We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Reviewed by: Lexi
Summary: In the dual-gendered realm of Ylandre, the great divide between the high-born True Bloods and the lower-ranked Half Bloods is deemed impassable by most. Rohyr Essendri dared to cross it when he took young Lassen Idana from his provincial town and made him his paramour. Lassen perforce learned how to navigate the intricate byways of life at court. What he never expected, however, was to fall in love with Rohyr, a most inadvisable and impractical thing to do when one’s lover is sovereign ruler of the land. But anything worth having is worth fighting for, both figuratively and, as Lassen discovers, literally speaking.
Contains hermaphroditism and explicit homoerotic sexual encounters.
Review: This story mixes historical and fantasy with exquisite world building. As novel as the idea for this story is, it could easily overwhelm the unwary reader. A glossary of terms came be found at the end. I would suggest first time readers to at least take a look before tackling the story. Even I needed a bit of help with the terms used.
This was a reread for me because I wished to finally read the rest of the series, which I already own just haven't gotten around to yet. I'm glad that I did because I needed the refresher on the world and terms. The story was unique enough that I still recalled the plot but the terms tripped me up. I still hold to my stance, there are too many side characters. It is why I cannot give the story five stars. Something of the story was lost when I had trouble following in certain places. The uncommon names and titles weren't familiar enough to help me place certain characters when they entered a scene.
That being said, remembering the core characters wasn't as difficult so I didn't become lost following them through the plot.
This is a story of a King (Ardin) Rohyr Essendri and his leman (concubine) Lassen Idana. There are many elements such as: court intrigue, Full Bloods and Half Bloods class distinction, a Templar secret society, mixed with mental abilities that ranged from reading minds to translocation.
Some years pass since Rohyr took Lassen from his home as a youth and claimed him as leman. He was strong armed blackmailed by his trusted uncle into a marriage to a younger cousin he hardly knew, but Rohyr negotiates that he would keep Lassen. It was difficult to watch Rohyr take and bed his consort, even though he was in love with Lassen. His uncle was always pushing, shoving, and reminding Rohyr of his duty time and again until I wanted to run the man through. The court intrigue and political maneuverings began in earnest. The threat the consort would find a way to part Rohyr from Lassen built until I devised multiple ways for Rohyr's duplicitous cousin to meet his untimely demise.
I think Lassen easily speaks to many readers. He's kind, thoughtful, and humble. He pigeonholed himself into his social class and it was evident that if he had been even slightly ambitious, Rohyr would've eventually caved and made Lassen his official consort. But Lassen would never use his influence for personal gain. His only ambition was on Rohyr's behalf, lifting him up in the eyes of the people.
Lassen didn't push, therefore Rohyr didn't think to solidify their bond more formally. He, too, trapped himself by adhering to the Full Blood's and his family's customs instead of listening to his heart. Much of what transpires was caused by mistakes, small and large, when Rohyr trusted the wrong individuals and did not look beyond his current personal circumstances, leading to culminating events that had devastating results.
Without giving away spoilers, there is a turn in the plot where Rohyr reveals a long held secret which will have some readers up in arms. I felt the reasons given throughout were sufficient to excuse Rohyr from not being perfect. Part of the story is about breaking the conventional bonds that holds each man to his social class, breaking age old practices, and being the first to step over that boundary to face ridicule and censure. Realizing that state of the country did not mean anything if Rohyr lost the one and only person he loved. All of that, plus knowing Rohyr lived his life as the office of Arden to the point, that without Lassen, he would have forgotten how to be simply a man, made him redeemable in my eyes. I do adore flawed characters.
If you find delight in historicals with an alternative twist, court intrigue, ambitious consorts, constricting class distinctions, blackmail, flawed characters, and epic love all wound to together in stunning world, then you may enjoy Sacred Fate.