More Than Magic: The Power of Friendship in Fantasy Tales

Explore the enduring themes of friendship and loyalty in fantasy stories. From inseparable duos to unlikely alliances, discover how these bonds elevate the tale.

Friendship and loyalty—two themes so recurrent in fantasy stories that you might think you’ve stumbled into a daycare rather than a realm fraught with peril, dragons, and morally ambiguous sorcerers.

In a genre that often pivots around quests, battles, and someone’s desperate need to stick a sword into a stone (or another person), the power of friendship is an oddly comforting constant.

Let’s explore, shall we?

The Inseparable Duo: Two Peas in a Deadly Pod

Every hero needs a sidekick, just as every fish needs a bicycle—no, wait, that’s not right. Scratch that.

Whether it’s a warrior and their comedic relief or two mages that complete each other’s spells, the dynamics are tried and tested.

They may bicker like an old married couple, but when push comes to shove (usually off a cliff), they’ve got each other’s backs.

The Unlikely Alliance: Frenemies till the End

Ah, nothing says ‘epic tale’ like an alliance forged out of sheer necessity rather than affection.

You know the type: the honour-bound knight and the rogue thief, the elf and the dwarf, the vegan and the carnivore.

Their loyalty is begrudging at first but give them a couple of near-death experiences, and voilà, best buds—or at least allies who won’t stab each other in the back.

The Brotherhood/Sisterhood: All for One and One for Death

Oh, the sweetness of voluntary kinship!

These groups go beyond the usual duos or trios and evolve into miniature armies of friendship.

Whether it’s a fellowship entrusted with a perilous quest or a band of rebels trying to overthrow a tyrant, their loyalty to the cause—and each other—is the glue that holds the narrative together.

It’s like a group project, but with more danger and fewer PowerPoint slides.

The Pet Companion: Because Who Needs Humans?

Why limit friendships to two-legged creatures?

In fantasy, loyalty often comes on four legs, or wings, or fins, or…you get the point.

These loyal pets and mythical creatures offer unconditional love and a convenient mode of transport.

Not to mention, they usually get the best action scenes.

A toast to the unsung heroes of fantasy lore!

Bonds Forged in Adversity: Trial by Fire, Literally

Nothing solidifies friendship like staring into the eyes of a fire-breathing dragon and deciding, collectively, that today is not a good day to die.

Shared life-threatening experiences have a funny way of deepening bonds.

In fantasy, loyalty is often earned through trials that range from combat to riddles to the always-popular test of eating something utterly disgusting.

Betrayal: The Dark Side of Loyalty

Because what is loyalty without the inevitable stab in the back for dramatic effect?

Betrayal serves as the crucible that tests friendships and, more often than not, makes them stronger.

Unless, of course, you’re the one being betrayed; then you’re probably dead.

But for those who survive, it’s a life lesson gift-wrapped in treachery.

The Best Friendships in Fantasy: A Hall of Fame for the Loyal and the Brave

No fantasy fan’s experience is complete without delving into these iconic partnerships.

They make us laugh, they make us cry, and sometimes, they make us wish for a magical pet. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Locke and Jean (The Gentlemen Bastard Series)

What do you get when you pair a silver-tongued conman with a hulking bruiser?

The answer is Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, two inseparable thieves whose friendship survives heists, betrayal, and far too many life-threatening situations.

It’s a bromance for the ages, complete with witty banter, heartfelt moments, and the occasional punch in the face—for old time’s sake.

FitzChivalry and Nighteyes (The Farseer Trilogy)

No list would be complete without the mind-linked duo of FitzChivalry and Nighteyes.

A man and his wolf, sharing not just thoughts but an unbreakable bond that challenges our understanding of friendship itself.

Nighteyes offers a brutal, yet honest, perspective that often saves Fitz from himself.

It’s more than a pet and owner relationship; it’s a soul-deep connection.

Hadrian and Royce (The Riyria Revelations)

Swords and stealth come together in the formidable partnership of Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn.

One’s an optimist with a strong moral code; the other’s a cynical rogue with a penchant for sarcasm.

Together, they form Riyria, a mercenary duo that could either save the world or rob it blind—depending on who hires them first.

Legolas and Gimli (The Lord of the Rings)

Elves and dwarves are supposed to be enemies, but Legolas and Gimli didn’t get that memo.

Their friendship evolves from mutual distrust to counting coup in battle.

They’re the quintessential example of an unlikely friendship that breaks all the racial stereotypes of Middle-earth.

Geralt and Dandelion (The Witcher Series)

A monster-hunter and a bard walk into a bar… and the result is an enduring friendship that survives monsters, political intrigue, and Dandelion’s incessant need to turn everything into a ballad.

A poignant reminder that even the most hardened warriors need a laugh sometimes.

Kvothe and Willem (The Kingkiller Chronicle)

The brilliant but impulsive Kvothe finds a steadying presence in his university friend Willem.

Despite the dangers and darkness that follow Kvothe like a shadow, Willem remains a beacon of loyalty.

Their friendship offers a respite from the chaos, even if it’s only momentary.

