Author: Rebecca Cohen
Cover Artist: Shobana Appavu
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: high fantasy, political intrigue
Length: novel (310 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Larissa
Review Summary: An intricate story filled with magic and mages, family history, an interesting solution to crimes committed by an ancestor and a growing relationship between two stubborn men.
Lornyc Reagalos, future High Lord of the city of Katraman, enjoys his life as a student, even if he has to keep his relationship with Methian Hadral, heir to the throne of Xenetra, a secret. Unfortunately, Lornyc isn’t just any royal student—he’s also the grandson of an infamous magic user named Romanus Reagalos, and his grandfather’s wild youth is about to catch up with him. Unknown to anyone else, Romanus saw fit to sign his grandson into the life of a valet. Specifically, Methian’s valet.
The contract—and the strain it puts on his relationship with Methian—is just the start of Lornyc’s troubles. Though the Reagalos family was once famous for its magic, Lornyc’s father never showed any aptitude, and Lornyc hasn’t either—though that doesn’t make the next contract, the one that says Lornyc must learn to use his latent powers, any less binding. When Lornyc learns of a plot to remove his father from power, he finds himself racing against time. If he can’t master his magic and identify the leader of the plot, he stands to lose everything he knows and loves: his parents, his rank, and Methian.
Going into Servitude, I pretty much expected a fairly straightforward fantasy story about what the blurb described with a large focus on the romance. Imagine my surprise when I got a story full of political intrigue, action, adventure, a bit of romance and engaging characters.
Servitude focuses on Lornyc, the son of the High Lord of Katraman as he goes about his everyday studies and his secret relationship with his lover, Methian, only son and heir to the king of Hadral. That changes when his father receives four scrolls, binding Lornyc to pay for the crimes committed by his grandfather, the famous Romanus Reagalos. In an interesting manner too. Lornyc is bound to be Methian’s valet for the next 10 years as the crime was committed to a member of the Hadral family. The other scrolls concern a minor crime committed to another royal family, for which Lornyc has to serve them for a month, and the other concerns his talents for magic – if he has them.
After I got over my initial outrage as to why Lornyc has to pay for crimes committed by his grandfather, I read on. Everything in this book happens for a reason.
In the next months both Lornyc and Methian have to adapt to their new roles, interrupted studies and new magical studies, arrogant family members, matchmaking, but also a political intrigue. Lornyc’s father learns of a plot to overthrow him. Lornyc only has limited time and means to help him.
Servitude is a fully worked out, complicated but satisfying story that has an unrushed feel to it. There is a lot happening and the reader has to keep track of both events, but names and history as well. It makes the story engaging and thrilling. For once the bad guy was not so very obvious in the story. The reader actually has to work to find out who he is!
While the focus of the story is on Lornyc and Methian and events happening around them, there is a good cast of secondary characters that are not just there to be pretty or for show. This is a good thing, because in romance authors have a tendency to forget everything but the two main characters and sometimes one dimensional fillers.
Lornyc and Methian have very different personalities. Methian is the more easygoing of the two. Methian is more laid back and likely to think matters over while Lornyc is stubborn and quick to anger, but also extremely smart. Throughout the long story the reader gets a good feel for both characters.
The only complaint I have about the story was the style of writing. It’s a very detached manner of writing that leaves the reader looking into the story rather than being part of it. At the same time it suited the themes of the story and the story itself as it is fantasy mixed with a bit of steampunk.
My other complaint is about the romance but that is a personal thing. Lornyc and Methian are in a secret, albeit established relationship. The reason for its secrecy is parental disapproval. However, because it’s a set and established relationship, there is not much romance. The focus is instead on the plot.
Overall I liked Servitude a lot better than I thought I would going into the story. It’s well written by a relatively new author. Definitely worth taking a look at!