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Friendly Enemies in literature.


  • In the Alexandria Quartet novels, the crossdressing, rough-trade-seeking Scobie is regularly busted by the Egyptian vice squad. The policemen are all hugely fond of him, though, and are later seen bawling their eyes out at his funeral.
  • In Alice, Girl from the Future, Alice and her recurring enemies Rat and Jolly U become this eventually. In The War with Lilliputians, they find themselves side by side in a case of Enemy Mine, but even when Alice fights the pirates, it's much less fierce than in the early books. Alice is used to them and they take pride in being her arch-enemies.
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  • Theseus Spencer and Oberon Navarro are later portrayed this way in Alterien. They gradually go from enemies to friendly rivals who are able to easily sit down with each other for a civil conversation.
  • In the Amelia Peabody series, from the third book until sometime late in the series, Amelia Peabody-Emerson and the Master Criminal a.k.a Sethos, were enemies, mainly because the Emerson family were Egyptologists and the Master Criminal was, well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin mainly dealing in forging antiquities. Though there were bitter enemies, they had mutual respect for one another, to the point where Sethos often rescued Amelia or any member of the family from danger from any of the book's main antagonists. It wasn't until the book He Shall Thunder in the Sky that it is discovered by Amelia's son Ramses, who was working as a spy for British Intelligence in World War I, that Sethos was related to the Emerson family because he was the illegitimate brother of Amelia's husband Radcliffe Emerson, more commonly known as Emerson.
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  • Arsène Lupin and Sherlock Holmes (or Holmes' expy "Holmlock Shears" at least) have this relationship in the Lupin novels, particularly during their first confrontation. It helps that both of them are extraordinarily intelligent men, each of them being one of the few recognized by the other as a Worthy Opponent. It also helps that Lupin is for the most part a thief and con artist, not a more hardened category of criminal that might draw Holmes' righteous anger, while Holmes is a private detective (from another country) and thus does not have a general mandate to fight crime as a police officer would - he is hired to solve his clients' cases and in one instance is quite happy to forget about Lupin as soon as he's forced him to return his client's property.
  • Artemis Fowl with Holly Short and the other fairies. For the first several books was either the villain or the lesser of two evils in the eyes of The People. They engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat while fighting bigger threats and never directly threaten each other again.
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  • Jack Aubrey and Captain Christy-Pallière from the Aubrey-Maturin novels. Christy-Pallière captures Jack (who is vastly outgunned) and they become friends on opposing sides of the war for many years.
  • Silk and Yarblek in The Belgariad. They're intelligence agents for countries which are about to go to war, and are implied to have directly gone up against each other in the past, but their default interaction is a snarky sort of friendship. After Torak's death and the cessation of hostilities they drop the pretense and go into partnership and proceed to build the largest business empire in the world and become obscenely rich.
  • Biggles and his German opposite number Erich von Stalhein earn each other's respect as they cross figurative swords over a quarter of a century, and eventually Biggles rescues his old enemy from behind the Iron Curtain.
  • Codex Alera:
    • This is what the Canim term gadara means, coupled with Worthy Opponent and The Only One Allowed to Defeat You. To the Canim, a gadara is more trustworthy than an ally, as while an ally can betray you, a gadara is still an enemy and thus one can expect violence from them. Generally, to be acknowledged as a gadara, the two who declare themselves as such exchange swords in front of witnesses. Prior to the events of Captain's Fury, no Canim had ever had an Aleran (human) gadara, until Tavi became one of these with both Nasaug and Varg.
    • On a lesser note, Captain Demos of the Slive, slaver, smuggler, pirate and all-round ne'er-do-well, comments on how much he loves pulling occasional side-jobs for the Cursors. Apparently, the Cursors pay well and hardly ever try to kill him when he's done.
  • Haplo and Alfred have this relationship in The Death Gate Cycle, specifically starting in book 3, when they are forced to work together by the extreme environs and the attempt of a corrupt ruler to kill them.
