Hero of the Lance

Revis put out a request for us to argue for Fiction’s Greatest Archer, and finally determine who is the best of the best with a bow and arrow.  What follows is my rambling argument for the character I believe to be the winner in this contest.  And, it isn’t too late to submit your own entry if you disagree with my choice.


How do we define “greatest?”  And what makes someone an “archer?”

It would be easy to spout off names that exemplify great archers: Robin Hood, William Tell, Hawkeye, Green Arrow, etc…  I’d say with the divorce rate at its current percentage, perhaps Cupid is no longer as great an archer as he used to be.  Right?  Anyway, the point is that our legends are full of people who knew how to knock an arrow and fire it straight and true to great effect.

Perhaps, then, we could argue that being a great archer isn’t really all that great on its own?  So, shall we delve deeper into these characters to see what makes them each stand out more than others of the same skill?

Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor, while tormenting an evil sheriff and thwarting the nefarious plots of a prince.  Hawkeye and Green Arrow are nearly peerless in their shooting abilities and have saved countless lives while stopping the efforts of villains the world over.  I’d argue that their efforts in saving the world should place them higher on the list than Robin Hood, and I’m sure you’d agree.

However, neither of them are the greatest fictional archer.

Tanis Half-Elven, of Krynn, gets that distinction.  Not only is he an exceptional archer, not only did he use his skills to help save his world, but he also took on the leadership role in the small group of heroes that led the efforts to overthrow the dark forces swallowing their world, and he helped bring the knowledge of the true gods back to the people at the same time, while also learning to excel with several different weapons besides his favored bow.

He fought dragons.  He faced the Queen of Darkness.  He inspired courage when all hope seemed to be lost.  He did so humbly, reluctant to be leading others, reluctant to be seen as a hero.  But, he was a hero through his actions and his willingness to sacrifice everything for his friends and loved ones in the pursuit of justice, fairness, righteousness, and in the end, he gave his life in those very endeavors.

If Green Arrow or Hawkeye ever give their lives in their battles against evil, then perhaps they could then be considered alongside Tanis as the greatest fictional archer, but until that time, Tanis stands alone.

Not entirely alone… I have no doubt a certain Kender has found a way to keep his friend company…

If you like any of the fantasy I write here in the Kingdom, and you have not already read the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, perhaps you should.  Those three books (and the rest of the stories involving the characters introduced in those books) are arguably my greatest writing influence.  In other words, if you like my magic stories, you should read these as well.

15 thoughts on “Hero of the Lance

  1. Interesting take and valid all the way. Weis and Hickman go together like bacon and eggs…well…maybe that’s a bad example cuz bacon goes with everything. You get the point, though.

    • Love that you know Weis and Hickman too. They are who got me into fantasy. Their characters are why I started writing in the first place. I wanted to create magic like them.

      • I see a resemblance in the writing. I read their Death Gate Cycle series and have only skimmed the trilogy, which I need to rectify. Although they have partnered with others, they work best together, imo…Kinda like you and Revis.

  2. “If Green Arrow or Hawkeye ever give their lives in their battles against evil, then perhaps they could then be considered alongside Tanis as the greatest fictional archer.”

    Avengers, Vol. 3, Issues 500-503. A zombiefied Jack of Hearts appears on the grounds of the Avengers Mansion, explodes, killing Scott Lang (Yellowjacket) and destroying half the mansion. The Vision then crashes a Quinjet onto the grounds of the mansion and attempts to warn the Avengers of a coming threat. However, he malfunctions and throws up a bunch of spheres that turn in to Ultron Robots. During the fight She Hulk loses her mind, Hulks out, rips the vision in half and beats on Captain America.

    During all of this, Tony Stark is at a U.N. meeting, starts acting drunk and tries to kill a Latverian ambassador. Though later he can’t remember having anything to drink. After all this mess, every Avenger, reserve Avenger and friend of the Avengers show up at the Mansion as a sign of support and solidarity. It is at this point, a Kree warship appears over the Avengers Mansion and Kree shock troops attack.

    During the fight Hawkeye comes out of the mansion, with as many quivers of his trick bows that his body can carry and takes the fight to the Kree. During the attack the quiver on his back is set on fire (along with part of him). Knowing that his quiver contains exploding arrows, he badly hurts a Kree shock trooper, jumps on his back and fires up the Kree’s jetpack. He pilots the jetpack in to the engine of the Kree warship, where everything explodes, killing Hawkeye and causing the Kree to mysteriously vanish.

    Doc Shows up, reveals everything was caused by the Scarlet Witch. She had been driven insane by her reality altering mutant powers and the deaths of her children…that weren’t even real children to begin with.

    It would take about three years and an alternate reality to restore Hawkeye back to the Marvel 616 universe.

    From Wikipedia:

    In Green Arrow #100–101, Oliver would infiltrate a group of eco-terrorists known as the Eden Corps and sacrifice his life in order to prevent the group from detonating a bomb that would destroy the city of Metropolis,[2] the resulting explosion completely atomising Queen’s body so that his identity could only be confirmed by Superman witnessing his death. This allowed the writers to shake up the status quo by making Connor Hawke a replacement Green Arrow. The series, now written by Chuck Dixon, would continue, with Hawke as the main focus until issue #137, when the series was canceled.

    In 2000, Oliver Queen is revived in a new series, Green Arrow (vol. 3), in the story arc “Quiver”, written by Kevin Smith and illustrated by Phil Hester and Ande Parks. It is revealed that Hal’s resurrection of Oliver (seen on the very last page of Green Arrow #137, the final issue of the Oliver/Connor ongoing series) was in reality a deliberately flawed one. In Hal’s final hours before sacrificing his life to save the Earth during “The Final Night”, Hal speaks with Oliver’s soul in the afterlife. The two agree to bring back a version of Oliver Queen: one without a soul (so Oliver may properly stay in Heaven) and with no memory of the events of The Longbow Hunters mini-series or of the subsequent events that followed, up until his death.

  3. Wasn’t a certain Kender given a short reprieve from Death? Also, who’s to say that if Weis and Hickman were to write any more Dragonlance books, Tanis wouldn’t be brought back, at least temporarily? Admittedly, that is hypothetical.

    In the case of Hawkeye, he really wasn’t brought back from the dead. The Scarlet Witch ended up going even more insane, altered time and space, created a new dimension where mutants ruled everything, and Clint Barton (Hawkeye) was a part of the underground resistance in that dimension. When the timeline was erased, Hawkeye ended up making the jump back to the 616 universe, gaining the memories of the Hawkeye that died. So…different guy, yet the same.

    • The kender did, the half-elf did not.
      The multiverse is confusing. I think I win based on understandability. Besides, you didn’t pick either of these characters, why are you arguing for them??

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