The Desert Prince by Peter V. Brett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This spin-off of the Demon Cycle should come with a fairly strong warning: Read the original Cycle first. My opinion, of course.
While it might very well be possible to read and enjoy this on its own, the depth and revelations of the first serve us in excellent stead.
That being said, I honestly loved everything about this book. I was a little worried about how an intersex MC might play in these books, considering some of the relatively atrocious crap that had happened to whole armies in the original Cycle, but not only was it handled deftly, with care and empathy. This needs a little explaining: Olive is rightfully worried, is brought up both as a Princess, and then, later, as a Prince. There is no handwavium here. All the expected problems exist, including the ones that anyone might expect for Main Characters who are only fifteen years old. There is no coddling, either. There is no sympathy for being different or praise. There is only survival and respect for what he/she accomplishes. It was a tightrope in the story and I think Peter V. Brett pulled it off wonderfully.
It is all about merit, and in this world, where so many people can die so damn easily in the wake of demon hoards, we have to respect that.
How did I like the story? I loved it. Caught between two worlds, Olive found and took strength in all the ways that matter. Darin finally stopped hiding and came into his own, too. The children of the greatest heroes didn't have an easy time of it, but the story is so rich and they grew so much that I have nothing bad to say about it.
And let's face it, the magic in this book, as in the others, is to die for. As are the fight scenes. And the baddies are truly fascinating.
The series, including this one, still remains one of my favorite epic fantasies. This is a strong continuation.
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