History v. Future: Averting Wars Through Marriage/Romance

Hi everyone! Today, as part of Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Ophelia Prophecy Blog Tour, Sharon is here with a great post. Her book and her topic are really perfect for a great discussion, so enjoy her post, get into the discussion, and go buy her book. She is an amazing author!

History v. Future: Averting Wars Through Marriage/Romance

Sharon Lynn Fisher

Sharon Lynn Fisher Author Photo (2)Full disclosure: I can’t take credit for proposing this fascinating topic; it was a prompt from Charlee. And I am grateful, because halfway through a book tour, the idea well tends to runneth dry. But as soon as I saw this topic on her list, I knew there was a lot to be unpacked here.

On the surface, creating romantic partnerships to resolve (or at least postpone) conflict appears to be an age-old idea. Even if we weren’t good history students, we’re probably all at least somewhat familiar (from movies and TV) with the alliances forged between the monarchs of the various European countries. I always think specifically of the marriage between Henry V and Catherine of Valois. Or the lack of marriage of Elizabeth I, which seems to have been a sort of statement of its own, as it coincided with a period of both economic and cultural prosperity in England.

Though Henry V was enamored of Catherine — as Henry VIII apparently was (for a time) of his Catherine — these alliances typically had little, if anything, to do with romance.

Speculative fiction — particularly romantic speculative fiction — pays tribute to this tradition, while turning the whole thing on its head. Tolkien predictably (and fittingly) created a match in very much the traditional sense with Aragorn and Arwen — both highborn, and members of races whose alliance up to that point had been uneasy. But there was one key difference: Aragorn and Arwen were a love match first and foremost. The political alliance was a side benefit.

Many (most?) modern fantasy epics incorporate arranged marriages, such as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. But these fictional unions are full of complications and nuance. Not only do Dany and Drogo fall in love, she finds her strength and develops character through their union. Not through her husband, but through the marriage itself.

Once upon a time I wrote fantasy, but my published works are sci-fi with futuristic settings. Though Augustus Paxton, the hero in THE OPHELIA PROPHECY, is technically a prince, arranged marriages have played no part in my books. But in both GHOST PLANET and THE OPHELIA PROPHECY, the union between the hero and heroine is critical to the resolution of a major conflict between human and other.

In my books — and in much of the speculative romance I’ve read — rather than the union itself being a means to an end, the development of the romance has the collateral benefit of building bridges between characters on opposite sides of a conflict. The hero and heroine, due to their attraction, are first forced to acknowledge how alike (how human) they are in essentials. As their bond develops, they—and those around them—must confront head-on the issues dividing the two sides of the conflict.

In a sense, love leads the way to grassroots conflict resolution. Conflict is not ended by dictate, but finds its natural termination more organically, through relationship-building. When the story closes, key characters and leaders have bought into the resolution not just for the period of the union, but forever after. (Or at least until book two.)

What are some of your favorite world-changing unions?


About The Ophelia Prophecy

Ophelia Prophecyby Sharon Lynn Fisher

Our world is no longer our own.
We engineered a race of superior fighters–the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us.
In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.
Some of us intend to do more than survive.

Asha and Pax—strangers and enemies—find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.

Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource—information—viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.

Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.

But neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.

With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other’s secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.

The Ophelia Prophecy is the thrilling new SF romance from Sharon Lynn Fisher, author of Ghost Planet

About Sharon

A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, SHARON LYNN FISHER lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2014). You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.

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12 thoughts on “History v. Future: Averting Wars Through Marriage/Romance

  1. What a great topic. I read a ton of historical fiction when I was younger and working my way toward romance and SF. I used to really feel for the women who were required to marry some of the truly horrific monarchs. Felt their lack of power quite keenly, even as a teen (probably because I felt fairly powerless as a teen, too.) I liked it when those women made it work for them. Finding a way to make it work for us is one of our great strengths, I think. But I would have been terrible at dynastic anything. LOL

    • I know what you mean, Pauline. I read THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL a decade or so ago. And while I appreciated the focus on the women in Henry’s life, the fact they were all being used by their families to manipulate the king was really hard to stomach.

  2. Great post Sharon! I love this topic because there are so many takes on it from fact to fiction. Throughout history it has taken many forms and in fiction, each genre brings a new angle. Romance has used the marriage of convenience trope to juxtapose built in conflict and built in shared motivation for many years. SFR has the added benefit of taking this idea to the extremes of power, position, survival, and cross-culture. I love your idea of “grassroots conflict resolution” and have had several stories peculating along similar but different lines for years. I’m so excited to read your take on this in Ophelia’s Prophecy!

    My favorite world-changing unions? Hmm. that is a tough question. I’m drawing a blank on my favorite ones in fiction, but certainly noteworthy in fact would be Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter who helped change the laws on interracial marriage in the US and the short union between Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham who gave us the first black president here in the US.

    • “Throughout history it has taken many forms and in fiction, each genre brings a new angle. Romance has used the marriage of convenience trope to juxtapose built in conflict and built in shared motivation for many years. SFR has the added benefit of taking this idea to the extremes of power, position, survival, and cross-culture.”

      Yes, very good points! Also I think romance authors may find catharsis in rewriting the arranged union from a position of strength for the heroine, who historically was told “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

      Great examples of unions! (And I have to confess on the first one I got educated. 🙂

  3. The Taj Mahal built in memory of Shah Jahan’s third wife Mumtaz Mahal. I don’t know enough about Indian history to know how/ why the marriage came about but I’d like to.

  4. Interesting topic. It brings to mind a quote about the Hapsburg: “Let others wage wars, but you, happy Austria, shall marry.” There is a dark side to this. the Hapsburgs came to power through marriage and in order to maintain power they engaged in incest, marriage of niece to uncle for multiple generations. The genetic results were tragic with a high rate of stillborn children and with developmental disabilities. This interests me as much or more than the use of marriage as a political tool.

    • A very fitting quote! I didn’t know this bit of history about the Hapsburgs. A sad reminder that not only were these matches most often not about love, they were often highly inappropriate. Referring more to young women (or girls) being married off to old men than the blood relationships. (Though that itself is bad enough.)

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