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The Lodestar of Ys

(The Stories of Ys #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,301 ratings  ·  208 reviews
Sjurd is convinced that Celyn of Ys is the most irritating man alive. It’s a good thing that Celyn is engaged to Sjurd’s brother, not him, because Sjurd loathes the brat, and it’s quite mutual. When an elopement and the threat of invasion force the two princes together, however, they have no choice but to marry and fake true love to keep their countries safe. Can warrior S ...more
Kindle Edition, 191 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Amazon Digital Services (first published August 25th 2013)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Julio Genao
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy enthusiasts unafraid of being left panting for more
Recommended to Julio by: MostlyDelores
like an awesome bedtime story as you're falling asleep: over before you want it to be.

What hurly-burly this story was! Filled with beautiful imagery and wit and smexy interludes—honestly, I was in love and in rageface extremis all at once.

Because it was too good. I wanted to linger—everywhere—but was not given the chance. The story is lean, and dense, but constrained. As if it were a succulent cut of skirt steak trimmed by an overzealous butcher.

Which is what happened, I reckon. Trimm
4.25 stars


MCs - Celyn and Sjurd Gaaah! i can't express how excited i was when i saw the MCs names, they are unique. All the characters in this book have very unique names. It is so refreshing!


This book was a pleasant surprise. Thank you Elena for picking this book for us. I would have missed out of some good stuff.

The writing is fantastic, for a book less than 2
Shin Mon Thway
How is this book free on Amazon? 😱 Seriously, it was soooo freaking good and I loved every single second reading this book. 👏 And the cover, OMG! Love it!!!! 💚 This book was written for the MM Romance group’s ”love has no boundaries” event and it was really creative and awesome. The world building is just fantastic and magical. 😍 And MCs are sooo witty and exceptional. Loved it so much. 💗💜💗

Celyn is the nephew of King Pryderi of Ys and he has long accepted that he’s going to end up being
Moony Eliver
In the reading world, we often talk about expectations. Hype. Those things that drive us towards a book but sometimes hurt our actual experiences of it.

The good news is that the opposite can work FOR you, and that was the case with this one.
It really wasn’t fair… Not fair at all. He wasn’t quite sure what was so unfair, but something definitely was. Or wasn’t.
It was almost exactly a year ago when I added this to my tbr, and I have no idea why I did at that time. Who knows how long it might haone.
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
This novella is certainly creative, but the first half really dragged for me.

There's just a lot here: evil empire, magic, ogres, flying ships (and yet no electricity), alliances, war, arranged marriage, battle, executions. The romance most definitely takes a backseat to the world building and action/political plot.

I enjoyed the enemies-to-lovers trope but wish the MCs had gotten together sooner (like prior to 80%). This would have been 2 stars had it not been for the last couple chapters, whic
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars – I thought this was a pretty stunning fantasy read, especially for being a short novel (and free!)

Lovely world-building, concisely written to include so much so well without feeling jam-packed. This is very much an enemies-to-lovers story of two princes from two kingdoms who, to align against a common enemy, are forced to marry. The tension was drawn out well, and at 50%, I was left wondering how that Romance-Book-ending was going to come, but that made the journey for cheery diploma
Gail Carriger
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, queer, romance
This is gay romance meets high fantasy. Literally "high" as half the setting is a series of floating islands way up in the air over the ocean. It felt almost but not quite steampunk. This enemies-to-lovers romance is deceptively simple as it’s actually full of delicately handled themes like PTSD, the politics of invasion, and the handling of refugees. The setting is spine tingling and glorious, and the romance is delightful.

As an author, Durreson tends towards shorts and novellas, a
If this is the kind of book I can expect to find after a week-long pause from reading, I might start taking more of them. Especially since it seems that I can get unexpected buddy reads out of it.

I was kidding! Just kidding! Put away that straight jacket, thank you.

Pretty much the opposite, really, this book was exactly what I needed to be reminded of why I love reading.
The writing was excellent, with just the right kind and amount of humor, the world-building truly amazing, and th
Lilia Ford
Absolutely wonderful. The author manages to create a very involving fantasy universe, with distinct cultures, complex geopolitical conflicts, an array of memorable side characters, 17 different wedding ceremonies (for the same couple), high-skies adventure, and a relationship that evolves over close to a decade--all in a mere 150 pages or so. The descriptions of the floating islands of Ys are particularly magical. The main couple is very likeable, and the author does a great job with the enemies ...more
An entertaining feel-good story, but a bit draggy and childish (the writing style as well as the characters and plot) as well. I missed depth overall. The institution of marriage never held much appeal for me. So unfortunately, the main characters having to visit dozens of countries and marry over and over again, didn't make me swoon and smile about fond memories of white, princess dresses and childhood dreams of Walt Disney romance.
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
**** 4.5 stars ****

If you have any tolerance for fantasy at all, I recommend you read this lovely, intelligent, beautifully-written -- and, amazingly, free -- story.

