Title: Last of the Lesser Kings
Author: T.L.K. Arkenberg
Length: Super Novel (504pgs)
Publisher: Silver Publishing (28th January 2012)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥2 ½Hearts
Blurb: Fleeing Janir, the High King his magic helped create, Neathander finds a home and love in the free kingdom, Rivensed, and its King, Aorin. But when Janir’s army comes, Neathander risks everything to save the last of the lesser Kings.
After twelve years of conquest, Janir of Meanga has become the High King of all the human lands. At his side through it all is Neathander Arian, the magician who once loved him.
Neathander has since become disillusioned: with Janir’s ambition, with the violence of war, and most of all with himself. He has done monstrous things, and he’s uncertain if redemption is even possible. But when he flees north, away from Janir’s final war of conquest, Neathander comes across two lost children, and when he helps them find their way home, he meets their father: Aorin of Rivensed, the last independent lesser King.
Aorin is gentle and kind and welcomes Neathander even after learning of his past. Neathander, in his turn, grows to love the King. But Janir’s victory must be complete: he will let no kingdom stand against him. Neathander must fight against the very power he helped create, while struggling against the temptation to give into the violence he is capable of, even to save Rivensed. Unrequited love for Janir made him willing to become a monster; Aorin’s love might save him–if Neathander in turn can save the last of the lesser Kings.
T.L.K. Arkenberg A.K.A. T.C. Mill and Therese Arkenberg
Review: Neathander is an Arian and for the past twelve years has done everything he can to ensure Janir raises to power. But, now he is disillusioned with the wars and Janir. As he walks away, he vows never to use his power over the ailon for bad again. When he rescues two children from a wolf, he finds himself in a place he never thought he would, Rivensed.
A well written story with a good plot and story-line. Neathander is in the land of humans because he followed his lover who was a mercenary. When he died in battle, Neathander was left alone to fend for himself. When he comes to the aid of a young man, his life changes and it is several years before he realizes what he has turned himself into to try to gain Janir’s heart. When Janir insists on more war, Neathander leaves him and ends up in Rivensed, the next land that Janir wants to conquer, where Neathander proceeds to fall in love with its King, Aorin and Neathander swears to protect them from Janir.
Neathander is a complex character. On one hand he is strong, scary and powerful. On the other hand he is weak, pitiful and spineless. and I really have to admit I wanted to smack him and tell him to grow up and stop latching onto every King he saw. Janir is a power-hungry tyrant who was created with the help of Neathander. Who, at first, wanted justice for Janir, but it wasn’t long before he was doing anything to gain Janir’s approval. even knowing that Janir sneered at his sexuality. Aorin is a strong, compassionate and thoughtful King, but he has a lot on his plate and Neathander isn’t helping with his infatuation and promises to do anything to help.
I have got to say that I was disappointed with this as a gay story, as the only person in this book that I can say for definite is gay is Neathander. Janir isn’t… he uses men to humiliate and punish and Aorin seems to be reluctant to have anything to do with Neathander, in a sexual way. It felt to me more like a straight man being pursued by a gay man and finally giving into the inevitable. There isn’t that much m/m contact except for a few kisses. The actually story-line and plot was intriguing which is why I bought the book, but the execution sadly failed and for 504pgs I was expecting more world-building and character development.
Okay, so as you are all aware I am a Fantasy lover and the bigger and more epic the better. And when someone advertises that it is an action, adventure fantasy then it had better be action, adventure fantasy. and with this book the action, adventure was missing or did I blink and miss it? I was so not impressed that all the exciting stuff was in the twelve years that was missing with only one of two small shows of power after that. I also wasn’t impressed that Neathander’s character seemed so weak. That he would do anything, even murder people, for a few crumbs of affection from a man who he knew despised him for his sexuality.
This book could have been so much more. But, that isn’t to say that the story isn’t good, because it is. I am just a hard-core fantasy fan ;-). So, if you like fantasy, magic, volatile kings, an interesting story-line and plot then give this one a go.