Liviu's Reviews > Lovers and Beloveds

Lovers and Beloveds by MeiLin Miranda
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Jul 23, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010_release_read, genre-fantasy, read_2010
Read in November, 2010

I will add some fast scattered comments for now and have more later and a full FBC review in a week or so which I will c/p here.

The J. Carey comparisons are apt - I would say the aptest of several books claiming such; Lovers and Beloveds is somewhat more explicit but in the same tasteful vein as there and it posits a world where Gods' embodiments - including the erotic one in dual male/female manifestation - play an important role in society.

The novel starts slow and a bit on the raw side but it picks up considerably after a while; it ultimately depends on the character of Temmin and while he becomes quite interesting by the end of the novel, readers have to put up with a lot of silliness and even dullness before; not a bad prince as they go, but still spoiled and naive which makes for the worst combination sometimes.

Also the emotional distance of 3rd person narration works against the book to some extent - one huge reason the Kushiel books are so good (still my #1 fantasy of all time) is the immediacy of first person narration and i do not get why authors are afraid to use it in books like this where the extra pov's are superfluous and could be worked around; i saw recent books using 1srt person combined with 3rd person snippeting and that also would be better imho

The secondary story that Temmin sees in the magic book of the subtitle (Intimate...) is cliched and predictable, so a bit overlong as a subthread but it works as a morality tale/history lesson and I guess it may play a role in later world building expansion.

The writing is excellent and helps smooth some of the issues mentioned above, while the world building is pretty good, a little bit sketchy but not with great flaws, just incomplete and I expect continuing volumes to expand it. The characters develop and show a lot of nuance after a while, so I urge everyone to give this book a little time to develop from its somewhat raw beginning

All in all the series has extremely great promise so I am very interested in the sequel, while Lovers and Beloveds (A+) is one of the best indies (more or less debut as the book has been expanded a lot from its first edition) I've read this year. If you are a fan of Jacqueline Carey I would definitely urge you to try this one and as mentioned give it a bit to settle down and of course I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in beautifully written fantasy of intrigue and eroticism and who is not afraid of some explicitness.
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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-8 of 8) </span> <span class="smallText">(8 new)</span>

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message 1: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Thanks for the review! I'm always looking for things that have that Kushiel "feel," and most fall short. I'll definitely give this one a shot.


Liviu Thank you for the comment; I am also skeptical of such claims - eg Passion Play which i actually loved a lot once i got over the marketing claim about Kushiel and saw it as a somewhat strange but still romantic fantasy in an epic/secondary world setting.

Here the author gets a lot of the feel of J. Carey's novels though there are quite a few differences and of course this is just the first book after all


message 3: by MeiLin (new) - added it

MeiLin Miranda I always hesitate to give comparisons of my writing to the better known, but sometimes shorthand is necessary--especially when one is an independent. The ebook of LaB is inexpensive enough that if I can get people to try it by saying, "If you like Writer A you might like me," I have to swallow my distaste and do it.

Oddly, I have never read Jacqueline Carey; I've just been told over and over, "You know, this is kinda like the Kushiel series!"

I'm sorry you found the story-in-story predictable. Perhaps it stems from that bit being the entire series' genesis--the first original fiction I ever wrote.

In any event, thanks for the kind remarks, and Kelly, I hope you give it a shot soon. :)


Liviu Once the two prophecies and initial conditions were set (eg the state of the king, the one day rule that is the first thing Teacher tells Temmin, the regent brother) the ending was obvious. It is a very traditional fantasy story that I generally avoid, but here as a smaller subthread it worked well enough.

The comparisons with well known books are useful, no question about it, but they cut both ways - eg some people avoid Kushiel because of explicitness, well nothing to do here as this book is even more explicit, but some people avoid Kushiel because they think it is a "romantic" novel and that's completely misleading, same here, this novel is not particularly romantic in the genre sense.

Conversely for me, a comparison with the Kushiel novels raises expectations considerably and brings a book into my check immediately category, though of course high expectations can lead to let down easily

Here as mentioned the comparison is apt - of course the books are quite different but in the same "narrative space/vibes"


message 5: by MeiLin (new) - added it

MeiLin Miranda Your comments have had me thinking--and I REALLY hope this doesn't come off as defensive, because I'm totally not taking offense. It's true, the story-in-story IS predictable. You've just set me to thinking, is all.

The thing is, it's a history. Temmin already knows the basic outline of the story; it's in the past. What he doesn't know is this version of what happened. We all know the basics of, say, Henry VIII's story. We know what happens in the end--all along the way, in fact. When we start a story about Henry VIII, we know he's going to marry six women, lose one, and divorce or kill the rest. But we still want to hear that story, and every time it's told, it's told differently. This is a different telling of the story of Warin and Emmae than Temmin's ever heard. History is written by the winners, and the women of this kingdom are not the winners. In Temmin's world, Emmae is barely mentioned. I tried to get that across, that this is familiar history from an entirely different perspective for him, but perhaps I failed in that. I'll try harder in the next books, because the story-in-story is a continuing theme.

I think perhaps the danger of having this world so thoroughly in my head (for instance, what cheeses are made in which regions of the empire--I know, right?) is that I know all this stuff like I live there. :) I try to get it across without info-dumping; I try to keep it somewhat subtle, and I'm trying to make it so that as the series progresses, the world of Tremont layers and deepens.

I appreciate your review. Reviews like this keep me thinking.


Liviu I agree with the pre-knowledge - one reasons prequels are hard (to be done well and rarely measure up) and historical fiction which after all explores a different world too is different than sff in many ways - my main issue was less about predictability in itself as "historical facts" go and more about how it was presented. The characters lacked any subtlety, they were very 'stock in trade" and that was different than the main story where we see change, nuance...

Looking back, I think that a sub-thread like that is better either shorter, snippet like, where "one dimensionality" comes like you describe a historical character in one or two adjectives and it is "normal" or longer, allowing much more nuance.


Ronni Liviu and MeiLin, I have greatly enjoyed reading your back-and-forth here. (Liviu, I am a devoted reader of your fantasy book blog, and I trust your recommendations, for which I thank you. In fact, I purchased this book for Kindle based on your recommendation.) I see great potential and look forward to any sequels, because I saw writing skill improvement as the story progressed. There were some disconcerting/abrupt scene changes in the first half, but I guess I got used to it; they weren't so disconcerting as the story built. (Perhaps, the scene changes seemed abrupt to me, because of the ebook formatting. Since I have no way of making a print-to-ebook comparison, I will never know.) MeiLin, congratulations on this successful first offering.


Liviu Great to know you liked the book!


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