In a world facing almost certain doom from the forces of a relentlessly expanding empire, two very different men from two very different nations find their lives entwined by political necessity. As their story plays out over the course of a decade and more, their intense mutual dislike evolves slowly -- ever so slowly -- int
Kaje Harper
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this back when it first came out, as a free gift to us during one of the M/M group writing events, but just did a reread and realized I never reviewed it. The early chapters skip forward over time, through change and loss, to the heart of the book that brings our two princes together. Celyn and Sjurd meet in a simpler time when Celyn is still a youth, and Sjurd is a soldier but with less weight on his shoulders. They loathe each other at first sight.

As an implacable magic-swallowing Empi
Christina Marie
I almost didn't read this based on the title. I don't get along well with names I have no hope of ever pronouncing. They make my brain hurt. For some reason it just makes it difficult for me to keep track of who is who. Throw in complicated location names and my brain begins to melt out of my ears. The title (the blurb too) seemed to promise that there would be plenty of these. I wasn't wrong. However, I am thrilled that I read this anyway.

This was amazing. I thought the world building was g
I ended up calling Sjurd Squirt Squid "Sword". I can't get past Sjurd *sigh*


I want to read this book for a long long time. Or at least another 2-3 hundred pages :)

The story slowed down considerably towards the middle of the book, but it was never boring. It reminded me of Kirby Crow's "The Peddler and the White Wolf" - not rushed, not sprinkled with sex or murder in every chapter, yet still wonderful in almost each and every way.

A great enemies-to-lovers progression.

The Islands are incredibly beautiful, the universe is
Elena C.
I'm always a little hesitant to pick up a m/m romance written by a female author. And no, I'm not among those who think that writers should confine the scope of their creativity to topics they know intimately and/or have experienced themselves. The fact is, though, that most m/m romance written by women that I've read (at least so far: recommendations are more than welcome) felt exploitative and voyeuristic, with an awkward when not offensive depiction of homosexuality (see the overused "situati ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2017
Marriage-of-convenience, m-m romance, in a fantasy setting where magic makes ships sail between islands that float in the air.

The threat of a neighboring, evil empire more or less forces our heroes to get married against their will, to help protect the good guys against magic-destroying hounds, ogres and invading hordes.

I went into this expecting brain candy in a light fantasy setting, predictable, shallow and touching on all of the usual cliches. Nice guy has to marry tall, dark an
Lorraine Lesar
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh Celyn, why did you do it? We were getting along so well up to that point. I knew that silly bickering was just a front and all would end well, but you just couldn't wait. Was it worth it? Yes, it was before you were married, but it marred my reading, so was it necessary? I don't think so, what did it add to your storyline? Anyway, it just cost you a star. You are lucky that I loved the intricate detailing and you and Sjurd together, otherwise it would have cost you a lot more stars.
I loved the world building, but the characters stole the show for me. Celyn's personality was made so clear through his voice and I loved every snarky bit of it. Sjurd's reactions to Celyn had me grinning but I also liked how his vulnerable side was revealed.

The storyline around the battles with the Empire was well done. I felt the urgency, fear, and at times, resignation, but also the determination and flickers of hope.

On the lighter side, the wedding trip was a great wa
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, freebies, romance
Bold mix of elements that are diverting and highly entertaining.

The worldbuilding is great with a melange of Errol Flynn, LOTR and Peter Pan. I love sailing, so this story immediately made me excited when it turned course during the exploration of the Ys isles. In contrast to Axholme, the militaristic country holding off the Empire's advances, the bucolic beauty is gorgeous and reminds me of sailing island to island in the Caribbean.

