Time and circumstances may force true lovers apart but the tie that binds them can never be fully severed.
When Dylen Teris and Riodan Leyhar meet one harsh winter in the dual-gendered realm of Ylandre, neither expects the encounter to lead to a fast friendship and abiding love. For a chasm of vastly dissimilar social stations lies between them, and not all Deira could imagine, let alone accept, such a relationship.
Circumstances eventually separate them for what seems forever only to conspire to bring them together once more in the most unlikely of places—at the court of Rohyr Essendri, Ylandre’s powerful monarch. Complicating their situation is the attraction that still lingers between them, waiting to flare once more into love. But when one is unwilling to venture his heart again or wholly forgive its breaker, it may take a king’s interference to reunite these star-crossed lovers for good.
Contains: hermaphrodism and explicit homoerotic sexual encounters.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Chronicles of Ylandre series is a definite mind bender. Hallowed Bond is book 2 in the series and though this can be read as a stand alone, the overwhelming world building and somewhat awkward prose won’t be as bad if you’ve read the first book in the series. Also the various new terminology and concepts introduced will feel more familiar and easier to recognize. That said you can pick this up alone if you want and dive into the very complex and dense world of Ylandre.
This science fiction offering is just as compelling and interesting as the first book in the series. Although Rohyr and Lessen are still my favorite couple (really the author isn’t likely to top them within the series), this book deals with a new couple. Dylen is a hethar, which is basically an educated, high society companion. They are paid for their time, which may be used for social conversation and entertainment or sexual satisfaction. He meets and falls in love with Riodan, a young man who’s in line to be an ambassador. Due to the difference in social status, the two are well aware they have no future. They try to be happy for the time they have but circumstances force them apart. They find themselves together again decades later but old wounds may not have healed fully.
The story is pretty complex with a lot of different subplots, threads, ideas, and problems brought in. They don’t all mesh well together though for the most part the story is enjoyable and interesting. The main concept throughout the novel is the massive world building. Since this is more like a classic science fiction novel, the world building is made up of innovative and totally unfamiliar concepts mixed with very recognizable themes. For starters the people seem to live a very long time, not reaching their majority until age 35 and the story often skips large chunks of time, such as 5 years, or sometimes even 12 years. Thus the main couple is often apart but the passage of time isn’t as important there.
Secondly, the dialogue is often clunky and mixes modern language with antiquated ways of talking. This leads to some awkward construction and the dialogue comes out more mangled than easy. This also doesn’t happen consistently (thankfully) but only once in a while, which only highlights the awkwardness more. The story also has a tendency to dump massive amounts of information about pedigree, philosophy, ruling classes, monarchies, and other such bits. These sections are enough to glaze your eyes over or have you skimming. This is a repeated problem with the first book in the series and repeats here with very dense portions of the story being hard to read and too much information forced on the reader without enough context or interest.
If you can get past the dense world building though, the story offers a lot of entertainment. The characters are always fully realized and interesting. They’re not always easy either as they often hurt each other due to political pressure. This same theme was essential in the first book and repeats here. Of course the characters eventually find a way to forgive each other and fall in love again with a happy ending. There are numerous subplots that happen at the same time, almost too many. There is Riodan’s betrothal that lingers on for far, far too long with two distinct end scenes – not sure why there are two but the story felt the need to end the issue very firmly twice. There is also Dylen’s new family, status, and the big mystery that sends Dylen and Riodan off together.
Now the mystery they go off to solve is actually very interesting and well crafted, if a bit dense with unfamiliar names, people, places, and a plethora of terms that are thrown at a lightening speed. The resolution to that is satisfying and I wish the story had spent more time teasing that issue out in the space it required rather than smashing so much together in a very tight space. It does the trick of reconciling the main couple to give their happy ending though so it has a purpose in the story. It also helps redeem Riodan as his character desperately needs some positive attributes.
The story takes an interesting choice in Riodan since he is a pretty flawed man. He’s fearful, ambitious, cowardly, and often weak. Riodan spurns Dylen early on in the story due to his own issues but never really changes. He begs forgiveness but there is no overwhelming reason to forgive the man really. In fact he likely wouldn’t have sought Dylen’s forgiveness if not for the fact that Dylen’s status in life greatly improves. The story tries to cheerlead Riodan by making every important supporting character basically yell at Dylen for not forgiving Rio. This is supposed to make the reader sympathize with Riodan and want their reconciliation. I’m not sure I think Rio deserved any of it since he is, at heart, a weak man. But it’s a romance and that’s the main couple so it’s to be expected.
While I really enjoy this series, it’s dense to read. I often expect that of science fiction/fantasy stories so that’s not a mark against it. It’s not the smoothest and I wish the story hadn’t tried to cram so much information, world building, character development, plots, subplots, themes, concepts, and well everything into the novel. It just doesn’t have the space needed to make the story seamless and easy. Fans of the first novel will know what to expect and will probably really quite enjoy this offering. It has a very similar plot to the first book and a lot of repeat elements that will please fans.
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