Friday, January 2, 2009

Love in the Middluns? Raffin and Bann

Just started Graceling, by Kristin Cashore last night. I'm a third of the way through and I'm sure I'm supposed to be most intently focused on Katsa's storyline and her relationship with Po, but how can I, when the relationship between Raffin and Bann is so unspokenly obvious that it continually distracts me?!?

The evidence:

Page 82:
"Are you alone?" (Katsa)
"Yes, except for Bann, of course." (Raffin)

Pages 83-84:
"It was a windowless room, dark and musty, but it was the only place in the castle that they could not be sure no one would find, and that Raffin and Bann could stay so near to most of the time.
Bann was Raffin's friend of many years...One day Raffin stumbled across him, and the two children had fallen to talking about herbs and medicines...Shortly thereafter, Raffin had begged Bann's help with a particular experiment, and from that time on had effectively stolen Bann for himself. Bann was Raffin's assistant in all things."

Page 109:
(Katsa to Raffin) "'You're not in love with me, are you?'
He stared at her for a moment speechless. Then he burst into laughter. Bann laughed, too, though he tried valiantly to hide it behind his hand."

But of course, the author herself refuses to enter the fray. In October she did an FAQ on her blog, and the fifth question and her response are:

Are Raffin and Bann lovers?
This is, hands down, my most frequently asked question. It's also a perfect example of a question I won't answer. :o)

So, OBVIOUSLY, they are.


  1. There's a line at the end that cinches the deal as far as I'm concerned.

    Also, there's the fact that Katsa allows herself to like Raffin, possibly because he's "safe" (he won't try to be her suitor).

    From an academic point of view, I don't know if I'm sorry that the relationship wasn't spelled out (since why not? especially in fantasy, it should be totally fine), or whether I think it's neat that it could just be understood, without a need to open itself up to a label as A Book With Gay Characters In It Oooh.

  2. It's also possible that the author doesn't say because Raffin and Bann don't know either, a la Link and James in My Heartbeat (a Printz Honor book, btw).

  3. One more thought on this. The word "incest" isn't mentioned with respect to Bitterblue, although it's clear (to me) that this is the fate that awaits her if she's caught. (Clear because of hints in the text, and clear because of other books I've read.) So, is leaving out a name for Raffin and Bann's relationship the same sort of idea - a blank intentionally left open for actively-reading readers to fill? (I'm using that story from Black Juice as an example in class again.)

    (Or, on another level, are both of these issues left blank because we're in Katsa's head and she has no vocabulary to talk about relationships, either good or bad ones?)

  4. I feel Cashore's avoidance of labeling Raffin and Bann's relationship echoes Katsa's anti-marriage stance in that both embrace of "lack of labels"/"love just is" philosophy. I know she's working on a prequel now, but am hoping for a sequel where we can see these relationships develop.