Jezal and Logen (The First Law Trilogy)

From disdain to a grudging respect, the friendship between Captain Jezal dan Luthar and Logen Ninefingers is as complex as they come.

They may come from different worlds—one a self-absorbed noble and the other a battle-scarred barbarian—but when their backs are against the wall, they find common ground.

TThese partnerships remind us that even in worlds filled with magic, mythical beasts, and malevolent forces, it’s the human (or wolfish, or elven, or dwarven) connections that truly make a story unforgettable.

How Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy Changed the Fantasy Genre

Explore the deep impact of Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy on modern fantasy literature, its character evolution and redefining portrayal of heroes.

Unbeknownst to some, the fantastical world of modern literature has a secret benefactor.

Robin Hobb, with her Farseer Trilogy, has bestowed riches upon the genre that would make Smaug blush.

Kicking things off with “Assassin’s Apprentice,” Hobb didn’t just open a book—she flung open the gates to a new realm of character development.

Our protagonist, FitzChivalry Farseer, doesn’t merely grow, he unfolds, evolves, and occasionally unravels, like a well-kept tapestry being slowly unveiled.

His journey from royal bastard to skilled assassin shows us that heroes don’t always come in shining armour or with a penchant for loquacious speeches about destiny.

Sometimes, they come with a complex past and an uncertainty about the future that feels remarkably human.

Before we knew it, “Royal Assassin” and “Assassin’s Quest” followed suit, guiding us through Fitz’s adventures and growth in an intricate world with more twists and turns than a hedge maze after a few sherries.

This focus on personal evolution and the realities of the human condition amidst high fantasy turned the genre on its head, and we’ve been doing headstands ever since.

While traditional fantasy was busy grappling with trolls and casting arcane spells, Hobb was subtly changing the game.

Her potent mix of complex characters, political intrigue, and emotional depth offered readers a fresh perspective.

Suddenly, a dragon wasn’t merely a fire-breathing lizard, but a symbol of our deepest desires and fears.

The once clear-cut lines between good and evil began to blur, just like in our everyday life, showing that the realm of fantasy isn’t so removed from reality after all.

It was this depth, this infusion of reality into a fantastical world that had a seismic impact on modern fantasy.

Today, you can see Hobb’s influence strewn across the genre like breadcrumbs in the Grimm’s tales.

Authors have started focusing on characters who feel real, not just because of their witty dialogue or mysterious pasts, but due to their relatability, their flaws, their triumphs, and their growth.

They have started weaving worlds where magic and politics dance in harmony, and where morality is more nuanced than simple black and white.

Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy, an understated game-changer, has left a mark on the sand of fantasy literature that’s as enduring as a dragon’s footprint.

After all, who needs a knight in shining armour when you can have a complex, evolving hero with a knack for assassination?

If you enjoy reading about flawed characters, you might enjoy my Dawn of Assassins series.

You can read the prequel novel Birth of Assassins for free as part of the Ravengass Universe starter library.

The Unbreakable Bonds: A Look at Bromances in Fantasy Literature

Embark on a journey through fantasy literature’s memorable bromances, from Gentleman Bastards to the unforgettable duo in Stormlight Archive.

As avid readers of fantasy literature will attest, there’s little in this genre that captures our hearts and imaginations quite like a good bromance.

These intimate friendships, often between two (occasionally more) men, present an opportunity for deep character development, exhilarating adventures, and emotional resonance that many of us can relate to.

But fear not, this isn’t a dissertation on the sociological aspects of male bonding in fiction.

Think of it as a merry skip through the flowering fields of fantasy bromances, occasionally stopping to point and exclaim, “Look at those guys, aren’t they just great together!”

Locke and Jean

First up, let’s pop in to visit the Gentleman Bastards.

If ever there was a tale that warmed the cockles of your heart with its hearty bromance, it’s Scott Lynch’s series.

Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen have the kind of bond that makes you want to cry into your ale.

They’re thieves, con-artists, and brothers in all but blood.

They banter, they bicker, and they save each other’s backsides with alarming regularity.

That’s the thing about Locke and Jean—it’s not just about fighting the baddies together, it’s about saving each other from their own worst habits.

Hadrian and Royce

In a similar vein, we have the unforgettable duo of Hadrian and Royce from Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations.

What starts as a business partnership between a kind-hearted warrior and a cynical thief eventually blossoms into an unshakable friendship that’s full of witty banter and nail-biting escapades.

It’s quite like if you took a shilling for every time they save each other, you’d be as rich as the king in no time.

The Greatcoats

Now let’s take a detour through Sebastien de Castell‘s ‘Greatcoats’ series.

The Greatcoats themselves—Falcio, Kest, and Brasti—have a friendship that can only be described as…well, coat of arms deep.

They squabble like schoolboys one moment and are ready to take a sword for each other the next.

Not to mention their synchronised cloak-swirling—that’s some real friend goals there.

Clay and Gabriel

But hold your horses…or should I say wyverns?

Nicholas Eames’ ‘Kings of the Wyld’ series boasts Clay Cooper and Gabriel.

