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(Rai-Kirah #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  6,933 ratings  ·  350 reviews
Seyonne is a man waiting to die. He has been a slave for sixteen years, almost half his life, and has lost everything of meaning to him: his dignity, the people and homeland he loves, and the Warden's power he used to defend an unsuspecting world from the ravages of demons. Seyonne has made peace with his fate. With strict self-discipline he forces himself to exist only in ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 439 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Roc
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Kiri No explicit curse words are used, and while sex is referenced on multiple occasions, there are no explicit scenes.

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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  6,933 ratings  ·  350 reviews

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Jun 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, queer
Fantasy. There's this guy, and he has wings, and he's been...sold into slavery? And this prince buys him? I can't really remember. But the one guy totally has wings. And lots of man-angst.

My absolute biggest complaint about this book is that after hundreds of pages of foreplay, the prince and his slave do not actually confess their manly love for each other and get married. But they very nearly do, so maybe that'll be enough for the rest of you. The slave sleeps at the foot of the prince's bed!
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was very unusual... The author had a lot of guts to start with a character so powerfully unlikable, that the reader wants to kill him on the spot, and then try to redeem him in our eyes, despite her giving us in detail his most hateful and despicable features of his character... It was good having a main character in whom we could give over our trust and that held the reader above water in the most difficult circumstances... I had never heard of this author, but now she is on my radar and I ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
(Re-posted from

Alright, let's get this out the way straight up. That first cover is ridiculous. And not in a good way. I mean, who looked at that image of a scantily glad gentlemen with enormous green wings on a cliff top and thought, "yup, perfect." I mean, the covers for "Revelation" and "Restoration" aren't exactly awesome either, but compared to 'Transformation...' Yikes.

Which sucks. Because I suspect that that cover is bad enough to stop people from readi
Don't think. Don't wonder. Just go. Just do. What comes, comes, and you will survive it or not.

I read Song of the Beast by Carol Berg a while back and fell in love! So I decided to give more of her books a try, starting with Transformation. I wasn't disappointed!

This book is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!!

The plot is deceptively simple. DECEPTIVELY being the key word here, because this is one of those authors who will make you sure of what's coming and give you the exact opposite in return. So don't bet
Leah Petersen
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Leah by: Deidre Knight
Shelves: fantasy
I was truly shocked to read the other reviews and realize that many perceived this as the-queer-book-that-didn't. I write gay fiction myself, and read tons of it. It never even occurred to me in reading this that they might be gay, or should be, for that matter.

I think what makes this one of The. Best. Character/Relationship books I've ever read is that it doesn't muddle the issue with lust and sex. Bravo to Ms. Berg for accomplishing it because it's harder to pen such a poignant relationship wh
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, buddy-read
Don't think. Don't wonder. Just go. Just do. What comes, comes, and you will survive it or not.

This was my first book by Carol Berg and it's a perfect example of not judging a book by its cover. Seriously, just overlook the cheesy cover and dive into this book. There are memorable characters, unlikely journeys - both physical and emotional, and plenty of feels along the way. This book had me from the very first paragraph and never let go. Although it's the first book in a trilogy, it's almos
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes the fantasy adventure genre.
Recommended to Marilyn by: I stumbled onto it by accident.
Carol Berg has not yet written a book I didn't love.

Her books are full of cruelly treated souls with ultimate deliverance. Although her books rarely end in tragedy (at least not universal tragedy), you cannot count on an entirely happy ending either. You can be reasonably sure your favorite people will survive, but they may sustain significant damage, mental and physical, on the way.

The common denominator of her heroes and heroines is that they've suffered. Sometimes, they know why, sometimes
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
I loved this story. It’s intriguing and compelling, yet at first it was difficult to relate to the protagonists. I’m not sure I fully managed by the end of the book but the depth of their tale, the original world-building, the incredible characterization and the emotional ramifications to different decisions worked so well for me that I immersed with ease in the narrative and was always eager to turn the pages.
As I’ve come to appreciate from Carol Berg, her storytelling is ingenious, deceptively
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Robin Hobb and Lynn Flewelling; maybe fans of David Eddings and Terry Brooks as well
Recommended to Mimi by: no one, just something I'd been meaning to read for awhile
Ten years ago I would have liked Transformation a lot more. Back when I used to enjoy high fantasy this book would have been memorable. Now? Now I'm trying to get back to the genre but not doing very well, mostly because I'm tired of reading about the same things over and over again. Medieval setting, a conquering empire on the rise, boring court life, boring court intrigue, boring political maneuverings, ridiculously exacerbating nobles, tiresome royalty, etc etc. One exception is I still find ...more
I’ve been intending to read Transformation for a long time. A friend recommended it to me, telling me to ignore the terrible cover, but I still let it sit on my virtual shelf for far too long. Thanks to my TBR challenge, I finally got around to it. I really loved it, and wish I’d read it sooner! This is a book that deserves more attention, and I agree - ignore the cover!

