Books

Top 5 unlikely fictional heroes, selected by David Jackson

From hobbits to spiders, heroes can be found in unusual places

Illustration of Bilbo Baggins leaning against a tree

Bilbo Baggins, illustrated by Jemima Catlin

Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Middle-aged, unfit and enjoying all the comforts of home, Bilbo has no desire for adventure. He has greatness thrust upon him after the wizard Gandalf and 13 dwarves turn up at his door and enlist him as their ‘burglar’. 

Matilda Wormwood in Matilda by Roald Dahl

Emotionally abused by her family, the gifted Matilda seeks solace in books. Desperate for further learning, she enters school, where she comes up against the formidable Miss Trunchbull and discovers her real power to fight against injustice. 

Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web by EB White

Can there be any hero more unlikely than a lowly barn spider? While accepting her own short lifespan, Charlotte devotes much of her time and energy to prolonging the life of her porcine friend. 

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Old and losing his grip on reality, our protagonist seeks to emulate the heroic deeds of those he reads about. His ambitions are comically frustrated, but at the heart of this story is a man who is struggling against his limitations to find greatness. 

Ove in A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

Viewed as the cranky neighbour from hell, Ove hides a profound sadness that has led him to the decision to end his life. When Ove’s new neighbours accidentally knock over his mailbox, it signals the first of a series of calls for him to become the local hero and find new purpose in life. 

David Jackson’s One Good Deed is out now (Viper, £9.99).

One Good Deed by David Jackson book cover

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