    • Haplo's status as a frenemy is further developed in Serpent Mage, when, instead of causing chaos, he tries to help the lesser races cooperate with each other so that they can avoid being frozen to their island homes. This is meant to demonstrate Halpo's incipient Heel–Face Turn, since the entire reason he was traveling to the various worlds in the first place was to create as much chaos as possible, so that his master could eventually sweep in and conquer the lesser races.
  • Discworld:
    • Two examples of this in Vimes' relationship with the Assassins' Guild and the traditional interactions of wizards. In the former case, the Assassins frequently try to kill Vimes and he invariably foils their plans. When he becomes so prominent in the governance of the city that his name is taken off of their open list of targets, he expresses some disappointment, and some members of the Guild are shown admiring Vimes' cleverness. However, Vimes is not exactly a big fan of the Assassins' Guild. He considers the big price on his head as a mark of status, because "it showed he was annoying people who ought to be annoyed."
    • On the other hand, Vimes is on friendly terms with Mr Boggis, the head of the Thieves Guild. Boggis even serves in the citizens' militia that the City Watch organizes. Although licensed thievery is not an area that Vimes, as Commander of the Watch, is charged with stopping, the friendly and willing interaction of a policeman and thief still fits because Boggis is as much a crime-fighter as Vimes. The Thieves Guild spends much of its time combating unlicensed thefts (Viciously - instead of a stylish weathervane like that nice Assassins' Guild over there, they have the body of an unlicensed thief turning slowly in the breeze)
      • Vimes is also slightly friendly towards Chrysoprase a trolling gang-leader, who though a criminal, is a politic one, who knows when not to rock the boat.
    • The wizards of Discworld are traditionally friendly enemies to one another, constantly trying to kill their rivals, and Pratchett characterizes their outlook in Sourcery similarly to the Watchmen quote on the Antagonist in Mourning page. This changes when they appoint a head wizard that no one can kill. This failing has led to a more relaxed state as the entire faculty becomes more permanent and friendly despite retaining elements of the old relationship. Now you get Ridcully promoting people at random when he thinks people aren't showing wizards enough respect, rather than wizards promoting themselves through a cunningly placed dagger.
      • In Unseen Academicals, the relationship between Ridcully and the former Dean becomes this. Ridcully at first considers him a traitor for leaving the university, but by the end, they are more like friendly rivals. It helps that at the end of the book, Dean's university has a nasty and embarrassing accident with chickens due to improper and careless use of magic, so Ridcully and crew can swoop in like Big Damn Heroes and show Dean up. Nothing better for the ol' ego.
      • It's been said several times throughout the series that the more contempt a wizard (or witch) has for another, the more Dangerously Polite he will become. Granny Weatherwax and Mrs Earwig are described as being like duchesses.
    • Another example is the relationship between the old Count Magpyr and the villagers of Escrow in Carpe Jugulum. When the new Count was faced with the angry mob and tried to point at the old Count as a monster, all that happened was the villagers and the old Count having a jolly trip down memory lane about how this family's grandmother had such a striking figure in a nightie and how that family's ancestor was a damn good shot for killing him (the old Count) with a stake at twenty paces seventy-five years ago as a lot of the villagers beamed with family pride while they respectfully referred to the old Count as "yer honour" and other similar titles. One villager sums up the contrast by observing that while the old Count acted like a monster, he never expected anyone to like him for it, while the son was essentially hypnotising everyone to accept the social status of cattle in a pro-vampire society and expected them all to just take it.
    • The Ridcully brothers, Mustrum the Archchancellor of Unseen University and Hughnon the High Priest of Blind Io, insult each other in public because wizards and priests are supposed to dislike each other, but the two get on quite well.
  • In The Dollmaker, Stephen and Brian are best friends, though the relationship rots as they both change into something not quite human.
  • In the Don Camillo series, Don Camillo, the priest in a small Italian town on the river Po, has an interesting relationship with the Communist mayor, Peppone. While both are, in theory, in conflict with each other, and do work against each other constantly, they consider each other worthy opponents. Peppone especially (because his Communist beliefs urge him into more extreme actions) has a tendency to make grand plots against Camillo, then do everything in his power to make things right again. When the chips really are down - or someone from outside tries something against one of them - it becomes clear that they will do anything for each other.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Vampires, the White Court particularly, tend to be very respectful and polite, even to their enemies. Harry Dresden and Lara Raith generally respect each other and end up working towards common goals more often than against each other. Every now and then the "Friendly" part goes away when Lara does something that reminds Harry that she is a monster who preys on humans and really wants to eat him or convince him to be her partner in crime or her sex slave. At one point when frustrated that his allies keep fighting while he's away, Harry complains that not only would he expect better behavior from Vampires once he invited them in, he would almost certainly get it.
