Sacred Fate by Eresse
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.
This is an interesting and somewhat unwieldy science fiction/fantasy novel that incorporates a lot of world building and romance. The main characters are classic stereotypes with a strong romantic element while the plot is heavy with political maneuvering and intrigue. There are elements that may not fit with all readers such a male pregnancy, hermaphroditic culture, and some severe male stupidity. However there is a strong happy ending and the fantasy world is rich with detail and possibility. There is so much detail offered that this story undoubtedly would enrich on subsequent reads.
The plot and world building are closely related as the world is complex, very involved, and the various details are essential to the political elements of the plot. The fantasy setting is introduced and built upon throughout the entire novel so much that new aspects are being introduced up until the very end of the book. This keeps the reader on edge with new elements and possibilities continually opened up but also create a sense of a world only barely described. The fantasy world is so complicated that the story often has awkward information dumps with massive amounts of information, using terminology and names the reader is unfamiliar with. At these points, I found myself frequently wanting to skim but realized quickly that the story buries important gems of information in the massive quantities of extraneous fact. Due to the complexity of this world, the story would have benefited from a longer length in which the details could be kept to the important facts instead of every possible detail ever created about this world or such information could be more spread out and incorporated to the plot. However, the overabundance of detail is preferable to a less descriptive setting so I don’t want to harp on that too much.
The plot revolves around political machinations of the Royal House and intimately involves the King, Rohyr, and his chosen love, Lassen. The characters and plot at their very basic level are classic elements of politics and royal behavior with an innocent hearted concubine at the center. Both Rohyr and Lassen are well developed off these familiar premises and easy to predict their reactions and choices. The men enjoy a sizzling chemistry while they rarely move out of their assigned roles. Lassen is the innocent, good hearted leman who falls in love with Rohyr and only wants the best for his King and Country. Lassen is willing to sacrifice himself often and frequently for everything from the most minor point to the very well being of the entire Kingdom. Of course this leads to some massive stupidity on his part but thankfully this is short lived and easily remedied.
The plot is action packed and moves very quickly. The timeline is very fluid and often skips months and years ahead with a summary to keep the story interesting and fast. The evil culprit isn’t a mystery and there is only one person who clearly doesn’t fit with the tight knit royal governing body so the interest is not in who or how the problems are created and carried out so much as the reactions and choices of those involved. Rohyr doesn’t deviate very much from a concerned ruler that evokes little formality but still willing to bend the rules if needed. The wide range of supporting characters is almost forgettable as they blend together and each should have their own book.
The wealth of possibility created in the world perhaps is meant to be the start of a series. If so, I wish the world building had been spread out instead of crammed into a shorter novel and thus with slow periods of information dumping which almost caused my eyes to glaze over. However the intricacies of the world are fascinating and kept my interest when blended with the history of the planet and the people. The hermaphroditic elements and male pregnancy didn’t bother me and mostly were handled very well. I doubt this will be a problem for most science fiction/fantasy fans and the richness of the story definitely makes up for any potential qualms.
Overall I’d recommend this book to fantasy fans who enjoy a complex world with classic themes. The political aspects to the plot as well as the romance are very familiar for readers, just set in a new and interesting world. This helps blend something completely foreign with something recognizable and thus a mostly well written story. There are a few problems with switching point of view, but this is very minor and not a problem. As I mentioned before there are numerous information dumps, which slow the pace and may not keep the interest of all readers, but there is so much unnecessary detail that these can be skimmed entirely without loss to the story. If you’re looking for a decent blend of new and old concepts, this should fit the bill.
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