Today’s theme is a Valentine’s freebie. I’m not really a fan of romance (oh, the one and only time my now-hubby bought me flowers!) but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good ship (romantic relationship) when I read about one! So here, in no particular order, are ten of my favourite fictional couples-and-moresomes, wrapped up in great fantasy novels!
Dag and Fawn, The Sharing Knife series
Besides being a series that manages to feel like a warm hug even during the scarier parts, the Sharing Knife books are built around one of the best couples in Fantasy. Superficially, Dag and Fawn seem like they shouldn’t work as a couple; he’s traveled all over, she’s never left her family’s farm; he’s been married and widowed, she’s never had a real relationship; he’s a warrior, she knits. Etc. But they do work, and they work beautifully. Fawn is fiercely intelligent and incredibly curious about everything, and her love of learning drags Dag from surviving into living again. He’s caring and patient, she’s more than brave enough to keep up with him, and they’re both open and honest with each other. They complement each other beautifully and are pretty damn unstoppable in tandem. These were some of the books that taught me what a healthy romance is supposed to look like, and they didn’t lead me wrong.
Kieran and Ashes, The God Eaters
A hardened, Indigenous death-witch, and a fragile white boy whose superpower is empathy. It ought to be a disaster, but instead Kieran and Ashes are one of my favourite couples of all time. Both of them grow and change over the course of the book, but like the best couples they grow together, in complementary ways, rather than growing apart; Kieran gradually opens up, and Ashes discovers his own beautifully ruthless side. They have plenty to teach each other, and though the going is anything but easy, they don’t give up on each other. There are so many moments between them that another author would play for the drama, but these two subvert the expected at every turn. I love them so much!!!
Jack and Thomas, Book of All Hours duet
How much do you love your beloved? Enough to keep searching for them in every universe, every timeline, every alternate reality? Enough to find them in every world, no matter how strange, no matter what the two of you are to each other in that reality – soldiers on the front lines, gods on the run, urban legends, rebel angels?
Because that’s Jack and Thomas. No matter where they are, who they are, what they are, they always find each other, and it’s hard to top a love story like that.
James and Lydia, James Asher series
Despite the fact that these books are set in the lead-up to WW1, James intensely admires and respects Lydia’s intelligence and capabilities, and they’re both very much equal partners in their marriage – and as characters in the books. When James is blackmailed by vampires, the first thing he does is tell Lydia about it – and while they do take sensible precautions to keep both of them safe, Lydia isn’t relegated to their home in Oxford while James works in London; she goes with him. There’s no question of benching her because what they’re doing is too dangerous; Lydia has her own autonomy, and it’s not something that James ‘puts up with’; it’s something he loves about her. They’re both wonderfully smart, brave people who are encouraging and supportive of each other, and they always have the other’s back.
Rune and Addam, The Tarot Sequence
In any other writer’s hands, Addam would come across as too perfect, so ridiculously good and kind that he would read like a Ken doll. Happily for all of us, K.D. is as ridiculously good a writer as Addam is a boyfriend, so it all works out!
But seriously, Addam is ridiculous. He’s kind, generous, and thoughtful, and doesn’t bristle when he’s called on his privilege, but uses it to help others. He’s completely comfortable not being the most important, or powerful, person in the room, and his pride isn’t the sort that makes (or tries to make) other people small. He literally turns into a white knight when he takes on his magical Aspect, okay?
And Rune is good. He’s brave and so compassionate, and when monsters are trying to kill him his first response is to take care of the civilians. He gives his whole heart to the people he cares about, and he would die for a stranger because that’s what it means to be a prince. He’s shy and wickedly smart and very, very funny.
…Look, I could sit here and write an entire essay, but just take it as read that they’re the best of fictional couples, okay? Okay.
Lina and Eva, The Dark Tide
Lina is a Fierce Flowergirl* and Eva is the witch queen who is outraged to be experiencing Feelings. What I love about these two is how Lina is more than a match for Eva, not because the Power of Love makes Eva nice, but because Lina herself is not nice. Secretly. Secretly even from herself! Instead of Eva becoming soft, Lina becomes steel, and the two of them are like a cinematic swordfight: absolutely glorious.
*Not literally, she doesn’t sell flowers for a living, that’s just her vibe
Dancer, Always Falling, & Amet, Thief of Songs
Dancer is a third-sex royal composer; Always Falling is an agender, asexual peacebringer, and Amet is a prickly composer who gets swept away by them both. I love all these characters, and I love them together; their dynamic as a threesome/polycule is just really, really wholesome and sweet and wonderful??? And I love that Always Falling gets to be completely asexual, but is still absolutely an equal in the relationship, a vital part of what makes them work as a triad. The three of them balance each other perfectly in every single way.
Beatrice and Ianthe, The Midnight Bargain
Beatrice is smart, passionate, and dedicated, and Ianthe is a man who actually listens to her. He doesn’t snap back when Beatrice calls him on his privilege; he listens, and thinks about it, and does his best to be a real ally. The two of them have open, intelligent, sometimes painful conversations; it’s that honesty and respect they have for each other that makes me swoon, the way in which they listen to and learn from each other. And I suppose it’s romantic how hard they have to struggle to find a way to be together that both of them can live with… But it’s definitely Ianthe’s arc, his gradual transformation from fabulous gentleman into someone who actually gets what Beatrice is saying and feeling and experiencing, that makes me love them as a couple.
Nothing and The Sorceress Who Eats Girls, Night Shine
I love these two because their love story is about embracing wildness, not taming it; about falling for the monstrous; about choosing the beast over the beauty. They are strange and wild and fierce together, and frightening, and utterly unstoppable. And at the same time, it’s about autonomy and respecting boundaries and loving someone so much you’ll literally give your heart for them. Tenderness with claws, kisses with sharp teeth. Theirs is a romance that turns its back on all convention, that subverts the ideas we have of who is worth loving, who we’re supposed to love, the kind of person we’re supposed to want to be with. I love all of it.
Daemon and Jaenelle, The Black Jewels series
Daemon and Jaenelle are…the only possible person for each other. They both have scars that no one else could understand, and they both have the capacity for devastating violence…but they also make each other laugh, and play pranks, and read to each other. They complement each other beautifully, perfectly. When they rage or grieve, the other can reach them through the trauma; when they go dark, they can be dark as equals; when they play, they play together. They’re incredibly protective of each other; they trust each other so much, with everything, without question. Theirs is another unconventional love story, to be sure, but it’s still one I very much treasure.
Aaand, that’s a wrap! Who are some of your favourite couples (or polyamorous clusters)?