My Favorite Fantasy Couple
I was planning to do a post on my top ten favorite fantasy couples... but then I could only think of six that weren't too spoilery, and with the last one, I couldn't remember one of the characters' names - which was making me reevaluate whether or not they really deserved to be listed among my top favorites... and THAT made me think that maybe there was a post in there somewhere about how I'm not a huge fan of romance stories in general (I mean, I do love a well-told love story now and again, but it's not my go-to by any stretch of the imagination). Well, then I started writing about my FAVORITE fantasy couple, and I realized that I couldn't just talk about them in a sound bite.
While Aragorn and Arwen are often featured as the "spotlight" relationship in The Lord of the Rings, with their tragic romance that spans culture and is full of self-sacrifice and has the whole star-crossed lovers thing going for it... Eowyn and Faramir's relationship is by far the love story I prefer. If I had just one major disappointment in Peter Jackson's retelling of LOTR, it would be the lack of development or time he put into showing us the beautiful love story between these two characters.
Take Faramir: the second-son of Lord Denethor. I mean, that right there could tell you all you need to know about the guy. He knows he's not the favored son. He knows he's not going to inherit anything of worth. But he doesn't allow that to make him bitter. Instead, he quietly and faithfully does his duty. He is so devoid of arrogance, conceit, or self-serving ambitions that even the One Ring holds little temptation for him. Faramir is the picture of a character who always, always chooses to do what is right over what is easy. When the Ring is within his grasp, and he even guesses correctly what it is, he chooses to let Frodo continue on his journey.
"But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo."
I remember my dad reading us the Lord of the Rings for the first time, and when we got to the end, I have this vivid memory of him explaining that part of the reason Boromir died was because he would not have been able to hand over Gondor to Aragorn the way that Faramir did. That there was a humility to Faramir that Boromir did not possess. Boromir was noble, and heroic (and if you've read this blog for any amount of time you know that I love him dearly), but he was also extremely proud, and it was part of his downfall.
But, lest you think Faramir's lack of selfish ambition makes him weak, think again! No, Faramir is a warrior, and has enough pride for it to be stung by his father's harsh words. He rides out at Denethor's behest into a suicide mission, and his men rally to his courage, though it is not enough to turn the tide against a foe that outnumbers his band by far too many.
Then there is Eowyn. Beautiful, sorrowful Eowyn. She has lived through too much. Caring for her ailing uncle throughout his time being poisoned by Wormtongue, and her proximity to that situation causing her to swallow much of those poisonous words, herself, Eowyn feels trapped in a life she did not choose. She dreams of glory, of escaping the life of sorrow and drudgery she has lived and rising above it. This drives her to almost throw herself at Aragorn - seeing him as a possible means of escape and glory, as she knows who he is and what he is destined for - but he gently tells her his heart belongs to another. Then she seeks glory or death on the battlefield, and very nearly finds both.
If that were the end of these stories, both Faramir and Eowyn would be interesting, well-developed characters.
But the redemptive healing that they bring to each other is what makes them shine like stars in the heavens. It is this beautiful, poignant romance that springs up between these two wounded souls and heals them both that make them my favorite couple in all of fantasy fiction. The patience and gentleness that Faramir displays in his courtship of Eowyn is simply beautiful, as beautiful as the sun shining down into Eowyn's heart at long last, when she realizes that being queen and having all the glory and honor in the world means little when compared with the honest love and tender care of the man offering her his heart.
"Eowyn, do you not love me, or will you not?"
"I wished to be loved by another," she answered. "But I desire no man's pity."
"That I know," he said. "You desired to have the love of the Lord Aragorn. Because he was high and puissant, and you wished to have the renown and glory and to be lifted far above the mean things that crawl on the earth. And as a great captain may to a young soldier he seemed to you admirable. For so he is, a lord among men, the greatest that now is. But when he gave you only understanding and pity, then you desired to have nothing, unless a brave death in battle. Look at me, Eowyn!"
And Eowyn looked at Faramir long and steadily; and Faramir said: "Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Eowyn! But I do not offer you my pity. For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell. And I love you.... Eowyn, do you not love me?"
Then the heart of Eowyn changed, or else at last she understood it. And suddenly her winter passed, and the sun shone on her.
Even now, reading these scenes in the Two Towers and Return of the King that focus on Eowyn and Faramir get me a little choked up. Their love story is sweet and beautiful and epic and everything a love story should be.
What about you, dear Reader? Do you enjoy romance elements in your fantasy reads? Who are YOUR favorite "ships"?
About the Author:
Jenelle is a rare and elusive creature known as an "author." She enjoys wandering through the woods and opening doors in search of hidden passageways. She can sometimes be found in darkened corners of libraries or coffee shops sipping hot chocolate and carrying on animated conversations with those strange and invisible beings known as "characters."
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A blog about all things fantasy from the elements we all love to how to write it. Posts are from our very own Fellowship of Fantasy authors.