Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Sci-Fi & Fantasy Couples
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, a weekly meme that now resides at That Artsy Reader Girl. The meme first came about because of a love of lists. Who doesn’t love lists? The original creators also wanted their lists to be shared with fellow book lovers and to ask that we in turn share ours with them and connect with other book bloggers. To learn more about participating, stop by their page dedicated to it and dive in!
This week’s topic: Top Ten Favorite Sci-Fi & Fantasy Couples
If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Blackthorn and Grim, the two of them make up one of the most extraordinary partnerships I’ve ever read, and their shared experiences have resulted in a deep bond of trust and friendship. Blackthorn is a wise woman, her job to mend and heal and cure, but deep down inside she is still broken and raging with her desire for revenge on the man who destroyed everything she ever loved. The only thing keeping her from acting upon that anger is an oath she made to the fey who saved her life in exchange for a promise that she will not seek out her enemy for seven years and only do good deeds for the duration of that time. That and Grim, Blackthorn’s steadfast companion who has given her strength through the most difficult of times and kept her dark thoughts at bay when they threatened to take over. The two of them are such fantastic protagonists because they are both broken and flawed, but somehow they still manage to complete and bring out the best in each other.
Agnieszka is just another simple girl from yet another simple village, but surrounding her valley home is the ever encroaching Wood, a forest filled with dark energies and spirits, whose corrupting force has trapped and stolen the lives and minds of many. Every so often, Sarkan, the wizard in the tower will descend to the valley and work up powerful spells to drive away the malicious effects of the Wood. Cold and aloof, he is also known as the Dragon, and he also exacts a steep price for helping the villagers keep the evil at bay. Every ten years, he chooses one young woman and takes her away to live in his tower until she is released and the next choosing begins again, and this year, he has chosen Agnieszka. Let me just say right off that I don’t think Uprooted is a Romance; all the romantic elements could have been scrubbed from the story and it would still have read just as smoothly and worked just as well. But that just makes it even more amazing to me. Those who know me know that I’m not one to fawn over love stories, nor have I come across many authors who can write a romance arc which could warrant that kind of reaction. But Naomi Novik has done it! The sexual tension in the deliciously slow-burning relationship between Sarkan and Agnieszka had me fanning myself. Whew!
Fawn Bluefield ran away from home, only to be kidnapped by a “malice”, an inhuman magical creature that eats people and causes a blight on anything that lives. Dag is a Lakewalker, a soldier-sorcerer who makes it his life’s work to hunt these malices and keep the land safe. Our two protagonists end up coming together, and their fates become entwined. But those looking for a traditional romance story will not find it here because it just doesn’t read like one. Not that the romance here isn’t fiery and passionate, because it is. But at the same time, it’s also comfortable and domestic. Dag’s light humor, easygoing nature, and the gentle way he treats Fawn really endeared him to me. While it probably has a lot to do with him being much older than Fawn, his respectful demeanor and kind personality still sets him apart from a lot of the heroes you find in romance novels these days. Both Fawn and Dag are straightforward with their feelings, and there’s none of that cliched drama. These two characters know what they want, and that is each other. I can’t tell you how refreshing that is.
These two. Oh, these two. From the moment Phedre no Delaunay met Joscelin Verreuil, it was magic. Well, maybe not so much for them, but it was for me. She was an adept of the Night Court, well-versed in the art of passion and love. He was a Cassiline Brother, whose order’s members are loyal bodyguards sworn to protect their charge, and they are also required to swear a vow of chastity. It was epic clash, to say the least, when Joscelin was hired by Delaunay, Phedre’s guardian, to guard his household. Joscelin went along with Phedre whenever she went on assignment, but did little to hide his disdain for her work. And she also found him sanctimonious and insufferable. Still, after the two were forced to face a number of difficult challenges together, their relationship ultimately morphs into something fascinating, developing in beautiful and subtle ways. I love how the two of them are so different, but their personalities also complement each other in ways you wouldn’t expect. As the series evolves, so does their romance, but what has always remained the same is their loyalty and commitment to each other.
