The Capital by A. H. Lee (The Knight and the Necromancer #1)

It’s a classic fairytale: Knight meets necromancer. They argue. They fight. They…make out?

Prince Roland comes home from the war to bury his father and see his sister on the throne. He sneaks out to his favorite tavern for nostalgia’s sake. It’s the place where he kissed a man for the first time, the place where he used to carouse with the lover he buried on a battlefield.

Roland expects to enjoy some anonymity and perhaps flirt with a few strangers for old time’s sake. He does not expect to find a fascinating scholar from out of town—a lonely young man with beautiful eyes and an obvious longing to be touched, buried beneath a prickly demeanor. The man clearly has his secrets, but so does Roland, and their unexpected chemistry makes him feel alive for the first time in months.

Roland exerts all his knightly charm and is rewarded by the promise of a second date. He figures he’ll need something to look forward to tomorrow, since he must spend the day in council with his family’s sworn enemy—a necromancer whom his sister has rashly invited to consult about the war.

Sairis is a necromancer with a price on his head. He knows that he will have to bargain for his life tomorrow. He’s never been this far from his tower. He’s good with magic, not people. He’s frightened, although he doesn’t want to admit it.

Sairis knows he’s doing something foolish by visiting a tavern the evening before his meeting with the royals—a tavern that caters to men of certain tastes. But Sairis wants things. Things a hunted outlaw can never have.

He tells himself that he’ll just watch—see what ordinary people enjoy every day. Sairis is confident in his ability to intimidate anyone who comes too close.

He’s shocked when a dazzling mountain of a man is not intimidated in the slightest. Sairis knows a knight when he sees one. He has killed plenty of knights. But this knight is funny and kind. Sairis finds his defenses melting in spite of his best efforts. Maybe he could go on a second date with this person.

Of course, he’ll have to get through tomorrow first…when he must bargain with the hated royals who have persecuted him all his life.

The Knight and the Necromancer is a trilogy with satisfying HEA at the end of book 3. Steamy scenes, adults only.

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Kirt Graves (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Pavonine Books
YEAR: 2020
LENGTH: 220 pages (6 hours 10 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance

*I like this but it is really the first third of a long book, it doesn't stand on its own.

Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Bi/Pan Minor Character(s), Genderqueer/Nonbinary Secondary Character(s), Closeted/Questioning Main Character(s).

THE CAPITAL isn't really the first book in a trilogy, it is the first third of a ~600-page book. I became aware of this thanks to other reviews when I was about halfway through it, but i went ahead to finish it so that I can evaluate it for myself. To treat it as part one of a book I would have to not review it, but also it presents itself in some places as the first book in a series.

Nothing is really resolved, and it ends at a rather dramatic cliffhanger, clearly designed to get someone to pick up the next volume. 

The world building involves a lot of medieval fantasy politics, with homosexuality only recently being decriminalized, and the kingdom about to get its first queen after a history of only kings. This makes it a queer fantasy in the context of lingering prejudices and recent terror, especially for the necromancer who comes from a place that hasn't updated these policies. 

The dialogue is okay but not amazing. I prefer witty and dialogue-heavy books and while this certainly attempts a lot of banter it's neither deep nor informative. I don't have a great sense of coherency for the world building, as it seems to have a kind of generalized approach to the magic system. One of the more blatant instances of this is when the necromancer refers to the river as the River Styx, a place which is pretty firmly grounded in Greco-Roman mythology and doesn't fit with the generically European medieval feel of the rest of the story. The overall effect is one too ambiguous to create its own mythology, but randomly specific enough to be jarring.

Overall this was fun but left me a bit frustrated. If I stop now then I'll get no resolution, but I haven't yet decided what to do.

Graphic/Explicit CW for sexual content, blood, injury detail, death.

Moderate CW for misogyny, homophobia, sexism, child abuse, emotional abuse, domestic abuse, violence, medical content, war, animal death.

Minor CW for ableist language, body shaming, self harm, adult/minor relationship.

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