The Capital | A.H. Lee

The Capital (The Knight and the Necromancer #1) by A.H. Lee published 23 March 2020

Prince Roland comes home from the war to bury his father and see his sister on the throne. He sneaks out to his favorite tavern for nostalgia’s sake. It’s the place where he kissed a man for the first time, the place where he used to carouse with the lover he buried on a battlefield.

Roland expects to enjoy some anonymity and perhaps flirt with a few strangers for old time’s sake. He does not expect to find a fascinating scholar from out of town—a lonely young man with beautiful eyes and an obvious longing to be touched, buried beneath a prickly demeanor. The man clearly has his secrets, but so does Roland, and their unexpected chemistry makes him feel alive for the first time in months.

Roland exerts all his knightly charm and is rewarded by the promise of a second date. He figures he’ll need something to look forward to tomorrow, since he must spend the day in council with his family’s sworn enemy—a necromancer whom his sister has rashly invited to consult about the war.

Sairis is a necromancer with a price on his head. He knows that he will have to bargain for his life tomorrow. He’s never been this far from his tower. He’s good with magic, not people. He’s frightened, although he doesn’t want to admit it.

Sairis knows he’s doing something foolish by visiting a tavern the evening before his meeting with the royals—a tavern that caters to men of certain tastes. But Sairis wants things. Things a hunted outlaw can never have.

He tells himself that he’ll just watch—see what ordinary people enjoy every day. Sairis is confident in his ability to intimidate anyone who comes too close.

He’s shocked when a dazzling mountain of a man is not intimidated in the slightest. Sairis knows a knight when he sees one. He has killed plenty of knights. But this knight is funny and kind. Sairis finds his defenses melting in spite of his best efforts. Maybe he could go on a second date with this person.

Of course, he’ll have to get through tomorrow first…when he must bargain with the hated royals who have persecuted him all his life.

How was it?

The immersion into this world isn’t always smooth because there are elements that seemed plucked from ours. Whether it’s a simple object or word that seems jarring in this context of knights, swords, and magic. It almost feels anachronistic but besides that I got into the story fast.

The world building is easy to grasp and the intrigues are sophisticated enough not to be too predictable. Yet they’re easy to figure out when they are close to be revealed. You’re kept half a step ahead of the characters but it never gets frustrating when you’ve picked up on what the main characters are still thinking through.

Sairis is a little slow to act but not to an irritating level. His sheltered past comes through and feels as tangible as the prejudices aimed toward him. As for Prince Roland, the knight of the realm, his personality draws you in even when he fumbles. The two make for an interesting pair with little to no unnecessary drama.

The Capital is a gripping high fantasy with a lot surprises, mainly the fact that it’s only act 1 in a three act book and not really book one of a series but it’s well written.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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