by December Quinn, fantasy (2007)
Whiskey Creek Press, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-59374-850-5
I've enjoyed December Quinn's previous book The Black Dragon so I'm happy to pick this one up without reservation. While The Black Dragon has nothing memorably original or fresh, the story comes together very well. Prince Of Death, like The Black Dragon, isn't the most original story around, but unlike the previous book, this one doesn't come together very well. It's packed with all kinds of romantic fantasy clichés from Magic Sex to Soulmate overload.
This story is about elves. Ms Quinn's world-building is rather vague in this story. While there are mentions of the hero's sister having spent time in human lands, I'm still not sure whether human lands are an ocean away or in another dimension. At any rate, this story takes place in the land of Legolas wannabes with no humans apart from a mention here and there. There are two clans of elves at war, with our hero Prince Cynwrig being of the Hellenlands that are feuding with the Cleothen, one of them being our heroine Ayani.
The story begins when Cynwrig discovers Ayani on the roadside in a state of being beaten black and blue. Cynwrig naturally manages to discern what a hot babe she is underneath her bruises and injuries so he gets excited as he picks her up to his place for some tender nursing care. I love understanding villains who take pains not to beat the heroine to the point that she becomes ugly on the eyes - don't you just adore bad guys who know where their priorities lie? At any rate, these two are soon going at it and whoa, their sex is so wonderful and soulmate-y that Ayani starts healing. Apparently this kind of magical sex only happens when two soulmates are bumping uglies so our pointy-eared Romeo and Juliet are not sure whether they should stay enemies or bump uglies some more. Meanwhile, all kinds of conflicts pile up towards the grand finish.
I'm torn about Prince Of Death because there are positives as well as negatives about this book. The story is predictable so the author's use of trust issues as a main internal conflict between her characters doesn't elicit much suspense in the story. However, even when the characters are behaving in ways that I find most contrived, I find them likable. Ayani has her moments, for example, where she displays some fire and fighting spirit. On the whole though, these two characters are in a story that doesn't have enough freshness to the proceedings to engage my emotions. The characters and the plot on the whole feel so played out. The world building could have been more detailed too. In this book the setting feels like a very generic and vague sword-and-sorcery world with a touch of cheesy "sex is magic" elements so there is nothing that feels unique about this particular setting.
Prince Of Death is a decent read but its very generic storyline and characters work against it. I can't help thinking that the author can surely come up with something better than this.
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