Hailey Turner-The Prince’s Poison Vow

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!

Hailey Turner-A Veiled & Hallowed Eve

This is the 7th book in Hailey’s Soulbound series, and it is absolutely, positively NOT a standalone. You 110% have to have read the other 6 books in the series before you read A Veiled & Hallowed Eve. I highly recommend this series, I mean, very highly. It’s an MM series that has shifters, dragons, mages, and gods who walk among us. The world that Hailey created is beautiful, deadly, and feels oh so very real.

OK, so we have Patrick. He’s a combat mage who survived a previous god war. Because of damage taken in that war, he is no longer in the military, but works for a branch of the government now. It’s like the FBI, but for supernatural things. He’s based in NYC, with his boyfriend, wolf shifter Jono.

The past 6 books have been one battle after another. Each book has had its own unique battle, but they are all tied together in one overall storyline. And now, we have come to the end. I am going to be very careful with spoilers here, because pretty much everything I say could be a spoiler, so the synopsis is going to be really broad. Go read the books, trust me, all the ins and outs are worth it.

It’s nearly Samhain, the day that the veil between this world and all others is thinnest. It’s also the time that the Dominion Sect is going to make their big move. It has to be Samhain when it happens, because the bad guy wants to turn himself into a god and bring all the hells to Earth, and the hell dimensions will be closer that day.

Jono and Patrick are both exhausted. They’ve been fighting for such a long time, and right now they are fighting a war of attrition against hunters and demons. And it’s still weeks until the big day.

I really like Patrick and Jono, together and apart. Patrick is a very good man who has had a bunch of shit handed to him in his relatively short life. He’s been taught and trained as a weapon, and been used as that for the majority of his life. He’s self-sacrificing and the majority of the higher powers and authorities in his life have taken advantage of that fact. People have lied to and for him for most of his life. There are reasons why many of those lies have been told, but that doesn’t mean that the truth isn’t going to hurt him when if/when he finds out about it. I understand the reasoning behind why they have done what they have done, but it doesn’t mean that they ever had Patrick’s best interests at heart. Frankly, I think that there is only one adult in Patrick’s younger life who had his interests at heart, and I think that person kept him centered as much as they were able to.

Then there’s Jono. Jono will always make sure that he has Patrick’s best interests first. He will make sure that Patrick will take care of himself even if he doesn’t want to. Jono makes Patrick a better person, in all the best ways. Jono’s life hasn’t been perfect, but he had a better start than Patrick, and he’s determined to make sure that Patrick knows how valued and valuable he is and how much he is loved. Jono is a loving, caring person, who is very loyal to his friends. He will make decisions based on that loyalty so that he can protect those who are important to him. I think that he and Patrick really complement each other quite well.

I have loved every book in this series. They have all kept me right on the edge of my seat, and I gobbled them up. I was really sad to see this series end, because of just how good it was. Because we follow one main couple and their friends and family through the whole series, we really get to know Patrick, Jono, and all their associates.

This one has a lot going on. But it’s not an overwhelming, even though there is a lot of action. It does nicely tie everything up in a very satisfying way. When I was done reading it, I just sighed a very happy sigh, because I was really happy with what happened.

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