Saturday, June 6, 2015

Story Saturday: Heroes Assemble!

Who's your favorite Argonaut?*

I'm a sucker for teams of heroes. I am not sure why, but ever since I started reading legends and mythology, I can not get enough stories about groups of warriors, bards, demigods and other misfits teaming up for great adventures. I am enchanted by group dynamics. Fascinated with combat cooperation. And just all-around happy that I could find stories where interesting characters got together for a gig.
(In case you were wondering: I read mythology way before I read comics, so I guess I liked the X-men and the Avengers because I liked team myths, not the other way around)

So, for today's Story Saturday post, here is a list of my all-time favorite hero teams from world folklore and mythology. In no particular order.

1. The Fianna
People following this blog are probably starting to get the idea that I have a Fianna fixation. They are right.
Culture of origin: Celtic (mainly Irish, but there are a lot of Scottish stories too)
What I like about them: They walk between worlds like I walk to the grocery store. Also, they need to know fighting AND poetry to get in.
Favorite members: Oisín, Fionn, and Caoilte, in THAT particular order.
Book recommendations: Lady Gregory's Gods and Fighting Men, and Rosemary Suttcliff's High Deeds of Finn mac Cool

2. The Argonauts
I always had a soft spot for sailing, and also for all-star Greek hero team-ups. Honestly, half of Graves' Greek Mythology was on that ship. Including Hercules.
Culture of origin: Very Greek
What I like about them: Mostly the fact that so many famous characters ended up on one ship. Also, their adventures are pretty awesome too.
Favorite members: Atalanta (the only female Argonaut), Orpheus, Kalais and Zetes
Book recommendations: Robert Graves' The Golden Fleece

3. The Knights of the Round Table
I grew up on these stories, and I am extremely picky about how they are told and adapted (which is why I might be the only person in the world who broke out in hives from BBC's Merlin).
Culture of origin: Welsh / British
What I like about them: It is one of the most epic stories ever told, and it still has a hold on people.
Favorite members: Sir Kay (hands down, no contest), and Sir Gawain, but I really like Arthur too.
Book recommendations: T.H. White's Once and Future King

4. Dietrich of Bern
This is a fairly new one, I read the Norse saga version for this year's A to Z Challenge post.
Culture of origin: German
What I like about them: It is an awesome lineup of diverse characters with interesting background stories. Also, someone gets fished out of the mouth of a dragon.
Favorite members: Hildebrand, Sistram, and Wittich (Vidga)
Book recommendations: The saga of Thidrek of Bern

5. Water Margin
Also known as Outlaws of the Marsh. One of three great Chinese epics, this one takes the cake in number of heroes: There is 108 of them, 105 men and 3 women.
Culture of origin: Chinese
What I like about them: All the heroes have their own backstories, skills, fighting styles, and trials. And very colorful personalities.
Favorite members: Lin Chong (Panther Head), Shi Jin (Nine Tattooed Dragons)
Books recommendations: Shi Nai'an's Water Margin

In addition, honorable mentions are due to Robin Hood and his Merry Men (recently planned for a shared universe movie series by Sony, God help us all), Charlemagne and his knights, the Jómsvikings, and Journey to the West. I could go on and on and on about hero teams... Which one would you rather belong to? ;)

*The correct answer is: NOT Jason.


  1. Outlaws of the Marsh! Definitely. :D There is something ultra-charming and fantastical about the lavish world of Chinese epics. European epics tend to feel very... earthy. Toil, dirt, grime, metal and sword. Eastern epics always seem to have more magic in strange places, humor, and a healthy dose of mischief. :)

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto

  2. I've always enjoyed folktales of teams of heroes, from Hardy Hardhead to the Fool of the World and the Flying Ship to Anansi and His Sons. The earliest I recall as a child was The Five Chinese Brothers (an illustrated retelling of 10 Brothers). And my all time favorite: Long, Broad and Sharpsight. These teams may not be epic, but they've got me enchanted!

    1. Exactly! :) When I was writing my book, I read 40+ versions of the Flying Ship, from all over the world (I think I ended up including 4 or 5). It's one of my favorite folktale types :)

  3. I'm a long-time Arthurian enthusiast too ^_^

    You know, yougot me thinking. I like mythology in general, but after readign your post, I've realised I like team stories too. Dynamics between characters is always so fascinating.

  4. I'm a long-time Arthurian enthusiast too ^_^

    You know, yougot me thinking. I like mythology in general, but after readign your post, I've realised I like team stories too. Dynamics between characters is always so fascinating.