Feature book: Tower of the Ice Lord
Arius is the Ice Lord, bound to a goddess who saved his life when he was human. He’s a sorcerer of great power and has command of the ice wolves, which protect his territory. He is part of a war that has been going on for generations, and he has counterparts at the other compass points of the land. The Lords all wear masks to hide their human faces; Arius wears a wolf mask. Whatever started the generational war has warped the weather, and Arius’s realm is forever winter. Food is scarce, but traders come to collect meat and skins from him in exchange for grain and fruit.
Loren is the bastard son of King Gideon, who is at war with the Ice Lord. Loren gives himself to the Ice Lord to be sacrificed to fulfil the terms Arius’s god set to end the generational war. Loren hasn’t told anyone of what he intends to do. The journey to present himself to the Ice Lord is arduous, and Loren arrives in less than peak condition. He is unaware his sister (and the King’s acknowledged heir) has followed him. Loren is touched by the Ice Lord’s care for him, and in return he uses his skills to plant a garden in the abandoned greenhouse on the roof of the Ice Lord’s citadel.
The relationship between Arius and Loren is mostly courtly love. They spend the book caring for or saving the other, although they are from opposite sides of the war. There is little passion in the sense of heated glances but plenty inferred in the self-sacrifice shown by both Arius and Loren. Both place the other’s wellbeing before their own. They do come to a happily-ever-after, and the society’s opposition is fairly low key. It has more to do with trusting an opponent, rather than a male/male pairing.
This is a shorter story at about seventy pages. It is a sweet romance with only inferred sex. There is a single scene where the couple wakes up in bed together one with an arm around the other, so it is quite G-rated, without even a kissing scene. Despite being set during a generational war, there are no battle scenes so there is little blood and gore. The story is gentle, and given the short page count, the relationship forms quickly. Read it if you enjoy a courtly love story in a fantasy setting.
Reviewed by Gina
A review copy of this book was provided by the author.