After ‘The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps’ I had extremely high expectations for this novella. It didn’t quite live up to them, but the quality of the writing alone makes the book more than worthwhile.
In the kingdom of Olorum, the young Aqib is proud of his status and position: he is set to follow in his father’s footsteps and become the head animal trainer to the royal court. He sees his future ahead of him: a suitable marriage, arranged by his family, a secure position toward the top of his hierarchical society. But then he meets a rough-and-tumble soldier, Lucrio, who’s part of a visiting delegation from Daluça (he seems very Roman). Lucrio, like a whirlwind, upends many things that Aqib had taken for granted – and awakens him to the realization of what love could be. But a relationship between men is strictly forbidden by the mores of Olorum, and the two young people are clearly heading for a potential disaster.
The bulk of the story is Aqib and Lucrio’s budding romance. It’s done really well – the depiction of cultural conflict is wholly believable and the characters are well-rounded; they truly come to life. But it’s a bit more pure romance genre than I personally prefer.
The end of the story brings in more of a science fiction/fantasy element, with sudden theories about supernatural possibilities and alternate realities. It was interesting, but, I felt, not wholly successfully meshed with the tone of the earlier part of the piece.
I eagerly await Kai Ashante Wilson’s next offering.
Many thanks to Tor and Netgalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.