Saturday, July 1, 2017

5 Favorite Fantasy-Genre Romances

Early last month, my fellow Supernatural underground author, Amanda Arista, wrote here: "I know that this is supposed to be an all things fiction blog, but I find myself ruminating on Romance recently."

And what a wonderful post it was, too. If you haven't read it out already then do check it out now, right here: "Love is messy, love is kind...Wait, That's Not How It Goes." 

Since reading Amanda's great post I have been reflecting on the place of romance in Fantasy fiction. The upshot of my reflections are that—just as romance and love are one of the drivers that make human beings tick and the world go around—so, too, Fantasy would be much the poorer without romance in its storytelling.

Fortunately, the genre is characterized by some great Fantasy romances—and today I am sharing five that have rocked my world.

Eowyn & Faramir
One of the most unexpected, but also delightful because of that unexpectedness, was the romance of Eowyn and Faramir at the conclusion of JRR Tolkien's  The Lord of the Rings. Faramir (as he appears in the books, rather than the movies so much) was already one of my favorite characters. And of course I adored Eowyn who rode to the battle of the Pelennor Fields disguised as a man and slew the evil and powerful Witch King (aka the Lord of the Nazgul.) So when Eowyn and Faramir fell in love, I was a happy reader...

Karou and Akiva in Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. "Once upon a time an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well." This is such a great setup for the love story of Karou and Akiva, which is another one of my favorites of recent years, not least because the two protagonists have not only to bridge the divisions of a bitter and vicious war between their peoples, but also the conflicts within their own societies—and ultimately death itself. If you love romance in your Fantasy and haven't read this book yet, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Dev and Cara from Courtney Schafer's Shattered Sigil series (which starts with The Whitefire Crossing) are both scouts guiding caravans through difficult and dangerous mountain terrain. What I love about their relationship is that it is clearly one between equals and also that it evolves through the difficult and dangerous crossing referenced in the title of the first book: a gradual dawning of romance rather than 'love at first sight' but no less real or rewarding for all of that.

Jill and Rhodry in Katharine Kerr's Daggerspell, the daughter of a Silver Dagger and a prince of the Celtic kingdom of Deverry, are a love-at-first-sight couple as well as the proverbial star-crossed lovers. What sets the story apart is the magic of the characters (both are headstrong and more than a little impetuous) but also the magic of the connection between them. A fine romance, indeed.

Katsa and Po in Kristin Cashore's Graceling. Katsa and Po are another of fantasy's great relationships between equals. Their romance is also tempestuous and set about by darkness and danger—but one of the things I really like is that they not only fight side by side, as well as against each other sometimes, but like Dev and Cara they know how to have fun together, too. And there's nothing quite like moments of shared laughter to make romance, as well as the world, spin along.

So there you are, five great romances of Fantasy fiction that have spun my wheels and rocked my reading world. But how about you? I bet you have a few favorites, too. If you'd like, share with me and fellow Supernatural Underground readers through the comments. :-)

Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) is her most recent book and she is currently working on the fourth and final novel in The Wall Of Night series. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we


Paul Weimer said...

A tricky subject for me, since for years I have not focused on the relationships in a book (and then the romance) so much as the world and the background. I've gotten better at that, too, as my tastes have evolved and changed.

I'm going to go with Kate Elliott's Cat and Andevai from her Cold Magic series, though. They are forced to get married early in the first novel (neither of whom entirely thrilled with the prospect of this) and spend three books together, apart, together and still trying to get a handle on the relationship between them.

Kim Falconer said...

I am leaning towards Sean and Puck in The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, for what they have in common.

And then, perhaps, Cas and Anna in Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake for what they don't have in common.

And Sookie and Eric in The Southern Vampire Chronicles by Charlaine Harris, just because it was so hot, and so very problematic.

It's interesting that traditional fantasy has less focus on romance than the quest.

Oh, Beauty and her Beast in Robin McKinley's retelling, Beauty.

I'm sure others will come up as I muse on this theme.

Thanks for the great post, Helen!

Helen Lowe said...

