My appreciation for romance novels didn’t start until my early 30s. Growing up my heart did, and still does, belong to fantasy.
However when dredging my mind for a Valentine’s Day post I can see that, even when (or perhaps because) they weren’t the main focus of the plot, romantic relationships in fantasy novels have left their mark on me.
Eowyn/Faramir (The Lord of the Rings)
As a geeky, gangly girl who didn’t understand why being able to quote Monty Python wasn’t a desirable quality in a school disco date, I found it reassuring that while Aragorn rejected Eowyn, there was a man out there for her.
A better man who would appreciate the amazingness of her. Like Eowyn I just had to be patient and find my Faramir. Looking back I do have concerns about the wild shield maiden of Rohan being caged up in Gondor, but when you’re thirteen it’s all about the happy ending.
Carrot/Angua (The Discworld Novels)
It bothers Angua that she’s a werewolf, and she spends the early books constantly poised for flight.
That Angua is a werewolf bothers Carrot not at all. You could make an argument for the fact that Carrot is too nice to really appreciate the social implications of having a girlfriend that can rip throats out. However, closer and prolonged reading shows that Carrot is not really as nice as you think he is.
In the later books the werewolf jokes in the Watch House locker room do seem to bothe Carrot, but only on Angua’s behalf and she is more than capable of dealing with them herself.
The last hint we have of their relationship is that they are living together. It’s a throw away line in someone else’s story (and I was in my early thirties then) but my fifteen-year-old self was so pleased that they had made it to that stage. It validated my belief that they could work their differences out.
Despite her dark and awkward secrets Angua found love with a man who accepted who she was. A man who has some awkward secrets of his own. Remember, you may think you’re strange, but no stranger than some the boys out there.
I do feel that Shakespeare sold me out with the drugging and manipulating Oberon does, but the first scene between them always gets my heart beating.
Oberon:Am not I thy lord?
Titania: Then I must be thy lady
No arguing with that.
I think this was the first thing I really noticed that showed it was ok to be powerful in a relationship and to fight your corner, and that it was ok to say no to sex and be incensed at your partner while still loving them.
Titania was my heroine through my A-Levels (I had yet to meet Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing and think it was a good idea to eat men’s hearts in marketplaces). One day I’m going to write a story where the two of them reach a compromise without narcotics, or where Titania finds out about the narcotics and takes Oberon to task for it.
By the time I was seventeen I wanted more from my happy endings, or maybe I was ready to look beyond them and see how rich and complicated romance could be.
What are you favorite fictional romances – from any genre?