Continuing on with our series on the lords of Fire Emblem, we now take a look at one of the heroes from Fire Emblem Gaiden, Alm.
What’s in a Name?
Alm’s name is an interesting one, largely because it isn’t his full name. Alm’s full name is Albein Alm Rudolf. Let’s parse some etymology!
The immediate inspiration for the name Alm would be the word alms, as in charity. This ties in well with his generous, kind-hearted nature. His given name, Albein, brings to mind Albion, a Latin name for Britain. Albion comes from a root word meaning “mountain” (hence the Alps), which may fit with the rough topography of Rigel. Lastly, there is Rudolf, which stretches back to Scandinavian roots meaning “glory,” “wolf,” and “counsel.” Norse roots aren’t my strong suit, but these words do bear relation to Alm, whose glorious military victories come from taking wise counsel from his supporters. I doubt these things were in mind when he was named, but they are interesting factoids nonetheless.
Alm is a kind, unselfish boy from the hamlet of Ram Village in the Kingdom of Zofia. He is sweet, thoughtful, and just a little oblivious to when girls hit on him. He’s also eager to see the world and leave behind the sleepy life of Ram Village. Fate ultimately calls him to become the boy who would be king, an unknown prince destined to save his people.
It’s interesting to contrast the trajectory of his character arc with Marth’s. While Marth is outright known to be the chosen one, thus appearing more puppet than person, Alm’s identity is initially a secret. The distinction is significant. Marth saves Archanea because people think he will, so he does because they helped him on the assumption that the prophecy must be true. Conversely, Alm makes it as far as he does in large part through skill, resolve, and luck. Although he is a hero of prophecy, his saga is all about how identity and station are irrelevant in terms of ability. This makes Alm more of a hero than the so-called Hero-King.
Alm is raised as a kid with Celica for a short time under the belief that they are cousins. However, Alm’s grandfather whisks Celica away to an island when desperadoes come looking for her. Several years later, the Rigelian Empire invades the Kingdom of Zofia, where Alm lives. The Zofians lose badly and a team of Zofian freedom fighters come looking for Alm’s grandfather to enlist him. Though Alm’s grandfather refuses, Alm joins the resistance. He spurs the resistance to liberate Zofia Castle, where he runs into Celica for the first time in years. There, Celica appears oddly offended by Alm’s liberation leadership, accusing him of wanting the Zofian throne.
Alm rightly ignores Celica’s misplaced accusation and marches on Rigel. He frees and befriends Rigelians on his journey to Rigel Castle to duel Emperor Rudolf. Alm slays Rudolf, who then reveals that Alm is his son, the heir to the Rigelian throne, and the chosen one who will save the continent of Valentia. Alm is proclaimed emperor of Rigel. He then rushes to save Celica (doing something no less foolish than Rudolf). Together, Alm and Celica vanquish the god Duma and Alm becomes the Saint-King of Valentia.
Is Alm a good character? Well, he is serviceable for his plotline. Frankly, he suffers from not being flawed, but at least he has personality. His generic goodness causes the more colorful ensemble characters to overshadow him. While he is at least a strong fighter, more dynamic fighters exist in his parties. He’s fun for the ride but, in the grand collection of Fire Emblem lords, only stands out because his game was anomalous.
That’s all for Alm of Fire Emblem Gaiden/Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Join us next time for when we examine his counterpart, Celica!