Title: A Shadow on the Sun
Author: Sera Trevor
LGBTQ+ Category: Cis, M/M
Light cannot always illuminate— sometimes the truth lies in Darkness….
Prince Theryn and his loyal knight, Sir Atrum, are both bound by duty: Theryn serves the kingdom of Glinden, and Atrum serves his prince. Although they harbor a secret love, a relationship between a prince and his servant is forbidden. Things change when the king promises Theryn’s hand in an arranged marriage to the volatile Prince Lyar of the Soltaran Empire, who needs Theryn’s Light magic for some sinister religious rite. Theryn and Atrum’s struggle to discover Lyar’s scheme brings them together at last, but there is more at stake than their happiness. Atrum discovers Dark magic of his own, but neither his love nor his power may be enough to save Theryn from Lyar’s dangerously seductive pull. And if Atrum loses Theryn, the world as they know it may be lost as well.
An epic fantasy tale of sword and sorcery, with a gay romance twist.
***This book was originally published with the Goodreads MM Romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet event. This edition contains the bonus short story Endless Light, which is told from Prince Lyar’s perspective.***
Review by Dan
This book really worked for me. The worldbuilding is vast and effortless, with enough detail added to make things feel real without reading like an encyclopedia entry. Other countries and a system of magic are easily detailed and explained without any heavy-handedness. A Shadow on the Sun tells the story of a prince and his sworn guard, as well as their secret-from-the-world-and-from-each-other love. The reason for their forbidden romance is refreshingly not rooted in homophobia, but in oaths and class differences.
The relationship built between the two young men was enjoyable, pleasant and cute with the right amount of heat thrown in. Both Theryn and Atrum have their own endearing features, though the characterizations did fall into tropes sometimes. Strong and silent, beautiful and flighty, friends-to-lovers but with enough deviations and good writing to make them feel natural instead of like cardboard cut-outs.
Throughout the book, as much as I wanted the two protagonists to have their happy ending (and they do, no worries here), the honest-to-god most interesting character is the antagonist, Lyar. He’s much older than his betrothed, Prince Theryn, and his moods oscillate wildly, but in a way that seems to indicate that the author put thought into making him a complex villain. Lyar never feels like the product of a forced conflict or lazy writing, instead he feels like a man who truly has to balance an internal darkness, his own trauma, and what may be a large dose of madness. He has moments of cruelty and kindness and the reader struggles to ascertain his motives and true nature just as much as Theryn and Atrum do. There are times where it’s easy to forget that he’s forced Theryn’s hand in marriage by threatening to destroy his homeland and has some nefarious scheme up his sleeve and there are even times when the reader wonders whether or not Theryn will fall for his trap, or if it’s even a trap at all. The tension here teeters deliciously and the ending isn’t overly predictable.
The plot also moves along nicely and limits the secondary characters to a few key players that aid the action or are meaningful to the protagonists. It sticks to the plot but doesn’t sacrifice character development or worldbuilding. It has tender moments and brisk bouts of action, as well as mystery and sleuthing. The danger in the book feels real and the reader actually worries for the fate of the protagonists, as the author’s made it clear that things could easily go astray for the protagonists and the world as a whole.
That being said, sometimes the stakes for the book feel a little too high, but the overall story makes up for the possibly pending end of the world. Overall, it’s a pleasantly tense read, sweet but tinged with uncertainty and darkness.
Dan Ackerman is a writer and educator who has lived in Connecticut for their entire life. They received their BSED from CCSU in 2013 and wrote their Master’s thesis on representations of women in same-sex relationships in contemporary Spanish literature and cinema. Currently, Dan is studying for a second MA in ABA and works in a center school for students with variety of intellectual, developmental, or multiple disabilities. In their spare time, Dan continues to read and write, supplemented with a healthy amount of movie marathons and gaming.