Guest Post and Giveaway with Tracy Falbe

I have the pleasure of having Tracy Falbe here today. She is the author of several fantasy fiction novels including Union of Renegades and The Goddess Queen.  Today she'll be sharing with us the value of side-kicks:

Heroes need help - My salute to the sidekick
By Tracy Falbe

Not every hero has one, but they all could use a trustworthy friend who will stick by him or her no matter what. You may think that heroes must face danger alone and surmount great odds through individual brawn or intellect, but when I look at fiction, I see many dependable sidekicks. As Frodo declared at the end of the movie The Two Towers, "Frodo would not have gotten far without Sam."

I'm not in love with the term sidekick. It minimizes these important characters that break heroes out of prison, find antidotes to poison, take bullets, and generally act as action hero secretaries. Many hero-enablers are on almost equal standing with their more-frequently-kissed counterparts. Spock from Star Trek comes to mind. Captain Kirk blatantly relied on Spock to handle the technical details.

From a writer's perspective, hero friends as I call them serve important narrative roles. Let's consider a few.

1. For starters they obviously give a hero someone to talk to and confide in. It's hard to write dialogue for someone who is alone. Chewbacca in Star Wars was entirely privy and sympathetic to the problems of Han Solo. Perhaps not the best conversational example, but Han Solo certainly told Chewbacca everything.

2. Hero-friends are also there to give criticism. Cocky heroes overreach and often have to cajole their loyal compadres into supporting reckless plans. And when disaster strikes, the hero-friend can come to the rescue. In the French classic The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, the serving men of D'Artagna and the musketeers are constantly fighting alongside their masters, delivering messages to mistresses, and helping to dodge innkeepers who want to be paid for all the wine that was consumed. All this despite poor treatment and nonexistent pay.

3. Hero-friends create for readers another avenue of connection for experiencing the hero. It's fun to imagine filling a hero's shoes, but the role of the supportive friend is often more familiar to people. We all have people relying on us, and many of us work hard to make others shine within our families or in our work lives. We are also drawn to the concept of loyalty. People innately value loyalty, and the hero-friend embodies loyalty.

4. The hero-friend is a method for decoding the brilliance of the hero. Some heroes are geniuses and comprehending their rapid-fire brain power can elude mere mortals. The hero-friend asks questions and thereby provides a means within the narrative for the hero to explain how he or she has just so brilliantly saved the world. Doctor Who has been accompanied by a series of sidekicks over the years. He's always explaining his actions to them. Sometimes he's even a little snippy about it.

As a writer of fantasy novels I soon discovered that a hero needs a friend. I was initially inspired when I recalled from the Epic of Gilgamesh that Gilgamesh had a friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh was a king and Enkidu was a wild man. Gilgamesh represented urban civilization and Enkidu embodied humanity's roots in the Earth. This pairing revealed to me how even the more sophisticated individual is improved by realizing his or her connection to the natural world. In battle Gilgamesh could not defeat Enkidu because Enkidu was part of the unadulterated power of Nature, and Gilgamesh recognized that he must be a loyal friend to this power and stay on its side.

I think in general the fictional hero represents daring and experimentation. The steadfast strength of the hero-friend is there to support and sometimes to save. The hero-friend wants to be part of the possibilities of the hero, and the hero-friend helps us share in the adventure. Every knight needs a squire, someone who can take the keys when he's had too much to drink or come in blazing when a hero is inevitably betrayed by a beautiful spy or something like that.

We all need friends, and heroes do too.

In the fantasy fiction by Tracy Falbe friendships matter just as much as heroics. She is the author of Union of Renegades, The Goddess Queen, Judgment Rising, and The Borderlands of Power that comprise The Rys Chronicles fantasy series.

Fantasy readers can sample the first novel Union of Renegades by downloading a free copy from her website Paperbacks available too.

All her fantasy novels are also widely available at major online retailers.

Be sure to check out Tracy Falbe's blog | website | twitter

Tracy has generously agreed to give away the first book in The Rys Chronicles, The Union of Renegades to one lucky person. 

 Dreibrand Veta has killed for his country. At the frontlines of imperial expansion, he seeks to rebuild the fortune of his noble family. In his daring travels he encounters the rys, a race far more powerful than the human empire that bred him. Dreibrand cannot defy the rys Queen Onja nor defend his companion, Miranda, and her children from the wicked tyrant Queen.Desperate for help, Dreibrand and Miranda join Shan, a rys with emerging powers who plans to challenge Onja. In Shan’s pursuit of the rys throne, he exerts his magical powers, gathers his allies, and incites rebellion among Onja’s human subjects.Great wealth and power will reward the kings, warriors, and spies that align themselves with the rys pretender, but defeat could mean worse than death. Onja can imprison souls and her genocidal rage is legendary. Everything is at risk for Shan’s union of renegades.

Giveaway Rules:
1. You must be over 13 years to enter.
2. This giveaway is US residents only.
3. Please check out my giveaway policy.
4. You don't have to be a follower to enter.
5. Giveaway ends March 2, 2011
6. You MUST fill out the form.

*pictures and summary taken from Tracy Falbe's website