Hi Paul, Cat and Andevai are a great choice, although I will always have a soft spot for Liath and Sanglant as my 'first' of many great romances in Kate Elliott's novels.:)

Helen Lowe said...

Kim, I love Sean and Puck, ditto Beauty and her Beast in the McKinley version of the fairytale. And yes, I have always been a member of Team Eric... ;-) But now you've got me wanting to read the Kendare Blake, too.

Courtney Schafer said...

Helen, it's lovely to see you liked Dev and Cara's relationship in my Shattered Sigil books! I definitely wanted their bond to be based firmly in friendship and shared respect before turning romantic, as that's a path I feel in real life often builds a really strong, healthy romantic relationship.

One of my own favorite couples in recent SFF is Diago and Miquel in Teresa Frohock's Los Nefilim series. I love that when the story opens in In Midnight's Silence, they are already in a strong, committed relationship, and that relationship continues throughout the stories with believable and well-drawn moments of tension and development that never ring false or throw into doubt their love for each other. It's a bit rare in SFF to see a protagonist start off in a committed, healthy relationship rather than a budding romance, and I always enjoy finding more novels of this type. (Other examples include Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane, and Violette Malan's Dhulyn & Parno novels.)

Helen Lowe said...

Hear, hear re Diago & Miquel! Jenny Waynest & John Aversin (Dragonsbane), Star hawk & Sun Wolf (The Ladies of Mandrigyn) and Joanna Sheraton & Antryg Windrose are all on my longlist. :) I've yet to meet Dhulyn & Parno but am looking forward to doing so.

Beth Anne Miller said...

I popped on here when I first saw this post yesterday, but then couldn't think of 5 responses!

I'm back to try again...

Daemon Sadi and Jaenelle Angelline in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series: She is the queen he's been waiting for-- the Dream Made Flesh, but when they meet, she's an extraordinary child and he's the most powerful Warlord Prince in history-- and a slave.

Sorcha and Hugh in Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest: she's a young woman bound to silence while she works valiantly to save her brothers from a powerful curse, and he's the leader of her people's enemy...

Feyre and Rhys in Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses series: She is a newly-Made Fae and he's a Fae High Lord. Enemies wish to destroy all they hold dear. Is their love strong enough to survive?

Cat and Griffin in Amanda Bouchet's Kingsmaker Chronicles: a fantastic new series set in Ancient Greece-- full of action, adventure, romance, humor--really, you just need to read them!

Elysetta and Rain in C.L. Wilson's gorgeous Tairen Soul series: She's a woodcutter's daughter and he's the King of the Fey in this gorgeous 5-book series!

Now I want to re-read ALL of these!

mvictoria said...

Great suggestions!

I like my fantasy romance sprinkled with a liberal dose of tragedy, so I was quite captivated by Lal and Soukyan's story in The Magician of Karakosk. Doomed, true love is doomed!... Then again, maybe it isn't.

Weirdly, one of the most interesting explorations of friendship and romance between fantastical characters for me was told from the point of view of... a cat. In the most marvelous Jennie by Paul Gallico, a boy, Peter, is transformed into a white cat and has to fend for himself in the streets. He meets Jennie, a dainty tabby puss who teaches him the arts of feline survival: "When in doubt, lick."

Paul Gallico is an interesting writer. He also came up with one of the more disturbing romantic/fantastic characterisations I've ever read in Love of Seven Dolls, where the lost waif Mouche basically falls in love with a puppet, Carrot Top. She's supposed to be happy in the end when she wins the heart of the gruff puppet master, but... something never sat right with me about that. Beautiful and haunting Gallico writing as ever.

Helen Lowe said...

Hey Beth, that's awesome -- a whole fresh five for us to read and enjoy if we haven't done so already! I've read the first two authors but the remaining three are a treat in store. :)

Helen Lowe said...

Hi Mary, We are getting a good list going here.:) I hope true love is not always doomed, though!

Gallico's 'Jennie" is a lovely story, but my favorite has always been "The Man Who Was Magic"--I suspect you would like it, if you have not read it already. It is very life affirming, but there's not even a skerrick of romance, as I recall...