TROPES IN FICTION THAT DO NOT BUTTER MY CROISSANT

The Chosen One

Legitimately, why?

So, this post is a long time coming, I must say. My last post, and first post, in this series, specifically explored love triangles in Young Adult fiction. This time around, I thought to extend the post to all fiction, just because I felt like it. In this post, I will be tackling the concept of ‘The Chosen One’. There are so so many of this trope in existence because it works for the most part. But it has to be written and executed well in order to actually work. 

Who is the Chosen One?

Quintessentially, the ‘Chosen One’ is just that; Chosen. They are usually pre-destined as the saviour of a people or have a fundamental part in the survival of the human race. They typically have no idea they were ‘special’ and are thus, generally clueless about everything and actually depend on the knowledge of their friends or a mentor to help guide their way. Other times, the character is written as ‘just innately knowing’ about whatever it is they need to know. I think most people when reading this would automatically assume that I’m talking about Harry Potter, and you’re somewhat correct, but in the case of Harry Potter; that was a characterisation that was written somewhat well. The later books, it can be said, is where Harry becomes a bit of a whiny little boy. Please don’t take offence! I love Harry Potter and it was a series that I grew up with! But, it’s the truth, come on. 

But, hear me out, let’s look towards other ‘Chosen One’ characters. Off the top of my head, I can think of Mari in P.C. Cast’s Tales of a New World series. Only because I literally read this a few weeks ago, but it encapsulates this trope completely. Mari is both an Earth Walker and a Companion; not only that, she is also a Moonwoman who is able to harness the power of the moon – but, amazingly, she can also harness the power of the sun. She is literally written as the saviour of all the races of the people who are left within this fictional universe. More than that, Nik, her romance-partner-to-be becomes the conduit of knowledge about who she can be and why she is so powerful. She is literally the saviour. Although Cast actually wrote this characterisation super well, the trope is an overused one especially when it is this blatant. 

We then move onto a characterisation that was not written well, was Natasha Sapienza’s Prince Nuelle from her novel Prodigy Prince. I wrote a full-length review on this book, but I want to just discuss how the trope of the ‘chosen one’ ultimately was the downfall of the overall narrative. Prince Nuelle was the youngest son of the Supreme King Nifal – who for all intents and purposes, was basically described as the God and creator of this fictional universe. Events occur, though not quite clear what, and Nifal knows and expects because he is ‘divine’, that evil is coming. Thus, we then are told that Nuelle has a ‘true purpose’ that will ultimately save all of his people and lead them to a sort-of promised land. What the narrative is filled with is Nuelle having random powers that are supposed to emphasise how important he is. He is always saving people in physical combat even though the people that he saves are supposed to be talented would-be-knights for the King, and the Academy (which is super Hogwarts inspired) allows Nuelle to hold a sort-of Hunger Games inspired battle for Nuelle to choose his own circle of Knights for his little covenant thing. Even the Acumen, which was the ‘Bible’ of this universe which was written by Nuelle’s own father, pre-destined Nuelle’s existence. It just did not work. To be honest, it didn’t make sense most of the time. 


In terms of adult fiction, because those above are slightly more YA, we could look at Diana Bishop in Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. If you’ve read my review, you’ll know my overall thoughts concerning Diana’s character as a whole. To put it simply, she is slightly boring. But she is written as the ‘chosen one’ and that literally is the main plot point for A Discovery of Witches for its entire 700 pages! It is ridiculously long and pointless! Diana Bishop is the daughter of two of the most powerful witches, and everyone expected her powers to be literally out of this world. Although there are literal chains holding her magic in, Diana doesn’t want to be a witch and constantly demeans magic and witches and basically hates everything that has anything to do with the supernatural. We get it, you don’t want to be a witch, you want to be normal. Anyway, there’s a super important manuscript that may contain details about the origins of supernatural beings, and it only opens to Diana’s magic which shocks all supernatural beings and lo and behold, they need to kidnap her or make sure she never opens the manuscript again. Even though it’s a disappearing manuscript and no one knows where the hell it is. 

The way Diana is written, her union with Matthew the Vampire, has been fated and might actually hold the key to the existence of supernatural beings. In this case, she is literally held as the beacon for supernatural life and her power, extreme. But more than that, Diana is extremely annoying and frustrating as a female character – she literally does nothing but wait for Matthew to do everything for her! In this case, she is the ‘chosen one’ with the trusty romantic partner who is both the brains and the brawn. It’s ridiculous. I love how I say how boring Diana is as a character, but I will end up reading the rest of the trilogy just to see what the big deal is about this manuscript. 


Although there are most likely many, many other books that highlight this trope – these are the ones off the top of my head. This trope is one of the more problematic ones, mainly because most of the time it actually works. But those novels that don’t quite pull it off, are completely ruined as a result and are never able to recover from the failure of the execution of the trope. Especially since, in most cases, the fact that the main character is chosen is literally the main aspect of the entire plot – if you don’t do that well, what else does the story have? 

Are there any books that you can think of that pulls this trope off spectacularly well? Or one that spectacularly fails? Let me know!

Until next time, happy reading!

