Friday, December 4, 2015

The Archer's Heart

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM

Age: Adult
Category: Fantasy; LGBTQIA+
Rating: 5 stars


Rosie Thinks: Take it from me, who's read a ridiculous amount of m/m novels - it's super hard to find a good quality fantasy m/m book. Like, I can probably count the number on one hand. And Archer's Heart is exactly what I search for! It has a solid world, characters I adored, and a storyline that took my breath away.

The story starts off, and is based around, the battle between Darvad Uru and Yudar Paran to be chosen to inherit the throne of Marhavad. Marhavad is a country with a strict and oppressive caste system, and Yudar is a strict traditionalist as opposed to Darvad, who is more open. Our two main characters are on either sides of this feud. Keshan Adaru, who is definitely my favourite character, is a charismatic visionary who is fervent in his belief of abolishing the caste system, and sees Darvad as the man to bring this about. Jandu Paran, Yudar's brother, is a brilliant archer but is shallow and arrogant, yet he cannot ignore the powerful attraction between he and Keshan. Their dangerous love affair is set against the backdrop of courtly intrigue, magic and betrayal.

I'm going to be completely honest and say that Jandu starts off as a complete brat. He doesn't care about anything past his own archery and is both confused and ashamed of his attraction to Keshan. But this is what makes his progress into an incredible character so brilliant! His growth is slow and subtle, provoked by events and not just influenced by Keshan's own ideals. After finishing this, it is absolutely mind-blowing to go back and think about how all the main characters started out, especially Jandu (particularly since I started out not really liking any of them!).

The world-building in this novel is also phenomenal. I could see the influences from India, and that's made it stand out for me amongst fantasy books. I can't think of another fantasy novel that I've read which borrows from India, rather than that dreaded Middle Ages cliche, or even from the Middle East. The whole world is incredibly solid, rich with customs and traditions. The magic in this novel comes in the form of 'shartas', which are weapons that can only be used by the uppermost caste.

This book is divided into three novels, and I am writing this review after re-reading the first one. While the first book starts off fairly predictably, the ending of it completely blindsided me. All of my preconceived notions and cliches of how I thought this book would go down were thrown out the window. From the second book on, Amara's imagination absolutely exploded. This is definitely up there with the best m/m books I've ever read!

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