    • In Small Favor, Harry is hunted by The Billy Goats Gruff, for a previous wrong committed against the Fairy Summer Court. The Gruffs have nothing against Harry, and some of them like him and say so, but their duty is their duty.
    • As of Cold Days, Harry and Fix find themselves on opposite sides as the Knights of the Winter and Summer courts, respectively, but despite misgivings about Harry's state of mind, Fix hasn't quite forgotten that Harry saved his life in Summer Knight, and Harry really doesn't want to be fighting Fix in the first place.
  • Sparhawk and Martel in David Eddings' The Elenium. In their final battle, they make comments on each others style and equipment, and agree that their trainer would berate them for how sloppy they have become. When Martel loses, Sparhawk waits for him to pass on before leaving. They have overtones of Not So Different, as they were originally best friends and were trained by the same people, until Martel made his Face–Heel Turn. Throughout the series, Martel has made it somewhat clear that he still likes Sparhawk and his former teachers, in spite of his willingness to kill them if necessary to accomplish his ends. A number of things he says are clearly wistful (in a "I wish things could have been different" sort of way), and he clearly likes and respects Sparhawk and company far more than he does his own allies. Hence the second-last sentence Martel ever speaks in his life: "I get to die in the presence of the only two people I ever really loved."
  • Spartacus acts like this towards Julius Caesar in Emperor: The Death of Kings. They first meet when Crixus and Brutus independently have the idea of looking over the other camp by climbing to the top of a big rock, and while the other three constantly look for an opportunity to off the others, Spartacus enjoys a pleasant chat.
  • Jiaan and Patrius in the Farsala Trilogy. Though on opposing sides of a war, they become good friends and make a habit of capturing, sitting down and talking with, and then releasing each other by the time the war comes to an end.
  • Fate/Zero:
    • Servant Saber ("King" Arthur) and Servant Lancer (Diarmuid ua Duibhne). Both are knights hailing from the same age and masters of combat, and each regard the other with great respect and consider their duels as honorable fights between two knights.
    • In addition, Rider appears to view the entire Holy Grail war, and in particular his interactions with Saber and Archer, as simply a fun game with some new friends. He even essentially invites Saber and Archer out drinking at one point.
  • This is a major theme in the Shaara Civil War trilogy (Gods and Generals, The Killer Angels, and The Last Full Measure). The protagonists all have close friends on the other side, Hancock (Union) and Armistead (Confederate) and Grant (Union) and Longstreet (Confederate) standing out in particular.
  • In Robert Graves' World War I memoir, Goodbye To All That, the British and Germans often shout friendly banter at each other across no-man's land, and after an unsuccessful assault by the British, the Germans allow their enemies ample time to collect their dead and wounded, and fire off warning shots to let them know their time is up. Graves reports that ill-will towards the Germans themselves is virtually non-existent in his battalion.
  • Aziraphale and Crowley (an angel and a demon, respectively) in Good Omens. This developed in their backstory, centuries before the timeframe of the novel, and by the time we meet them, they are best friends (despite still technically working for heaven and hell, respectively). They even take on each other's job at times to be more efficient, observing that they've spent more time on Earth than in their respective realities.
  • The Guns of the South:
    • Abraham Lincoln, despite losing the Southern states (and much of his reputation) and in despair over the permanent breakup of the Union, remains genial toward Robert E. Lee, offering him advice about governing, and sending him condolences after the AWB kill his wife Mary.
    • General Grant, as well, remains genial toward Lee, while disagreeing over his decision to fight for the Confederacy. The two work together to keep the peace in Kentucky as it votes to secede from the Union as well.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry himself and Cedric Diggory were this during Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire, whether they were competing with each other in Quidditch or the Triwizard Tournament. They gave each other tips and never went at each others' throats, despite the fact that the school was torn in two between the pro-Harry Gryffindors and the pro-Cedric everyone else.
