The story in The Queen of Lies is incredibly complex and detailed, as an epic fantasy should be, and we have several wonderful point of views to explore. There’s Maddox, the arcane student who fucks up his exams and accidentally winds up immortal—at first no one is certain whether they should praise him or condemn him. There’s Jessa, heiress to the throne of a long line of storm-callers. Her mother is conniving and maniacal (I may be downplaying the crazy part). And there are Heath and Sword, who are essentially mercenaries; Heath is a fallen priest of sorts, and Sword is… well, he/she’s a sentient sword who inhabits people’s bodies. Eventually they all come together for a fantastic epic adventure, full of monsters, political drama, and love—yes, love.
I had so much fun with this novel. The humor and dialog are spot on, there’s plenty of intrigue, and on top of that there’s a sweet magic system that I still haven’t completely figured out, and copious unforgettable characters. Every character felt authentic, and each had their own extremely colorful past and captivating motivations. I also appreciated how none of them were completely innocent, in fact, most were assholes (that’s high praise from me because I happen to adore assholes), but all of them were highly entertaining. I have to admit, I’m a little in love with Sword. The idea that a person, who’s technically a magical artifact, could find humanity by inhabiting other beings and absorbing their memories and personality, is truly fascinating and was very well done by Bode.
Another refreshing aspect of this novel was the portrayal of a wide variety of gender orientations and sexualities. You have heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual, and transgender people all over the place. Even a manwhore. I definitely found characters I could relate to (ha). Though I do review quite a bit of erotically-charged Romance, I would not label this novel as erotic or romantic (in case the presence or absence of either is important to you when you read). If you like LGBTQ+ fiction, epic fantasy, memorable characters, or all of the above, check this out.
This is Bode’s first novel. He has a website, where you can peruse his blog, behold a glimpse of his inspirations, and keep informed of his hopefully many, many books to come:
Note: I noticed on Bode’s website that the text in the print version of The Queen of Lies is in Baskerville Old Style typeface—how delightful. I find that typeface easy to read, well-proportioned, and semi-masculine. Look at those Q’s! And drop caps are definitely a sexy addition. Is it getting hot in here?
Beth Brock is a reviewer for DSP and QSF. She enjoys reading, writing, running, family and food, and fills her life with bent bunk. She especially loves to discuss LGBTQ+ literature. Her website is http://www.bethbrockbooks.com. You can find her on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/BethBrockBooks.