-Blood Prince. I think his ambiguity - a true chameleon character if ever there was one - is what makes Snape so great.

Caren Crane said...

Okay, I agree with everyone about Dain in Lord Of Scoundrels. Actually, you could pick ANY Loretta Chase book and find a misfit. She specializes in them! They are all not quite like those around them, which makes them delicious!

I have two copies of LOS and need to pull one out and read it again. After I read Mr. Impossible!

Nancy said...

Lynz, I taught Sunshine a couple of times. The students generally liked it, but this last bunch almost uniformly loathed it. Didn't like the writing style, hated the character's voice, couldn't get into it.

Maybe they're used to vampires that are sort of cool and Goth, which Con, Beau, and the others clearly are not.

Also, the students complained that it was too long. Reading a mass market paperback in two weeks is something many of them consider arduous. Ultimately, that's their loss, and it's not like I don't bring all the books to class and display them the first day, but I was disappointed not to have a good discussion like we did the other times.

Caren Crane said...

Joanie, I must disagree with you on the Chris Pine vs. Zachary Quinto. Zach totally wins, hands down! All that control, with the all-too-human emotion barely contained beneath it. Gah! That boy made Spock a total hottie. He had what Leonard Nimoy never did: charisma.

Nancy said...

Christine, Heathcliff is the ultimate brooding bad boy. Really bad sometimes. I hated that book in high school but read it again as an adult and appreciated the dynamics more.

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, congratulations on landing an agent! That is a huge milestone. I hope you celebrate!

Nancy said...

Caren, I don't think About a Boy did all that well at the box office, maybe because of the factors you mention and maybe also because Hugh Grant's character is such a deviation from what people expect of him. I think he's a fine actor, but his attempts to break out of romantic comedy haven't been well received.

It really is a movie of misfits. Toni Collette was good in it, too, as the boy's mother.

Nancy said...

Caren, I agree that Snape's complexity is what makes the character. The movie people were wise to cast a chameleon actor like Alan Rickman to play the role. I expect him to be marvelous in Half Blood Prince.

Caren Crane said...

I ADORE Christian Slater. Please reference earlier blogs where I spewed about Untamed Heart. He has always been so left of center. I love that! He was the best part of Heathers, which was WAY ahead of its time as far as teen films go. No one was studying cliques and mean girls then. I heard they're making a sequel. I'm sure it won't be as good!

Nancy said...

Caren, I must respectfully disagree with you about Nimoy. I thought his Spock had plenty of charisma. I will be braving the undoubtedly honkin' huge lines to see him at DragonCon.

Just so everyone knows, I hate, loathe, and detest being in lines.

But while I do think Pine's Kirk was spot on, Spock seems more complex to me. The actor has to do both emotion and restraint and not come across as weird, and I think Quinto did that extremely well.

For that matter, his character on Heroes has developed a certain Snape-like complexity, sometimes on the side of the angels and sometimes not.

Nancy said...

The egg is sort of quivering now, and the GR is hopping up and down all around it, and the gladiators are circling warily with weapons at the ready.

The dog is nowhere in sight. As a GR control, she has failed utterly.

Caren Crane said...

Lynz, I LOVE the Lady Jane Grey books. She has a whole family FULL of misfits, never mind Nicholas! *g* That series appealed to me right away because of her loony family.

Nancy said...

Caren, the boy's opinion is that sequels are frequently inferior. I tend to agree with him. Very rarely does a sequel equal or best the original. I think the trick with long-running franchises like Bond (currently playing on USA in the eastern US time zone) is that every one has to be good enough to get repeat business. They can afford the occasional let-down but only just.

A bit of trivia: According to MGM, Stargate is second only to Bond in franchise value to the studio.

I agree with you about Lady Julia's family. I love the fact that they have a rabbit--er, hare--as their mascot!

Caren Crane said...

Sorry, meant Julia, not Jane. That's what I get for trying to remember things. *g* The books are fabulous, though!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, dark is falling here in the Eastern USA and you have gladiators around a large egg in your back yard? may want to arm yourself. You never know what the GR is concocting!

Nancy said...

Caren, you have a good point about darkness, gladiators, and the GR. The egg is rocking. Marcus and Demetrius have taken up defensive positions behind the pitiful cover of the patio wall, and the GR is flapping around like someone who's had too many Red Bulls.

The dog now refuses to go outside. I've turned on the lights and am monitoring from the kitchen.

Lynz Pickles said...

Nancy: Call it the Twilight effect. I know it's a best-seller, I know it's got teens reading again, but I honestly despise that series. Every teenage girl I talk to who got into reading because of Twilight is in love with Edward Cullen and believes that vampire lit is the only genre worth reading. In Stephenie Meyer's favour, I will admit that her writing style improved DRAMATICALLY throughout the series, and that The Host was actually good. But reading a book about a constantly breathless teenage girl - honestly, every time she looks at Edward, Bella stops breathing because he's sooo attractive - who's in love with a hundred-year-old vampire with semi-abusive tendencies - he disables her car to stop her from visiting someone he doesn't approve of - is not high up there on my list of priorities.

