I want to babble about how much I love Emma Holly's writing, but I'll just get on with the review. This is the first of her books to be set in the Yamish Empire. Prince Corum is born with an embarassing affliction, he shows and feels emotions like a human. Since Yamas pride themselves on their control of their emotions, and look down on humans as inferior, his mother tries to hide his emotional displays and train him to attain the correct Yamish mask. Young Xishi is his childhood companion after her mother is murdered, her presence calms him, but he becomes so dependant on her that his mother has her removed to an orphanage. Years later Xishi becomes a courtesan, her 'buyer' is her childhood friend Prince Corum. She is his 'pillow girl' and though the two fall in love, Corum like all the royal males can only acheive sexual maturity with a female royal. Unknow to both of them is the added complication that Xishi is one quarter human.
I loved the intrigue and romance, OK and the erotica too. I hope there will be more books set in Yamish Empire as Holly has created a fascinating world.
on 13 November 2007
This story is set in the same world, the Yamish/Daimyo world, that Emma Holly created in her previous novel "The Demon's Daughter". I loved that book, particularly the alternate-Victorian world in which the humans lived, not knowing that the Daimyo or Demons who lived among them had far superior technology that they kept secret. "Prince of Ice" takes place entirely within the world of the Daimyo and specifically within the Royal Palaces of various Princes, as well as the emperor.
*** Contains some light spoilers ***
Prince Corum is born with a defect but his mother had so much trouble even getting pregnant that she chooses to try to hide his problem from those around her. Corum's problem is that of emotion, that he feels too much for the rather Spock-like Yama. Fortunately when an orphan girl, Xishi, plays with Corum when they are both babies it seems that Xishi calms him so the two grow up together until they are eight years old. At that point Corum's mother decides Xishi isn't helping him to grow away from his emotions and she is sent away. Corum grows up on his own, a Prince of Ice, with just his martial arts teacher as a source of warmth and friendship.
Xishi ends up in a school for Pillow Girls and Boys, a training academy for courtesans to the princes and princesses of Yama. Apparently there are physical differences between the Royals and 'normal' Yama, the Rohn, but the Purple Crane school, where Xishi is training, has a royal prince to practise their skills on. His family have cast him out and made it known that he is dead so Prince Pahndin's life, following the death of his wife and mate, is empty; however, he spends time with Xishi and they forge some kind of a friendship, until one of the Pillow Boys reports Xishi and she is sold.
Fortuitously for Xishi, she is sold to Prince Corum. Cor has changed very much from when they were children and yet they soon find that they are very compatible. However there's a secret behind Xishi's birth which soon begins to leak out, especially when Corum and Xishi find themselves at the mercy of a plot to have them killed for treason.
Although I enjoyed this book I didn't like it as much as "The Demon's Daughter". The world and the plot were well-designed but I felt the plot was too subservient to the Pillow School training and Xishi and Corum's physical relationship and that more could have been made of Corum finding his emotions, as well as Xishi learning about her history. The writing style was always good - Emma Holly really can write excellently - but I felt that this book didn't explore quite as well as it could have the alternate world of the Yama and the characters and personalities of the main players in the story. Corum and Xishi were both very appealing characters, even Prince Pahndin with his weaknesses and Xishi's grandmother with her scariness were great in their own way but the 'baddies' were rather obviously bad and the story resolved itself rather more quickly than it could have. Still it was an enjoyable read for those who like Emma Holly's more earthy and descriptive romances!
on 10 November 2006
All I can say is wow! I enjoyed Emma Holly's other "demon" stories but this is by far the best of that theme. There is good character exploration and development, and the tension is palpable. The story is beautifully written with stunning imagery. For me, "Prince of Ice" is on a par with her other great books: "Menage", "Velvet Glove" and "Hunting Midnight". This book can be read on its own since it does not deal with any characters from her previous novels and background is well explained.
on 5 February 2007
I loved this book! To me, Emma Holly is one of the best contemporary writers, erotic or otherwise, there is. This novel is no exception and pulls the reader into another world full of love, wonder and lust. I can't recommend it enough. I also liked "Dead Sexy, vampire erotica" for the same reason.