I don’t like nepotism in the real world but I accept it as the way things are. Many people reach the top of the mountain because of who their relatives are and while they may not be as talented as the other people who were reaching for the top it’s hard for me to get upset simply because life is, as it ever will be, unfair. Though I must admit that I get a mite upset when they yammer about how they did it all on their own and the struggles they went through to make it…, but I digress.

Recently I bought a book that I’m having a hard time starting to read. The writer is talented, its part of a series I enjoyed but I keep reading a few pages and stopping and I couldn’t figure out why. Finally it clicked: The main character is the son of the character I liked from the previous novels. Nothing interesting has been presented about this character other than he’s the son of the other character. In many ways the author is assuming I give a rat’s ass about the boy. That the boy already has my sympathy, my love, and my tolerance. But that hasn’t been earned yet, and I can’t help but compare it to the story of the father who lived a hard life, lost that life, found a life only to have more problems thrust upon him and ended up saving his world.

If the kid was introduced as part of his father’s story I wouldn’t have a problem, and if it eased the old man out and put the kid as the star after a few more novels I might not LOVE it, but I think I would accept it. That said I actually appreciate this approach because it created a stark reality that made me ask a question; why should I care?

If a person becomes rich through hard work, overcoming tragedy, pulls himself out of the gutter I will be inclined to like that person. But the son or daughter of that person? Whose sole task is to not squander the family fortune? How is maintaining equilibrium a good story? If the boy in the story saves the kingdom as his father did then he is only maintaining what his father accomplished. Not as big a deal.

An old saying about money; first generation earns it, second generation maintains it and the third squanders it.

Now, the author could be setting that up on purpose and while that would be interesting I don’t particularly want to know that the first generations efforts were for naught. It would lessen the impact of those books.

It also implies something about that world, and the rights of Kings that I don’t particularly appreciate. How can one form a republic if the noble class is both hereditary and demonstrably superior? The only important people arise from that family.

This has been niggling away at me for some time and I’ve tended to avoid novels and comics with legacy characters and it is nice to know it wasn’t just not calling out to me, but to finally understand WHY it doesn’t speak to me.

More stories with the original character? I’m cool with that. A story set hundreds of years later with that same world but a different cast? I’ll give it a shot. I think I’m done with sons and daughters.

Well, other than my own. Which I don’t have yet. But I will. Eventually.

And yes that is exactly how wishy-washy I sound when my wife broaches the subject. And she does. Often.