on 19 September 2009
Whilst there are other gay-themed fantasy "epics" around - this is one of the best I've encountered. Firstly, it's there as one entire volume (rather than the over-played "trilogy") and secondly it's fantasy world is based on an Eastern/Indian style culture rather than the usual European - which made for a refreshing change.
In overview the plot is about a power-struggle between 2 branches of a family competing for the throne. Refreshingly, there's no straight-forward "good" & "bad" sides. Each contender has their virtues & weaknesses. The terrible implications of a society run on strict religious codes(at least at the surface-level)where the class/caste a person was born to or their sexual nature can condemn them to death (or worse a living hell) also threads through every aspect of the story.
The characters and the fantasy world are richly brought to life and the story gripped me from the start. I had to force myself to read the book slowly - to savour it - and not give in to the temptation to rush through it.
My only criticism is that some of the vocabulory used by the author seemed inappropriate for the aforementioned eastern style she selected for her fantasy world. For example, someone describing women as "chicks" seemed totally out of place as did one reference to a character being called "gay" (and in the homosexual context). It was also a pity that the author who had described this world's culture, food, clothing etc so richly & imaginatively - couldn't apply that same imagination to the rather tedious use of "modern-day" and "americanised" swearing & other expletives.
But please don't let that one failing stop you from buying this book - it's otherwise perfect!
on 1 June 2010
After reading Jesse Hajicek's 'The God Eaters', I was looking for another fantasy book that dealt with gay themes and characters. I picked up 'Archer's Heart' because unlike most in the genre it's a decent length, which I hoped meant that it would have three dimensional characters, and because it's setting in ancient India is something I haven't come across in fiction before.
And I'll admit, the plotline is good enough. Two branches of the same royal family with two competing ideologies, with lots of Indian mythology thrown in (the latter half of the book centres around some of the major stories from Indian myth). But everything from dialogue to character development is frustratingly two dimensional, and while I have nothing against cursing in principle the sheer amount of it in this book turned me off - as well as making no sense; the author makes a large point around Jandu's 'purity', but he swears all the time. That's just one example of the contradiction rife in this book. The relationships between many of the characters just aren't realistic and while I have to admit Amara knows her Indian culture, and inspects and explains the caste system in great detail, there is absaloutely nothing to hold a reader engaged except interest in the background of the story. I gave up in disgust with a quarter of the book left to go; it just wasn't worth it.
Overall - don't waste your money, you'll just end up regretting it.