The development of Celyn and Sjurd's re
☙ percy ❧
this was a fantastically believable enemies-to-lovers romance set against the backdrop of a pseudo-Wales made up of a collection of floating islands in the sky. the romance and characters were really fun, but i knocked off a star because the war plot was tied up just a little too quickly and neatly for my liking.
Vivian ♪(┌・。・)┌
In my lazy ineloquence (yet undeniable need to review every single bloody book I add on goodreads) I've prepared a dot point summary. Behold the masterpiece *eyeroll*:

- abrupt and disconcerting time leaps and progressive dreariness made it a rather difficult and boorish read
- I admit I skimmed (especially near the resolution)
- depicted the dark wartime atmosphere very well (too well in fact, fluff lover here)
- intriguing world and solid and descriptive world building
Amy Rae Durreson


The first Genre I fell in love with outside of my teens was fantasy. I loved being taken away to another world, another time, another era.

It is sword fighting and dragons and kings, best of all I love the ones where the princess has to rescue everyone else... but most of the stories have gotten too formulaic and I am like an adult who can't hear the bells anymore or talk to the elves I stopped reading most fantasy books.

The Lodestar of Ys brought my first love back to me. It is ever
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fread
I liked the start of this one, I especially liked the cross between a star wars and a medieval theme, (although that could be just the way my mind saw it lol)

But I'm afraid I started to get lost the more I read. The names of people and places were impossible for me to decipher so I lost enjoyment at not being able to pronounce them. I also lost interest in the story thanks to the politics that seemed to take over the story. This was not helped by my confusion over who belonged to whi
Shanna Matheo
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oh I really enjoyed this! Sweet enemies to lovers story. All the makings of an epic high fantasy story are there. Great world building, interesting magic system, very likable characters and freaking floating islands!! I would have loved to spend more time in this world. Find out more about the empire. More battle scenes. Just more really...
Al *the semi serial series skipper*
This was pretty good. I loved both the main characters and the story was entertaining.
What a delightful story! Enjoyed every word of it! The only thing I hate about it is that it's over.

I couldn't find any flaw (or if there is any, I've happily ignored it for the contentedness that the story gave me). The story was intricate and detailed, the characters were shaped out and complex. It had the right combination of peril, humor, romantic moments and action scenes. Met all my criteria. And if that wasn't enough... it's free!!

(view spoiler)

Everything was pretty much wrapped by the end of the book and yet I wish there was a sequel of some sorts. Not quite ready to let them go. That good was the book!
4 very happy stars
Superb (and unshowy) world building, strongly delineated characters, lots of snark, and something close to a HEA.

I'd not come across Durreson before, but this free novella tempted me in. Free? For writing this good? It's a bargain. For the money, Durreson gives us a fully realised AU, via a leisurely introduction to the story and characters. A number of reviewers think the intro is too slow. Well, yes and no. In the context of the short page count, yes. But the depth of the desc
Sometimes I give a meh book three stars because, hey, there's nothing really wrong with it; and other times, I give a great book four stars because it was REALLY GOOD but it could have been amazing. Arbitrary, I know, unfair too, but there we are.

The Lodestar of Ys is excellent. It has meaty worldbuilding, a marriage of convenience straight from a classic romance novel, and enemies-to-lovers with lots of snark--it's fabulous. And because it is so good, I was vexed by the things that
This is a wonderful little morsel of a novella, but personally I think that the story Durreson was trying to tell would need more space to be fully satisfying.
It's complete, it's not superficial, it's witty, amusing, adventurous and reluctantly romantic, and the character and relationship development are a delight to witness.
It's just a matter of personal taste; when it comes to enemies-to-lovers romance, I like it painfully slow, whereas here it happens almost... smoothly, though no
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Most enjoyable. A high-fantasy style m/m romance in novella form that actually delivers and delivers well. It has a plot, emotionally involving characters, complex world building, tight pacing, sentiment, touches of wit, a smattering of adventure and just the right amount of slow burning sexiness. I sincerely hope to read more from this talented author.
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Amy Rae Durreson is a quiet Brit with a degree in early English literature, which she blames for her somewhat medieval approach to spelling, and at various times has been fluent in Latin, Old English, Ancient Greek, and Old Icelandic, though these days she mostly uses this knowledge to bore her students. Amy started her first novel a quarter of a century ago and has been scribbling away ever since ...more

Other books in the series

The Stories of Ys (2 books)
  • Emyr's Smile (The Stories of Ys, #2)
“ 'I thought you were an atheist,' Sjurd commented to hide the clench of his gut. He couldn't be stuck here while his country burned.

'Nobody's an atheist in a storm,' Celyn said absently, still frowning at the sky.”
“Manners never won any wars."
"Lack of them lost a few.”
More quotes…