I’m an orphan. Nope, that’s not happening. While it’s not as true as it was in the days of 1980s orphans being raised by their aunts and uncles, there is a certain lack of functional families in modern fantasy. They do exist but the concept of healthy relationships, strong bonds between siblings, and such tend to be in short demand. I’ve seen the calls from agents in recent years for sisterhood. Well? It exists.
I accidentally realized a lot of my stories feature relationships between sisters, twins, and women with strong friendships. It wasn’t something I sought out to do but it just existed/wasn’t something I thought about. There’s a power in female relationships: they’re different from male relationships or brothers. There’s a kind of bond that is equal but distinct from male relationships. Maybe it’s the intensity? I just developed it naturally.
A lot of my stories involve mothers and daughters, sisters, and female cousins coming into conflict with each other. A Tyrant Comes entire initial premise is about an almost fifty-year-old bond between an empress, Mora Aresh, and her cousin/right hand, Aratha Aresh, unraveling. The two couldn’t be anymore different: Mora’s empathetic, has a sharp insight into people, and sometimes is overconfident. Aratha? She’s analytical, sardonic, and more concerned with her research. She can come across as not the most sociable. But the two have a relationship closer than even Mora’s natural sisters. And that relationship is strained because of *spoilers*.
Another bond is the brother-sister bond. Ragmar Mor, the male protagonist, shares a strong bond with his younger sister, Ashera Mor. And again, the two couldn’t be anymore different. Ragmar is deadpan, pragmatic, and has a peculiar sense of humor. Shera is a gadfly, socially savvy, and kind of terrifying due to her blood magic/face wearing magic. And they often clash over their religion, their allegiances, but the two maintain a strong bond. Simple things like Ragmar braiding his sister’s hair while they finish a religious ceremony, Shera healing her brother after a battle. Those are the moments that bring out their respective bonds.
It’s easy for nobles to murder their siblings often in fantasy and its irksome. Sometimes your family is awful but often times families are mixed. There are strong bonds between friends, but the bonds between blood related siblings is something completely different. And fantasy should give more consideration to positive relationships. It doesn’t mean characters have to be super okiedokie I love you big bro/sis (you can) but ebbs and flows in relationships are important.
Let’s push for more harmony and so when the big brother dies at the end of the book, their death is that more impactful. Show the pain and the joys of sibling relationships. It’s not extremes between killing your siblings for power and nothing wrong with our relationship.