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Eidolon by Grace Draven

Eidolon Grace DravenWhy I read it:  I enjoyed Radiance and bought the sequel as soon as I knew it was out.  (Actually, I remember Radiance much more fondly with hindsight. It’s a book, I have decided, which gets better the more one thinks about it. If I were to grade it now, it would be far closer to an A than the B I originally awarded it.)

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis has unleashed a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by a diseased darkness and on the brink of war. His human wife Ildiko must decide if she will give up the man she loves in order to secure his throne.

Three enemy kingdoms must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king must raise an army of the dead to defeat an army of the damned.

A tale of alliance and sacrifice.

Note: Spoilers for Radiance follow. Eidolon is not a stand-alone book. It is necessary to read Radiance first to understand what’s going on.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Strangely enough, when I started this book, I wanted to immediately stop and then go back and re-read Radiance (I still may do that actually). Seeing Brishen and Ildiko on the page again reminded me about how much I loved reading their romance. I  said about Radiance that it had little by way of internal conflict, which is true. But it also meant that they had an instant connection and basically were fairly sympatico right the way through the story. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed watching their love blossom.  Once the news of the events at the palace in Haradis reaches Saggara, there is both internal and external conflict galore. If Brishen is the king, he will need heirs of his body. Ildiko cannot give him those heirs, being a different species to her husband. Further, it is unlikely the Kai would accept her as queen in any event. Bastardy is a stain on one’s honour and the Kai do not have polygamy. If Brishen is king and if the king is to do his duty, then he and Ildiko must surely part, mustn’t they?

Radiance by Grace Draven

RadianceWhy I read it:  This was recommended by many Twitter friends so I bought it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  My Twitter friends were right.  I liked Radiance very much.  The conflict is mostly external and the romance is really quite delightful.

Ildiko and Brishen both knew they would be expected to marry for political alliance rather than affection and both are resigned to their fate.  Nevertheless, each has some misgivings about marrying someone from another species.  This is the first inter-species romance I have read and I appreciated that the first look at “other” was from Brishen’s point of view.  It was the humans I was seeing as different and the descriptions were apt and amusing but they also served to relax me into the “other” of the Kai (the species to which Brishen belongs).

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