Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Great Siblings in SFF

Naturally this is a topic that comes up from time to time, as readers of taste and discernment obviously like stories that emphasize great sibling relationships. Also, I thought of it because Lili just posted this review of The Mountain of Kept Memory at her blog Utopia State of Mind, in which she said, “The relationship between the two siblings … is at the heart of the novel, and only strengthened by the dual perspective. Both of them stand so well on their own – having their own quirks and weaknesses – but together they are stunning.”

So that’s satisfying! Also, doesn’t that immediately make you want to list off other SFF stories where sibling relationships are central? Well, it does me, so:

Ten Wonderful SFF Stories Where Siblings are Central:

1) The Mountain of Kept Memory, which gets to go first because after all it sparked this post.

2) The Black Dog series, because hey, obviously.

3) Before we leave my personal books, one more: House of Shadows. In the sequel, Door Into Light – which I still expect to bring out later this year – we will see a little more of some of many sisters mentioned in the first book.

Plenty of room left for authors who aren’t me! Onward –

4) The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennen, which is just about the first story I think of when I think of siblings. I love Jamie and Mae so much, and if you take Alan and Nick as brothers, which I do, then you’ve got two wonderful sets of siblings in this trilogy.

5) Triss and Pen in Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge. I really love sibling relationships that are strong and positive from beginning to end, but I also love relationships that start off negative and then go through a 180 degree turn as the story progresses. (The other way around, no. That I would hate.)

6) Nevada Baylor and her sisters Catalina and Arabella, plus her cousins Bernard and Leon, in Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series. The wonderful family dynamics is one reason this is my favorite Ilona Andrews’ series.

7) Medraut and Lleu in The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein. A difficult but ultimately fulfilling book for me.

8) Cat and Bee in the Spiritwalker trilogy by Kate Elliot. They’re cousins, but they were raised as sisters and anyway, you don’t have anything against cousins, do you? Okay then.

9) In Crown Duel and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith, Meliara and Branaric are quite different from each other and play off against each other quite well. I admit I did not really like Meliara until she grew up a little and got a clue, but by the end I liked her a lot.

10) Your entry here: ______________________________. What story did I miss that features a great sibling relationship?

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11 Comments Great Siblings in SFF

  1. SarahZ

    Nevada’s family in Hidden Legacy (Ilona Andrews) springs to mind. The family dynamics are some of the best parts of that one.

    I also like Daemon and Lucivar in the black jewels books.

    In general, siblings are way more common in kid’s and ya, which sort of makes sense, except grown ups have siblings also.

  2. Craig N.

    We need at least one SF entry to make this SFF. How about Miles and Mark Vorkosigan?

  3. Rachel

    Okay, yes, I would be happy to put Miles and Mark in the blank space. With bonus cousin in Ivan.

    Also for LMB, Fawn and her brother Whit. Though that takes us back to fantasy.

    SarahZ, yes, I put Nevada’s family as (6)! I love the siblings and cousins in that series.

  4. Bret Grandrath

    A pair of sisters from The Pride Of Chanur, Chur and Geran and their cousins Haral and Tirun.

  5. Mary Anne

    Patricia McKillip has a ton of really striking and memorable sibling relationships in her Riddlemaster series. Morgan and his brother and sister. Raederle and her brothers. The king with the shapechanger wife and his brother with the missing eye. Those relationships are not the focus of the books, but they are part of the web that holds the series together.
    I think part of what made “A Wrinkle in Time’ so magical when I was a kid was the relationship between Meg and her brother Charles Wallace. Siblings resonate for me. I have a lot of them. When I was a kid, my dad told me, “Nobody will ever know you like your brothers and sisters. They see you at your best and your worst.” He also taught us “Blood is thicker than water” and “Family first.” These lesson stuck, and I really appreciate my siblings, and those I find in a really good story.

  6. SarahZ

    I don’t know how I missed that you had them already! I’m having trouble thinking of many sci fi siblings at all, although I do read more fantasy than sf.

  7. Elaine T

    L. Shelby’s Across a Jade Sea has multiple brothers and sisters, whom the husband calls on when his wife is in danger. If you haven’t read it, Mary Ann, you probably should.

    I’m fairly sure Wrede has sibling relationships, but am blanking on titles.

  8. Louise

    ElaineT, you might be thinking of Wrede/Stevermer’s Kate and Cecilia books–Kate and Georgiana are sisters, and Cecy and Oliver are brother and sister. Both Georgy and Oliver are drips, but the sibling bond remains strong. And in many ways Cecy and Kate are more like sisters than cousins.

    I love the sibling relationships in all Edward Eager’s stories, especially Half Magic and Magic by the Lake. They are so believable without ever being painful.

  9. mona

    Wrede’s Frontier Magic series has *superb* family dynamics. Parents as well as siblings. Loved that.

    I also liked Alanna and Thom from Pierce’s Song of the Lioness. Not a lot of interaction there, but it always rang true for me.

  10. Rachel

    Thank you all for chiming in!

    Bret, I love the kinship system and social dynamics in the Chanur books, but the sibling relationships are not what I would call central — though family bonds are, in a more general sense.

    Mary Ann, YES for the Riddlemaster series! Also, Mona, YES again for the Frontier magic series. I am astonished I didn’t think of both of those myself.

    Family didn’t occupy many scenes in L. Shelby’s trilogy — but yes, when we saw that whole extended family, they were fantastic.

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