These two old warriors come out of retirement for one last hurrah, enduring all manner of beasts and bedlam.

Their banter will have you chuckling like a goblin on giggleweed, but at the same time, their loyalty will make you sob like a heartbroken dragon.

An emotional rollercoaster, isn’t it?

Jon and Samwell

Next stop is at the frosty wall of Westeros.

If you listen closely, you might just hear the sound of Jon Snow and Samwell Tarley’s friendship, a heartwarming chord that rings true even amidst the incessant chill.

In George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire,’ Jon and Sam start as green boys at the Night’s Watch but soon develop an enduring friendship that weathers both White Walkers and the politics of the realm.

Jon, the brooding bastard, and Sam, the self-deprecating scholar, are as different as ice and fire, but they stick together like two wights in a snowstorm.

Kaladin and Adolin

Our next bromance takes us to the ‘Stormlight Archive’ by Brandon Sanderson, where we meet the mighty Kaladin and the charismatic Adolin Kholin.

Although their friendship starts on rocky grounds (and who can blame them—class tensions, haunted pasts, and all that), they grow to rely on each other.

Adolin might be the charming prince, and Kaladin a brooding ex-slave, but their friendship shines brighter than a Shardblade in battle.

Plus, nothing says ‘bromance’ quite like fighting an ancient, desolate evil together, does it?

Harry and Ron

Harry Potter and Ron Weasley from J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ series undoubtedly deserve a mention.

Despite the magic and mayhem of Hogwarts, these two chaps stick together through thick and thin (and troll encounters).

0They’re the epitome of childhood friends turned lifelong companions.

It’s a true bromance when your mate is willing to face down You-Know-Who and play life-threatening chess for you.

Kvothe and Simmon

Turning the pages to Patrick Rothfuss’s ‘The Kingkiller Chronicle,’ we find the bond between Kvothe and Simmon.

Kvothe might be the protagonist, the dramatic hero with a tragic past, but it’s Simmon’s steady loyalty that lights up their friendship.

Sim is there through Kvothe’s ups, downs, and frequent tavern brawls.

Sure, Simmon might not be a legendary hero or a magical prodigy, but he’s a bloody good made, and isn’t that what counts?

Kennit and Wintrow

Next, we whisk ourselves to the high seas of Robin Hobb’s ‘Liveship Traders.’

Here, we witness the understated, deeply emotional bond between Captain Kennit and his shipmate Wintrow Vestrit.

Their relationship may start with coercion, but it evolves into an unexpected friendship full of emotional depth.

It’s a rare bromance, crafted masterfully by Hobb, and one that’s hard to forget.

Frodo and Sam

And of course, how can any discussion about bromances in fantasy literature be complete without mentioning Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins from ‘The Lord of the Rings?’

Their enduring, pure, and simple friendship as they journey through Middle Earth is stuff of legends. Sam carrying Frodo up Mount Doom is nothing short of bromance in its most epic form.

“I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

If you’re not a tad teary after that, well, I’m afraid you might just be a stone troll.

Honourable mention: FitzChivalry and Nighteyes

Our exploration of bromances in fantasy literature would be woefully incomplete without delving into the peculiar, profound relationship that transcends the barriers of species: FitzChivalry Farseer and Nighteyes from Robin Hobb’s ‘Farseer Trilogy.’

You see, the ‘bromance’ that Fitz, the royal bastard, shares with Nighteyes, his wolf companion, is quite unlike any other we’ve discussed so far.

It’s not just friendship, it’s a ‘soulship’ if you will, a bond of minds and spirits.

Through the Wit (a form of magic that allows telepathic and empathic bonds with animals), these two are bound together in ways that redefine the traditional concepts of friendship.

Nighteyes isn’t just Fitz’s pet or even his sidekick—he’s his confidant, his moral compass, and quite frankly, the sensible one in the pair (and yes, we’re talking about a wolf here).

When you have a wolf advising you on your love life, you know you’ve got something unique.

Their banter (if you can call telepathic wolf-human conversations that) is full of playful humour and wisdom.

It’s touching how Nighteyes, the wolf, often ends up being the one teaching Fitz about loyalty, courage, and living in the moment.

One might even say he’s the real hero of the story—Fitz certainly wouldn’t be the same without him.

But it’s not all sunshine and howls—their bond carries a profound sense of melancholy too.

As readers, we’re reminded of the fleeting nature of Nighteyes’ life compared to Fitz’s, a fact that lends an additional depth to their relationship.

It’s this blend of love, wisdom, and impending heartbreak that makes their bond feel so real and resonates with readers even after they close the book.

And in the echoing words of Nighteyes, “We are pack.”

It’s friendships like these that teach us the true magic in fantasy isn’t always about casting spells or slaying monsters—sometimes, it’s about having someone who’ll stand by your side, laugh at your bad jokes, and help you pick yourself up when you’ve had one too many pints of dwarven ale.

And aren’t those just the best types of friendships?

If you love a good bromance in fantasy, you might enjoy my Dawn of Assassins series which centres around the friendship of Fedor and Lev.

Read the prequel novel Birth of Assassins for free as part of your starter library.

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