Author: Megan Derr
Cover Artist: London Burden
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Buy Link: Treasure (The Lost Gods)
Genre: M/M fantasy romance
Length: 86,000 words
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary Review: An engaging fantasy romance with interesting characters and a vivid setting, but which suffers a little from a saggy middle.
Book 1 of The Lost Gods
Nine gods ruled the world, until the ultimate betrayal resulted in their destruction. Now, the world is dying and only by restoring the Lost Gods can it be saved.
Nine hundred years ago, the Dragons of the Three Storms, gods of chaos, tried to destroy their land of Kundou. Only by rising up and slaying the Dragons and stealing their power was Kundou saved. Now, that power resides in the royal family and grants them the right to rule.
But that power comes at a terrible price, and Prince Nankyokukai is determined that he will be the last to pay it—even if it means surrendering his chance with the man he has waited for his entire life.
I’m rather fond of Megan Derr’s fantasy books and so I jumped at the chance to review this first book in a new series. It tells of royal prince Nankyokukai, or Kyo to his friends, who is destined for a terrible fate. In order, not to avoid that fate, but rather embrace it on his own terms and so that others may not suffer as well, Kyo steals a precious magical jewel from his family and sets out across the ocean, along with his faithful secretary, Taka and rich merchant, Raiden. They travel on a ship owned by Kin, who is no ordinary man and who shares some history with Kyo. As they travel they have to face attacks from mermaids, rescues and storms, as well as facing up to some surprising secrets.
The story began well and I was quickly hooked into the tale of Kyo’s escape from his Father’s plans. Much of the first part of the book centres around the close friendship that Kyo has with his secretary, Taka. Their closeness has a distinct lack of sexual attractiveness, and fits well with Kyo’s almost asexual presence through much of the book. Although Kyo is only mentioned in the blurb, this is just as much Taka’s story, and we get a lot of the book in his point of view. Once on the ship, the story takes on a bit of an ensemble piece with all four main characters of Kyo, Taka, Raiden and Kin being used to explore the themes in the book and also the relationships between each other. This worked well for me and I quickly grew to like all the characters and sympathised with their respective situations.
The pacing of the first two thirds of the story was quite swift with a few exciting set pieces to liven up the narrative add to our knowledge of the characters. However, at about the two third point, the story began to hit a bit of a lull. It didn’t really go anywhere for quite a few pages and there was lots of sex used as padding. It may be that the author was trying to forward the relationships at this point, but it got a little dull and repetative, and in fact gave us little additional information about the characters. Things did pick up at the end, with an exciting finale scene, but I felt that some of the circumstances at the end were a little out of the blue. More foreshadowing on the character of Raiden, for example would have allowed me to believe more easily some of the things that happen at the end of the book. Aside from the slight sag in the story in the last third, my only other niggle was that there were a number of annoying name switches – again in that last third of the book – and whilst this did not spoil my enjoyment of the book too much, it may put off some readers.
One thing that did work for me was the intricacy of the world building. As a first book in the series, it’s inevitable that there will be parts of the book dedicated to setting up the situation, geography, mythology and sociology of the world that has been created in the book. I never felt I was being preached at or had too much information dumped on me at once. Instead I was impressed with the way each country had different religions and rituals, and how these directly influenced the events of the book. I’m keen to see this continue into book two.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked the characters and felt that they were distinct and unusual. The romance is woven through the story, but is also a strong and important theme. I’m certainly curious and interested enough to look forward to the next book in this series, and I’d recommend Treasure to those looking for a character based fantasy romance.