Decades ago, when I was a kid, I discovered the fantasy genre. I was all about the sword and sorcery stuff for a long time. Then I discovered the epic saga fantasy stuff. Thanks Rankin and Bass for the animated Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies. I still sing Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Way and Frodo of the Nine Fingers. I read LOTR and the Hobbit, and even the Simarillion. I may not always read as much high fantasy or sword and sorcery types now, but I’ve never lost my love of them. Why, you may ask me, am I bringing this up? Because Hailey Turner has brought a high steampunk, sword and sorcery, queer fantasy saga to the world. And oh my fuck. The Prince’s Poison Vow is the first book of the Infernal War series, and I can’t wait for the next one. Hailey has said that she set a pre-order for April 2023, but she hopes to move it up, and I really hope she does.
Now, when I say that this is a queer fantasy, I very much mean it. Of the 4 main couples, 2 are MM, one is FF, and the other is MF. One of the main characters is canon as bi, at the very least. No one ever says queer, gay, bi, or any of that. The various sexualities are just normal in the world. The only time the gender of the person you are with matters is if you need an heir, which does happen in two of the couples. The story is broken up into sections. The first section takes place 15-20 years prior to the rest of the book.
The world is called Maricol and it is infected with revenants. There are spores that get into people and turn them into revenants. Then there are the wardens who are able to withstand the poison lands and the spores. They guard the borders in between the cleansed lands and the poisoned lands. Maricol is broken up into different kingdoms, some ruled by kings and queens, others by emperors and empresses, and others still by a ruling body. Each country is watched over by one of the Star Gods, who are literally the gods of Maricol, and they are pretty active in the world.
OK, now that there is all this background, lets actually talk a little about the story.
We start out in chaos in Amari, which is the capital of Ashion. We meet a young Blaine who is holding a tiny baby, and trying to stay hidden while his father fights off people who are trying to kill them. The reason that the city is in flames is that assassins have been sent out after all the members of the ruling family’s bloodline, and I do mean every single member, no matter how distant. The newborn that Blaine is carrying is the unnamed last born daughter of the queen of Ashion. Blaine and his father get her to an airship where the two children are able to escape.
Then we have Alasandair, who is the middle child of the royal house. He is secreted away in a sub, and taken to be a tithe to be trained as a warden. While he is being transported, his memories and magic, called starfire, are hidden away. Alasandair dies under the river, and Soren is born.
Eimarille is the heir to the throne of Ashionen, and is 10 at the time of the Inferno. She is taken to the kingdom of Daijal, which is the kingdom with is probably behind the coup of Ashionen. She is going to be raised by the King of Daijal, and will eventually marry his son so that the two countries are combined under Daijalan rule.
Then we fast forward and get to the more current times of the story. Soren, who is now a Warden, meets and saves an Imperial Prince, Vanya. Eimarille is in a very happy relationship with her lady-in-waiting and pet assassin, Terilyn. Blaine is happily married to Honovi, who is the jarl of Clan Storm of E’ridia, a country that specializes in airships. And Caris, the baby, is still a teen, living in hiding where she was placed, and doesn’t know who she is. She’s fascinated with engineering, and is very good at it.
So, yes, you’ll see that I’m skipping everything after the beginning. That’s because it’s literally impossible to summarize. It’s all wrapped in together, full of intrigue, mystery, magic, love, duty, honor, espionage, and ruthlessness. When I say that it’s an epic saga, I’m not just yanking your tail.
The first section is several chapters, and each capter was a different POV, which did scare me, because I thought that it was going to turn into a Game of Thrones thing, but when you get into the more current times, the POV changes become fewer. Primarily, we have Blaine, Honovi, Soren, Vanya, Eimarille, Caris, and eventually Nathaniel. We do get a couple here and there from other important, but secondary, characters. And it helps that the later sections of the book tend to follow one part of the story.
This book is so worth reading, even if you don’t normally read queer books. There aren’t very many sex scenes, but there are a lot of emotion scenes in the book which will really drag you into the story. I mean it. Go get this book and read it if you have ever liked any kind of fantasy.
OK, that’s all for today. You’re probably thinking that’s way more than enough for today. Happy reading!