Henry the Minotaur – Introduction

Image by Alex Sky from Pixabay

Antagonists are often more interesting than protagonists. Perhaps this is why so much fiction these days is helmed by deeply flawed leads – it’s the best of both worlds, giving us all the delicious darkness of a villain but still manufacturing the sympathy we throw behind the hero.

I used to think that this was the reason that in monster-stories I tend to cheerlead for the beast, rather than the humans. I far prefer Godzilla, King Kong, and Jaws to the humans in those tales.

But it’s more than that. So often in those stories the brute is portrayed as evil when, in fact, it is just acting on instinct. We do it outside of fiction by bestowing negative human traits onto predatory animals or forces of nature. A storm that kills people isn’t literally bad – it’s just bad weather.


This is context for me to say that I consider the minotaur the most misunderstood and mistreated “monster”.

To the Greeks he was a freak to be hidden away in a labyrinth. Symbolically he represents the price we pay for daring to stray from “nature”. He is the prototype for the science fiction trope of the forbidden experiment that escapes the laboratory and must be destroyed. But as a gay boy growing up, I saw a lot of myself in him. To me, he is just an unwanted child, the thing that shouldn’t exist yet does.

In addition to this, I have an affinity for bovines. My sun sign is Taurus. I was born in Taranaki, a part of Aotearoa New Zealand where dairy is a key industry. Growing up my brothers and I were often sent to my Uncle and Aunt’s dairy farm during school holidays. That farm was located just outside of a wee town called…Bulls.

So there was always going to be a minotaur in the books and, looking at all that bullishness hardwired into me, it’s no wonder this character became one of Lucy’s closest allies. 

The Lonely Bull

However, it also gave me an opportunity to explore prejudice. Aedea is a magical world, but decidedly un-enchanting in many of its practices. In that world, the products of unions between different species are known as çurs. In Aedean linguistics that cedilla – the curl on the c – is designed to give the word a sense of dishonour, literally as though the being is dragging a tail of shame behind them.

Çurs have no rights and soon after his birth Henry was imprisoned in a labyrinth so he could be hunted for sport by the prejudiced population. He killed his oppressors, but in self-defence. He ate them, but out of necessity. He acts like a beast, but because he grew up alone. 

Through his back-story and character arc I have a platform to shine some different light on the minotaur’s chequered past and finally show the man-bull some love.

Bonus Round

Lucy and Amber immediately recognise that “çur” is a speciesist pejorative so when any being uses it they rush to Henry’s defence. Of course, they’re using their mores to judge another culture, but their motives are pure and their actions appreciated by Henry. In other words, some might judge them as being overly-woke-snowflake-PC-do-gooders but sometimes it’s unsafe for minorities to speak up for themselves. I’ve been in that situation myself and appreciated it when allies step in thoughtfully and, equally, when they know to step out of the way to allow you to speak up for yourself.

Want to learn more about Henry? Try reading about how he got his name and his connection to the stories of Cinderella and King Arthur.