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Title: The Stagsblood Prince
Author: Gideon E. Wood
Publisher: Ex Asperis
Publication Date: February 7th, 2021
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What else can I do?Tel
The Stagsblood Prince Synopsis
Tel, handsome crown prince of Feigh, has negotiated an end to the war between his country and the strange queendom of Omela. He looks forward to an easy reign of wild parties and wilder men. The deities have other ideas, however, in this gay fantasy novel of transformation, redemption, and love.
When his father dies suddenly, Tel is outmaneuvered by his brother, losing the throne. Tel’s faith prohibits him from raising his sword and spilling blood, so he accepts the humiliation, working to temper his brother’s baser impulses. But the new king’s reign takes a dark turn, and his collaborators begin to round up undesirables, including those with a magic called the stagsblood.
Tel must decide: Flee or fight? Running means abandoning his people to his brother’s evil whims. Standing his ground means the sin of total war. He has no army and only a few allies—and his magical secret.
Caip, his closest friend and protector, brings military experience and blunt advice. Her right hand, Dar, is the picture of loyalty. Tough, battle-scarred Bin doesn’t suffer fools gladly. And Vared, a mysterious singer-turned-diplomat from Omela, speaks the truth to Tel in ways no one else can.
The Stagsblood Prince Review
The Stagsblood Prince by Gideon E Wood is a fantasy fiction novel and the first in The Stagsblood Triliogy. In this world, the LGBTQ+ community is accepted throughout the novel. This story is about love, redemption and transformation, but it’s also about grief. This book reads like a standalone novel. The characters grow through a lot but it feels like a complete story, whereas other books from trilogies usually use the first book to set up the rest of the trilogy.
This book is told exclusively through Tel’s perspective. Tel is the 40 year old Prince of Feigh. He is an alcoholic not able to go an hour without a drink. The novel starts out with Tel waking up hungover in bed with a stranger. He is selfish and self-absorbed. He does not weigh what his actions does to those around him. This continues for approximately the first third of the book. When he ruins Caip’s birthday and wakes up the next day to everyone he cares about upset with him, he decides to get sober… again. Considering his drunkenness and his inability to stay with the same person for more than a night contributed to his loss of the throne, this decision is the more mature one in the whole novel. Caip is Tel’s righthand woman, the captain of his guard, and best friend. She is stubborn, headstrong and loves Tel as family. But she is also his biggest enabler. Vared is the literal opposite of Tel. He is selfless to a fault, kind and opens Tel’s heart to love after so many years closed off. Vared is one of the main reasons that Tel pulls himself out of his addiction and depression. The romance between Vared and Tel is a slow burn. Neither man want to give into their emotions and tell the other. Tel’s brother, Lag and his uncle Aith are the main villains of the book. However, this story mostly revolves around Tel’s struggles with sobriety and his decision making after the civilians of Feigh rally in his name after Lag and Aith pushes for their ideal “pure” Feigh, their rhetoric of ignorance and division.
Gideon E Wood’s pacing in this novel is great. The scenes and events piece together nicely. There are ups and downs and chances to breathe throughout the plot. The battle scenes between Tel and his brother are well written. I just wish there was more showing and not as much “thought about” in Tel’s mind. Yes, this is told through Tel’s perspective, however it feels at some points that you are more reading a diary after the fact than reading as the events happen. The plot is good. It’s pretty typical of a fantasy novel regarding the hero’s redemption and sacrifices and leads to a happy-ish ending. the best part of this novel is the M/M romance and seeing how Vared influences Tel to become his true self through healing the pains of his past. The next book is through Vared’s perspective. Although it would be interesting to see the world through his eyes. I feel like this would have been best left as a standalone novel.
I would like to thank Reedsy Discovery and Gideon E. Wood for sending me a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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About Gideon E. Wood
Gideon E. Wood writes gay fantasy fiction. He has been proudly clean and sober since 2011. Second chances and transformation are at the heart of his work. Gideon lives in New England with his cat but thinks it’s important you know he isn’t a cat person.
The Stagsblood Trilogy
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