Guest Review: Lord of the White Hell #1 and #2 by Ginn Hale (A review by Xing!)

Today on BMBR we have a guest review from Xing. Please give him a giant unipornian welcome!

Lord of the White Hell, Book One

Kiram Kir-Zaki may be considered a mechanist prodigy among his own people, but when he becomes the first Haldiim ever admitted to the prestigious Sagrada Academy, he is thrown into a world where power, superstition and swordplay outweigh even the most scholarly of achievements.

But when the intimidation from his Cadeleonian classmates turns bloody, Kiram unexpectedly finds himself befriended by Javier Tornesal, the leader of a group of cardsharps, duelists and lotharios who call themselves Hellions.

 However Javier is a dangerous friend to have. Wielder of the White Hell and sole heir of a dukedom, he is surrounded by rumors of forbidden seductions, murder and damnation. His enemies are many and any one of his secrets could not only end his life but Kiram's as well.

Lord of the White Hell, Book Two

Kiram fought his family and Cadeleonian bigots to remain in the Sagrada Academy to prove himself as a mechanist and to dispel the deadly shadow curse that threatens to destroy his upperclassman, Javier Tornesal. But when his efforts provoke retaliation, Kiram’s family and home are endangered.

Both Kiram and Javier risk everything in a desperate gambit to combat the curse. But they never imagined their battle would come so soon, or that it would be led by the one person they trust most of all.

Book One

Book Two

Ginn Hale is like my fantasy M/M crack dealer, and Lord of the White Hell (LOTWH) is the stuff I smoke. Instead of crazy drug induced hallucinations, I get a vividly constructed world painted with history, culture and memorable characters. Interested? Please read on.

Kiram Kir-Zaki is a 17 year old mechanist prodigy. He is the first full-blooded Hadiim – a race of people characterized by dark skin and blond hair –to attend the Sagrada Academy, a Cadeleonian institution. The Cadeleonians are a fair skinned, dark haired race who views all other races as heathens to their theocratic society. The differences between the Hadiim and Cadeleonians are many, with tension that is brought on by years of persecution and murder of the Hadiim people under past ruthless Cadeleonian monarchy.

But it’s not just the Haddim and Cadeleonians, but depiction of the Mirogoths to the north and the exotic kingdom of Yuan across the South Sea. Despite the fact that these later two races are only briefly described, Ginn Hale gives enough detail to create a simple mental map, a testament to her ability to construct a world of imagination (you should understand this if you have read The Rifter series or Wicked Gentlemen).

The characters in LOTWH are well written and fleshed out. Asides from Kiram, there’s Javier – the hell branded Cadeleonian Duke of Rauma. He’s arrogant, cocky, yet a natural leader. He is the last of the Tornesal line, haunted by a curse that is staved off by his ability to wield the powers of the white hell. Then there’s Nestor, the artistic best friend that has an open heart. Elezar, Javier’s best friend and Nestor’s older brother - a meat head of sorts (and he features as the main character in the yet-unpublished third book of the series).  There are a lot more characters, but the above mentioned guys are the ones that stay at the heart of this series.

The setting of Sagrada Academy is reminiscent of a modern day high school. As such, each important character could be assigned a certain role, creating a young-adult-ish feel to this series. For instance:

Kiram = the nerd that transferred in
Nestor = the nerd’s best friend
Javier = the most popular guy/jock
Elezar = the most popular guy’s right hand man
Master Ignacio = the jackass PE teacher

You get the point, right? And that leads to some things to clarify. As a YA-ish book, don’t expect great fantasy sex! There’s unresolved sexual tension for the majority of volume one that ends with some kisses and one sexual encounter between Kiram and Javier. Book two has more intimacy among our young heroes, but Ginn Hale doesn’t go into great detail. Sorry ladies and gents, but the lack of detailed sex didn’t stop me from loving this series.

Book one deals with Kiram’s stay at the Sagrada Academy, which is roughly one year. There isn’t too much going on in this first book. Instead, it seems more like a setup for the world, the characters, and the plot. Ginn Hale has a tendency of dropping small nuggets of details that hint at future events (for instance, Javier’s dislike of the color blue). It’s about Kiram trying to flesh out his role in a culture that is resistant to the push and pull of his own upbringing, also of making friends, and discovering a plot that may destroy the one person he cares most for in the world.

Book two is a direct continuation after the cliffhanger ending of book one. We also get a more personal glimpse of Kiram’s family and the Hadiim culture as opposed to the Cadeleonian way of life in book one. There is more action in terms of violence and magic. There is more intimacy between our young heroes. This is also where the wheels begin the turn – where revelations come to light, decisions are made, and the story of Javier and Kiram come to a close.

LOTWH may not be the most exciting fantasy reads out there – no great bouts of magical violence, nor adventures across vast unknown lands. No orgasmic-inducing sex scenes that leave readers limp after reading. But there is a certain ambiance to this world and its characters that touches the fantasy M/M romantic inside of me; that makes me feel that fluttering sensation every time Javier hugs Kiram in desperation like it would be his last, or Kiram’s realization of when he became an adult. Even though Javier and Kiram only get two books to themselves, I feel their story has been told and will be delighted for a new one to begin (even with different main characters).

~ A Guest Review by Xing ~

No comments:

Post a Comment