Title: The High King’s Golden Tongue
Author: Megan Derr
Length: 12,000 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: m/m fantasy romance
Prince Allen was sent to the High Court as a potential fiancé to the High King. He is more than fit for the role, having trained extensively his entire life in language, diplomacy, and culture. He is an asset to any court—except that of the High King, who sees only a scholar who cannot use a sword or go to battle. They are a country at war, after all, and of what possible use is a man who cannot fight?
I really do love Megan Derr’s fantasy books and here you can experience all that is good about them completely free! I’m not up to speed with all her Fantasy series’s so I’m not sure whether this one is connected to other books but it stands alone enough that it didn’t matter to me. It tells of Allen who has been selected to become the consort to the king. The previous consort died six years ago and Allen knows that it will be tough to replace a man who was known for his swordsmanship and prowess on the battlefield. Allen is no fighter, but is instead a skilled diplomat and a ‘silver tongue’, someone who can speak many languages. However, the king humiliates Allen and throws him out of court and so Allen has to find his own way of showing how he can be of use to his king.
I have to admit I really liked Allen. Underneath his seemingly serene exterior he’s a bit of a hot-head really, and acts in a way which may seem impetuous. I liked the way that he was able to show how his skills are just as necessary as being able to fight. There was a lot of pathos attached to him too in the way he has been treated in the past. He’s no wimp, and instead we learn of his ability to withstand pain and torment stoically. Allen is strong, just not in a physical sense and I loved the way that is shown in the book.
Sarrica, the king, isn’t given as much page space as Allen but he comes across as kind hearted and a just ruler. There were a few touching scenes where he consciously tried to let go of his grief for his previous consort and it’s clear when he and Allen resolve their differences that they complement each other marvellously. The story managed to combine the romance with a bit of suspense and action which worked for me.
As with many fantasy stories, my main niggle was that I wish it had been longer. There were a number of ‘gaps’ in the time frame of the story which could have been filled in to create a longer book. Admittedly, this would have meant the lovers would have been apart for a longer time, but it would also have meant that the resolution in the conflict of the story would have been less rushed and more rounded in the explanation of the politics and general world building. However, this niggle wasn’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of the story.
Overall, this would be a good freebie to pick up if you’ve not tried this author before. It shows her talent for fantasy writing and her ability to create strong and interesting characterisation. I liked it and would recommend it.