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The Prince of Gemen

Author: D.G. Novak
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Reviewed by: Kevin R. Tipple

533Years after the great population wars on the planet Daleer, what little hospitable land that is left is supporting the two groups known as Gemen and Arath. Mutual hatred, much of it based on false knowledge handed down over the generations, ensures that almost any meeting between the parties turns into bloodshed. As this romantic fantasy novel opens, Princess Arath, known as Calli, is being sent to Viceroy Roman and his family in preparation for a wedding. Calli is to be married to him should he find her acceptable and per her father, King Arath, he will find her acceptable and she better do nothing to cause any problems. She does not want to marry him and knows that her father will brook no interference by her or anyone under his control regarding this arranged political marriage.

What he can't control are the Shadrani, led by Prince Gemen, who hunt in the forests around Soris, the town of Calli and her family. Legend has it that according to the handmaiden Solte, "'They are not like any other! They cannot be killed. And they--they howl at the moon like crazed beasts!'" (Page 4) The handmaiden goes on to recount stories that are familiar – that the Shadrani drink the blood of their victims and have strange sexual practices.

Calli dismisses these stories and others as tales told to frighten young children into behaving. Before long, she acts like a child herself and decides it would be a good idea to change clothes with the handmaiden. Thanks to the requirement that females must be veiled at all times due to their second-class status, the royal guard with them is unaware that they have switched places. The guard is also completely unaware that the Shadrani are stalking the group and once attacked, are unable to rescue both women. Instead, they leave the Princess dressed in her handmaiden's clothes behind, secure in the knowledge as they flee with Solte that they have protected the one that matters. The abandoned Calli quickly becomes a prisoner of Prince Gemen and his troops.

As this novel moves forward, Calli moves from a position of a hated prisoner to a person of trust by some of the Shadrani, and then to the potential mother of the future King of the Shadrani. At the same time, as she works to conceal her noble birth to stay alive, she finds herself falling in love with the Prince. A man who has great personal motivation to kill her should he learn the truth.

This is a novel that relies heavily on erotic elements, often very graphic elements, to move the story forward. While there are other storylines involving deceit and treachery among the houses and sub-groups, eroticism is the primary element and theme. As such, some scenes are extremely graphic and could offend readers who might be expecting a more mainstream and less graphic fantasy romance.

While this was an interesting novel that kept the reader entertained and turning the pages, it is not a unique or exceptionally well written fantasy. Rather, much of the work reminds one of other fantasy novels and as such seems heavily clichéd. It reads as if the author is counting on the graphic nature of the work to make it stand out. If this is the first novel of a planned series as implied in the author's biography, it will be interesting to see if the author relies less on graphic eroticism and more on character development, storylines, and plotting in the future.


May 12, 2004 in Fantasy | Permalink


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