Top 10 Tuesday: Platonic Relationships in Books

 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I’ve divided this into “close family” and “friendships.” I thought I’d have 10, but I only came up with 9 in time for TTT. Maybe I’ll update this post later.

Close Family Relationships

1. Morpheus (aka Dream of the Endless) & his older sister, Death, from The Sandman.
“You are utterly the stupidest, most self-centered, appallingest excuse for an anthropomorphic personification in this or any other plane!”

They are two of the seven Endless, anthropomorphic personifications of natural forces.

I have a couple of friends on GoodReads who have read and reviewed all of The Sandman comics, but I haven’t found any blogs that have reviewed it. It is definitely not for everyone (it’s more violent than my usual reading, for one thing) but this relationship is one of the best things about the series. Death is one of very few characters who can occasionally talk some sense into Morpheus. 
2. Morpheus & Delirium, also from The Sandman: my favorite volume of the series is probably Brief Lives, so I had to include this one. They’re adorable. (Delirium is the youngest of the Endless.)

3. Lear & Cordelia from King Lear  — I haven’t read this in years, but I remember some parts vividly. King Lear is probably my favorite Shakespeare tragedy, edging out Hamlet just a bit. The quote I chose for this one is from Act V, scene III, when Lear and Cordelia are captured.

“No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison:
We two alone will sing like birds i’ the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out;
And take upon’s the mystery of things,
As if we were God’s spies: and we’ll wear out,
In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones,
That ebb and flow by the moon.” 

4. Denethor + Boromir + Faramir from The Lord of the Rings  — I am counting this as one relationship, because you kind of need all three of them to make sense of it. I don’t usually connect Tolkien to Shakespeare, but this part of Lord of the Rings seems clearly inspired by King Lear. This has always been one of my favorites, at least in the books; the less said about the film version of this particular subplot, the better.

“Do you wish then that our places had been exchanged?”
“Yes, I wish that indeed,” said Denethor. For Boromir was loyal to me and no wizard’s pupil. He would have remembered his father’s need, and would not have squandered what fortune gave. He would have brought me a mighty gift.”
For a moment Faramir’s restraint gave way.I would ask you, my father, to remember why it was that I, not he [Boromir], was in Ithilien. On one occasion at least your counsel has prevailed, not long ago. It was the Lord of the City that gave the errand to him.”

Rereading this, it strikes me that Faramir’s interest in scholarship is what led him to want to learn from Gandalf in the first place. Ironically, it’s a quality he shares with Denethor!

Close Friendships

1. Frodo & Sam from The Lord of the Rings. Obviously. Do I even have to elaborate on this one? I’ll let this quote speak for itself:
“Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. ‘And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?’
‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.’
‘No, sir, of course not. Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that Silmaril from the Iron Crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that’s a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it – and the Silmaril went on and came to Eärendil. And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We’ve got – you’ve got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?’
‘No, they never end as tales,’ said Frodo. ‘But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later – or sooner.”

2. Maedhros & Fingon from The Silmarillion. This one has a complicated backstory, but these two belonged to the house of Finwe, the royal house of the Noldorin Elves; they found themselves on opposite sides of the family feud. Maedhros was held hostage by Morgoth (Sauron’s boss and the main villain of The Silmarillion)  and Fingon set out to rescue him, which he hoped would reconcile the two sides of the family. (Technically, I guess they could go under “family;” but they’re only half cousins, so I put them here instead.)

“Then in defiance of the Orcs, who cowered still in the dark vaults beneath the earth, he took his harp and sang a song of Valinor that the Noldor made of old, before strife was born among the sons of Finwe; and his voice rang in the mournful hollows that had never heard before aught save cries of fear and woe.

Thus Fingon found what he sought. For suddenly above him far and faint his song was taken up, and a voice answering called to him…”

In light of later events, this one makes me almost as sad as the next one on the list.

