Fantasy lore is full of stories of the knight captain, or a knight in a position of leadership and authority. We remember with fondness such tales because the knight captain commonly represents the best of all of us. The warrior leader is often someone who encompasses all that is good with humans, everything that we would want to be, yet also carrying most of the baggage and frailties that make us human.
- An authoritative or interesting leader
As his rank or title imply, the knight captain is often placed in a position of leadership. He is usually looked up to by his followers and subordinates. This makes him a slight cut above the ordinary warrior. He has people who look up to him for leadership and guidance. Early on in the story, his qualities of leadership must be displayed, or at least foreshadowed. The knight captain must give his followers and the readers reasons to look up to him, or at least to make him interesting. The warrior leader must draw us into his story and make us care for him.
He does not even need to be of a specific rank. The warrior leader is often a tough fighter, having learned how to lead in battle. However, he does not necessarily need to be a great leader from the beginning and can even display real frailties early on. By the end, though, as long as the knight captain leads, his followers must follow.
- A human with weakness
The knight captain is best portrayed not as an infallible warrior leader, but as a struggling human being in a position of authority. The weaknesses can be anything. And the knight captain does not even need to be truly “human.” With William H. Hahn’s the Ring and the Flag, Knight Captain Justin, is an all too human elf with a big chip on his shoulder. It is his sense of shame and his disgraced family name that haunts him; a sense of shame not completely deserved. Young Justin was guilty of only being loyal to a deposed regime of disguised demons. Regardless of how unfair he has been thusly labeled, Justin has a chance at redemption in a highly dangerous and secret mission that he may not return from.
Any great hero can only become great if there is a sense of redemption or vindication at the end. This rule is no different with the knight captain. The warrior leader must prove himself true to his mission in some way or form. He must show the readers that he is worthy of his title by somehow conquering his demons and being true to himself. He must become greater than he and he must fulfill his potential.
It does not even need to be a public victory with much fanfare. It can be something private and personal. This does not minimize the hero’s achievement. Sometimes it can even sweeten it and make it an even more satisfying ride for the reader.
About the Author
Will Hahn has been in love with heroic tales since age four, when his father read him the Lays of Ancient Rome and the Tales of King Arthur. He taught Ancient-Medieval History for years, but the line between this world and others has always been thin; the far reaches of fantasy, like the distant past, still bring him face to face with people like us, who have choices to make.
Will didn’t always make the right choices when he was young. Any stick or vaguely-stick like object became a sword in his hands, to the great dismay of his five sisters. Everyone survived, in part by virtue of a rule forbidding him from handling umbrellas, ski poles, curtain rods and more.
Will has written about the Lands of Hope since his college days (which by now are also part of ancient history). His first tales include “Three Minutes to Midnight” a slightly-dark sword and sorcery novelette, and the first two tales in the Shards of Light series, entitled “The Ring and the Flag” and “Fencing Reputation”.
You can find a free Compendium of information about the Lands, including maps of the Lands, on his website at www.WilliamLHahn.com).
If you want to know more about Will, you can check the following:
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