Title: Black Snow
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 350 Pages
Category: High Fantasy
At a Glance: A beautifully written, complex, and suspenseful love story. Highly recommended for readers who love high-fantasy.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: Prince Brier Snow has lived in the shadow of King Snow’s exalted memory. However, his fate changes when he nears his majority and Lirend’s steward queen attempts to dethrone him by exploiting an obscure requirement in the late king’s will: a yearlong sabbatical.
Brier travels to the desolate land of Aire to train under the Ceve guild, scorned refugees of war, including their guarded leader, Roland. Brier’s skillful master unlocks hidden potential, and what begins as a dutiful bond turns into ill-fated affection. When Brier returns to the capital, he’s carrying proof of his indiscretions with Roland—and his condition grows more apparent with each passing day. An affair with the huntsman is a scandal Brier’s enemies can use against him, but the birth of an heir is a burden even Brier is not sure he can bear.
Roland Archer, a man with a murky past, is skeptical of the contract to train the prince but willing to do anything for the guild’s freedom. Despite his best intentions, he is smitten by Lirend’s future king. Roland has resigned himself to solitude, but fate has other plans—for him, for Brier, and for Lirend’s oppressed subjects. Can Roland help Brier face a power-hungry queen and a country torn asunder? Either they will bring equality to a land that desperately needs it, or they’ll be thwarted by cunning enemies and an illusory curse.
Review: I am enamored with this story. From beginning to end it held my attention, and I went through a gamut of emotions. I had moments of “Aw, how sweet,” to ones of “Oh no he didn’t!” to then where I simply was heartbroken for Brier and Roland.
I took the time before jumping into this story to read the glossary (which is at the front of the book), and I am really glad I did. Though even without the glossary, the author did a fair job of using the terminology in a way where I believe I still would have been able to follow. Still, it made it a little easier when jumping right in so I could focus on the adventure I was about ready to consume.
This story starts off with a particular fairy-tale being told to a young Brier, and although it’s mildly different from the one I grew up with, it sort of gives the reader a little insight as to the characters that will come into play. While there are parallels to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through the story, and some of the situations are somewhat similar, make no mistake—this story takes on a life of its own. It somehow manages to preserve the feeling of the fairy tale, yet adds a level of intrigue which wasn’t previously there; all the while, changing the dynamic of the characters to the point I wasn’t sure what would happen next.
The descriptions are poetic, giving the reader a vivid image of the lands in which the story takes place. The world building is intricate, and I was fascinated with the social hierarchy and overall political undercurrents of Lirend (where the story takes place).
This is not a whirlwind love story. Roland and Brier’s relationship spans years as they navigate the obstacles in their paths, which are formidable. From their age difference, social standing, political adversaries and a host of other complications (which I won’t go into or I would be giving away too much), they are in a constant state of struggle and fighting to be together.
If you read the blurb, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is an mpreg (male pregnancy) element to this story. Some people are really put off by the idea, and in some stories it may not work, but let me tell you; in this story, the way the situation and pregnancy was presented, it worked. There is a mystical component at play which brings to fruition the situation and added to the value of the story. The pregnancy is something that enhances the difficulties Ro and Brier face by creating additional political repercussions, which are depicted realistically given the world Roland and Brier live in. The pregnancy is not glossed over, yet it isn’t the sole focus, as there are so many different pieces of the story converging.
As the story develops, there is a fair amount of character growth. Brier initially is a nineteen-year-old sheltered and innocent youth with little understanding of how the world around him really works, and he sees the choices his forefathers made as the right ones—without really understanding the effect they created outside the palace walls. As the story progresses he matures with each day. He makes mistakes, but proves he learns from those mistakes, and is willing to face unrest to follow his heart. When Roland first meets Brier, it is with a dark past; he holds onto guilt and looks at every situation with a pessimistic view. Ro does his best to remain uncaring and holds people, including the Guild he is the leader of, at a distance. His time with Brier slowly cracks the walls he has built around himself, but self-loathing and guilt are hard to outrun. He goes from distant and nearly uncaring to being one of the most loving individuals I have read, putting his heart and his pride down for Brier, again and again.
Black Snow is a beautifully written, complex, and suspenseful love story. Highly recommended for readers who love high-fantasy.
You can buy Black Snow here: