The best fantasy novels with unlikely friends

Jean Knight Pace Author Of Grey Stone
By Jean Knight Pace

The Books I Picked & Why

The Amulet of Samarkand

By Jonathan Stroud

Book cover of The Amulet of Samarkand

Why this book?

In this book, a boy (Nathaniel)—trying to impress his wizard master—summons a demon, which he then struggles to control. It’s the most obnoxiously loveable demon you’ve ever met. And the boy is a pretty obnoxious 12-year-old himself (as 12-year-old boy wizards are wont to be). Yup. We don’t start out with any truly likable characters. But, guess what, even though boy and demon start as enemies, then move on to become wary allies, they eventually become friends. True, sacrifice-yourself-for-the-other-person friends. However, the thing that—for me—might have been even more magical than that, was that I also become friends with those two rough-around-the-edges characters. You’re all going to be besties by the end of the series. 

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Mistborn: The Final Empire

By Brandon Sanderson

Book cover of Mistborn: The Final Empire

Why this book?

This cast of characters has all kinds of unlikely friends. Starting with Vin and Kelsier, a man she has to trust to survive, then learns to trust as a leader, then as a friend. I admit that I have a soft spot for friend/leader relationships that don’t grow romantic, and Vin has a whole group of friends like this by the end. Pretty good for a lonely street urchin. There are so many types of beautiful relationships in life, but all too often in fantasy, we only get to see enemies to lovers. That said, Mistborn also has a sweet enemies-to-friends-to-lovers storyline with Vin and Elend. 

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Red Rising

By Pierce Brown

Book cover of Red Rising

Why this book?

When a man who’s been deceived and repressed by an upper class all his life enters the ranks of that class with the intent to destroy them, you know it’s going to be a good time. Especially when this story takes place on a multi-leveled Mars. And even more so when our hero, Darrow, ends up best buddies with some of the people he was raised to fear and hate. The bromances between Darrow and Cassius and Sevro are excellent (and sometimes turn from bromance to brenemy in interesting and heart-breaking ways). And then when they all (or some of them) go in together to fight the aristocracy that is keeping others down, well, that’s a pretty perfect story.

But if bromance isn’t quite enough Red Rising also has a wonderful competitors-to-friends-to-lovers storyline with Darrow and Mustang.

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The False Prince (Ascendance #1)

By Jennifer A. Nielsen

Book cover of The False Prince (Ascendance #1)

Why this book?

This is a middle grade fantasy where several boys are chosen to attempt to impersonate a missing prince. Only one of them is going to win the spot as false prince and take the throne, which is the perfect stage for all of them to hate each other and then become friends. It’s also the perfect way for them to start to wonder why they’re supposed to be impersonating a prince anyway. They’re going to have to work together (and sometimes fight each other as well as their own aspirations and pride) to beat the real bad guy.

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Eragon: Book I

By Christopher Paolini

Book cover of Eragon: Book I

Why this book?

A poor boy. A dragon. A grumpy mentor. An elf princess. They’re all going to have to work together. Yes, it’s a classic trope (a bunch of them together actually), but the relationship between boy (Eragon) and dragon (Saphira) is so fantastically drawn and executed throughout the series, you just can’t help but love them both.

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