    • The same could be said about Fleur Delacour and Victor Krum in Goblet of Fire during the Triwizard Tournament. None of the four competitors showed any real dislike for any of the other three. Note that one could say "perfectly normal, this is what sportsmanship is about" and it was a sport competition, not a war. However, Harry refused an easy victory over Cedric even as Cedric was now a romantic rival for Harry. Also, there are hints that the mentor of each competitor DOES try to cheat and, whenever it's possible, harm the other kids.
  • The Hollows series by Kim Harrison has the protagonist, Rachel Morgan, and Trent Kalamack cooperating. Despite Trent's crimes, Rachel saves his life on more than one occasion, and eventually, Trent undergoes a Morality Adjustment.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Anton Zilwicki and Victor Cachat are technically enemies, as their respective governments are still lobbing salvos at each other but it's hard to find a time when the guys didn't work together. They're just like two buddy cops, and they pop CMOAs like...popcorn. The defining factor here is that even though they are technically spies for two warring factions, what they're actually up to is a separate shadow war against a third, mutual enemy. On the other side of the fourth wall, it's an Author Collaboration where one is a naval historian with libertarian leanings and the other is a former mining union organizer with socialist leanings. They're Author Avatars who Fight Crime.
    • Honor Harrington and Warner Caslet (the latter aiding the former in taking down pirates in Silesia and then later helping her escape from State Sec), an opposing Havenite officer.
    • Harrington and Lester Tourville and Shannon Foraker (the latter two covering up her survival in said escape). Honor has quite a few of these from the Republic of Haven, actually, all of whom wind up on her side when Haven and Manticore wise up to the fact that they've been manipulated into going to war with each other. President Eloise Pritchart and Queen Elizabeth III, the star nations' respective leaders, are less than amused by this turn of events, and proceed to join up in a military alliance so badass it causes the Alignment to wet its collective drawers (alas, not literally).
    • Then there's Harrington and Klaus Hauptmann, originally ready to professionally destroy each other but who became friends and business partners.
  • Magic: The Gathering's Kamigawa novels have Toshiro Umezawa and Hidetsugu, two characters who formed a "truce" on their first meeting that they'd work together as far as they could while knowing that their ultimate mutually exclusive goals would demand one of them kill the other. They spend most of the trilogy sharing relatively friendly conversations and helping each other out and, when the time comes, they pause a moment to look sorrowfully at each other before promptly trying to murder one another.
  • Discussed Trope in Mere Christianity: C.S. Lewis imagines that if he'd died fighting in World War I, him and his opposite number would meet in paradise, have a good laugh about killing each other, and then go for a Spot of Tea.
  • Mortal Engines: In A Darkling Plain, the Kriegsmarshal of Marnau fondly recalls how, after a Green Storm sniper injured him, the Green Storm General, Naga, sent him a bulletproof vest as a get well soon present, inscribed with the words "sorry we missed you". He also states that he finds Naga more likable than some of his allies in the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft.
  • Prince Vladimir from the Nightfall (Series) is very friendly with Myra, taking her to balls and performances, and teaching her how to write, although he knows she is there to assassinate him.
  • In Paths of Darkness Jarlaxle in the ruthless leader of a drow mercenary band, who manipulates the companions into not delivering the Artifact of Doom Crenshinibon to the priest that knows how to destroy it and ropes Drizzt into having to fight Entreri in a duel, but he is perfectly affable about it and even rescues Drizzt from certain death (that he was more or less responsible for) and doesn't mean any of the companions any real harm.
  • Atlan and Rhodan in Perry Rhodan. The first couple of times they meet, they try to kill each other, but both refrain from exploiting the obvious opportunities. After the second duel, they become friends and allies for the next 3,000 years.
  • Kata and Chatton's relationship in Project Tau develops into this as the book progresses. Chatton makes an effort to get food to Kata when Dennison's trying to starve him into submission, and Chatton ends up being the only scientist that Kata goes out of his way not to upset.