3. Turin & Beleg from The Children of Hurin  — If you’ve read the book, you know this one doesn’t end well, but I haven’t said anything about that. So, these two are a mortal man and a Sindarin Elf; they met when Turin came to the kingdom of Doriath as a child. When Turin left, Beleg left everything behind to follow him — and found that he had fallen in with a band of outlaws — a combination of “houseless and desperate men” and those “driven into the wild for evil deeds.” Here’s one of my favorite bits, from their argument about whether to stay with the outlaws:

“I would lead my own men, and make war my own way,” Turin answered. “But in this at least my heart is changed: I repent every stroke save those dealt against the Enemy of Men and Elves. And above all else I would have you beside me. Stay with me!”
“If I stayed beside you, love would lead me, not wisdom,” said Beleg. “My heart warns me that we should return to Doriath.”

3. Strange & Norrell from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell — Two magicians in an alternate-history magical version of England. Both of them are very flawed characters; Strange is the romantic type of antihero and Norrell is more like the petty, pathetic type of antihero. But I loved reading about them! This quote is from their conversation about Strange’s article in The Edinburgh Review.
“You think that I am angry,” said Mr Norrell, “but I am not. You think I do not know why you have done what you have done, but I do. You think you have put all your heart into that writing and that every one in England now understands you. What do they understand? Nothing. I understood you before you wrote a word. He paused and his face worked as if he were struggling to say something that lay very deep inside him. “What you wrote, you wrote for me, and me alone.”
4. Aziraphale & Crowley from Good Omens – Two friends — an angel and a demon — who set out to avert Armageddon.
“We’ll win, of course,” he said. 
“You don’t want that,” said the demon. 
“Why not, pray?“
“Listen,” said Crowley desperately, “how many musicians do you think your side have got, eh? First grade, I mean.” 
Aziraphale looked taken aback. 
“Well, I should think-” he began. 
“Two,” said Crowley. “Elgar and Liszt. That’s all. We’ve got the rest. Beethoven, Brahms, all the Bachs, Mozart, the lot. Can you imagine eternity with Elgar?”

5. Finrod and Andreth, “Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth,” History of Middle-earth vol. 10 – I really want to reread the Athrabeth, but my library no longer has the book, so I’ll have to acquire it someday. (They used to have it, I read it from the library in the first place. I immediately read this chapter two more times.) Anyway, this is my favorite thing I’ve read from the History of Middle-earth, featuring a philosophical discussion between two friends, Finrod Felagund and Andreth of the House of Beor.

This a tough one to quote because I don’t want to give too much away here, but I’ll just say that despite the theological/philosophical focus of the text itself, the intensity and honesty of their friendship definitely comes through.

“And then suddenly I beheld as a vision Arda Remade; and there the Eldar completed but not ended could abide in the present for ever, and there walk, maybe, with the Children of Men, their deliverers, and sing to them such songs as, even in the Bliss beyond bliss, should make the green valleys ring and the everlasting mountain-tops to throb like harps.’

Then Andreth looked under her brows at Finrod: ‘And what, when ye were not singing, would ye say to us?’ she asked.

Finrod laughed. ‘I can only guess,’ he said. ‘Why, wise lady, I think that we should tell you tales of the Past and of Arda that was Before, of the perils and great deeds and the making of the Silmarils! We were the lordly ones then! But ye, ye would then be at home, looking at all things intently,
as your own. Ye would be the lordly ones. “The eyes of Elves are always thinking of something else,” ye would say. But ye would know then of what we were reminded: of the days when we first met, and our hands touched in the dark.”

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Published by Beth @ Beth's Bookish Thoughts

This blog is for my thoughts on reading. A couple of my friends on GoodReads have blogs, so eventually I decided to start one myself. I hope to get involved in the book blogging community and become a better reader and writer! I am not accepting copies of new books for review, but I would be interested in new editions or new translations of classic authors. Find me on Upwork (as an editor) in the profile link. From September 2018 to October 2020 I blogged at Blogger.

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