Science fiction and fantasy                                            

To Love a Sagelord

by Paul Massey


When Rhîn leaves Tuss-Under-Greenwood to study in the capital city of Thor-Tekaas, he knows things are going to change. The military academy is supposed to be a place of learning where curiosity is encouraged. But he finds disturbing evidence that things are not right in Tekaania.

After Rhîn provokes the wrath of a couple of older students his training comes to involve a fair amount of hazing. Fortunately he has the friendship of a couple of other cadets, Irena and Shal, to sustain him. He also meets and falls in love with Platon, a young ambassador for the Sagacioni people.

The Sagacioni, also known as the Sagelords, are not merely a different nation. They are a race apart, physically not the same as the human Shians and enjoying a longer lifespan. But Tekaania is a place that's becoming increasingly intolerant of difference. When a dark-skinned southern trader enters Thor-Tekaas and is badly beaten because of his colour, it's a warning of things to come.

Although To Love a Sagelord is set in a world that's at a late-medieval stage of development, it draws inevitable comparisons with the rise of Hitler in Germany in the 1930s. The Knighthood of Jador is a secret society that aims to destroy the Sagelords after extracting their knowledge of the secrets of the universe. When the Knighthood becomes powerful enough to move against the Sagelords, Rhîn is forced to flee for his life with Platon.

However there's a lot more to the plot of this novel than the theme of fascism, and it's not just a case of the good Sagelords versus the evil Knights of Jador. The characters are nuanced, often divided in their loyalties, and several unexpected twists take place to make things more interesting. The story gets better as it goes on, as what starts out looking like a standard coming-of-age fantasy acquires new levels and greater depth.

One of the more intriguing characters is Mellil. An ambitious cadet with her eye on high political office, she has to choose between family loyalty and her political convictions. The interaction between herself and Professor Segrillion sparkles with Machiavellian conspiracy, and it's one of the relationships that illustrates Paul Massey's skill at creating subtle and multifaceted characters.

There's no lack of action in To Love a Sagelord, yet it also manages to have its moments of reflection. As tyranny descends on Tekaania and the stage is set for war, it's easy to see how people are motivated to create this situation, and how the best of intentions can turn sour.

This novel is peppered with somewhat mawkish songs written in medieval language that contrasts unfavourably with the rest of the dialogue. The sentimentality is kept in check elsewhere though, so in spite of what the title may imply this isn't an overly saccharine love story. Instead it's a fairly straightforward fantasy that should appeal to readers who enjoy intrigue and adventure as well as romance. The plot is coherent, engaging and well-timed, and the characters are compelling. This is the first book of The Return to Enlightenment, and it's a cracking start to the series.

Book Details

Year: 2006

Categories: Books


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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson


John     14th December, 2006 23:00pm

I agree that this is a fab book. Personally, I like the smattering of poetry and stuff, because I think it gives the book depth! Cool ending too!

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