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Sacred Fate by Eresse

In the dual-gendered realm of Ylandre, the great divide between the high-born True Bloods and the lower-ranked Half Bloods is deemed impassable by most. Rohyr Essendri dared to cross it when he took young Lassen Idana from his provincial town and made him his paramour. Lassen perforce learned how to navigate the intricate byways of life at court. What he never expected, however, was to fall in love with Rohyr, a most inadvisable and impractical thing to do when one’s lover is sovereign ruler of the land. But anything worth having is worth fighting for, both figuratively and, as Lassen discovers, literally speaking.

Bottom line up front:
I read mpreg. And, to my everlasting shock, I absolutely loved this book.

The rest:
I got this book specifically because I like the cover, and not because I did anything smart like read the blurb or the disclaimer or anything that normal people would do. Dang Anne Cain and her breathtaking art. Because of her, I randomly pulled a book off my TBR pile in a fit of boredom, and read it with absolutely no preconceived notions as to the content. This is not a book I would have bought, never mind read, otherwise. Just not my bag, yanno? Another rare occasion when I would have missed out on something wonderful.

My first clue that shit was about to go wrong was the prologue. It starts with the current king sitting at the bedside of a very ill woman, who shortly passes away. This woman wasn't family to the king, or even known to him. He just kinda showed up because she was THE LAST WOMAN BORN TO THEIR RACE. And she just died, having never married or had children. My mind sort of leaped ahead to images of extinction, or some sort of alien race coming in with females to interbreed or something. In the meantime, Chapter 1 is upon me.

Fast forward some two thousand years into the future, and we meet young Lassen. Young being subjective here, and Lassen is twenty-six. In this world, people (and by people, I mean men, since that's all that's left) age quite slowly. Thirty is the age of majority, forty is the age when making babies tends to happen, and the average lifespan is one hundred twenty or so. By comparison, twenty-six is young.

Anyways, the pretty and inquisitive young darling is on his way with the rest of his small town to await the emissaries of the Ardan, or king. The elders of the town have asked the Ardan for protection against incursions from a neighboring country. They are surprised when the Ardan, Rohyr, shows up. Surprise turns to shock when Rohyr agrees to provide protection for the town, but at a price. Rohyr had seen Lassen in the crowd, and asked to be given the young man in exchange for his protection. Seems a little weird that a king would want an underaged piece of ass in exchange for protecting a small town in the middle of nowhere, but what are convenient plot devices for, if not convenience?

Lassen gets given away to be the sexual playtoy of the king and goes to live in the capital city. He quickly falls in love with the smart and considerate Rohyr. Life is happy happy so much joy for a good decade. All that happy joy comes to an end when Rohyr is forced into a political marriage to his cousin, who predictably doesn't want Lassen around. Tyrde (I pronounced it 'turd', because he was one), the new...queen?...quickly hatches a plan to get rid of Lassen once and for all. Poor Lassen is left fighting for his love and his life.

The characterization and world building in Sacred Fate was just stunning. There was the occasional too much info dump, but for the most part readers got a good sense of the universe being presented without having to resort to maps and a history lesson. The characters that we were supposed to like were likable and relatable, and even the bad guys had a few redeeming qualities to make them seem more like good people gone wrong. This is one of those dense stories, where so much happens in the space of a few short paragraphs and pages. Even though the book was only some 160 pages long (yeah, don't let the 'plus novel' label fool you), it felt like it was much longer in a really good way. I was very much invested in the outcome.

The mpreg...you know, just the thought of it has squicked me something fierce in the past. The characters in this story are hermaphrodites, possessed of both male and female sexual characteristics. However, they're all identified as male, and it's a male society they live in. There's a choice whether to breed or not, and a wine that can be taken for contraception. Like most m/m stories, the sex here was mostly anal, and the times that it wasn't anal were very glossed over and faded to black quickly. Because the two main characters were very male, I didn't get the feeling that either was taking on a feminine role, and the pregnant parts just didn't bother me at all. I kept waiting to get uncomfortable, if not actually nauseous, but it never happened. Even pregnancy was sort of a natural progression of a loving relationship, and again, it wasn't dwelt upon ad nauseum.

The only time things could have gone icky for me was in the description of how the guys gave birth. It wasn't vaginally, and vagina was never mentioned by name anyways. It was swords and sheathes and seed pouches and seed channels. Babies came through the stomach, in a sort of Alien-ish explosion of...oh here's the part in the book:
His eyes drifted down to his abdomen. There was no sign as yet that he was breeding. That would not be obvious until the end of the fourth month of the half-year gestation period. Only then would his belly begin to swell enough to require looser clothing.

