This morning I was washing the dishes and started thinking about the relationships in The Song of the Lioness Quartet you know, like you do.
And I was thinking about Alanna and Jon and how when they got together there wasn’t this who fuss about her being a girl and wanting to be a knight. The revelation of her gender changed pretty much nothing in their relationship. He respected her as a colleague and also as a lover. And, later, Alanna called of fthe relationship because the dynamic changed and she had to really figure out that even though she loved him, it wasn’t going to work. And it hurt, but it was the right decision.
And then there’s that scene with Thayet where she cries to Alanna about how she feels so guilty about building a relationship with Jon because he’s “her man”. And Alanna comforts her and says that he’s not anymore and he never was in the way that he’s Thayet’s. She lays out how different their relationships are, but never negates the depths of love in their respective, and very different, relationships.
I can even tell you how important this was to how i started conceive of what a healthy relationship looked like as a kid. I read these books at like 11 or 12 and it’s only now looking back how much of an impact they’ve had on me.
In so many other stories these two women would be pitted against each other in some twisted love triangle. Instead, their respective relationships with Jon are celebrated and understood and the friendship between the two of them is just as important. And all of them are based on mutual respect and affection and loyalty.
And this is echoed through every relationship in the books. With Buri, Roul, Gary, George, Liam—all of them are based on respect of each other’s abilities and of each other as people, regardless of gender. There are so many deep platonic relationships across genders and class, as well as equally deep and healthy romantic relationships (omg can we talk about Myles and Eleni because I adore them).
And, not only were they great examples as working relationshps, but as templates for what to do when a relationship isn’t working. The breakups with Jon and Liam, and even the dissolution of the friendship with Alex, were handled with respect and an understanding of the characters as whole individuals. These weren’t healthy and they had to end, some a bit more fatally than others.
As I’m sitting here writing this, I just realized that everything I just wrote echoes so much the sentiments of the wedding ceremony I wrote for my best friends earlier this summer. Respect, affection, support.
And I refuse to settle for anything less in any of my relationships, romantic and platonic. And that it’s okay to leavea relationship when it’s not working. Not only okay, but necessary.
That’s just so powerful to me. And I’m so thankful that I had examples like this.