In honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided to look back across my career as a reader and ponder my favorite couples in fantasy. To be honest, I’ve forgotten a great deal of books I read in high school, so this isn’t a comprehensive list, just a few of the highlights. I could’ve ventured into the realm of romance/fantasy, but I honestly don’t visit there often. Also, I wanted pictures of each couple, but I couldn’t find any (or they were just not what I wanted).
Aerin and Luthe in The Hero and The Crown
I didn’t understand this couple when I was younger. If you have read The Hero and The Crown, you know that Aerin is meant to be with Tor. When reading this in middle school, I couldn’t understand that she would go back to Luthe, or how she couldn’t really make a choice. Now, I think Luthe is better, if a bit more flawed. He’s a immortal though, and they always seem to be a little more screwed up that mortals. However, to make sense of this couple, and to get a little closure here’s a quote from the author, Robin McKinley:
I knew that Aerin and Luthe would get back together but that it would not be for an easy shiny happily ever after. Aerin genuinely loved Tor; he was, if you like, her mortal side, the side of her that her father’s people would have been able to accept as their princess, their first sol, if that had been all of her there was. But she was also her mother’s daughter—which is why she survived Maur and defeated Agsded, but it didn’t make her popular. Irony alert, right? But I think this is very often the way life is—the bits don’t fit together.‡‡ Aerin did finally become popular with her father’s people as Tor’s queen, but it was by then too late for her to settle down and relax and take every day as it came. She still managed to have quite a lot of happy times as queen of Damar with Tor at her side. And she is devastated when he dies—even though they both know it is coming, and both know that Aerin will be left behind. I don’t myself know how much she’s told Tor of her relationship with Luthe—not a lot, I guess, but he’s guessed more—but he knows about the not quite mortal part, and that Luthe called that out of her to save her life. Yes, after Tor dies, Aerin goes back to Luthe—but she’s badly caught between worlds—she can’t be completely a part of Luthe’s any more than she was able to be completely a part of Tor’s. She’s caught between worlds worse than Luthe is: mages start their training young, and he didn’t spend many years pretending to be the (relatively) ordinary mortal husband of a (relatively) ordinary mortal wife.
~From Robin McKinley’s blog
So, that kind of explains it. She also goes on to say she might write a short story about Aerin and Luthe’s reunion (Yay!). But the real reason I love The Hero and The Crown is Aerin. It says she’s not beautiful, but I always wanted to grow up and be her. She’s strong, she’s smart (makes a dragon fire proof salve), she’s flawed. She’s just a real kind of person. Honestly, I think Princess Merida was modeled after her–they are both redheads too. Anyways, it’s definitely a different, sometimes an infuriating kind of fantasy.
What to say about Vin and Elend? I just love them. I love that Vin likes to wear dresses, but also kicks ass. I love how smart/compassionate Elend is when he could be a rich jerk face. They are both outsiders in their own way, and despite all their differences they work. They don’t have a huge whirlwind romance, but they have something real and special while still being individuals.
Sonea and Akkarin in The Black Magician
Oh, Trudi Canavan, how you ripped my heart to pieces with this couple! The feels! To understand this outburst, you are going to have to read the awesome Black Magician Trilogy, because I refuse to post spoilers even about books that have long been published. Sonea is a great character and Akkarin is so confusing. You can get swept away in the intrigue in this story. This is kind of a whirlwind romance, mainly because you don’t know whether to trust Akkarin or not. Sonea starts out in the slums, and being rather poor myself, I always love when the ordinary street rat has abilities (whether it is done too much or not). Akkarin is much older than her (and becomes her guardian) so like I said it is very much a whirlwind. Read it!
Garion and Ce’Nedra in The Belgariad
We’re going way back now. Actually, I read this series and The Hero and The Crown in middle school. They are essentially what got me into th
e fantasy genre; so you know they must be good. I ate these books (not literally). But I could not put them down. I love this series. I want to read it again just thinking about it. You watch these characters grow up, kind of like you do in Harry Potter, but better. They both grow into such strong, beautiful characters. You feel like a proud parent by the time you get to the end. The most drastic change is probably Ce’Nedra, as she starts off as a silly spoiled girl, and becomes a charismatic leader. You can’t help but cheer for her near the end. It’s a truly epic fantasy.