Given that I'll often spend a Saturday reading several mass-market paperbacks - by which I mean from start to finish in one sitting, for multiple books - I don't understand how having two weeks to read one book is arduous... but then again, that admission probably says more about my social life than anything else could. Maybe they actually had things to do outside of the house. Out in that big, scary, non-book-filled world. *shudders*

Caren and Nancy: Yes, Julia's family is awesome. Except for the eldest brother. I don't like him, even when I know he's just being responsible. The rest of the family is so attuned to modern-day sensibilities that I get annoyed when anyone tries to interfere with them. I feel so sorry for Portia, though, in Silent on the Moor - not going to say anything more for fear of giving spoilers, but I adore her and wish things could've been different.

Joan said...

I think Spock as portrayed by Nimoy held a certain allure as opposed to charisma. He was in control of his emotions yet the hint of the possibilities beneath his logical exterior did no less than pique the intellect and entice with the challenge of bringing out the bad boy.....

Which was done in "An Amok Time".


Perhaps it is more a maturity thing when comparing the two Spock incarnations?

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I'm late to my own co-blog! I tried to sign on late last night, but my hotel's Internet connection was out. Then I've been on the road all day today, doing a bit of on-site research for a future book and beginning the trek south from Wisconsin toward home. But I'm here now, and about to start perusing the comments. I love this topic.

Oh, and Nancy, I love Burn Notice. I just finished season 1, and my TiVo was set to record season 2 and the premiere of season 3 while I've been away from home.

Nancy said...

Lynz, I haven't tried to read Twilight, so I know almost nothing about it. In general, I don't gravitate toward vampire books though there are some series I like a lot. I bought Sunshine because of McKinley, and I think one reason I like it is because the vampires are not cool and sexy but scary. Other people are welcome to devour all things vampire; it just isn't my first choice.

The boy gave Twilight a shot and didn't care for it. Of course, he's not the target audience for those books.

I also read very fast. A mass market paperback is an afternoon for me, not a week. Even in school, I read a couple of novels a week. I suspect the competing options for entertainment, many of which don't require reading, have resulted in an overall slower reading rate due to lack of practice.

If I didn't think enrollment would tank, I'd do a novel a week in my class.

Nancy said...

Trish, welcome back! I hope the trip was smooth and you saw interesting things along the way.

Another Burn Notice fan, yay! I missed the Season 3 premiere. I was sitting on the tarmac at the airport, waiting for a gate so we could deplane, when it started. By the time we claimed luggage and got home, the show was over. We are primitive and do not yet Tivo, alas.

My project is to get you started on Miles Vorkosigan's adventures. You really should, you know, so as to be ready for DragonCon. :-)

Nancy said...

Egg update: It has hatched. A little gray dragon popped out, ate the dogwood tree the blight killed, and incinerated the eggshell.

In an ironically fortunate turn of events, it seems to have imprinted on the GR, the first thing it saw (and one of the last creatures I would recommend as a role model), and is now following him around. Since he doesn't eat combustibles, there should be no more fires for a while.

It says its gender is female, its name is Iolanthe and it, er, she doesn't yet know what color she'll be.

Marcus and Demetrius are carefully herding all concerned back to the lair, so I assume the excitement is over. Except for the dog, who's sniffing around the crater in a bewildered way.

Nancy said...

Speaking of Vampires, True Blood is preparing to start its 2nd season on HBO. I like those books, too. They also feature scary vampires, but Bill Compton is another outcast hero. He isn't accepted by most humans because he's a vampire, lost Sookie because of vampire politics and customs, but isn't at home among vampires because he still shares so many human codes of behavior.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Helen, Harry Potter is a bit of an outcast hero, isn't he? Even though he has friends and the DA, he's still the only one who can do what has to be done. He was an outcast in the Muggle world and still one by virtue of being "the boy who lived" in the wizarding world.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Dina, I'm looking forward to the new Transformers too. I really enjoyed the first one. Have to admit I was surprised by how well they did with that movie. When I first heard they were doing a Transformers movie, I thought it could have had high suck potential. :)

Nancy said...

Trish wrote: When I first heard they were doing a Transformers movie, I thought it could have had high suck potential. :)

This was my thought as well, but the people I know who saw it either in the theater or on video said it was very well done. The boy loved it, but his "love it" threshold is a little lower than mine. I plan to sit down with his copy and watch before the new one comes out.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Caren said: I grew up in a family straight from the Island Of Misfit Toys. *g*

LOL, Caren! You have such a great turn of phrase.

