Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Achilles' Heel

One of the Legends surrounding Achilles that post-dates Homer's Iliad (circa 8th century BC) tells how his mother took her infant son to the Styx, where she bathed him to make him invulnerable. Unfortunately, she held him by one heel which, not having been immersed, remained vulnerable. Achilles was later killed by an arrow to the heel. In modern High Fantasy, most characters of any significance have an analogue of an Achilles' Heel, and many plots turn on discovering it. In J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), to give a single instance, the Nazgûl king cannot be slain by any man, so a woman is given the task. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.