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Review: The Empath and the Soldier – AK Holubek

The Empath and the Soldier - A.K. Holubek

Genre: Fantasy, Historical (Regency)

LGBTQ+ Category: Bi, Gay, Lesbian

Reviewer: Lucy

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About The Book

The situation seemed hopeless. But Tyrran couldn’t pretend to be ignorant of the danger and just wait for his home to disintegrate around him.

As a Favored male, Tyrran belongs to a select group of men born with one of the Four Gifts, a blessing usually reserved for women. Quiet, introverted, and filled with self-doubt, Tyrran has always struggled with living up to the responsibilities that come with being Gifted. Still, he had managed to achieve the near impossible — admission to the prestigious Lyceum Institute in Corvit, the Coarian Sovereignty’s bustling capital city. With this success, Tyrran’s future seems clear: the best education, a position in a Temple, and, one day, marriage to a young man of good fortune.

That is, until sinister forces intervene to shove him down a much bleaker path. Tyrran’s plans are thrown into upheaval when a deadly attack reveals the existence of an insidious evil festering within the ranks of the Sovereignty’s elite.

Now, he must use the privileges afforded him as a Lyceum student to uncover the secrets of a corrupt government. Targeted by relentless assassins and trying to ignore his growing attachment to the handsome exchange student Adwin, Tyrran must gather trustworthy allies to face the dangers that threaten to tear apart his nation and his home.

Bridgerton meets The Magicians in this fantasy novel about the importance of confidence and the strength of friendship.

The Review

This cleverly written novel is set in a Regen-esque world where women are considered naturally superior to men. Young men are sheltered, often uneducated beyond the rudimentary necessities of reading and writing, and are considered to need constant supervision lest they become unruly and behave inappropriately.

Tyrran is a Favored male and gifted with empathic abilities. Through hard work, he is granted admission to the most prestigious institute of higher learning. Only things aren’t what they seem. There are forces working against the ruling institutions and classes, and they are ruthless in their tactics. 

Tyrran has grown up assuming that things are the way they are because of the Deity’s designation that males are the weaker gender and need the guidance of women to keep their baser urges under control. He wants to study theology and become a cleric. But the story takes us through his realizations that sometimes, people are made in a god’s image, but often, god is made in the people’s image. He must face the question of whether people have inherent rights, or should be granted those rights based on gender or talent. 

The Empath and the Soldier has a great premise and Holubek does an excellent job drawing the reader into the developing conflict between the ruling class and those that would disrupt the current world order. Throughout the story, we get to see Tyrran grow into his own power, but also in his relationships. He has kept himself separate and apart, putting most of his energy into his studies. But he now has friends who are important to him. And, he has a much different view of the world at large and his place in it.

This is a very promising start to a new series by AK Holubek. I thoroughly enjoyed The Empath and the Soldier and really look forward to the next installment.

The Reviewer

I’m an avid reader who loves pretty much all genres except math textbooks. As a kid, my parents exposed me to everything from fairies, hobbits, and dragons to the biographies of interesting people around the world, interspersed with poetry, plays, and music. Into adulthood, I spent a lot of years with my nose buried in various textbooks. Now, I read whatever grabs my fancy.  

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