Top Ten Tuesday: relationships not love affairs

Top Ten Tuesday bannerTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we all get to talk about a bookish topic and have fun making lists. I know, I know, it’s not Tuesday. It’s almost Top Ten Thursday (oops). But it’s not Valentine’s Day yet, so it’s not too late for this week’s theme!

I’m a quivering heap of sentimentality. Narrative pay-off, a good theme tune, a well-executed death – it can all set me off. Sheer expectation can have me in tears.

But romance? Big ask. I used to ship characters and root for them to get together; now I’m more likely to be hoping they’ll beat the narrative odds and save the world as friends. Call it age, call it cynicism, call it a desire to see different kinds of stories. Whatever it is, it’s not rewarded often enough. So my Top Ten is a staunch Sod Valentine’s Day, let’s celebrate other relationships.

You can’t have a great epic without the right allies

Book Cover: Red Seas Under Red SkiesLocke Lamora & Jean Tannen – They’re joined at the hip in the platonic sense; they’ve got each other’s back; they share a lack of conscience and common sense. Their competent partnership is a thing of beauty, and their commitment is unquestioned. Which is why it’s all the more shocking that Red Seas under Red Skies opens with betrayal. Oooooh!

The_Steel_RemainsRingil, Egar & Archeth – Three heroes are celebrated in song, but sidelined in the flesh, inconvenient and unwelcome. We rarely get to see them together, but when we do their friendship is delightful in its raucous ribbing and judgement-free acceptance of one another. Plus Egar totally has a suppressed crush on Gil, and Archeth knows it.

I met to go for parents, but I have a soft spot for fictional surrogates

AlannaAlanna & Coram – sure, Coram is Alanna’s manservant and bound to do as he’s told, but he’s also her surrogate father and co-conspirator. Their evolving relationship of grudging respect and affection is one of the delights of the first two Alanna book. Coram takes no nonsense (and Alanna hands out plenty), but his understated support is heartwarming.

girlgiftsMelanie & Miss J – this unusual take on a familiar trope bowled me over, and so much of my love came from the central relationship between Melanie and Miss J. The enormity of Melanie’s crush was reciprocated by Miss J’s pride in her star pupil. All Melanie needed was Miss J’s love to redeem her, and it’s offered freely. Yep, yep, tear in my eye.

Brothers and sisters – I don’t have any, but I do like reading about them

TheVowsofSilenceSimon & Cat Serrailler – the Serrailler family drama keeps me coming back to Susan Hill’s crime novels, and it rests on the shoulders of the twins. They support each other through the human trials and tribulations of death, cancer, heartbreak, and trying to raise children. Their relationship is far more interesting than Simon’s romantic endeavours.

lannistersTyrion & Jaime Lannister – sure, Jaime has a stain on his conscience and Tyrion has a blind spot, but their acceptance of one another’s flaws and their loyalty to one another is one of the purest relationships in the whole dirty mess of A Song of Ice and Fire. While it lasts, anyway.

Not lovers, actually

(Ware massive spoilers. Mouse over to read)
Book Cover: DragonspellJill & Rhodry
– one of my greatest shocks as a teenage reader came at the end of Dragonspell. Our heroine has crossed the seas, rescued her lover and returned him to his rightful place as one of the most powerful men in the realm. This could easily have been that story where the common girl gets to marry the great lord and live happily ever after. But Jill has a destiny of her own. So she walks away. The narrative demands it and my feminist heart delighted in it, even as it broke into little sad pieces.

Book cover: Orthe - Chronicles of Carrick V by Mary Gentle (Golden Witchbreed / Ancient Light)Ruric & Christie – space, race, politics and religion divide our friends against the odds. I love the evolving relationship between these two women in Golden Witchbreed, and while I didn’t initially read it as a romance, it was so obvious. I ship these two so hard, even while I want to shake Christie until her eyes rattle.

I do like a complicated relationship with the enemy

Book Cover: The Lost King - Star of the Guardians 1Sagan & Maigrey – Sagan is the traitor who led the coup that overthrew the monarchy. Maigrey is the only person who could ever match him. Their mystical mindlink makes it hard to keep secrets, and killing all her friends doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her really. The tightly repressed sexuality makes it entirely unclear whether they’ll kiss or kill each other.

Book Cover: Kushiels DartPhedre & Melisandre – no Valentine’s list would be complete without a bit of treachery, hot sex and a few flechettes. Err, or something. There’s no doubting whether these two will kiss or kill each other, just a question of which will happen first. Melisandre epitomizes Phedre’s patrons for me; Phedre’s submission is never as complete as when in Melisandre’s hands. I don’t share Phedre’s kink, but ye gods and little fishes these two make the page sizzle.