It’s a Fantasy that takes place in a large, greedy empire that gobbles up its neighbors and uses wide scale slavery. The cultur
Aug 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
4.0 stars. This is a well written, original, epic fantasy story with well drawn, three dimensional characters and a very intricate plot. Some pacing problems and a few slow parts keep this from getting a five star rating but I will certainly read the next book in the series. Recommended.
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I’ll try to rustle up an actual review for this book at some point. It deserves it since this is the second time I’ve read it spread over 20 years and it has been a good read both times! I’m just in the worst reading slump I’ve had in years and it means it has taken me ages to finish this and it has also killed my enthusiasm to review.

Rating: I’ll keep my original 4 star rating. This was a solid read. The first half was easily 5 star worthy stuff but the book lulled a bit in the second half so
Final rating: 4.75/5 stars
Final rating - for the whole series: 4.25/5 stars

I love old books, sometimes they are much better than the newer ones as most of the ideas were seen. I loved the world building in this one and I honestly can't wait to finish the trilogy. I have finished the trilogy and have no regrets.

If you love angst this is the right book for you. If you want to feel a lot of pain and cry, this is the book for you. I love when books move me, and I knew from description that this won'
Jun 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. I am shocked and delighted by how much I loved this. It’s an original world combined with all the pleasures of a really slashy bit of fanfic. There are slavefic and wingfic elements, and demons and destiny, and it all sounds really cheesy, but like really good fic, it transcends these clichés. The relationship between Aleksander and Seyonne is beautifully developed: they begin as master and slave, and we get to see the whole process of Aleksander gaining maturity and compassion, an ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A minor miracle has just occurred. I’ve actually listened to an entire, full-length, 16.5-hour audiobook. Some of my followers may have seen me rant and rave about this at one point or another: I’m not a good audiobook listener. My attention drifts and, even when I’m paying complete attention, I feel like I don’t absorb things as well as I do through the written word. On a more bizarre note, I get really annoyed when somebody talks non-stop for a lengthy period of time. I’ve actually become irra ...more
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For 16 years Seyonne is a slave, with no hope for the future and lives from day to day and from hour to hour, his motto is "what come, comes"
He is beaten and constantly hungry, humiliated and always cold.
One day Prince Alexander, the prince of the empire who conquered almost the entire continent and killed many of his people, acquires him because he can read and write.
So when Akexander is possesed by demons only Seyonne can help him, for his people fauth for many years to defende humanaty from t
Mar 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Note: Even though Transformation is the first book of a trilogy, it also works extremely well as a standalone. If I hadn't known before that it's part of a series, I probably wouldn't have gone looking for sequels.

We begin our story, and please don't roll your eyes or run away yet, when our protagonist Seyonne is sold as a slave to our other protagonist, Aleksander, prince of the mighty Derzhi Empire. Zander is what you might expect: A spoiled, arrogant brat who doesn't value Seyonne as anything
May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down and I had tears in my eyes before I had turned the hundredth page—that’s how compelling the characters were, right from the outset.

Simply, Transformation is the story of two men separated by about a decade, age-wise, and a much greater gap in experience. Seyonne is a slave and Zander is his lord. Seyonne has been a slave for sixteen years, his people captured by Zander’s. He is worn by time and experience, but is still himself—to a degree. Beneath his apparent res
Dec 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
There's been a lot of complaint about the artwork on the cover - clearly by readers too young and/or trend-based to recall a time when all the covers in the genre looked exactly the same. Back when fantasy was tightly tucked into the category of science fiction. Back in the era of tribbles, red planets, flying saucers, time machines...and a much more methodical approach to the craft of storytelling. The cover of Transformation was actually a draw for me. A hope that the retro sensibility might e ...more
This is a book the likes of which I have not come across in some time. It grabbed me within the first few pages and did not let go until I finished it. It hasn't quite let go of me yet, actually -- it was almost physically painful to stop myself from immediately picking up the next book in the series to instead come to the computer and write this review.

It was such an all-encompassing experience, as a matter of fact, that it's hard for me to summon up the distance to write a good review. Trying
Sep 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: slashers, people who like fantasy with a bit of grit
An interesting book, which has a very slashy master/slave set up. Amazingly, considering the extreme slashiness of them (at one point he is drinking from his fountain of joy), I was never sure if Carol Berg was actually aware of it. At times I was really expecting things to kick off between them.

