Oh, Valentine’s Day. A friend of mine recently proposed making Valentine’s Day into an adult Halloween—couples must hand out candy to single folk. (I would be so up for that.) Mostly, it exists on my calendar as a day to hand out bizarre Valentines and candy in my eternal struggle to divorce love from romance. But that’s tomorrow. Today, we’re going to look at one of my favorite couples in all of fiction—the shieldmaiden and the wizard’s pupil.
Éowyn is one of my favorite characters in fiction. She’s sharp, capable, and incredibly dark—a woman who would wither and die if she could not do a great deed; she and her brother are the epitome of Rohirric culture. As much as I like film!Éowyn, she’s a bit too much of a stoic Luke Skywalker to be the grim woman on the page; she’s light and relatable. Incidentally, it took me years to realize that Éowyn’s scene with the dying Theoden mirrored Luke’s scene with the dying Anakin. (Film!Éowyn shall henceforth be called “Éowyn Skywalker”.) In contrast, Éowyn courts death and glory as if they’re two sides of the same coin—if anything, she’s a woman with a heart of lead. She mistakes her hero worship of Aragorn for love, because she sees her own grimness admired in him; she longs to be him, not be with him. Éowyn and Aragorn’s complex relationship is one of my favorite relationships in The Lord of the Rings, but we’re not talking about her relationship with Aragorn today—we’re talking about her relationship with Faramir.
The Wizard’s Pupil
Faramir is very different from Éowyn; while he’s certainly no slouch in the combat department, his father, Denethor, scoffingly calls him “a wizard’s pupil”. (To be fair, Gandalf is a lot of people’s mentors. Comes with the whole Istar thing, I suppose.) He’s good-natured and, while serious, has a light side. One of the defining moments for Éowyn and Faramir for me is when Faramir disarms a bitter Éowyn with a joke; something she needs and that Aragorn could never give her. He’s a genuinely good person, which Tolkien stresses by his refusal of the Ring. In fact, Tolkien considered Faramir to be the character most like him. The dream Faramir relates to Éowyn, of a great wave drowning a country, is actually a recurring dream of Tolkien’s, which took another form in Middle-earth in the downfall of Númenor. The films give Éowyn this dream, but even that ties them closer together. In the Jackson films, Faramir is changed even more than Éowyn is; he is tempted by the Ring and brings Sam and Frodo to Osigiliath. While Jackson did this to stress the corrupting nature of the Ring, I think changing Éowyn makes it necessary to change Faramir—by making her lighter, you must make him darker.
The Prince and The White Lady of Ithilien
They’re a balanced couple who complement each other well; heck, they’ve even got their own respective hobbits. They’re people who have lived through an extremely dark time, including the loss of parental figures who, at the very end, finally appreciate them. (Éowyn is luckier in this department than Faramir, especially Éowyn Skywalker.) They’re both skilled warriors, but that’s not all they are—Faramir loves lore and music, and Éowyn’s love of gardening succeeds her love of bloody deeds. Quite frankly, they deserve each other after being put through hell and back. They don’t try to change one another—they love each other in spite of, or perhaps because of, their faults. Faramir tempers Éowyn’s darkness; Éowyn is a rock for the underappreciated Faramir to lean on and trust in. Originally, Tolkien intended Éowyn to be a match for Aragorn and, later, to even die on the battlefield—even their route to each other in canon was a long one. But in the end, they’re perfect for each other while, importantly, not being created for each other. They’re strong people; they could go on after the War of the Ring without each other, but their lives would be so much poorer for it. That’s a love story to root for.
My week as busy, as usual. I finally finished the 1981 radio play adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, which was… interesting, to say the least. I’ve got about sixty pages of She-Wolves to polish off before I can dig into Who Fears Death, which I’ve been looking forward to for a very, very long time. I also watched Troy and Lost in Austen last night, which are both eligible for Page to Screen and both entertaining in strange ways.
Trisha at eclectic/eccentric is giving away a used ARC of Anastasia’s Secret until an unspecified date. Author Lynn Flewelling is giving away three signed copies of her book Glimpses until tomorrow. Tor/Forge’s Blog is giving away a Halo book and audiobook bundle until Tuesday. Kristen at Fantasy Cafe is giving away a copy of The Skin Map until Wednesday. Deb at Booking Through Thursday is giving away a signed and personalized copy of Learning to Swim until Wednesday. TJ at Dreams and Speculation is giving away a $30 gift certificate to CSN Stores. Celia at Cecelia Bedelia is giving away a book from her best of 2010 list until February 22. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!
Who is your favorite romantic couple in fiction?