Rating: 5 stars out of 5
This was an amazing story, both complex and intriguing, and it held my attention throughout the twelve and a half hours of audio.
During a routine scouting expedition, Theos and his band of Sacrati, an elite military unit, come across what could be an advance team of Elkati. Being superior fighters, the Sacrati immediately subdue the invaders and Theos takes them prisoner. Among them is Finnvid, the brother of the King of Elkat. He’s on a secret mission to meet with the Torian War Minister, but it’s ultra-secret, and as we find out later in the story, it’s important to the Warlord that no one find out about it. In the meantime, it quickly becomes apparent that Finnvid is also a healer when Andros, Theos’s best friend, is bitten by a viper along the trail and Finnvid takes steps to save him. Save him he does, but in doing so, he’s come to Theos’s closer attention.
A few days after they get back to their land, Theos spots the Warlord shipping out a group of slaves, but with winter quickly approaching, he’s surprised because this is unusual, but even more—he’s shocked when he sees Finnvid about to be chained by the neck to the rest of the men. He immediately claims Finnvid as his prize for having captured the prisoners, and though he argues about it, the Warlord has no choice but to allow Theos to have him. Theos tells all that he’s claiming Finnvid as his bedwarmer, and a stunned Finnvid has no choice but to follow Theos to his room. As the days go by, what’s even more shocking to Finnvid is the Torian way of having sex with whoever is at hand, usually another soldier. The men think nothing of coupling in front of each other, whether it’s penetrative sex or oral or even handjobs. Pleasure is pleasure to them. But not to Finnvid who has led a sheltered life and comes from a land where men only mate with women and they mate for life.
There’s so much conflict in this story, it’s very important to pay attention to the audiobook at all times. We learn about the Torian way of life, and then when the Torian soldiers accompany the Elkati back to their country in an apparently peaceful mission, we learn even more about their way of life, and we learn just how underhanded the Warlord has been. More danger and intrigue ensue, and it’s quite a long time and even more conflict before Theos and Finnvid find their way back into each other’s good graces, and ultimately into each other’s arms.
Remarkably, in the midst of battle and chaos and political plotting, there is a HEA, one that these two men so richly deserve. I enjoyed listening to the story, and the narrator did a very good job. His voice reminded me of what I would think of as a storyteller of olde days, and the voice he gave Theos was perfect in its gruffness. I didn’t care for the voice he gave Finnvid, however, that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.
If you enjoy stories of faraway kingdoms, knights and soldiers, war and intrigue, you should definitely plan to get this audiobook. It was, as I said at the beginning, an amazing story.
Cover art by Kanaxa shows a robed and hooded figure with a sword in each hand. Good symbolism for this story, though in gray and white, it’s not visually appealing.
Released May 26nd 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Finalist: Best LGBT SF/F/Horror in the 28th Annual Lambda Literary Awards!