Lost Stars is a young adult novel that tells the tale of two childhood friends who became lovers before ending up on opposite sides of the galactic war. Ciena and Thane grew up on the same planet just after annexation by the Imperials, but one was born in the more rural valley while the other came from an affluent second-waver family. However, the two met and bonded over a shared love for piloting and a dream to one day fly for the Empire. They entered the Imperial academy together, excited to be with each other as they made that dream come true. But as the war waged on, their fates diverged as one grew disillusioned with the Empire and joined the Rebel Alliance, while the other remained in Imperial service and rose through its ranks to become a high-ranking officer. Ciena and Thane are the loves of each other’s lives, but they were raised in very different homes, with very different values. Because of that, there will always be a part in each of them that can and never will be reconciled. My heart ached for the two of them and I wanted so badly for things to work out for them in the end. Move over Anakin and Padme, because this here is actually a Star Wars romance done right.
Perhaps the biggest surprise — and the biggest treat — for me was the love story in 11/22/63. You wouldn’t think romance was Stephen King’s forte, but wow, the depth of emotion and feeling he achieved here was very impressive. Not only was I head over heels for Jake and Sadie, their damn love story ended up making me cry, with the final pages of his book causing me to bawl so hard, I could barely finish it due to the blur of tears blinding me. It was truly one of the most beautiful endings I’ve ever read. Some people didn’t like the love story angle, feeling that it distracted from the main plot, but I would have to respectfully disagree. I don’t think this book would have been anywhere near as good without the romance or its underlying themes. Sometimes, you just can’t help who you fall in love with. Jake’s only human, even if he did find his soulmate out of time…
Okay, so this is not actually a science fiction or fantasy novel, but a historical fiction — a post-Civil War western to be exact, filled with equal parts gritty adventure and fiery romance. Still, I had to include Laura and Kindle on my list, because these two make me melt. Their love story is a fantastic one, featuring a forbidden romance that is at once passionate and convincing. From the moment Laura saves the life of Captain William Kindle, they set off an undeniable chemistry. She is a fugitive from New York, wanted for a crime she did not commit, but despite a new name and a new life on the frontier, she could not escape her past. Fortunately, she has Kindle, who ends up doing all he can to help her evade capture, even at the cost of his own future. I enjoyed their sweet interactions and the well-written dialogue between them, making it easy to get on board with their relationship. I’m glad that as the romantic interest in this novel, Kindle ended up being someone worthy of our protagonist’s devotion and respect.
Karen Memory is one of my favorite novels. It takes place in the late 19th century in the fictional Pacific Northwest settlement of Rapid City. It is the height of another gold rush and our protagonist, the titular Karen, is a prostitute working for Madame Damnable at one of the city’s more upscale establishments. Working girls like her know that the best way to survive is to stick together and look after one another, but not everyone is so fortunate to have an employer or friends to watch their back. The calm is shattered one night, when two young women arrive at Madame Damnable’s, seeking help and protection. This is how Karen first meets and falls in love with Priya, who had managed to escape the horrific conditions of a rival brothel, but not without angering its mean and nasty proprietor, who vows to make Madame Damnable and her girls’ lives a living hell. This is a book about a lot of things – solving a mystery, hunting a merciless killer, saving the city from evil, and all the spectacular drama that comes along with such activities. But at its heart, the book is also about growing up, forging friendships, and chasing one’s dreams. When Karen meets Priya, she learns what it is she really wants out of her life, revealing a softer, more introspective side to the story behind all the rollicking adventure.
This is actually very difficult relationship to write about. Why? Well…it’s because it’s complicated. First, there’s Jenks, who is the engineer aboard the star ship Wayfarer. And Lovey, on the other hand, is actually an AI. Although she is completely sentient, she has no real body of her own, being a program on the ship’s computer. Originally installed as an off-the-shelf program called Lovelace, she eventually developed her own personality based on her experiences and interactions with her crew, which included a blossoming romance with Jenks. It might seem weird, but over time their deep feelings for each other developed to a point where Lovey began to seriously contemplate getting her program transferred into a body kit so that she could be with Jenks physically, even though the process of doing so would be highly illegal. As you can imagine, it’s a messy situation, and that’s all I’m going to say because no spoilers from me.
Look, Kaladin fans, I love that storming bridgeboy too, but let’s face it. There is just no room for a love triangle here. Shallan and Adolin are just too damn cute. Their romance subplot continues to fill my girlish heart with glee, because I just can’t get over how wonderful and dynamic their interactions are whenever they’re together on the page. She’s quirky and unpredictable, while he’s good-humored and grounded. The two of them are perfect for each other, providing each other with a balancing force. Adolin often gives the strength Shallan needs to stabilize herself, whenever she feels herself unraveling, while she opens him up and fills his life with adventure and new experiences, making him see things in a whole different light. It’s been a rather tame and low-key courtship so far, but there’s absolutely no denying the storm of chemistry between this couple.