LILIA BLANC — KING’S LAMENT — 2016
Though during the first fifth of the novel we do not really know what the stake and objective of it is, it finally after some 120 pages becomes clear and then the fantasy changes from some feudal old plot to an erotic, and in some chapters absolutely graphic and explicit gay threesome adventure. Welcome to the planet where kings are all gay and like threesomes, at times — for the sake of having some heir — bisexual.
If you are not in that kind of gay — and marginally lesbian — fantasy or erotica, you better forget about it. If you are able to understand love is not a question of sexual orientation, you may have a chance to go through the story and enjoy it. This complicated love story is punctuated with feudal fights or battles, and that’s the aspect I am most critical about.
There is little unity in the feudal struggle of this ousted and clandestine young heir to the throne that was taken over by a monster queen from the south, a queen that has no name and governs — or rather controls — her (or should I say “its”) kingdom with a band of assassins that — certainly not “who” — can only kill, that’s their function and that’s their nature: they have been reduced to killing. “SAD” as a certain president would tweet. The author tries to save one by making him fall in love with the young underground clandestine ousted king and vice versa by making the young ousted clandestine king fall in love with the spy and assassin that has been appointed by the queen to follow and eventually assassinate him or at least enable him to be assassinated by some of the queen’s soldiers.
You must admit it is not simple. This young king, Inea by name, was helped escape from prison by a minstrel of some kind who actually was the male lover of the young king’s father wo killed himself after his wife was poisoned by the queen’s agents in the court itself, these queen’s agents who were the king’s ministers selling the son to the queen for her to turn him into her play thing. But the author shifts the plan and thus we shift from a threesome-liking king with a wife and a lover identified as a totally owned and possessed minstrel, to his son who falls in love with the minstrel who actually helped him escape the dungeon in which he was supposed to wait for the queen’s decision on his fate, and later on with an assassin who was supposed to infiltrate the fugitive young king’s band by seducing the minstrel, which was easy since the minstrel is absolutely obsessed with and by his hormones.
And there is the gay threesome who is going to take over the feudal scene by securing an alliance with another king, the king of the desert tribes, who is also gay but married to only one man who used to be his own soldier, and faithful to this man who is said to be black, though he is the only who is specified in such a detail.
This being said the novel then turns pathetic as for the love relations between Inea, the young king, Ansyn, the minstrel, and Kaedon, the assassin. Pathetic because they constantly fall part and then more or less manage to come back together. Such a threesome marriage as announced at the end is unique in many ways since it only officially exists for one triple — instead of couple — in one country in the world, Colombia: “Three men who are married to each other, have gained legal recognition for their ‘polyamorous’ marriage in the conservative Catholic country of Colombia.” (The Sidney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/video/video-news/video-world-news/three-men-one-marriage-20170615-4v55x.html) And that’s what this author tells us: stories of “Slaves to fantasy and romance,” as the author’s page proclaims on the publisher’s site.
And that’s just the problem. It is not a real fantasy story with only one dynamic, or at least a very dominant dynamic. Too often we forget everything about the queen and the assassins that are chasing this young king and that will come back into the story when an attack will be staged every so often and periodically. At the same time the at least erotic romance that is exclusively gay in its explicit realization and descriptions is constantly broken by elements from the fantasy side of this moon but the love jealousy, rivalry, ambition, possession (and all meaning are needed here from plainly owning the other to haunting him or being haunted by him), is nicely described but does not really reach the absolute level we could expect: it definitely is nothing but desire, hormonal activation, lust, physical contact and penetration and I did not really find the haunting fear and bliss that this penetration is at least parallel to: the use of a sword or a dagger or an arrow, and the use of such warlike weapons is also balancing fear and bliss, bashfulness and lust, and it is thus nothing but the expansion or initiation of some brutal and lustful climax.
That reduces the final battle with the queen to a pantomime of very nasty kids who are destroying the toy or the dolly they had been playing with. There is no veracity, authenticity and reliability in her and since we only meet her in the final battle (in the last five percent of the book) she appears as nothing but a killing robot and fantasy is a genre in which the characters, on both sides of the divide and the pale, are human. Harry Potter’s Voldemort (and he has a name) is a monster but the genius of the author is to develop and uncover the human dimension of him who was made a monster by the mistreatment he suffered in the hands of fellow wizards and witches. There is nothing of the sort here. She is not even a chatbot because she hardly speaks some coherent and human discourse.
But this is a rather general remark I could make on the story. Every character has no freedom of choice or whatever. They are all “SLAVES” of their desires, lust, power, will to dominate, to own, to use. Even the desert king Jalin is shown as being a spoiled brat who plays with a stray kitten picked in the street and who is in love with a black warrior Kiir who literally controls him with his dancing. We have to think of Salome and her seven veils dance. But that is just the point: the dance for Salome is her way to take control of her stepfather and uncle (which makes her a female Hamlet). But the tragic dimension of this Biblical and historical event is lost because there is no stake in the dance. No John the Baptist and no head to get delivered on a silver platter. The death of the unnamed queen is certainly not delivered on a silver platter. And Oscar Wilde’s delirious Salome making love with John the Baptist in words and then with his head is far from this story. Difficult to imitate with Inea since Inea is gay and would not be thrilled by the unnamed queen’s head, except if his gayness were explored as some kind of escape from a deeply morbid and mortiferous personality.
Even if the gay erotica is correct altogether, I just wonder if the author is what his/her name seems to reveal. Is the author a man or a woman? The gay characters are charming but they have no depth and their love making is purely mechanical while their love declarations are purely enslaving possession. Love is a lot more complicated and it cannot be reduced to the instinctual robotic thermodynamics of a few legs, arms and other members encountering the various openings of a few bodies. Even the music of the minstrel and his poetry is not exemplified in any way. It is true and difficult to consider what kind of a creative mental dimension Kaedon would have? Think of Jalin and his fixation on a kitten playing with silver coins. Think of Kiir reduced to a dance, which in a way is creative and mental but we do not penetrate at any time this dimension of this dance: it is only a seductive tool to capture the attention of a grown up though childish kid. Gay romance deserves better than just being a vacillation between erotic scenes and escaping sprees that always end well, plus some fantasy battles to cut up the humdrum bed scenes.
Just enjoy the story as some entertainment. I am sure it is not intended to go beyond this titillating level.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU