Release Date: August 30, 2022
Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court–the body-father of the queen’s new child–in an altercation which results in his humiliation.
To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.
In the beginning, Kadou thinks Evemer is stiff and uptight while Evemer thinks Kadou is “careless-flighty-negligent.” But as they grow closer Kadou comes to see Evemer as the protective and honorable man he truly is, while Evemer realizes Kadou’s mercurial behavior is largely due to his undiagnosed anxiety disorder. They don’t use that term of course, but it’s obvious that’s what it is. Which leads me to the second thing I loved: the anxiety rep. I also deal with anxiety, and I appreciated the way Rowland walked the reader through an anxiety attack. They don’t wallow in it or smooth off the edges. They show what it’s like both to be in it and to observe it. Kadou calls it his “cowardice” because he thinks he’s weak-willed and overly sensitive. However, Evemer realizes his “spells” have nothing to do with that at all. The prince is highly trained in martial arts and swordplay. He stands up to attackers, killers, and kidnappers with nary a hesitation. There is nothing cowardly about him. Calling it “cowardice” shows how little Kadou thinks of himself due to his anxiety, not his behavior. The slow realization of this on both their parts adds an extra layer of depth to their romance.
Read the rest of this review at Tor.com.
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