“Unhappy the land that has no heroes? No. Unhappy the land that needs heroes.” – Bertolt Brecht
Author: Amy Rae Durreson
Publisher: The Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Pages/Word Count: 138
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Sjurd is convinced that Celyn of Ys is the most irritating man alive. It’s a good thing that Celyn is engaged to Sjurd’s brother, not him, because Sjurd loathes the brat, and it’s quite mutual. When an elopement and the threat of invasion force the two princes together, however, they have no choice but to marry and fake true love to keep their countries safe. Can warrior Sjurd and diplomat Celyn find any common ground?
Review: From one little story in the 2013 Dreamspinner Advent anthology to a free novella in last summer’s Goodreads M/M Romance Group anthology Love Has No Boundaries, I am now wanting to know nothing more than where Amy Rae Durreson has been all my reading life.
It’s hard to imagine that a one-hundred-thirty-eight page novella could be described as epic, but that’s exactly what The Lodestar of Ys is, set in a larger-than-life world where ships fly and islands float; where two heroes rush headlong into the fray to battle the enemy, not because they are fearless but because they are fearful that if they don’t it will mean the end of existence for the people they love and live to serve. It is a book filled with impressive imagery and ambitious storytelling that reads like a legend to be passed down from generation to generation, chronicling the story of how two princes who met as mere boys, evolved from enemies to husbands by way of politics, and went on to save the world.
Or at least that’s what I hope will happen if the author sees fit to write a sequel to this brilliant tale.
Prince Celyn ap Iorweth of Ys is betrothed to Ivarr, younger brother to Sjurd, First Prince of Axholme, though when all’s fair in love and war takes a turn for the unexpected, and Celyn ends up engaged to Sjurd instead, the arranged marriage that transpires isn’t so much a bother as it is a terrific burden for these two men, who’ve hated each other from the moment they’d first met years before. Both loyal to their respective kings and countries, as well as understanding that the needs of the many far outweigh the sacrifice of the two, they enter into the political contract that will unite their countries and, with any sort of luck on their sides, will help them defeat an encroaching enemy bent upon stealing all the magic in their world, thereby destroying it.
So much more happens in this book than I’m willing to sum up, though. There are losses to be counted and battles to be fought and won, not the least of which is Celyn and Sjurd fighting the growing attraction they feel for each other as they participate in ceremony after ceremony, as is the Ys custom of bonding in holy matrimony. The closer each wedding celebration takes them to Celyn’s humble home, the more Sjurd realizes that he’s found the Yin to his Yang, the perfect complement of the diplomat to the soldier, and that is where the story turns into a beautiful if not somewhat bittersweet romance, as they fly toward almost certain death to try and save their people.
Celyn and Sjurd, who are brave of heart and noble of purpose, are two mortal men with the strength of legion because they fight for more than themselves. They fight to avenge those they’ve lost and to protect those who need their heroes. Amy Rae Durreson writes with humor and heart and gifts the reader with not one but two heroes who each have their stories narrated in alternating points of view so even though the word count isn’t epic, the way I became invested in this story and the characters was.
If you love Alt U/Fantasy even in the slightest bit, give yourself the gift of this novella. The author has already gifted it to you.