Prince Temmin has spent his first eighteen years being raised by his mother at Whithorse, a country estate. He has been raised in complete innocence both sexually and socially. There have been no young women on the estate save for his sisters and his best friend has been a groom named Alvo. In fact, he has spent most of his time in the stable caring for his horse and trying to forget that he is royal.
However on his 18th birthday things change for Temmin. As Heir, he is being sent to his father’s palace for training and education. Being next in line for the throne there will be much he has to learn about the intrigues of the court and political realities.
The night before he leaves for the capital Temmin loses some of his innocence after an evening spent drinking rotgut wisc with Alvo. First, he comes upon a young maid from a neighboring house trysting with a footman. Being drunk, he takes advantage of the situation to fondle and kiss the maid, who is afraid to refuse. His experiment ends abruptly when he vomits up the whisc he’d been drinking. Shortly after this Alvo makes a declaration of love, real love, for Temmin. They will more than likely never see each other again and he takes this one chance to share his feelings with his friend. Alvo gives Temmin his first sexual experience. While Temmin enjoys the shared moment it leaves him confused and troubled. He has always loved Alvo, but not in that way.
The next day Temmin is reluctantly on his way to the capital. He had been happy and comfortable at the country estate and this trip is something he does not want. He has no desire to embrace his royal heritage and believes that his sister Sedra would make a much better Heir than him. But as women cannot rule, Temmin must accept his future, though he makes sure to do everything in his power to fight it. He shows his immaturity with his sulks, gripes and whines. But once in his father’s palace Temmin is gradually forced to accept if not embrace court life. We also begin to see the power which he will wield both before and after he ascends to the throne. His father wishes him to be educated for his future duties and introduces him to Teacher, an immortal who has taught generations of the royal family.
It is now that Temmin learns that his life has been dictated by a prophecy given at his birth:
Love to bear him, love to raise him, love to send him on his way
Son in sorrow, son in joy, brings darkness or the brightest day
Two the consorts, two the paths, two the deaths for him to rule
One will be the trusting child and three will be the rivals cruel
Thirst and hunger, sleep and death will come to strike a trusted one
And stones will shatter, stones will stand when might reclaims the rising sun
Although the meaning of this prophecy is only vaguely grasped by either the King or Teacher, it does foreshadow the coming political strife in the kingdom and Timmin’s role in it.
This is beautifully written fantasy. The characters are well-rounded and believable. Temmin’s immaturity and his relationship with his sisters rings true. And the author has meticulously crafted the world Temmin lives in.
Other than the one lightly graphic scene between Alvo and Temmin in the beginning chapter, this sample hints at, but does not go into, the erotic sexuality that will obviously come later in the book. Sex is an open part of life in this kingdom and is even a part of the religion, which is mostly matriarchal, with several goddesses being worshipped and served. There is a hint, though, as Timmon arrives in the capital that there are also a few patriarchal elements. The sample ends with Temmin on his way to his first public appearance as Heir since his arrival.
Fans of high fantasy will enjoy this series and look for more from this talented author. The sole drawback is the cover, which does not do justice to this novel and might make those who do judge a book by its cover hesitant to give it a try.
Update: the author informs me that the impressions I got about a matriarchal religion from the sample are incorrect.