Now that we’re past Valentine’s Day, let’s have some stories that have no or almost no romantic element. These make a nice change for those of us who think romance is not an essential component to storytelling and sometimes like our protagonists to just save the world without falling in love along the way.
These stories are not necessary romance-free as the series develops. But those that are first books have essentially zero romance. So:
Five fantasy novels where the protagonist does not fall in love:
Patricia McKillip – The Book of Atrix Wolfe
This is such a perfect book, and honestly, not only did it not need romance, but romance would have ruined it. Or turned it into a completely different book.
Tamora Pierce – Beka Cooper, Terrier. I thought this book was a huge increase in sophistication for Pierce, really at least as far as early MG to older YA. Contrast this with the casual insta-love in some of Pierce’s earlier works. This one is so different. Here, Beka Cooper meets a handsome, competent, secretive, ambitious thief . . . and does not fall in love. Good for her!
Ransom Riggs – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I actually preferred the creepy horror-ish beginning to the peculiar fantasy of the second half as we start to discover what is actually going on. I haven’t quite gotten around to going on with the series. But I liked this book, and I appreciated how the characters were involved with figuring things out and didn’t get involved with each other.
Django Wexler – The Thousand Names. Loved this book! Also loved how no one falls in love during the fast-paced, perilous adventure and how the main protagonist’s story involved growing into herself and into her new responsibilities rather than falling in love. Honestly, I can’t wait for the last book of this series to come out because I will SO enjoy going back to re-read it from the beginning.
Scott Lynch – The Lies of Locke Lamora. Romance appears later in the series. And a very fraught romance it is. But this first book doesn’t have that. And all the way through, even after the romance becomes more important, the relationship between Locke and Jean is really the central relationship. Just on the edge of too gritty for me, but the series never pushes the grittiness envelope toooo far, quite, and I admire the way Lynch is developing this complicated story.
It’s tough to think of fantasy novels that really do not have a romantic element, but I’ve sure I’ve missed a few. Can anybody add to this list?