It’s been a few weeks since I did one of these, but how could I resist sharing some of my favourite literary bromances?! This week’s topic focuses on Favourite Bromances, defined here as a ‘platonic relationship between two characters who identify as male’.
My personal take on bromance has always been really close, through thick-and-thin male friendships, so I’ve stuck to close friendships, rather than just my favourite platonic relationships between men. For example, I adore everything about the dynamic between Richard and Francis Crawford in Dorothy Dunnett’s The Lymond Chronicles, but it’s not always a close relationship so they don’t make the cut here!
1. Gansey and Adam Parrish/Gansey and Ronan Lynch
(The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater)
One of the things I love most about The Raven Cycle is that the platonic relationships are depicted as being equal in importance to the romantic relationships that develop over the course of the series. In fact, Stiefvater said that while writing the book she had a post-it note on her computer that said, “Remember that the worst thing that can happen is that they can stop being friends.” As someone who has no interest in being in a romantic or sexual relationship, it means so much to me that all of the friendships in The Raven Cycle are depicted so well and that they are placed on equal footing as romantic love. Even though there are ships in this book, including one that is among my favourite fictional romantic relationships of all-time, I also adore the friendships between characters and especially the ‘bromances’ that Gansey has with Adam Parrish and with Ronan Lynch. Despite their differences in social class and upbringing, Gansey obviously thinks the world of Adam Parrish, and although he experiences some understandable envy, Adam cares so much about Gansey. Both Gansey and Ronan have siblings of their own, but their relationship with one another is so close that they seem to consider each other brothers. I love that platonic relationships in general, but especially the bromances between these characters, are so important throughout The Raven Cycle.
‘While I’m gone’, Gansey said, pausing, ‘dream me the world. Something new for every night.’
2. Frodo and Sam/Merry and Pippin
(The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien)
I’m pretty sure you could fill an entire Top 5 with just bromances from Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings, but I’ve stuck to (cheating slightly) just two between my beloved hobbits. Sam and Frodo are definitely the kind of friends who stay by each other’s side (quite literally!) until the end. When the Ring has Frodo in its grasp, Sam is there to give him the strength he needs to carry it forward. It’s a beautiful friendship inspired, I remember being taught in an undergrad course, by the WWI soldier relationship between a private and a batman (A batman, was a soldier who was required to fight but who was also tasked with looking after an officer’s kit, cooking, and cleaning – Downton Abbey fans may recall the connection between Lord Grantham and Mr. Bates). Although perhaps not put through the same intense testing as Frodo and Sam’s connection, I also love the bromance between hobbits Merry and his cousin Pippin. Nearly inseparable, their paths are forced to diverge and they swear fealty to different lords, but remain the best of friends.
‘Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get!…. Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.’
3. Kell and Rhy Maresh
(The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab)
I think that what I love most about Kell and Rhy’s relationship is how well these brothers complement one another. Kell is often serious, restrained, and worrying about something, while Rhy is jovial and flirtatious. They couldn’t be more different and yet they would do absolutely anything for one another, to the point where Kell literally binds their lives together in order to save his brother. Although Kell feels like an outsider when it comes to the royal family and his adopted parents, he has always considered Rhy his brother.
Kell smiled. It was a rare thing, and Rhy wanted to hold fast to it—he was the only one who could make his brother smile, and he wore it like a badge.
4. Prince Aleksander and Seyonne
(The Rai-Kirah Trilogy by Carol Berg)
This is one of those tropey (but somehow still really fun to read?!) cases of enemies who become reluctant allies and ultimately close friends. Many of Seyonne’s people, who have been waging a secret war against demonkind, were enslaved by the invading Derzhi people. After 16 years as a slave, he is purchased by the heir to the Derzhi Empire, Aleksander. Naturally at first they despise one another, but Seyonne sees a spark of greatness in Aleksander and as he sets about trying to save him from a powerful demon that is pursuing the heir, they become fast friends. The friendship is developed slowly enough that it’s believable and feels true. Although the rest of the trilogy unfortunately never quite lives up to the promise of the first book, I do love this friendship, a true bromance of two men who may disagree on issues but don’t love each other any less for their differences of opinion.
‘Grandfather was right, wasn’t he? This is not just about your oath anymore, not about saving the world from demon chaos. This is about Aleksander.’
‘I would give my life for him – a stubborn, arrogant, murderous Derzhi. I think I’ve lost my mind.’
‘You sound just as he did, cursing you for an insolent barbarian…just before he went dashing off to Avenkhar to find you.’
5. Les Amis (especially Enjolras and Combeferre and Courfeyrac)
(Les Miserables by Victor Hugo)
As much as I love Les Miserables, both the book and the musical, I have sometimes felt that the fandom tends to get a little hung up on les amis, the revolutionary students fighting on the barricades, to the detriment of the other characters. For a topic like this week’s T5W though ‘The Friends of the ABC’ fit perfectly. Introduced in a chapter titled, “A Group That Almost Became Historic” are Enjolras, a charming young man capable of being terrible who represents the logic of the Revolution, Combeferre, who “completed and corrected Enjolras” and represents the philosophy of the Revolution, and Courfeyrac, full of youthful animation. I love this trio and how different they are, yet how well they fit as a team and build on each other’s strengths. Whenever I’m seeing a musical adaptation of the book I can’t help but keep an eye out for a strong central trio of amis thanks to the descriptions and interactions of this trio in The Brick (as the unabridged Les Mis is affectionately known).
‘Enjolras was the chief, Combeferre was the guide, Courfeyrac was the center. The others gave more light, he gave more heat; the truth is that he had all the qualities of acenter – roundness and radiance.’
That’s it for my, somewhat eclectic, list of favourite literary bromances. Have you read any of these? Who are your favourite bromances? Let me know in the comments!