  • The Riftwar Cycle: As we learn in Krondor: The Betrayal, this is common enough among the moredhel (dark elves).
    Gorath: A friend can betray you, but with an old enemy, you always know where you stand.
  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Lu Kang of Wu and Yang Hu of Wei have this relationship. Locked in a cold war where each is too sure of the other's abilities to make the first move, they treat each other respectfully. For instance, when each army called a hunt, the borders were strictly seen to. After the hunt, Yang Hu had all the animals inspected. Any animals shot by arrows of the opposing side were sent over to Wu. Later, they would exchange gifts of wine and even medicine, despite the risk of being poisoned. Their relationship can even be considered An Aesop on tolerating these relationships. Yang Hu is well trusted by the Sima family despite his familiarity to Lu Kang. Lu Kang, by contrast, is removed once news of the relationship reaches the Wu court. This is good news to Yang Hu, who only refrained from invading because he respected Lu Kang's ability as a general.
  • Michael Flynn's Spiral Arm: In The January Dancer, the opposing sides of the civil war, in peace time, gather in pubs to drink together and sing songs of the exploits of the war, in perfect indifference to which side was being glorified.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the X-Wing Series, both the New Republic and the Empire have task forces working to hunt down Warlord Zsinj; at some point, The Leader of the Imperial task force sends a message to the New Republic one, wanting to meet with someone with authority. They send Face Loran; he and the Imperial admiral banter with each other and decide to share information on Zsinj, although this would count as treason if word got out. Eventually, the admiral lends a rare Interdictor cruiser (which has the valuable ability to prevent jumps to hyperspace) to the Republic task force for the book's final battle, with himself as captain.
    • In Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader, Roan Shryne and Darth Vader have quite a few exchanges that are dangerously close to a friendly conversation, if you ignore the fact that they're trying to kill each other. Vader considers Shryne to be a Worthy Opponent who reminds him of his past self as Anakin Skywalker.
  • In This Immortal, Conrad and Hasan are quite friendly with each other, chatting at the campfire and such, despite trying to protect and kill Myshtigo, respectively, and being aware of the other's goal.
  • In the several sequels of The Three Musketeers, the four musketeers often find themselves on different sides of political intrigues. At one point, they capture one another in battle. Still, they remain as close as brothers until they die, help each other escape even when ordered to arrest one another, and consider Athos' son "a son to us all".
  • Tortall Universe:
    • In the Immortals quartet, Rikash Moonsword and Daine. They are at odds because Rikash is a Stormwing; an immortal being that lives to defile battlefield corpses while Daine is a Nature Hero and so can't stand this disrespect. After discovering that he is a Noble Demon, they form a tolerance for each other.
    • In the Trickster's Duet, the spymaster of the Copper Isles and the spymaster of Tortall are on great terms and only work against each other because their jobs demand it. Justified as They are family; daughter and father respectively.
    • In the Beka Cooper books, the Dogs (guardsmen and women, that world's version of police officers) often have friendships with criminals. The main character even shares a lodging-house with a bunch of them. The justification here is that they are all members of a Thieves' Guild and so they are kinda-sorta legit.
  • Umasi and Zyid from Truancy are friendly and generally respect the other's wishes, despite one being a pacifist and the other leading a rebellion.
  • In Victoria, the disturbingly friendly and well-mannered Nazi officer and true believer Captain Halsing approaches this, even after getting thrown in irons and beyond. Having to fight and risk your life to get out is part of the job, after all, nothing to take personally, and it was still nice of protagonist John Rumford to offer him a cup of coffee...
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Cordelia and Aral during the Escobar invasion. In this case they were not merely "friendly" but soon to be married.
  • In The Witchlands, Esme considers Iseult her friend and is genuinely worried for her well-being even though the Big Bad (to whom Esme is The Dragon) is hunting her using Esme's creations. Iseult, on her end, finds herself increasingly sympathetic to Esme's situation.
  • Thomas Cromwell and Eustace Chapuys are portrayed as this in Wolf Hall. Politically they're enemies, but they seem to have genuine respect for each other and invite each other to dinner quite a bit.


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