Oron is TOO Awesome!
(Image swiped from Sword & Sorcery because my copy is too yellowed to scan.)
If there is anything, anything, that defines sword and sorcery more than, well, swords and sorceries, it is that the hero must be incredibly, indubitably, unbelievably awesome! If he is a flawed hero, his flaw must be that he is too awesome–like maybe he’s flawed because if he gets too frustrated at losing a game of Parcheesi he’ll obliterate a village of amazons while dual-wielding battleaxes. Or something.
Like how the main character of a modern day “literary” novel is flawed because he just sleeps with too many beautiful women. (This is never shown as a flaw in sword and sorcery.)
Oron the Nevgan is no exception. At 56 pages into the book, I think it would be safe for me to say that at least 63% of all dialogue spoken by characters who aren’t Oron is at least partly about how fucking bad-ass Oron is. Certainly, all the soldiers who fight under Amrik THE BULL MAN love the northern barbarian in their ranks, and when Amrik THE BULL MAN’S creepy sidekick Sidoum tells what he’s learned of Oron from the other soldiers, he has to point out that the ex warlord
[F]led the mountains only because his enemies set aside their differences and attacked him as a common threat.
– Page 35
You see? Oron brings people together.
So you see what I mean about Oron’s flaws. He did turn tail and run from his Nevgan homeland… because he was so fucking awesome.
Another of Oron’s flaws? He is too much of a bad-ass, straightforward man’s man to understand or approve of the back alley political dealings of his boss Amrik THE BULL MAN, who is so incredibly obviously evil that only someone as straight shootin’ and blunt as Oron wouldn’t see it. It is because he is too awesome to see it.
While Amrik [ed: THE BULL MAN] and Sidoum plotted their intrigues in the palace, Oron spent time with the soldiers of Amrik’s [THE BULL MAN’s] army. He visited the taverns and whorehouses and talked with the men, and they soon saw that they were misled in thinking of him as being arrogant or prideful on his sudden leap in the ranks. Oron remained one of the men, in spirit. He loved to contest on the practice fields outside Shemsan’s walls. He rode and shot bow with the best of the men, cast javelin and stone, wrestled and boxed them. Few bested him, and when they did, Oron came back for more and gave them a a good show. The old slaves and crusty veterans who sat around the fields talked in tones of admiration and swore that Oron was a man for them.
– Pages 45-46
We all know that crusty veterans are the best judges of character. See, no matter how evil Amrik THE BULL MAN clearly is, Oron remains a man of the people, and everybody who meets him (and isn’t killed by him) loves him. When asked to spar by the strangely-named Heroes, Oron says,
“You’re going to pester me till you finally get a chance to shave my beard, aren’t you?”
– Page 46
After this, the other soldiers continue to force out uncomfortable laughter at Oron’s jokes. They must want to stay on his good side, the side where everybody loves him and doesn’t get killed.