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.