The Best Chaotic Duos in SFF

Our year of Magic X Mayhem continues with a list of chaotic pairings from The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday author Saad Z. Hossain.

By Saad Z. Hossain

Chaotic pairings drive some of the best SFF. Plot arcs in fantasy especially are often too predictable: the dark lord always goes down in the end, the hero triumphs at great personal cost, some innocent fools get saved, so on. It’s difficult to get away from this equilibrium, so the originality has to come from the characters. I’m just going to run through a few of my favorites in no particular order.


First up I’ve got the necromancers Korbal Broach and Bauchelain, by Steven Erikson.

They’re horrific and disgusting and yet perfect in their own way, and no one ever kills them, they just seem to wander the earth doing horrible things. I thought they were one of the highlights of the Memories of Ice, which was my favorite book of the series. They’re also really funny, which is rare in epic fantasy, especially the Crippled God series, which tends to be very very epic. Sometimes it’s nice to have people walking around the story just wrecking shit; like that’s their only job, they serve no other purpose.

What about Sam Vimes and Havelock Vetinari from the Discworld series?

Terry Pratchett is a comic genius, but the Watch books are also solid SFF in my opinion, and there is nothing more endearing than the partnership between the beleaguered alcoholic cop and the aristocratic tyrant. Vimes is the ultimate common man, he prefers the cheap shoes, he hates royalty, he’s the descendent of the famous Stoneface Vimes, who beheaded the last king of Ankh Morpork, and it’s brilliant the way Vetinari prods him along, from commander to knight to ambassador to finally Duke of Ankh, highest of the city’s nobility. It saddens me deeply to think we will never get another Discworld novel, never visit Ankh-Morpork again.

The ultimate chaotic pairing has to be Lucifer and Mazikeen, from the graphic novel Lucifer. This was my first graphic novel—my friend Sam lent it to me and made me read the entire thing in one go. Afterwards he made me read Sandman, and while I love both, Lucifer remains my favorite. Lucifer as a character is so defiant that he’d rather leave all of creation than accept his father’s will, and Mazikeen is not far behind.

You can’t go wrong with old school Dragonlance. Which brings us to Raistlin and Caramon. Caramon is the ultimate foil here because he’s just not that interesting, but his basic goodness is perfect to set off the complexity of Raistlin’s character. Raistlin is easily the best character in the first Dragonlance trilogy, and of course that is best reflected in Legends, where he is the centerpiece. Raistlin creates chaos because he’s essentially always walking the line between good and evil. Throughout this walk, his most humanizing moments are his interactions with his twin.

What are your favorite chaotic pairs? Sound off in the comments and stay tuned for more #magicXmayhem all summer long!

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1 thought on “The Best Chaotic Duos in SFF

  1. Haven’t read all these books but definitely agree with Lucifer-Mazikeen and Cameron-Raistlin. Cameron was a pretty boring character initially but he became much better in Legends after he had to train as a gladiator. Still have fond memories of those books.

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