Title: The High King’s Golden Tongue
Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 107,000 words
Characters: Prince Allen and High King Sarrica
Prince Allen has trained his entire life to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious mother, who has made their kingdom one of the wealthiest and most influential in the empire. For the past few years he has trained to become the new consort of the High King. The only thing no one prepared him for was the stubborn, arrogant High King himself, who declares Allen useless and throws him out of court.
High King Sarrica is ruling an empire at war, and that war will grow exponentially worse if his carefully laid plans do not come to fruition. He’s overwhelmed and needs help, as much as he hates to admit it, but it must be someone like his late consort: a soldier, someone who understands war, who is not unfamiliar with or afraid of the harsher elements of rule. What he doesn’t need is the delicate, pretty little politician foisted on him right as everything goes wrong.
Publisher note: this is a highly expanded, completely re-written version of the free short that was previously available under the same title.
The Harken Empire consists of a complex combination of languages and classes, and has been at war in some way or another for far too long. The current High King is the perfect example of this. He’s an ex-soldier whose deceased husband was also a soldier. As often happens with Monarchs, since it’s been years since his husband died, he’s being pushed into marrying again. Enter prince Allen, a silver tongue (translator) who knows more than ten different languages fluently and has been training for the past two years for the position of High Consort, and who is nothing like the soldier partner High King Sarrica wants. Allen and Sarrica are both stubborn and determined, and despite Sarrica snubbing him at their first meeting, Allen is determined to do what he was trained for.
For those of you who may not know, the first version of “the High King’s Golden Tongue” was a short free read written for the Goodreads MM Group’s 2012 Don’t Read in the Closet event, and although I did enjoy the first edition, I felt that there was a lot missing. The new edition doesn’t just fill those holes, it creates a whole new landscape. For one, ‘alternative sexualities’ (such as the LGBTQ rainbow) are taken as being as normal as hetero leanings, and transgender people are accepted as being the gender they feel rather than what they are born as. For example, Sarrica’s first husband was male yet carried their children, and one of Allen’s siblings is asexual (obviously that’s not the term used, though). I must admit, I loved that acceptance, as it is how I feel it should be always. In top of that, the Harken Empire is made up of many different languages with many dialects and the confusions such things cause, yet gender is not taken into account when it comes to careers, lifestyle, or status.
I don’t know if I could say I had a best bit, per se, but I did love the fact that all of the main characters had their own strengths and weaknesses, the teasing between friends and family, and the way each character was affected by their past in different ways. To be honest, I couldn’t put it down, and my sister gave up trying to talk to me until I finished the book because I either didn’t hear her or had to ask her to repeat what she’d said. (I’ve actually trained myself to mostly not do that anymore, since it’s dangerous to be oblivious to what’s happening around you for hours on end.)
I would recommend the second edition of “The High King’s Golden Tongue” for anyone who enjoys reading stories with action, drama, fantasy, wit, or people who persevere despite the odds. I will admit that I am a fan of Ms Derr’s but even so, I would put this story among the best she has written in the fantasy genre.
Reviewed By: Alison