Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
I am so excited for this week’s topic. The only thing better than one awesome character is two characters with chemistry. Fair warning- I went way beyond ten with this, and they aren’t all romantic couples.
15. Eric & Jenny from S. by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams – I didn’t love S. The meat of the book (Ship of Theseus) was boring and didn’t make a lot of sense. It was only saved by Jenny and Eric and their notes all over the margins. It’s a slow burn sort of romance and took some time to build. I love this couple because they fell in love over a book!
14. Thaniel & Mori from The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley – I love these two because you’re never quite sure where they stand with each other. It’s a will they/won’t they, but if you love nothing else about this book, you’ll be dying for a Happily Ever After by the end.
13. Claire & Jamie from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Ugh. These two. Listen- Outlander is a phenomenal book, and I absolutely love how much Jamie loves Claire. I included them despite the fact that I only ever read the first book through to completion. Why are they so damn long? (And no I haven’t watched the show.)
12. Caris & Merethin from World Without End by Ken Follett – The Pillars of the Earth series are some of my favorite historical fiction books of all time, and World Without End remains my favorite of the trilogy. If you aren’t ugly crying by the time Caris’s face is revealed on the angel overlooking Kingsbridge, there’s something wrong with you.
11. Eugenides & Irene from The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner – This is some of the best YA Fantasy Fiction out there. I’ll admit that when Eugenides revealed his love for Irene, it came as a little bit of a shock, but I really just wanted him to be happy. I love that Turner left so much to the imagination about their relationship.
10. Anita Blake & Jean Claude from the Anita Blake novels by Laurell K. Hamilton – I know Hamilton drove this series into the dirt after all of 8 books or so. Honestly I don’t care. Of all her lovers- Jean Claude remains as one of the ones who loved her first, loved her best, and loved her most.
9. Ken & Mishima from Infomocracy/Null States by Malka Ann Older – This was another slowly, but lovingly built romance. The best part? Aside from an odd scene where Mishima physically attacks Ken, it seemed like a totally normal relationship. No over the top expectations, no premature confessions of love, no waiting until they were ready to get married for sex. Honestly- they are probably one of the realest couples I’ve seen portrayed in literature.
8. Mira & Carey from The Moon and the Other by John Kessel – Mira and Carey are interesting because their relationship is already somewhat established by the time we join in on their story. Also- this book will rip your guts out, douse them in kerosene and light them on fire. It’s that good.
7. Falcio val Mond & Ethalia from The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell – There are better romantic couples on this list- but in these books Ethalia was badly needed. Poor Falcio just doesn’t ever seem to catch a break, so his stolen moments with Ethalia always put a smile on my face.
6. Apollo & Simmea from Thessaly by Jo Walton – (MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THIS SERIES) I don’t even know how to label these two. I think they are platonic friends officially. But I think Simmea tends more towards romantic love for all of book one, and Apollo completely loses his shit when he loses Simmea. This is far and away the most complex couple on this list.
5. Uhtred & Gisla from the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – (You didn’t honestly think we’d get through this list without Uhtred making an appearance did you? Brace yourselves- he’s got two more spots on this list.) I loved when Uhtred and Gisla were together. She was like the voice of reason in his life. The only person he genuinely listened to, and one only woman he sleeps with that he seems to truly respect. This was not a HEA and it ripped my heart out.
4. Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – Yes it’s terribly cliched. No I won’t take them off. It doesn’t require more explanation than that, does it?
3. Kaz Brekker & Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – If I’m being honest- the entire SoC crew and their significant others belong up here. None of the relationships in this book suffered needless angst and I feel like that’s pretty rare in a YA novel.
2. Elma & Nathaniel York from The Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal – Instead of explaining this one I’ll leave you with this very short story available free on Tor.com. You’re welcome. https://www.tor.com/2018/07/02/read-mary-robinette-kowals-the-lady-astronaut-of-mars/
1. Mac & Barrons from the Darkfever series by Karen Marie Moning – No- I don’t care that Barrons suffered a total character assassination in the past couple books. I don’t care that Moning has run out of ways to pit them against each other. They remain my favorite book couple of all time, and when I thought about my list they were the first two to come to mind.
But I promised more than romantic couples right? So here we go:
My favorite frenemies:
4. Ballister Blackheart & Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin from Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – From the moment I first saw these two on the same page I was shipping them.
3. Dolores Claiborne & Vera Donovan from Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King – This probably takes second place as one of the more complex relationships on this list. They love-hate each other, but they have each other’s backs. Stephen King sort of killed it (okay he actually killed it).
2. Jorg & Rikey from Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – I don’t know if the term frenemies actually applies to these two, but poor little Rikey sure can’t catch a break from Jorg.
1. Uhtred & Alfred from the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – I told you he’d be back. These two are honestly one of the most entertaining pairs I’ve ever read in literature. They need each other, but they hate each other, but they love each other.
But wait! There’s more!
My favorite bromances:
4. Geralt & Dandelion from The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski – These two. There’s nothing I love more than Dandelion getting into trouble and Geralt coming to save his ass.
3. Jackal & Oats from The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French – That moment when Oats shows up at the Betrayer Moon to fight the centaurs but really it’s just to see Jackal? Perfection.
2. Kest & Brasti & Falcio from The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell – This is probably the penultimate bromance. These guys are literally the three musketeers… rewritten. And their banter is the highlight of all the books.
1. Uhtred & Finan from the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – Uhtred and Finan to me are like the book version of Ragnar and Floki. It’s pretty obvious there’s nothing Finan wouldn’t do for his pal, and I’m happy Cornwell had the good sense to keep him around for more than a single book.
Whew- sorry that was long. Book couples are one of my favorite things. But you know what’s painfully, sorely, obviously missing from this list? Female friendships. (Sistermances- is that a thing? Can we make it a thing?) If you have one on your list please link to it so I can check it out!