Title: The Stagsblood Brother
Series: The Stagsblood Trilogy: Book Three
Author: Gideon E. Wood
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 409 Pages
Rating: 4.5 Stars
At a Glance: If you like an epic fantasy featuring a hero who is tested and tormented, a villain who is pure, unadulterated, personified malevolence, and a man who learns his value and earns his happiness, this is a compelling read.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: The goddesses and gods have restored King Tel’s magic. His power over dirt, wind, fire, and rain is keener than ever. Still, his people are in danger. The sorcery of the antlered ones has also returned to his exiled brother, Lag. The inevitable collision of siblings unfolds in The Stagsblood Brother, the thrilling conclusion of the dark gay fantasy trilogy.
Hungry for power and revenge, Lag will cross any moral boundary to defeat his older brother—and make him suffer in the process. He’ll exploit Tel’s faith, decency, and generous heart to win the advantage in a war that will spill blood over the heart of Feigh. He’ll terrorize unarmed innocents. He’ll use sinful magic to transform the man Tel loves into a weapon.
To end the bloodshed and secure the kingdom, Tel must ready himself to meet his brother and lover on the battlefield and eliminate the threat to peace and justice, whatever the cost. To do that, he’ll need to realize the final confrontation is really with the darkness, tragedy, and grief of his own past. The last war must be won inside himself.
Review: Gideon E. Wood’s epic saga comes to a close in The Stagsblood Brother, delivering his hero—or antihero?—King Tel, a redemptive arc that sees him evolve from the drunken heir to the throne to a man whose integrity and principles are paramount to ensuring the good of all his subjects. War looms, however, and Tel must sacrifice some of his belief systems to meet the evil threatening the heart of Feigh and its people. As honorable as Tel is—or attempts to be—his brother, Lag, is ruthless. This is a battle of Good vs Evil as much as it is a battle of Courage vs Cowardice and while Tel sometimes embodies both, in the end, it’s his courage and conviction that prevail over his brother’s craven malice.
The Stagsblood Brother is a journey. As such, there are times when the battle between Tel’s conscience and soul and desire to drive Lag into the black consumes the pace of the telling. It isn’t a fast-paced read, but it is a gripping story of war and corruption, a story of black and white and that liminal space where a man must meet rage with rage, even though it contradicts who he wishes to be. It’s a story of love and loss, temptation and sacrifice. About giving up and letting go, not in defeat but in triumph, for the greater good.
Religion and prejudice also play a part. Tel’s lover, Turo, is not Feighan, he is Omelan, and there are those who stick to the old beliefs and think Tel a traitor to the faith and to his culture for loving Turo. Lag uses those antiquated ideas to his advantage, to stir up animosity and draw people to his fight to usurp Tel as king. There are gods and prophecies leading Tel to the resolution he needs to win, and once he finds them, he can concentrate on one thing—rescuing Turo from the evil Lag has forced upon him so Tel can bring Turo and his daughter home again. This time, mercy is not an option.
If you like an epic fantasy featuring a hero who is tested and tormented, a villain who is pure, unadulterated, personified malevolence, and a man who learns his value and earns his happiness, this is a compelling read.
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