Snowmancer is a fantasy story by Olivia Helling. It is the first of the book series, Godsbane Prince. I acquired this book last year, early in the pandemic when several authors were listing books for free to give people something to do. I hadn’t gotten around to reading it until recently. I have to say it far exceeded my expectations. When I began the book, I thought it was standalone, it wasn’t until I reached the end of the story that I saw the tease for future books.
It is the story of Ilyas the prince of his land. This part reminding me a bit of the film Stardust. It is not uncommon for brothers in the royal family to kill each other to move up in the line for the crown. Though it is not legal, if a prince succeeded, he is rewarded, rather than punished.
Ilyas’s brother, Mehdi, has conspired to have him removed through a series of treachery and revenge. As his last regicide attempt against Ilyas had failed, he was humiliated in front of the Royal Court. This time Mehdi managed to succeed with the assistance of his servant, Jem.
Unknown to either prince, Jem wasn’t a mere servant. He came from a distant land that was not only culturally different but ecologically different. The residents of Nuriya had a warmer climate with plenty of food and necessities that provided them a life of comfort. Jem’s region, Lumi, was covered in snow and food was scarce and the people barely lived.
Jem kidnaps Ilyas intending to sacrifice him to their Dark God in exchange for his people to be able to have food and survive the nonstop harsh winters they lived in.
Even though Ilyas is a spoiled rich prince through most of the story, he was my favorite character. The story bounced between the point of view of both characters from chapter to chapter. Ilyas’s perspectives were interesting to watch because he was more relatable as the reader. He was ignorant of the world around him and was constantly questioning why this country was different than his. That did not prevent him from being a jerk while doing it, which was entertaining to watch.
Whereas, Jem’s point of view, he kept his secrets to himself. Though the reader was seeing through his eyes, we don’t get to learn much or understand his true motivates until towards the end of the book.
There was a Beauty and the Beast element to this story, as over time Ilyas started to have affection towards Jem. Something he didn’t want to admit was possible. From his point of view, Jem was nothing more than an assassin and could never be someone Ilyas truly loved and trusted. That was an interesting part of his way of thinking. Having grown up in a society that encouraged regicide, it was rare for someone to truly love someone, as it meant trusting them with their life.
Jem couldn’t understand how he was developing affection towards Ilyas. For reasons that get explained later in the story, his unusual appearance and magical abilities meant he was supposed to lack the ability to love and care for others.
The story does lead into a fight with the Dark God as they try to prevent him from rising. The two men do end up together, though not in an expected way. As the story unfolds it is explained that to defeat the Dark God, one of the two men would have to be killed. But as they both love each other; neither could bring themselves to do it. For this reason, as I read the story I was on the edge of my seat as to how they would be able to defeat the villain and be together. For a while, I started to wonder if they would both survive.
Fortunately, they do and we get a continuing series of stories with these two and their world. I did enjoy this book, but I will admit it took a few chapters before I got into it. Fortunately, as I said, Ilyas’s chapters are what kept me going until the story got into its groove. If you enjoy Fantasy stories that feature men loving men, I would suggest giving this story a try.
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Snowmancer on Amazon