Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Hero's Guide

Ok, time for a little quiz. How many of these characters can you name?

Not difficult? I thought so.

Now for the hard part. How many of these characters can you name (and I mean real first names, not titles)?

Let's see, Shang, Flynn, humm, ummm, Prince..., Charming?, well..., I think..., Ha! Aladdin, and John Smith.


These guys go through life collectively known as "Charming." In fact, things have gotten so bad that no one knows their real names anymore. (Disney Wiki says they are, from left to right, Shang, Flynn, Adam, Eric, Ferdinand, Charming, Phillip, Naveen, Aladdin, & John Smith.) They are simply flat, interchangeable characters. They are called heroes, but, well, honestly, what heroics have they actually accomplished?

They need some help. They need to perform some real heroics.

Fortunately, unlike the lousy bards responsible for most of the above stories (and who forgot to even name the princes), Christopher Healy has written the "happily ever after" from their perspective. It's aptly called The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.

In it, you'll meet the self-assured Prince Liam, the foppish Prince Frederic, the absent-minded Prince Duncan, and the muscular but insecure Prince Gustav (he has sixteen older brothers, each more muscular than he), as well as their respective princesses Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel. This group has not only names, but also distinct personalities.

Unfortunately, what the princes don't have at this beginning of happily ever after, is princesses. You see, after the initial thrill of being in a fairy tale wore off, all the princesses discovered that their princes were rather, well, immature. So, by means of various happenstances, all four princes end up together, lamenting their troubles with their princesses.

Which is when danger strikes. And, as the title would suggest, they need to rise above their slights and save their kingdom (with the help, of course, of their princesses). Along the way they learn the importance of heroism and bravery, their princesses learn that they may have misjudged their princes to quickly, and we learn that not all the princesses were accurately portrayed either in the common tellings.

Not that this is a moralizing tale, however. It is tongue-in-cheek fairy tale in one of the best senses (right alongside Dealing with Dragons), and is full of giants, bandits, ruffians, witches, and kingdoms that need saving. And, as would be expected, this is only the beginning of their adventures. Because once the kingdom has been saved, we're ready for The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle.

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