Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rachel Haimowitz - Counterpoint

It is the twilight of mankind. Depleted by generations of war with a dark race, the human kingdoms and their ancient alliance stand on the brink of extinction. The outlands are soaked with the blood of the fallen. The midlands are rotting with decadence and despair.
Elfkind, estranged by past crimes, watches and waits for nature to run its course.
And then the two collide.
Ayden's life has long been guided by two emotions: love for his sister, and hatred of all things human. When he's captured in battle, he must for his sister's sake swallow his pride and endure slavery in the service of a human prince, Freyrik Farr.
Freyrik's always known elves to be beautiful and dangerous, but never has one affected him as deeply as Ayden. Can his life of service to his people leave room for this attraction? Dancing on a dagger's edge between duty and high treason, Freyrik discovers that some choices can change a life, and some an entire world.
Between prejudice, politics, pride, and survival, Ayden and Freyrik must carve a new path, no matter how daunting. For nothing less than the fate of both their peoples rests on the power of their perseverance—and their love.

Comment: Another one of the many books I have yet to read and that, unfortunately because I don't have as much time as I used to when I didn't work, remain ages in the depths of my TBR list before I can pick them up.
Finally it was time for this one and I'm almost glad for the waiting. I say "almost" because there were some things in the story that bothered me a bit, not that it was something bad, it just wasn't something I was waiting to read about.
This is the first book in the Song of the Fallen series. The story follows Ayden, an elf that while trying to help his sister is captured with her by humans. The human Prince is besotted with Ayden and tries the best he can to spare him humiliation, although he can't give him or his sister, freedom. During their time together the prince has to be very patient before Ayden actually trusts him but while he awaits Ayden's trust, Ayden also starts seeing the prince through different eyes. After a difficult battle their relationship changes and in the end of the book they face a ultimatum that can change their future too.
So, I liked the book, it's fantasy and like most fantasies the story follows a certain medieval patter in terms of customs, with slavery as well.
Of course, when reading slavery themed stories one has to expect some indication or full scenes with the slaves and their condition and to someone that has all the advantages of a free world it can be sometimes hard to read those scenes just for it, we (I) mostly wish that: 1) they weren't addressed or 2) that things didn't work like that. So, yep slavery stories aren't my thing exactly, I always get mad because the characters we love (usually the slaves obviously) are humiliated or are sad because of their lot in life and that can ruin the story a bit for me. I mean, as a reader I can like or dislike that and can put it aside before it ruins the story completely but as a human being it's harder so...I don't think I'm explaining this well, but to summarize, I can read it and understand it but accepting is another level.
This was the first thing that bothered me a bit. Slaves aren't always mentioned and the focus is clearly the relationship between Ayden and the prince, so it's not like the author pushed slavery in our faces all the time, but still...
The second thing that made me wrinkle my nose.... in this world apparently bigamy is allowed so the prince has more than one wife and many sons and spends time with his wives to "have more offspring". It's true that intellectually this is a subject that doesn't even cross my mind, I mean I couldn't care less, but morally - considering my catholic upbringing - it can be a bit...ehh. You know, it's not something that horrifies me, but I don't really think it's something I could accept easily...because it's more than one person and it's complicated to imagine so many people's feelings tangled in all that, whatever...but to these character's it's fine, but then the prince is obviously bisexual and has a certain preference to males, at least emotionally. So here we have a prince and I didn't count how many wives and Ayden, the slave.
Poor Ayden, I thought, but throughout the book I could see the prince really was developing feelings for Ayden and despite his marital status, the wives didn't mind and weren't mentioned that much so it was made clear that the prince's affections weren't bound to anyone. This made me accept their relationship a bit better and in the end I was happy for them too. Besides, it takes them a lot of time to come to term to their feelings so nothing is rushed and we get a lot of tension too, which makes it all more believable.
In conclusion, I ended up liking the book and considering the way it ended I'm curious to know more and the sequel is already out so I'll have to get it soon, but I wouldn't say this is that type of book I'll remember forever...

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