And So It Begins
Title : And So It Begins
Author : R.G. Green
Series: Prince and Trader, Book 1
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Fantasy
Length : 240 pages (e-book)
Published : June 24, 2013
Prince and Trader: Book I
For hundreds of years, the kingdom of Llarien has maintained a defense against the barbarians. Now, activity at the border draws attention from Kherin Rhylle, the less-favored younger son of the king. Kherin suspects a deeper purpose behind the attacks, but his father refuses to grant permission to travel to the border, despite Kherin’s obligated tenure as a Defender. Not even unprecedented deaths or the serious injury of Kherin’s brother, the crown prince, can change the king’s mind.
Then Derek Resh, kingdom trader and Kherin’s closest friend, convinces the king to allow Kherin to travel with him, and an unexpected journey to the border proves the threat real—while an unexpected intimacy with Derek makes Kherin realize that his feelings go deeper than the friendship they have shared for most of his life. But even that turns devastating, as Derek won’t pursue anything more intimate when the king’s disapproval is certain.
Grasping at straws, Kherin is caught between a danger he doesn’t understand and the desire for a deeper relationship he can’t have. And then there’s the magic that threatens to return after being banished hundreds of years ago….
What a find, am I ever glad this one came up for review! This is a highly enjoyable fantasy story complete with well- crafted characters and excellent world building. It is set to be a series, and this first installment provides a great foundation and build up for what is to come. I say the rest of the series can’t get here soon enough!
The story takes place in the Kingdom of Llarien. The widowed King Rhylle has two sons, the crown prince Adrien and his younger brother, Kherin. The story centers around Kherin, his life, his struggles, and his maturing at the hand of fortune. I totally bonded with Kherin immediately over the fact that he was home in the castle in Delfore at the beginning of the story recuperating with a broken leg, and frustrated out of his mind..LOL! J (Good part though is he was in a library surrounded by books!). I’ve not been sitting in a castle, but the broken leg bit, yeah, I get that!
Kherin is close to his brother, but not highly regarded by his father, due in part to the fact that Kherin prefers men in his bed. Kherin apparently partakes in this pleasure often and without much discretion, and he is going to regret taking one man in particular to his bed – the stable hand, Tristan.
Enter Derek – the handsome, sereneTrader with the mysterious, vagabond life (and sexy long hair!) who has been friends with Kherin and Adrien ever since they can remember. Throughout the course of the story, Kherin realizes that Derek deals in information as much as any other kind of goods – he is a highly valuable asset to the King in that he gleans tidbits of talk in the streets, pubs and back alleys of the Kingdom’s cities and delivers it to the castle to be used as the King sees fit. He spends lots of time visiting with Kherin whenever he is in Delfore. Their fondness for each other is evident, but they have been close friends and no more. Kherin wonders, yet knows not whether Derek ever seeks intimate company with men.
The Kingdom of Llarien has a river border with a wild and mostly unknown neighboring country. The inhabitants of this country are known as Northerners and are considered barbarians by the citizens of Llarien. All the men of Llarien must serve a few months a year as Defenders of the border, and this includes the two princes. Adrien was fulfilling this duty, but Kherin had to be left behind in the castle due to his broken leg. When word came back that Adrien had been injured, Kherin wanted to go to him since his leg was now well enough, but his father forbid it. It was around this time that the King became especially displeased with Kherin’s sexual indiscretions, and had Tristan fired from his position in the stable. He wanted to teach Kherin that his actions could have dire consequences for others, and not just for himself.
Kherin becomes very upset with his father and his lot in life, and is pretty much rescued by Derek while on a binge in the diviest of dives in Delfore before some awful, unspeakable harm can come to him. Derek manages to convince the King to let Kherin accompany him on a trading trip, and the two end up making their way to where Adrien lie recuperating. Along the journey, Kherin finds himself having to confront the fact that his feelings for Derek go deeper than friendship. But he worries how Derek might react to advances from him. Kherin does not want to risk losing his camaraderie with Derek, yet in the end, he presses his fortune and is rewarded. Is there any hope in this newfound intimacy lasting between them? Theirs would be a rather forbidden and frowned upon relationship, and Derek wishes that Kherin not find out how his father would respond were he to gain knowledge of it.
When Adrien and Derek reach the border city of Gravlorn, where Adrien is in hospice, they quickly discover news that has been kept from the King. Adrien is having seizures which seem linked to a non-healing wound on his back. None of the Healers are able to come up with a treatment or answer, and Kherin can only watch helplessly as his brother continue to have seizures and seems close to death. While in Gravlorn, Kherin is pressed into his bound duty to serve as a Defender. Based on what Kherin witnesses while on patrol duty, he concludes that the Northerners must have inflicted something unknown onto Adrien when he was wounded in battle, and vows to capture one of them to try to find some answers. Kherin and Derek have heard whispers in town of something known as the Akhael magic…
We also meet Dar – a recluse Scholar who is one of the only remaining people in Llarien who has knowledge of the Akhael – a magic banished centuries earlier that a few in Llarien are seeking to re-establish.
Back to Tristan – seems he is rather a miscreant, and lurks about the Kingdom with cruel vengeance on his twisted mind. His quarrel is not with the King, but with Kherin himself. He too hears whispers of the Akhael and vows to discover and unleash its power.….
And of course…The Northerners – they appear barbaric, and they speak a different language. But have their ranks actually infiltrated Llarien and if so, how long ago,and how many of them may be in the country? What purpose do they seek? How is the Akhael known to them and how does it play in to the turmoil that is beginning to stir?
I absolutely love Kherin and Derek. The slow burn that leads up to Derek confessing his true feelings for Kherin is filled with a steady thrum of sexual tension and undeniable attraction. There is plenty going on in the Kingdom and in their lives to keep them occupied and concerned, yet despite all this, Kherin refuses to let his love for Derek go undeclared. When they reach the point of their first true sexual encounter, it is a burning hot physical and emotional high. Yet there are tough times ahead. Kherin must remain in Gravlorn to finish out his duty as a Defender and watch over Adrien. Derek heads out across the land to visit a distant city and seek out Dar in an attempt to learn more about the Akhael. Choosing between what may be deemed prudent in the eyes of the King and the Kingdom hierarchy, or their feelings for each other, is still something that weighs heavy between Kherin and Derek.
I found it wonderful how this first book of the series introduces all (I assume!) of the major players and sets a dynamic and perplexing plot that provides plenty of tantalizing peeks at what may be to come. This reader is definitely hooked – line and sinker! I’m certainly looking forward to reading how Kherin and Derek will overcome all of the obstacles that lay between them being together while uncovering the secrets of the Northerners and the Akhael, and fending off whomever, or whatever, may get in their way.
Rated 5 stars by Dianne