Ah! Finally, a good topic. It’s…uh…hmm…well, now…*scratches head*
This is a little harder than I thought. I’ve already written of my love for the story of Beren and Lúthien, and I do not want to repeat myself here. Plus, while it is an amazing and romantic story, it is told in the myth format, and thus you do not develop as personal a connection with the characters as you do in a novel. The impact of the story’s most emotional moments is muted because you are not allowed inside Beren and Lúthien’s heads. And for this particular topic, I feel that that kind of emotional connection is important.
However, it is also rare. I don’t read the romance genre at all, and so when a book I read does contain a love story, it is usually tangential to the main plot, and thus does not always get the deepest treatment.
But enough excuses. In my current memory (unstable as it is), there is a clear choice.
The love of Taran and Eilonwy in Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles.
Unfortunately it has been probably eight years since I’ve read these books, and thus most of the all-important details are hazy in my mind. But what I can say for sure is this: I really cared whether or not these two got together and stayed together. I liked them each on their own merits, and it was a delight to see them in love. Not that they had an easy relationship, what with him being a sometimes pig-headed but noble-hearted Assistant Pig-Keeper, and she a fiery tempered common-and-royal-born young enchantress who spends much of her time being offended by things Taran didn’t mean to say, because they’re both in love but too self-conscious to admit it (until later).
Their dialogue is immensely fun to read, due to Alexander’s sharp and intelligent style. But what really makes their romance work, amidst all the high adventure and magical myth, is the fact that it builds on a foundation of true friendship. More than love each other, they like each other, and those are two very different things. It doesn’t always seem that they like each other, but they do. They complement each other, and make each other stronger. We saw them both grow steadily over five books (and Alexander has some fantastic character development skills), and the result is a romance with real substance.
(Plus they don’t have to die and get maimed like Beren and Lúthien!)
It is apparent that I really need to reread the series soon. SOON.