I can’t stress to you all how much Fantasy and Science-Fiction with LGBTQIA characters mean to me, especially those centering Queer people of color. So when I heard about Kai Ashante Wilson’s follow-up to Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, I was ecstatic. Gay romances set in fantasy worlds really get to me, y’all. I am so thankful to writers like Kai Ashante Wilson for being fearless and unapologetic in writing stories with Queer characters, especially in the current – hostile – political climate.
I read A Taste Of Honey before Sorcerer of the Wildeeps because even though the stories are set in the same world, they are not linked in any other way, so the order in which you read them does not matter. This book was my introduction to the author’s writing. And what an impression he made!
The story follows a young man named Aqib bmg Sadiqi, he’s the youngest son and heir to the Master Of Beasts, as well as a fourth cousin to the royal family of Great Olorum. So Aqib is important, but low on the hierarchy. He’s meek, quiet, and loves caring for animals — just a wonderful human overall. One day, an embassy from the nation of Daluçan enters Olorum, and among the embassy is a beautiful soldier name Lucrio. The scene when Aqib and Lucrio meet (almost) literally melted my heart. The first line of dialogue is Lucrio shouting “Hey beautiful” to Aqib when he sees him in the distance, taking the prince’s Cheetah for a walk. Aqib does not at first think Lucrio was calling him beautiful, for in Olorum, relationships between two men are forbidden, as they defy the Saintly Canon. But for the next ten days, while Lucrio’s embassy is in Olorum, these two young men fall in love and Aqib must make a decision. Will he remain in Olorum, forsaking love, to fulfill his duties to family and country? Or will he leave everything behind for the love, happiness, and freedom a beautiful young soldier he just met offers him?
The narrative structure in A Taste Of Honey cleverly shifts between the 10 days during which Aqib met and fell in love with Lucrio and his future life. The chapters showing us Aqib’s future were gut-wrenching and upsetting to me because Aqib married a woman out of obligation to his family. One chapter, Aqib is blissfully happy in bed with Lucrio, and the next shows us a glimpse into a future in which Lucrio does not even exist. We are left wondering what could have possibly gone wrong to ruin such a perfect and lovely match. The mystery of it all will keep you engaged and turning the page, and the ending completely — well, you’ll have to read for yourself to find out! 😉
Kai Ashante Wilson is a gifted wordsmith and can create a turn of phrase that will enchant you. The lyrical, gorgeous writing enhanced my reading experience. Something else he’s great at is hinting at the vastness and history of the fantasy world in which A Taste Of Honey and Sorcerer Of The Wildeeps take pace. Reading this novella feels like more than an isolated story about two men who fall in love. You get the sense that this is a breathing world with traditions, laws, and history. The bits of world-building that peppered the story was fascinating. We get glimpses into divine beings, the role of women as the intellectuals in society, and much more. The potential to continue telling gripping, yet gorgeous stories within this same world is certainly there. I do hope Kai Ashante Wilson taps into that potential and creates an ongoing series!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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