Title: Canes and Scales [2nd Edition]
Author: SA Garcia
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Linden & Alasdaire
POV: First, with a short prologue in Third
Serpent Prince Linden of Ardaul is determined to drag his barbaric, power-hungry country into the modern age by encouraging learning, advances in the sciences, and tolerance. His insane brother Edward, the King, delights in making him pay for his efforts.
Long years of watching his back, fighting wars, and solving conflicts started by his cruel brother have taken a toll on Linden’s body and mind, and he needs a respite. When Linden meets an alluring young bed slave named Alasdaire, his weary heart responds. Alasdaire is an exotic mix of southern royal Totandian elf and human, and, although he’s also suffered hardship most of his life, his loving personality captivates the Prince.
Despite their differences, Alasdaire—canes, and Linden—scales, unite in body and soul, but their romance is nearly shattered by betrayal. When Linden becomes King, magical assassins, treachery, and threats plague them. They narrowly escape death more than once. The lovers must discover who wants them dead and more importantly, where they can turn for aid. Neither enemies nor allies are what they seem. Only time will tell who means to harm Linden and Alasdaire—the elves, the imprisoned Edward, or something even deadlier—and time is one thing they don’t have.
“Canes and Scales” is a fantasy romance with drama and intrigue. As with SA Garcia’s other fantasy story that I’ve read, “An Elf for All Centuries”, this story is written with a flourish that includes an overabundance of adjectives and adverbs. For some, this may be off-putting, but SA Garcia’s writing is such that I have found it worthwhile to accustom myself to the style. “Canes and Scales” is more serious than “An Elf for All Centuries”, with the abuse of Alasdaire and the madness of Linden’s brother. I found I couldn’t put it down.
The world building is wonderful and includes two brilliant maps, a full history, and weather trends, which adds to the depth of the story and emphasizes how much of a struggle Linden faces in modernizing Ardaul and the problems Linden and Alasdaire’s relationship faces other than the usual slave/prince and inter-species issues. As for the characters, I loved that Linden was still a bit naive and Alasdaire, despite his situation, was still a fighter who took pleasure in nature.
I would recommend this story for lovers of high fantasy, intrigue, and those who enjoy reading a romance where the problems are external not internal. Having read “An Elf for All Centuries” and “A Moon Too Far”, it seems that SA Garcia deliberately makes her fantasy stories a bit more flowery (word-wise) than she did her science fiction, but I would probably need to read more of her work to be sure. Having said that, I did enjoy both the other stories I read.
Reviewed By: Alison
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