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That hardcore warrior feel.


Inspired from the male vs female thread, but not exactly the same. Do you feel that there's a certain something about some writers' style that makes you really feel and believe the warrior-ness of their warrior characters, and if so what is it? To me most writers (male and female) fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, their warrior characters are serviceable but don't necessarily convey it in a way that fires the blood like the best do. As I mentioned in the other thread Donna Gillespie does this really well, her main character Auriane just oozes warrior-ness and comes across as a total badass and seriously legit fighter; another example of a writer who's good at this would be Elizabeth Moon, or on the male side David Gemmell (of course). OTOH for me a counterexample would be someone like Sarah Douglas, on the back of one of her books her MC Axis is billed as a 'great warrior' but when I read it it didn't come across to me at all, and IIRC his one major fight in the book is mostly off panel and ends in like a paragraph or too... I sadfaced so hard after finishing the book, thinking 'don't sell your character as a warrior if you don't know what the heck you're doing!' and never picked up another book of hers again.

What do you think it is that makes the difference between the warrior characters of some writers' feeling of 'legit-ness' and others' non-legitness, if you've noticed such?


I think it is extremely important to convey that the warrior's foes are quite strong. Make the enemy powerful and emphasize on that. Then, when the warrior defeats them, it makes it much more believable.

Ayaka Di'rutia

I like warriors that, as strong and talented and great they are with their weapons and intelligence, they sometimes deal with serious "human" weaknesses, like fear, self-doubt, some sort of disability, etc., and they really have to work to defeat both their weaknesses and enemies.


Being a warrior is like a religion. It's not just something you do, it's something you are. Every minute of life. Every single thing you ever think, feel or do comes from that place.


Being a warrior is like a religion. It's not just something you do, it's something you are. Every minute of life. Every single thing you ever think, feel or do comes from that place.

It can be if you're talking about a bushido type warrior code or systems like the cavaliers. It doesn't have to be though. Warriors of circumstance, forced to fight, can become just as grizzled through experience only and a struggle to survive...or the street tough who makes it by serving as a criminal's thug before finding an honorable life. The options are endless really.
What do you think it is that makes the difference between the warrior characters of some writers' feeling of 'legit-ness' and others' non-legitness, if you've noticed such?

I would say that what signifies a warrior comes down to his or her attitude towards violence. To put it in a somewhat oversimplified way, a warrior is someone who believes that doing violence upon others is acceptable, and sometimes even necessary. Not a necessary evil, but necessary period. Therefore, they can do battle with others without feelings of regret or shame, and two warriors can face each other as mortal enemies and still respect one another.

Warrior codes and philosophies - be it Chivarly or Bushido or Xia - existed specifically to culture this attitude, though individuals can certainly develop it in a less formal way. There are of course other martial virtues to consider, but at the core, I think this is what all true warriors have in common.
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Allow me to draw an analogy:

One of my protagonists is a research assistant in a corrupt dictatorship, conducting painful and frequently lethal experiments on political prisoners. She knows that if she were to rebel, she would become another test subject. At the story's beginning, she feels no guilt or shame for killing those who would die anyway, and in a twisted way, she even considers herself a sort of mother figure to the test subjects, caring for them and tending to them before their inevitable doom.

Although this character doesn't start out as a "warrior", she's basically how I write professional killers. There's a job that needs to be done, and if someone needs to die for it, that's fine with them. If someone doesn't need to die for it, that's fine with them, too. They're perfectly capable of liking and respecting those they fight--they just don't let it get in the way of business.

(This, incidentally, is part of why my protagonists are more often tricksters and negotiators rather than fighters. You can debate the morality of it all you want, but I don't find it fun or entertaining to write and read about people I like killing other people I like.)

S J Lee

what do you mean by "warrior"?

Do you mean a professional solider? A VETERAN professional soldier who has actually been in battles? Or just a farmer who has been trained as a reservist? A boy brought up to study martial arts? A brigand who bashes a lot of people on the head?

Please understand taht a lot of "great warrior culture" may produce pretty rubbish fighters. EG the samurai of the 1800s were pretty crap as an actual fighting force - father-son-grandson all samurai on a hereditary basis ... good god. No. No way to become a non samurai. So this meant tno minumum physical standards. And the whole exaggerated formal Bushido thing - most of this only came AFTER the wars stopped in early 1600s.

Most Vikings wanted to get rich enough to settle down and get a nice farm. Vikings were not "warriors" as you might think it?

Mongols .Terrifyingly dangerous as an army. Mongol didnt have any word for "soldier? Not sure if they went round thinking of themselves as "warriors" - they were herders and hunters from the steppes and they were trained from boyhood to ride and shoot, and work as a mounted pack. Their speed and ability to keep moving faster than the enemy (eg, eating half-congealed horse blood while other men needed to cook something) was part of the key to their success.

Zulus fought ferociously - partly in terror of the king who could have you impaled on a whim, partly cos they could not marry - no women until the king gave the regiment the right to get married. so they were eager for a chance to prove themselves. But it sounds miserable.

Spartans, the ultimate warriors? Good at Plataea, yes. But Athenians said they were kept so poor there was none of them you could not bribe. And their society so rigid it collapsed - no incentive for warriors to have children, no way for non-warrior families to become first class citizens.

What I am trying to get at is - anyone who goes round saying "what great warriors we are" will probably be pretty crap when put to a serious test, especially if they have to face something new.

S J Lee

But to answer your Q - Gimli, Aragorn and Legolas never call themselves "warriors" - but they are good at fighting. Someone willing to fight bravely when they need to, and who take care of their weapons/training before the war starts are what makes "legit warriors"...?