He traced the faint horizontal line that ran under his navel, almost a shade darker
than his skin. The birthing seam began to show a fortnight ago. It would continue to
darken in color, its thickness gradually diminishing as the time of birthing drew near before finally and naturally splitting open to permit the babe to emerge.

And what they gave birth to was more of an egg than anything:
Through the haze of exhaustion, he saw...their son, securely ensconced
in his natal shell. The shell looked like half the cooked white of an egg. No longer smeared with blood and birthing fluid, it was dark beige, its opaque surface streaked with the faintest traces of what looked like bluish veins.

[He] gaped when he saw the tiny infant cradled in its cushiony center, the faintly pulsing pale rose birth cord trailing across his belly to disappear into the folds of the shell surface. He had never seen a newborn fresh from the womb. It was the custom to keep days-old babies indoors and away from nonfamily members until the shell came off.

Despite his miniscule size, the child was completely formed. And judging from the
strength of his flailing arms and legs, healthy as well. The natal shell would protect him and provide nourishment until he was able to suckle. Whereupon the desiccated shell and cord would naturally detach.

Odd, but not enough to set off any squick alarms. Kinda cute, actually.

Sacred Fate is the first book I've read by this author. I was very much impressed by this intriguing, engrossing tale. The cover says 'Chronicles of Ylandre, Book One'. I cannot wait to see what's next.

Really, just go get your copy here. You'll like it. Promise.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 10th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC)
*scratches head*

Ok, I'm going to go ahead and ask it already. What, exactly, are the babies supposed to suckle?

Nov. 10th, 2009 04:42 am (UTC)
nipples, silly bunny.

The Ardan had undone his tunic and shirt to his waist and now gazed at the pebbles of flesh he had exposed. Idly rubbing his thumb over one, he studied the two visible physical traits that distinguished breeders from all other Deira—their plumper nipples and slightly wider and paler areolae, a difference noticeable as early as birth....

...Meanwhile, his body would produce sustenance for the newborn. Infants were suckled for about five months before being weaned, the nutrient-rich fluid called estra speeding their physical growth and mental development considerably.
Nov. 10th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
Shades of Wraeththu here, or what?
Nov. 10th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
Nov. 10th, 2009 03:54 am (UTC)
Oh wow! This DOES sound fantastic! I think I'll give this author and series a try! Thanks for the beautiful review!
Nov. 10th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
I am still surprised I liked it so, but it was stunningly well written. Let me know if you read it, and if you liked it.
Nov. 10th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC)
Great review! The book does sound interesting.
Nov. 10th, 2009 05:06 am (UTC)
if you've got it in your TBR pile, drag it out and read. your eyes will thank you :P. no sporkables here. none.
Nov. 10th, 2009 10:07 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the lovely review. Writing the next book is neither quick nor easy but reviews like this whip up my enthusiasm, get my creative gears going and inspire me to do my very best. I really appreciate this.

Nov. 10th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
thanks for the lovely read!
Nov. 10th, 2009 12:44 pm (UTC)
I have this one on TBR, thought the cover was interesting, but sort of put aside and forgot all about it until I read your review. I'm going to have to read this one ASAP. I'm always iffy about mpreg as I've never seen it done right before, but it seems like the author is A-OK where the theme is concerned.
Nov. 10th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC)
I love Anne Cain's art muchly. Slash authors who get her as their cover artist really luck out and get random sales like this one.

Mpreg pretty much squicks me 100% of the time. Can't say why it didn't here. Looking forward to your review, lol.
Nov. 11th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
Well. Holy Shit. You liked a book... and it was mpreg and dual gendered as well. It must be bloody good.
Nov. 11th, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
you're so funny. no, really, you are. cracking up over here. *trout stare*

have gotten maudlin in my old age. and it was an awesome book :P
Apr. 2nd, 2010 11:17 am (UTC)
Hi everyone.

Yes, this is one of the best M/M ebook ive ever read in quite a while, and i can't wait for the next book to be out, i will be keeping an eye out for it.

Maybe the author could consider writing a spin off story about Jareth and his twin brother, the two of them seems very intresting, and they are describes as being one of the most beautiful and sinfully handsome rogue in sacred fate universe,...totally rakish and sexy, it would be fun to read them each gettin their own mate, maybe halfblood mate for each of them?

Anyway, all in all, each of the caharcters in sacred fate universe are very special and fun to read, and i will be lookin foward to read more from this very talented author.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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