She certainly doesn't mention it or resolve it, apart from letting it fizzle out. Everyone is resolutely heterosexual, although homosexuality is mentioned, but only in terms of sexual abuse of the slave
Dawn C
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty good enemies-to-friends kind of book. In fact, the focus on them drawing so close to each other, their unwillingness to leave each other, and having Prince Aleksander’s wife to be (whom he has no interest in) exclaiming to Seyonnne, “You love him like I do!” it’s baffling that Carol Berg didn’t make them go that extra centimeter and made them lovers. It’s such a perfectly slashy setup that it’s plain weird nothing comes of it. Like, did Berg not notice what her characters were d ...more
Wow. WOW, Carol Berg, just… I have no words. Geez, it's like I have to drop every other book I've given 5 stars to down a notch just because they can't even come close to comparing to the power of this book...! I've just finished TRANSFORMATION and, as you can probably guess, was left utterly floored and overflowing with emotion. I don't think I've ever been so thoroughly transported by a book, and so *completely* too. Despite its length (not extreme, but it is substantial--and won't you be than ...more
S.E. Lindberg
Transformation has been on my to-read list for almost two decades, and I'm glad to have finally focused on it. It is one of Carol Berg first novels, and she is still cooking up new fantasy (pen name Cate Glass, An Illusion of Thieves).

Transformation is epic, but feels fresh, and is very engrossing. It is highly recommended for fantasy readers. Here's why:

- Perspective: It is written in first-person perspective, and at 450 pages it's a decent size. Yet it reads fast. Most fantasy epics are omnisc
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
Full review is here, on my blog.

I’ve had this one in my audible library for a long while. It was recommended to me by someone on reddit with the caveat that you should absolutely not let its cover deter you from reading it, and I ended up finding it on audible for a not-ridiculous amount of money (thanks whispersync!) and couldn’t resist.

It was an interesting and quite amazing listen. Seyonne is a slave, recently purchased by the prince of the Derzhi. He is of a race that was pretty much overthr
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Susan by: Patrick Rothfuss
Oh, new favorite author! It kills me that I don't have the next book sitting on my shelf waiting for me!

It's ironic that I also received this for Christmas, that it's a woman author's first novel, fantasy, and told in first-person narration, just like _Magic Lost, Trouble Found_ by Lisa Shearin. But *this* effort is superb.

The narrator is believable as a male Ezzarian slave, trying to live in the moment and just survive, until he is forced by his own nature and long-ignored oaths to act in his m
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Don't think. Don't wonder. Just go. Just do. What comes, comes, and you will survive it or not.

I read Song of the Beast by Carol Berg a while back and fell in love! So I decided to give more of her books a try, starting with Transformation. I wasn't disappointed!

This book is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!!

The plot is deceptively simple. DECEPTIVELY being the key word here, because this is one of those authors who will make you sure of what's coming and give you the exact opposite in return. So don't bet
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, 2007, ebooks, fantasy, reread, 10
ORIGINAL READ: 10/10 (18 September 2007 - 23 September 2007)

Transformation - Carol Berg (10/10)
Fantasy; book 1 of the Rai-Kirah.
Another fantastic series. Carol Berg writes original fantasy that walks the line of dark fantasy with every tipping over. So we get a solid story with strong, deep worldbuilding and fascinating characters who are never simple and always flawed. The story follows both the complicated, building friendship between the slave, Seyonne and his princely owner, but their battle
Elin the Lightship
Edit: 5 years later and I need to lower my rating to 3 stars because when I look at the book in my bookcase, I feel annoyed, I can't believe I gave it 4 stars, I have no positive memories of it at all?

"You said it yourself, my lord. I am a slave, not a man. They'll not hear me when I speak."

Seyonne has been a slave for the past 16 years and he has been broken in both body and soul. In the eyes of his people he is broken beyond all repair.
For his knowledge in the art of reading and writing, he is
Lynn Abbey
Aug 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Everything starts somewhere and Carol Berg's novels start with Transformation. Despite being 438 pages long (in the Roc mass market) and the first volume of a trilogy that promises to a world-changing confrontation of good v. evil, Transformation's really an intimate story of an evolving friendship between a silver-spoon prince (bearing the requisite hidden, unexpected mark of greatness) and a slave so consumed by survival, cynicism, and despair that he no longer recalls his own past. There's a ...more
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Carol Berg is the author of the epic fantasy
The Books of the Rai-kirah, The Bridge of D'Arnath Quartet, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award winning Lighthouse Duet - Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone - the standalone novel Song of the Beast , and the three novels of the Collegia Magica.

Berg holds a degree in mathematics from Rice University, and a degree in computer science from the University of

Other books in the series

Rai-Kirah (3 books)
  • Revelation (Rai-Kirah, #2)
  • Restoration (Rai-Kirah, #3)

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“So what is this feadnach? Is it another curse that makes me beholden to slaves and shrews?'
'No, my lord. It is your heart. Difficult as it may be to comprehend, there is a possibility you may have one.”
“From the instant of our first meeting I judged him so, though it could be said that I was prejudiced. When one is standing naked on a slave-auction block in a wind cold enough to freeze a demon's backside, one is unlikely to have a fair impression of anyone.” 6 likes
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