At more than 300 pages and only part 1 of a trilogy, this book is already pushing your level of comfort if you are looking for a "comfort" romance... Bonds of Hate is definitely not that. Plus it has (SPOILER) two elements that will probably push away a lot of potential readers: an incestuous relationship between two half-brothers and non-con sex, at least at the beginning.
I think the strength in this novel is the completely turn around the author did with the characters: Anaxantis and Ehandar, the two half-brothers, start with clear chosen role, Ehandar is the warrior, one year older than Anaxantis at 17 years old, strong and virile; Anaxantis instead is the intellectual, bookish and often ill. They are also different in looks, Ehandar dark and strong, Anaxantis blond and petite.
At the beginning Anaxantis is fascinated by his brother, and he also tries to imitate him, but there is really nothing to do, they are in two different leagues; then Ehandar does the unthinkable, he rapes his own brother and he initiates a chain of events that will lead to his own demise, or better to him being turned into sex-slaves for the pleasure of Anaxantis. Why, from Ehandar's point of view that is acceptable? Since he strongly believes to be in love with his brother, and even when faced with the chance to run away, he chooses to remain faithful to his own brother. Anaxantis instead, according to me, proves to be a little temperamental...
These are not easy characters to like. I think that most of the readers will take the side for one or the other, but in the end, they will also admit that no one is really right and no one is really wrong. Ehandar with the rape that he commits at the beginning will be disliked by most romantic readers, but those same readers will have to admit that later in the novel, he seems the one with the more honest love feelings. On the other side bookish Anaxantis will have the support of those same readers, but then he will prove to have led his vengeance well over the edge, even if, again, there are some people (me probably) that believes nothing will payback for a rape. True, with the turning of Ehandar's character, he loses all the characteristic of the rapist, he moves exactly at the opposite, becoming the sex-slave, the one who is object.
The plot is complex and for once, while this is obviously a fantasy, since there is no real setting, it's not "magical"; true, there are potions and conspiracies, but that was pretty normal even in our real past. Yes, there is an homosexual relationship, but that is justified by the plot: it would have been probably impossible for Anaxantis to be a woman, since in that case, there would have been no chance for him to enslave Ehandar.
Truth be told, I'm not sure about my feelings towards this novel, I can recognize that is well plotted (even if fantasy is not my cup of tea), but probably I need to see how Anaxantis and Ehandar's relationship will evolve in the following books.