10) Lara Croft
Ok, I might be stretching the definition of fantasy here, but any list of heroes surely must include this young lady. After all, she's one of the most recognised figures in the gaming world, and beyond. Smart, feisty and not afraid to be seen in a Die Hard style dirty vest. And two guns she can shoot at the same time! Very cool.
So technically two, but they come as a pair, and read into that statement what you will. Fafhrd is a huge barbarian with a massive sword, but back in 1947 this wasn't such a cliché. Besides, he likes to sing and is something of a romantic, ahh! The Gray Mouser, real name unknown, is small, a thief with a dagger and some magic, again no cliché as he was there first. Together they are true heroes, but still retain their humanity, as witnessed by their drinking, gambling, and... women who work at night.
Not just a princess, but the first female of the Chosen, the group of guards selected by the magic tree the Ellcrys to look after it, currently on our screens in the Shannara Chronicles. As it turns out, the tree is dying, so it tasks Amberle with finding a replacement before all the demons escape. (For those of you who’re baffled, the Ellcrys generates the forbidding, which... just read the books, ok!) No wilting violet she, but a strong and determined young elf with skills aplenty.
7) Sam Vimes
Samuel Vimes is the super-policeman from one arc of Terry Pratchett's numerous Discworld series, first appearing in the 1989 novel Guards! Guards! He is a troubled character, somewhat redeemed by his marriage to the imposing Lady Sybil, but is at all times a cop, never off duty and never slow to fight injustice wherever he finds it. This being Ankh Morpork, he finds it everywhere.
Not a Thai curry, although you might know him better as Tanis Half-elven, the hero of the Dragonlance Chronicles. Tanis is a man of contradictions, a very skilled fighter who doesn't like killing, but will if it's necessary. His sword is called Wyrmslayer, which doesn't sound very epic in English, but is an exceptional weapon. He is a natural leader and well respected by those he adventures with.
Willow proves you don't have to be a huge barbarian, I'm looking at you Conan, to be a hero. Played by the ubiquitous Warwick Davis, Willow, with a bit of help from warriors Madmartigan and Sorsha, stops the baby princess Elora Danan from being sacrificed by the evil queen Bavmorda. He does this with little more than bravery, cunning and determination, (and a small army.)
Instead of a barbarian with a large sword, we have a barbarian with a large chopper! He first appeared in what was chronologically his last adventure, in the novel Legend by the grand-master of heroic fiction, David Gemmell, ironically his first published book. Further books followed, telling of his earlier life and his demon-haunted axe, Snaga, which for a time gave him his peerless skills. Like a true hero, Druss lived by a code, simple words that kept him on the straight and narrow, despite his size and power,
3) Arya Stark
My favourite character from the many thousands in Game of Thrones, Arya isn't your typical young girl from a noble family. No needlecraft and fancy dancing for her, she's more a stab-you-with-a-thin-sword kind of gal. As the story progresses, she makes a list of those people who have hurt her family, and on who she seeks revenge. She'll do anything to get her revenge, which takes the form of stabbing them until they're dead, with the aforementioned sword. This includes falling in with a dodgy and quite spooky bloke who can change his face.
This little hobbit likes nothing more than eating and being mildly alcoholic, and occasionally watching fireworks displays while freeloading off his uncle. This, of course, changes when he's given a mission by the interfering wizard, Gandalf. He really is outside his comfort zone for the rest of the story, and suffers greatly at the hands of various assailants, including a nightmare of a spider, and is forced to wear some very unfashionable armour. He bears all his hardships with the stoicism of a hero, and the help of his friend Samwise.
Yes, that's right. It might be controversial, but I put Bilbo above Frodo any day. Yes, Frodo has the most hardship to face, but Bilbo doesn't exactly have an easy ride, and is also involved with nightmare spiders and unfashionable armour. He's also patronised into the ground by assorted elves, humans, goblins and a wizard, who should know better. But here's the difference. (I'll put a spoiler warning here, but unless you've been hiding under a tree in Alaska with a wolf on your head, I think you know the plot to LotR.) I firmly believe that had Bilbo stood on the edge of the Crack of Doom, he would have thrown the ring into the fire. He just had that little bit more depth of character, and that's why he's number one!