Megan’s post yesterday has me thinking about more serious subjects — and one that comes to mind is honor. I think one reason why historical romances of all types (and fantasy fiction too) have such an emotional impact on readers is the characters’ attachment to honor. This honor is not just a code of behavior, but the idea that if you do dishonorable things, it changes you, it stains you. Honorable characters may have been dishonorable in the past, but when the critical moment comes, they do what needs to be done.

Aren’t the most honorable heroes often the most romantic ones? Think of the heroes in Barbara Metzger’s “A Debt to Delia” and Gail Eastwood’s “The Lady From Spain,” or any of Carla Kelly’s or Patricia Veryan’s heroes. Think of Georgette Heyer’s “Cotillion” — Freddy has his own immutable sense of honor. Think of Maximus in the movie “Gladiator,” or of so many characters in “The Lord of the Rings.”

What do you think? Who are your favorite honorable heroes? Does their honor make them more attractive?

And does the fact that romance and fantasy novels value honor mean that they are “mere escapism,” or are they actually celebrating something very real that our cynical times tend to wrongfully ignore?

All thoughts welcome!

Cara King,
MY LADY GAMESTER, Signet Regency 11/05