Friendship in storytelling

A post at Writer Unboxed: The Value of Friendship in Storytelling

This is a long post. For those of us who value friendship relationships in novels, it’s well worth a look. And that’s all of us, I’m pretty sure.

Gwynne’s storytelling [John Gwynne’s epic fantasy series, The Faithful and the Fallen] features familial duty, mentorship, a bit of religious fervor, and a smattering of romantic love. But when it comes to character relationships, this series is built on the rock-solid foundation of friendship.

…As with most things in life, friendships are made stronger and are better appreciated when they’re well-earned. That’s true of the friends themselves as well as for those experiencing their story.

… Because friendship is fundamental to our human nature, in story we long for friendship to form, to deepen, to be repaired or restored. We root for unlikely friendships, and crave uncommon loyalty. 

We do.

I’ve never read of this particular series, but I’m sure we can all think of stories that centered friendship, even if they also included romantic relationships. I’m not just thinking of the Tenai trilogy here, or Tuyo — by the way, I see Tuyo is up to 116 ratings on Amazon. That’s my first book to go over 100, I believe. I do think traditional publishers fall down amazingly on the job of getting readers to review books — for heaven’s sake, it’s not hard. Put the Amazon link in the back with a request that readers leave a brief review. How hard IS that? Well, traditional publishers don’t bother, so here we are, with traditionally published books that have a paltry handful of reviews and self-published books that get several times the number of reviews in a fraction of the time. Not that I’m bitter. Except that Winter of Ice and Iron, for example, only has 24 reviews, so actually I am bitter about that. It takes two seconds to put a link at the end of a book and publishers just do not bother and it ticks me off.

Wow, off topic there.

By the way, I’ll be setting The Year’s Midnight to free on June 30-July 4. We’ll see how it does, and thank you to everyone who’s already read it and reviewed it; I waited for the first handful of reviews before setting it up for a sale. I’m very, very pleased that the star rating is 4.6. That’s higher than I expected for such an odd little story. I don’t know if the rating will stay that high, but it means a lot to me that some of you really loved this trilogy.

Back to books that center friendship. Most of mine. I’d have to think about them to figure out if there are any that don’t really center friendship. I suppose The Mountain of Kept Memory. That one centers the sibling relationship and then the slow romance is secondary and friendships are tertiary.

Books other than mine that center friendship:

Of course the SFF novels by Nicole Kornher-Stace. I still haven’t read Firebreak. To be fair, I haven’t read anything much lately.

Friendship is absolutely central in The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch. This is a series that’s almost too gritty for me, but not quite. I believe I might like the third book the best. The second is the weakest, imo, so if you read that one and didn’t care for it, you might consider trying the third despite that.

Oh, the Steerswoman series! Which I just mentioned and yes, I sympathize if you just can’t make yourself read a series that is not finished and may never be finished, but it’s just so wonderful I can’t help but keep pointing to it.

Naomi Kritzer’s Freedom‘s Gate trilogy, which is (a) finished, and (b) absolutely fabulous, a real must-read epic fantasy series.

The Sorcery and Cecelia books, which are a good example of stories that center both romance and friendship at the same time.

The Queen of the Dead trilogy by Michelle Sagara. There’s some romance, but very secondary to the solid friendships.

Obviously The Hands of the Emperor and also obviously From All False Doctrine, my two (very different) favorites from last year. The former centers friendship and has essentially no romance; the latter handles both with amazing skill.

Oh, I can’t stop without mentioning the non-SFF, extraordinary WWII novels by Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire. Wow. Those are just remarkable stories. Moving, powerful historical novels.

Okay, so, surely you all are now thinking of some of your favorite friendships in SFF (or other genres). Toss ’em in the comments, by all means. Any new-to-you novels that might also be new to the rest of us would be especially welcome.

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3 thoughts on “Friendship in storytelling”

  1. Not new, but Timothy Zahn’s Dragon and Thief series is quite delightful as a friendship-centered sci-fi. Also Diana Wynne Jones’s Eight Days of Luke, which brings Norse mythology into the (mostly) modern day, with amusing and sometimes intense results. Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth, as well as the indirect sequel The Silver Branch, both center on friendships and are set in Roman Britain in different eras.

  2. Blackthorn Wiches series by Jo Spurrier. The main characters are Aleida the jaded and cynical witch and Elodie the naive but very practical and resourceful farm-girl, both traumatised by their upbringing, and you can see that the friendship is good for both of them and they are a positive influence on each other.

    Cadeleonian series by Ginn Hale. Fantasy romance between gay characters with quite good worldbuilding. It is also nice to see how the relationships change, we meet the original group (love interests are added later), as teenagers and in book 5 they are in their early thirties. They’ve matured and changed a lot.

  3. I wonder if traditional publishers are reluctant to link to Amazon because it might be seen as favouring/encouraging one vendor over another?

    Or because if readers aren’t recent Amazon customers they can’t leave reviews there. At least that used to be so. Sometime after Amazon established a domain for my region and I switched over to that, all my old reviews on Amazon.com were then hidden because I hadn’t recently bought anything through the .com demain. That put me off posting my reviews on Amazon.

    As for SFF and friendship, I just read Naomi Kritzer’s Chaos on CatNet, the sequel to Catfishing on CatNet.

    My favourite frienship-centric Diana Wynne Jones is The Year of the Griffin.

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