That book by LaVryle sounds great. I'm going to have to get that. I think I have her "Years" in my TBR pile.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Deb, I'm totally with you on loving the "misfits making their own family" type of story.

Louisa, I love Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans -- well, the movie version with Daniel Day-Lewis anyway. I have to admit I couldn't get through the book.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Wait, Louisa signed with an agent? I need deets. I've been so out of the loop the past week with being on the road and attending a conference that I'm lucky to know what city I'm in.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Nancy, LOL. I love how Fiona loves to blow stuff up and shoot stuff.

I hadn't heard about District 9, but it sounds very interesting.

I'm loving the accounts of the GR's antics today.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

JT, I love how you have a boy crush on Chris Pine. I like him too, but I really, really like Karl Urban as Bones. Such a good portrayal, but I like Karl in other things too (LOTR, even the awful Doom).

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Caren, somehow I've missed you talking about Untamed Heart before, but I really like that movie. I need to pull it out and re-watch it. If it still works, that is. It's so old that I have it recorded from TV on a VHS tape. :)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I just thought of another great misfit hero -- Johnny Depp's character in Benny & Joon. I love that movie.

Like Nancy, I'll be braving some honking big lines at DragonCon this year. I did it last year and it was worth it. I even got up one morning after only getting 4 hours of sleep and sat in a line for 2 hours to get it to see Tahmoh Penikett (Helo from Battlestar Galactica) talk about his new show, Dollhouse -- which now that I think about it has him cast as an outcast hero, Paul Ballard, an FBI agent whose colleagues think he's crazy for believing the nefarious Dollhouse exists. Anyway, I was rewarded with a seat on the front row and got to meet him and have my photo taken with him later. Yes, I am a geek girl. :)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

And speaking of outcast vampires, what about Angel, the vampire with a soul? Oh, dreamy sigh.

LOL on a dragon hatching in the back yard.

Oh, and I have started the Vorkosigan books -- the first first of the prequels to the Miles books. I'm one of those people who has to read stuff in order.

You might be able to see the Burn Notice premiere online, don't know.

Nancy said...

Trish, Karl Urban was great as McCoy. His portrayal was very unlike DeForrest Kelley's, but that's okay. It was warm and funny and cynical.

I really have to get back to that movie.

Glad you liked the GR's adventures. We'll see how Iolanthe works out.

I have never been on the front row at any DragonCon panel. Or even the front half of the room. Getting there requires more patience than I usually possess. That's a great picture of you with Penikett, though.

And he is a serious cutie. His character on BSG was sort of an outcast, too--married a Cylon, bucked the evil doctor, and all that.

Lynz Pickles said...

Trish: do I see a fellow Dollhouse fan? (:

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I loved Sunshine, and I was so bummed there were no other books after it. :(

And I did have a good and interesting day. After leaving the WisRWA conference, where I spoke yesterday, I drove out to picturesque Door County -- which is the county out on the end of the thumb of Wisconsin that juts out into Lake Michigan. Lots of cute little bayside villages, and a nice drive along the lakeshore side on the way bake. Only bad things were I wish I'd had more time, and it was COLD! It was in the 40s, cloudy and very windy. I about froze. Had to stop to buy a hot chocolate and turn on the heat in the car.

Nancy said...

Trish, you've started the Vorkosigans? Yay! I just know you're going to like them. And I do recommend reading in order. Shards of Honor and Barrayar can be read later since they're prequels, but they should be read in that order.

Miles's adventures really go better if read in order. I couldn't read them that way because I couldn't easily find some of the books and the combined editions weren't yet out, but I think in order is better.

Let me know when you get to Memory, which I thought was one of the best books I'd ever read.

Now we need to get some of the other SF-oriented banditas to read them.

Bujold was a Star Trek fan, by the way.

Burn Notice is on now. Just took a quick break from watching.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Lynz, I am indeed a Dollhouse fan. I have lots of friends who don't care for Eliza, but I actually really like her. I'm so glad they renewed it. If they'd done to this what they did to Firefly (OH! More outcast heroes!), my hair was going to catch on fire.

Lynz Pickles said...

Well, I'm glad your hair's still safe, then. I would've been incredibly angry if they'd Firefly'ed it, too. What happened to Firefly was just unfair.

I like Eliza, too, which surprised me. It took me about two episodes to remember where I recognized her from (she played a role in Bring It On! but once I got past that annoying niggling sensation that results from not knowing where you know someone from, I started to like her.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I liked Eliza when she played Faith on Buffy and Angel. Now, I didn't always like Faith, but I liked Eliza's portrayal.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Lynz, thanks for that list! I'll check them out.

I love Hawkeye too - but most of you know that already! Like Trish, I tried to read the book and just couldn't get through it.

Nancy said...

Yep, Firefly had even more outcast heroes. Which makes Richard Castle, who knows everybody, quite a switch.

That does it for me today. Good night, all.