Title: The High King’s Golden Tongue
Author Name & Publisher: Megan Derr (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date & Length: November 4, 2015 – 400 pgs
Prince Allen has trained his entire life to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious mother, who has made their kingdom one of the wealthiest and most influential in the empire. For the past few years he has trained to become the new consort of the High King. The only thing no one prepared him for was the stubborn, arrogant High King himself, who declares Allen useless and throws him out of court.
High King Sarrica is ruling an empire at war, and that war will grow exponentially worse if his carefully laid plans do not come to fruition. He’s overwhelmed and needs help, as much as he hates to admit it, but it must be someone like his late consort: a soldier, someone who understands war, who is not unfamiliar with or afraid of the harsher elements of rule. What he doesn’t need is the delicate, pretty little politician foisted on him right as everything goes wrong.
Publisher note: this is a highly expanded, completely re-written version of the free short that was previously available under the same title.
The only thing I really was not a fan of with this book was it was such a slow burn that it almost drove me nuts. It felt like it took so long for anything to happen with these two it was kind of frustrating lol. I think it was because what little I saw of them together they were just so good together that I felt like I just wanted to see more of them as a couple.
But other then that you get a lot of action with this book and learn so much about this world. The High King of his realm Sarrica needs help so he must take a new consort having lost his last consort. Well he meets Allen and lets just say the sparks don’t fly right away between these two. Allen is what they call a silver tongue so he can speak many different languages and is very valuable to the realm. There was also mention of male pregnancy Sarrica’s pervious consort gave birth to the kings children.
There was action, angst and a little bit of steam. You also meet a lot of different characters in this book.
I think I might have been a little bit in love with Prince Allen from the first page. He’s smart and interesting and well-trained, yet he never comes across as snobby or full of himself. He’s confident in his multilingual skills, and he knows how valuable they are, but it never becomes a matter of excessive pride. Instead, he charms his way into the lives of the entire High King’s court. Too bad it takes him so long to charm the King himself, but that’s half the fun of the story.
King Sarrica is gruff and brooding and somewhat needy, and he could too easily have been a stereotype of the tough exterior/soft heart. Instead, he’s shown to be a complex man with a long history and some not-so-hidden vulnerabilities. It took me longer to warm to him because I so badly wanted to smack him and tell him he was overlooking the delightful Allen. But I came around, of course.
Allen and Sarrica are to be married (should Sarrica get a clue) whether or not they love each other. So while there is an underlying love story as their affection grows, the main part of the story is action and adventure. Ms. Derr has done a phenomenal job of world-building without slipping into information dump–it’s done largely through action and dialog, and the places come to life as the story unfolds. What was interesting to me was this fantasy world with the same “old-fashioned” feel of fairy tale settings, but with a decidedly queer twist. It looks (at least from this reading) as though the majority of people are queer-spectrum, but it never feels like readers are somehow supposed to learn a Valuable Social Lesson from that. It simply is what it is, and I love it.
There’s a huge cast of supporting characters, and unlike a lot of high fantasy with male main characters, there are a number of women who are brave, interesting, and complex. Jac was by far my favorite, and I hope to see more of her in future installments. I enjoyed meeting many of the other characters, and I look forward to reading more of their stories as well.
There are a lot of dense themes in the story about what makes a person strong or worthy and how our past can affect our present. I loved how Sarrica’s grief over his deceased consort factored into the story, for example. I also liked the way Allen’s training and ability made him more capable of understanding other cultures and how he brought that to his position as consort.
This is just such an excellent book, one I’m sure I’ll have to read multiple times to get all the subtleties. I’m really looking forward to the next part.
Megan is a long time resident of m/m fiction, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she’s not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies (especially all things James Bond). She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all around the internet.