The Stagsblood Prince is the first book in the series, The Stagsblood Trilogy, by Gideon E. Wood. This is a gay-themed fantasy story which is what drew me to the story. I enjoy fantasy stories, but so few seem to have any LGBTQ characters outside of coded characters.
Prince Tel has been serving as an ambassador to a foreign land trying to establish peace between the two nations. During his time there, his father, the king, passes away. Though Tel is the rightful heir his younger brother assumes the throne with the support of their council. The reason being, Tel is known to be an alcoholic and tends to bring an assortment of men to his bed chambers. This was one of the things I enjoyed about the way the book was written. The issue isn’t that Prince Tel prefers men, it is the indiscriminate amount and types of men that he brings.
Tel has a secret that he had kept all his life, as people fear it. He has the Stagsblood which gives him access to magical abilities. Tel returns home to discover that his uncle appears to be the real power behind the throne. Tel’s uncle brings archaic laws back into place in an attempt to purify the Queendom. Tel walks away from the responsibility, with his new love interest, not wanting to interfere, for fear of making things worse.
But the people rise in his name anyways. So now he must decide, should he remain in seclusion or raise an army to overthrow his uncle and by extension his brother.
This story deals with substance abuse and recovery. Though, his recovery seems too quick by the rate that the story progresses. Once he decides to quit, he does and has no lingering desires to turn to the bottle. It doesn’t quite make sense the rate at which he recovers. As the story unfolds, we learn about Tel’s history and the root of his substance abuse. This writer is not afraid to tell a compelling story. There are things readers expect and assume will play out. But he makes choices in the story that are so unexpected, it leaves doubt in the readers’ minds. At the very end, I was trying to figure out whether or not the horrible things did happen.
This is a compelling story, though it does start slow and takes a while to get going. I found the first quarter daunting for me. But once the plot began to unfold, I was committed to the story. I am looking forward to his future installments in the series.
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