I thought I might run a short series of posts on the nature of fantasy heroes. My comments will necessarily be rather broad and there may be plenty of exceptions to these rules, but this is my general reading on the subject. Feel free to throw in your two cents, or a buck 0 five if you're a mind to. I begin with Sword and Sorcery.
Conan is the archetypal Sword and Sorcery hero, though in many ways the character Kane from Karl Edward Wagner's books is the most original and powerful of these heroes. The traits of the Sword and Sorcery hero are:
1. They are bigger than life. Almost all physical features are described to the extreme. They are faster, stronger, and more dangerous than real life people. This doesn't mean, though, that they are supernatural or have special powers of any kind. They are like a human who has been honed and honed and honed as a weapon.
2. They have an indomitable will to survive. They can stand immense amounts of pain. They will not give up, even though they may on occasion feel fear or dread. Most of them particularly dislike sorcery. Karl Wagner's Kane is an exception to this; he is a sorcerer.
3. They are quick to resort to violence. They are very good at it and have no qualms about using it.
4. They are quick witted but generally not given to philosophical debate and considerations. Karl Wagner's Kane is, again, an exception. Robert E. Howard's Conan is an exception more often than most casual readers think.
5. They like action and can get bored easily, though they are also capable of predator-like patience when the situation demands it. They usually delight in pleasures of the flesh, such as drink and sex.
6. They are usually loners.
7. They are usually wanderers.
8. They are often at least on the edge of being amoral. They may often be, or have been, criminals, but they do have their own ethics and their own sense of loyalty. Almost all of them are immensely loyal to their friends.
9. They usually have some type of goal to accomplish in a story, but oftentimes that goal is very personal. They want wealth, or revenge, or maybe just some excitement. Power for power's sake seldom interests them, though. Once more, Karl Wagner's Kane is an exception.
Note: In addition to Conan and Kane, other Sword and Sorcery heroes include Druss the Slayer by David Gemmell, Thongor by Lin Carter, and Gath of Baal by James Silke. A particularly notable sword and sorcery hero is Imaro, created by Charles Saunders, which is, as far as I know, the only black hero in this genre. Most of these heroes are male, but a notable exception is Raven, who appeared in a fantasy series by Richard Kirk (whose real name is Robert Holdstock).