Title: Thief of Songs
Author: M.C.A Hogarth
Series: Twin Kingdoms
Genre: Fantasy Romance
The lowland conquerers have taken everything from him, or so the composer Amet Emendexte-ilye was taught: prestige, autonomy, wealth, and most importantly, magic. But when one of them steals his fiancee, Amet avenges himself on them all by writing music and giving it away in defiance of the lowland laws. It is a very satisfactory vengeance, or so he thinks, until he discovers the kingdom’s royal composer is planning to debut Amet’s work—as folk music!
So he’s riding east to set the record straight. But he has no idea how compelling a decadent lowland hermaphrodite can be. And before it’s over, this thief of songs may be stealing more than his music….
A lyrical romance, set in a second world fantasy. Leave the world behind today!
Source: Review copy via NetGalley
This book is a lyrical gift for the senses. It is sumptuous, beautiful, musical and enjoyable, with romance and history, friendships and challenges all thrown in to help it flow. It’s not your typical romance, or fantasy tale, since it involves non-binary gender, poly and asexual romance as well as rebellious tendencies and friction between conquered kingdom and conquerers, all with magic and music, which all combined into a real feast for the senses.
Into all of this walks Amet, a proud highlander who was raised to despise the decadent lowlands who seem determined to erode everything that was once good and great about his mountain people. Yet despite his seeming sternness, Amet is fair and far more open-minded than I think even he would give himself credit for. He has honour and pride, plus a musical talent that helps seduce him into a new understanding.
This is largely helped along by Dancer, the inadvertent thief, who has plenty of talents of ems own. Dancer is a third, a hermaphrodite, who is light and culture and music and instantly attracted to Amet. Along with Dancer there is Always Falling, a fourth or neuter, who is Dancer’s lifelong asexual companion. I loved how naturally their relationship worked, but also how easily it could accept a third partner – but only if that partner was willing to accept them both as individuals as well as a pair.
And that’s where this book shone for me, in the connections between the characters. I loved Amet and the way he navigates the unfamiliar ways of the palace. The way he learns to accept everyone by their individual merits over and above any of the prejudices he might have grown up with was wonderful to read about. I loved his friendships with Lord of Eagles and Beautiful, but it was the way he and Always Falling tentatively formed a bond that I loved most.
The romance with Dancer was a bit too instant for me. Yes, I could see how much they had in common and how the music connected them on extra levels, but the initial attraction and the swiftness with which it developed into love felt a little too convenient for me. I also felt that a few certain obstacles were resolved a little too abruptly. I expected a little more from it.
On the whole, though, this was delightful. If you love music, atypical romance or sumptuous prose, then you should find plenty to enjoy here. Come to it with an open mind and allow it to sweep you away. I will definitely have to check out Always Falling’s book (Cantor for Pearls) sometime soon.
Thief of Songs is Out Now.
Visit M.C.A. Hogarth for more details.