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  1. #1

    Fantasy romance that's not predetermined from 'boy meets girl'?

    After reading quite a bit of fantasy, this is a theme that particularly chafes. Though I'm sure you'll all say it's bad writing anyway, fantasy such as those written by Jordan or Goodkind are perfect examples of what I'm talking about: characters in these books meet love interests in the early novels and we all know that no matter what curve balls or perils befall either of the partners, the single immutable fact is that they will be together at the end of the series.

    This happens in at least 80-90% of fantasy with any kind of romance in it, no matter how contrived or realistic.

    (very mild spoilers for Patrick Rothfuss Kingkiller Chronicles ahead)


    The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Rothfuss, is something of a breath of fresh air in this regard. I'm a big fan of the 'boy (or girl) coming into their own and becoming a person of importance in the world' along with a healthy dash of magic and romance. Rothfuss' novels have this in spades. I felt Kvothe and Denna's on-again, off-again relationship was extremely refreshing in the SFF romance landscape. And I was further pleased to see that Kvothe didn't live his life as an aesetic if he couldn't be with his flighty love. This seems far more realistic than these stories of meeting your true soul mate in the first person of the opposite sex that happens by your way.

    Are there any other novels out there that are similar to Rothfuss' books in this regard? I'd love to look into them if so.

  2. #2
    Abercrombie's First Law trilogy springs to mind here.

  3. #3
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Malinda Lo's Huntress has quite a bittersweet romance plot, but I don't know if a lesbian romance is what you're after.

    Newton's Legends of the Red Sun series has a lot of romance kinds, some are happy endings (In more than one way), some are hopeless and others aren't. Canavan's The Black Magician trilogy also has a fairly bittersweet romance, and also one which was the biggest load of tripe I've seen in a while.

    I don't know anything like Rothfuss, though. I don't really know of any books where people get sexed to death by a fairy thing that doesn't magically kill a certain person because of something silly.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Loerwyn View Post
    I don't know anything like Rothfuss, though. I don't really know of any books where people get sexed to death by a fairy thing that doesn't magically kill a certain person because of something silly.
    Lol. I wasn't really counting that encounter, but point taken. Though oddly enough, I can say that Rothfuss borrowed that bit from Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman's The Dark Sword Trilogy. There is a near-identical encounter with Joram in the first book.

    Edit: I noticed in a thread about Abercrombie you said you haven't even read Rothfuss. You brought up the same sexual escapades in that thread. I found nothing wrong with these (actually, none of it occurs in the first book at all). The encounter with Felurian does get mildly "spicy", but most of it is spent in other (non-sexual) ways that go far in developing his character. Rothfuss writes a very realistic depiction of Kvothe as a teenager who's all clumsy around girls until he gets a modicum of experience thrust upon him in the second book. In NotW, he deliberately avoids any possible relationships because he's not confident in himself with regard to interacting with females in a romantic sense. He does this because he's afraid of failure - something I would have intimately empathized with growing up. Though his sexual encounters happen probably more often than some may like in the latter half of the second book, they are not used as a form of literary smut. In fact, they're largely glossed over and related without any detail at all simply to convey what was occuring in Kvothe's life at the time. Young men date, this is generally a fact of life.

    This is part of the problem that I referenced in my OP - most authors portray young men (and women) as someone that will fall hopelessly head over heels in love with the first member of the opposite sex that makes eyes at them, and they're set for life. This simply doesn't happen. I found the contrast between Kvothe and characters like Rand Al'Thor, who would have remained faithful to a girl that acted like she hated him, wasn't betrothed to him, and he hadn't progressed with romantically beyond speaking with a few times. Keep in mind, too, that Rothfuss is writing the KKC novels almost entirely from Kvothe's perspective, so the reader is bound to get a much greater depth of experience for what has occurred in his life. Though I'll admit that Rothfuss doesn't always write character interactions perfectly - I found Kvothe and Denna's time together late in the first book to be somewhat...off.

    If you're positive you're not going to enjoy KKC and simply don't want to read Rothfuss, so be it, that's clearly your right. But to make claims about his books based on second hand knowledge seems wrong to me. Just my 2c.

    I still highly recommend KKC. Contrary to one of the more common criticisms I've read, I think you'd find Kvothe to be a VERY imperfect character, and realistically flawed at that.
    Last edited by Nexte100; July 25th, 2011 at 11:15 AM.

  5. #5
    I can't say anything about Rothfuss, but I thought Peter Beagle handled the romances in The Last Unicorn and his later The Innkeeper's Song extremely well; an adult handling of adult emotion (and not in the "adult entertainment" sense).

    Randy M.

  6. #6
    Registered User Carlyle Clark's Avatar
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    I may be not be addressing the point precisely as I only skimmed through this thread since I haven't read the second Rothfuss yet and don't want any spoilers, but Daniel Abraham's THE LONG PRICE QUARTET has not had the predictable "destined" romances least not in the first 3 books.

  7. #7
    Jennifer Roberson's Sword Dancer Saga was an interesting read to me. The story is focused on the two sword warriors (one being a young northern beauty, while the other is a brutish southern desert warrior). One would expect that they would develop a love bond right away, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I can't go into much without giving spoilers. They pretty much start out as enemies, warying and cautious, then through hardship; friendship. Genuine or not, one of them is mislead by this friendship into a betrayal that scarred whatever connected them to each others.

    I am only on book 3 out of 6, and the romance between them is extremely on and off. Each time they try to mend things, it just does not go as plan, yet as if fated, these people continue to adventure together.

    This series is very action packed, yet romance takes no backseat to the vast amount of sword fighting. If you are looking for a realistic romance in fantasy, this might be just the one you are looking for.

  8. #8
    Possibly Jennifer Fallon's Second Sons trilogy. Certainly doesn't follow the romantic stereotypes you brought up, and in my opinion is a very enjoyable read. But it might not be quite what you're looking for.

  9. #9
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    Try also the book of the month: Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. I've just finished it and I think the mature relationship between the protagonists is one of the best I've found in a fantasy epic.

    I'm also partial to Achamian and Esmenet in the Prince of Nothing books by R Scott Bakker. I have only read the original trilogy.

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