Friday, June 1, 2018

Wedding Bells In Fantasy Fiction

TIME Commemorative Edition
So how about that wedding, then? I'm sure you know the one I mean: the handsome prince, the beautiful bride, the glittering ceremony, and of course the dress, the veil, the train, the tiara, the rings, the cake...And the kiss!

All the stuff of fairytale romance, in fact, which is probably why so many of us love a royal wedding. :-)

Although it did get me thinking, mainly along the lines that although romance abounds in Fantasy fiction, with happy-ever-after, couples-getting-together endings, there are relatively few actual weddings. 

The Red Wedding - no happy-ever-after here
By which I mean weddings of the Happy-Ever-After kind and definitely not the Red Wedding—and others of similar kind, such as Daenarys' child marriage to Khal Drogo—in George RR Martin's A Game of Thrones series.

Generally, though, a happier romantic story ends with the promise of a wedding—or in these less traditional times, with the couple intending to live together. Perhaps the reason books don't spend a lot of time on the weddings is because it's the promise and hope for the future that's the true culmination of the romance.

Nevertheless, here are some weddings that have actually taken place in Fantasy fiction.

Aragorn and Arwen: The Return of the King

I remember this wedding really taking me by surprise, back in the day, because unlike the film there had not been much, if any, build up to the fact that Aragorn and Arwen loved each other enough to get married. But get married they did, in both movie and book:

"Upon the every eve of Midsummer...the riders came to the gates of Minas Tirith...Last came...Elrond...and beside him upon a grey palfrey rode Arwen his daughter...Then Elrond laid the hand of his daughter in the hand of the King (Aragorn)...and all the stars flowered in the sky. And Aragorn...wedded Arwen Undómiel in the City of Kings upon the day of Midsummer..."

Sybel and Coren: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

There's a wedding, too, in Patricia McKillip's World Fantasy Award-winning novel, between the warrior Coren and the wizard, Sybel --- although it is by no means the end of their story:

"Rok married them that evening in the hall lit with candles... "Coren." She looked up at him and saw in the red-gold wash that lit his face a deep flame of laughter that had not been there before in his eyes. She smiled slowly, as though she were accepting the challenge of it. "Sybel."

Harry (Angharad/Harimad-Sol) and Corlath: The Blue Sword

This is very much a wedding in the traditional fairytale style:  the enemy has been defeated and the heroine and hero are young and victorious and in love.

"The city was decked with flowers, and long trailing cloaks of flowers ...were thrown around Corlath's shoulders and Harry's...and the ceremony was performed in the glassy white courtyard before Corlath's palace. People were hanging from windows and balconies...and lining the walls, and crowded into the courtyard itself until there was barely sapce for the king and queen..." 

A far cry from the Red Wedding indeed...

(The Blue Sword is a Newbery Honor Book.)

Aravis and Cor: The Horse and His Boy

Some weddings are somewhat more humorous in mention, but nonetheless give the story a sense of completion, as with Aravis and Cor (Shasta) in CS Lewis's The Horse and His Boy:

"Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I'm afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarrelling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently."

As with all good writing, the reader gets the feeling that there's more to this marriage than the surface of the words might suggest. In any case, it still beats a Red Wedding, hands down.

Hild and Cian: Hild

Nicola Griffith's Hild (a World Fantasy Award finalist) also ends with a wedding between Hild and Cian, who have been childhood friends and allies. While there may be more to their relationship, and the marriage is outwardly one of political contrivance and convenience, there is also love there...

"What mattered was the truth, rising like birdsong, like the scent of flowers opening to the sun, of her wyrd. Cian's hand beneath hers. It had always been so. It had always been meant to be so. Fate goes ever as it must."

As for my books—no, no weddings there, not yet at any rate, although a wedding is certainly heralded at the end of Thornspell.

The books I've mentioned are only a sample of the weddings that I hope you, dear readers, can point to. If you have a favorite, or better yet, favorites, please do share with a comment. :-)

Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) is Helen's most recent book and she is currently working on the fourth and final novel in The Wall Of Night series. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we


Kim Falconer said...

What a fun post, Helen! Thank you for the smiles. :)

OMG the Red Wedding! Yikes!

I think weddings in fantasy are endings, not beginnings. I remember Joss Whedon saying, in a Buffy The Vampire Slayer question, that once the romance is certain, that storyline is done. Holds true on many levels across genres.

On a lighter note, I am thinking of the wedding between Sam Gamgee and Rosie Cotton, his one true love from the Shire.

And what about William Weasely and Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter Series? A little along the lines of the George R R Martin's Red Wedding...

And then there is Twilight! BONDED!

Finnick and Annie's wedding in Mockingjay?

I'll have to think on this some more.

Paul Weimer said...

Hunh...a check of the fantasy novels I've read lately haven't HAD a wedding as a major plot element. Hmmm.

Your post is most excellent, though, Helen.

StorymancerHelen said...

Great suggestions, Kim - & how can I forget Sam & Rosie? The observation au Joss Whefon is also very apt. :)

Paul, am glad am not the only one who had to indulge in profound reflection on this topic -- *and* that you enjoyed the post.:)