Allie

xx


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24 thoughts on “TROPES IN FICTION THAT DO NOT BUTTER MY CROISSANT

  1. This trope annoys the crap outta me because it’s so overdone, but I have to admit that I do enjoy it as long as it’s done well. You make such a good point that the novels that don’t do this trope justice can never recover from it, especially if it’s a series. It’s funny because I LOVE HP so much and adore the chosen one trope in it, yet, because I love the series so much, I tend to forgive the more problematic issues with the trope, but I’m so hard on other books that feature a chosen one and if it’s not done right then that whole series is ruined.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! With HP I adored the series as a whole that it didn’t effect how I perceived it overall. But if I read a book now that overly utilises this trope, and not well, I can’t seem to move away from it! Like, if it’s not written well I just can’t properly get into it! I’m so glad you understand haha! Xx

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  2. What a great series idea!

    No book can ever top Buffy as a Chosen One (which yes, is a TV show, but it’s where I first encountered the trope) … but I don’t think I ultimately mind the trope. Unless the writing is spectacularly bad, and it really just comes down to everyone staring in awe whenever the “chosen one” pops onto the scene. They actually have to *do* things that merit their status, even if it’s after the fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you! yes i agree! if the writing is good, the trope is not a dealbreaker – but when the writing is bad?! it can literally be draining on the soul to try and read and make sense of everything and enjoy it haha. omg yes, if the entire book is only based on the chosen one and nothing else drives the plot, no interesting character development – it can be a trial! And yes, exactly, if they do things to merit being the ‘chosen one’ that makes the narrative so much more interesting!! x

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      1. There have been a few books where the writing had hit and miss moments, but I loved the trope, so I didn’t mind. But yep, the moment it’s a trope I don’t like — I will judge everything else just a *little* more harshly.

        And we always need some character development!! Ugh, a chosen one who does nothing and learns nothing but still GETS everything? Not for me!

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      2. I completely agree! If the trope is something I dislike or if it’s written terribly, I judge so hard and I feel as though I can’t engage with the story as well!

        Hahaha!!! Yes! A chosen one who gets everything with no work is a disaster waiting to happen and is soo boring to read!! Xx

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  3. The good thing about the chosen one trope is that fiction with it is very upfront about that element.

    Nice of them, as a story with a trope like that gets an easy pass from me 99.999% of times.

    It’s just a trope that instantly alienates me as it’s not used for anything meaningful, just wish fullfillment and an “easy mode”.

    Need an idea how to progress the story? Bruh, the protag is the chosen one so activate those plot device powers.

    I did like the Ocarina of time and Majora’s mask games, which used the trope, but as the whole Zelda series is about cyclical rebirth and an unending flow of events it just works.

    Times of prosperity> Evil rises and existence/society falls (sometimes going as far as full blown cataclysms) > the hero of time surfaces and saves everyone > repeat.

    With a lot of fiction it’s just *there*.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes i agree – fiction just loves to use this because it sells and it can be super awesome when it’s done well! but if its not executed well, it can literally bring the entire novel down! hahah i love the ‘bruh, the protag is the chosen one so activate those plot device powers’ because YES that can literally be how it occurs haha! thank you for the comment!! x

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  4. Agreed Agreed. Ok, here is the thing. From a writer’s perspective if you’re good at fanatsy fiction you need a protagonist who is “chosen” for the conflict. Yet if they start as a glorified winner no reader will connect to them. Which is why they humanise them and then instill that superhero quotient.

    Take Jon Snow from A song of ice and fire. (spoiler spoiler) I think that is one of the best example of the perfect execution of this trope from the books that I’ve read and I haven’t even completed all the books. It took four books and still Jon is not established as the absolute hero of the story. We know that only from the show. The valiant ones, honorable ones, fierce ones all came and went but Jon didn’t know who he was. Still doesn’t but we do. And at this point we are rooting for him to realise his potential and be that superhero. Yet we don’t know for sure if it is his glory after all. Can anyone write this trope better than that? I don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree!! I think the character of Jon Snow though, and George R.R. Martin as the author, are examples of getting this trope right. Martin is an exceptional writer who knows how to execute things well and do so in a way that steers clear from getting too cliche. I honestly think that Martin is one of those authors who demonstrates such a skill in how he manoeuvres fiction writing and the tropes that can come with it. I agree, he would have to be one of the best ones who can pull this type of trope off fantastically! thank you so much for the comment, I loved this! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I suuuper loved this post Allie! A character that comes to mind was also written by Cast 😂 It’s Zoey Redbird from the House of Night series, w/c I honestly keep telling everyone willing to listen, that she SUCKS!! 😂 It’s actually so similar to Mari in Tales of a New World, but this was so infuriating I swear. PLUS, she practically became everyone’s girlfriend– like she had to have a soulmate, a one true love, and someone else who she’s destined to be with. WHATTT

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Angela!!!! I feel like Cast writes the same kind of story over and over again? it can be completely infuriating, especially if it’s not written well !!! or if it just seems stupid haha! OMG WHAT????? That series sounds ridiculous omg????? xxx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome! And yeah I think she does, or at least she writes the same characters and uses the same tropes it’s exhausting to read. You should give it a try, but you won’t notice all the ‘chosen one’ things happening until after the 5th book or so. lol TERRIBLY ridiculous.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes I agree completely – she definitely must write the same characters or has the same formula pf how she writers her characters and her stories! I’m going to add it to my list and read it and then rant to you haha xx

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