The best mm Erotica I've read. Great length, great plot development, above-average writing for the genre. My biggest gripe is the editing. Lots of missing words, wrong words (lay instead of lie, that type of thing,) extra words, missing punctuation. I've seen an equal amount of mistakes in some Anita Blake stuff, but nowhere else. It was worth wading through for the story. My only gripe about the writing is the overuse of girly body language--staring up from under eyelashes, hiding faces with long hair, and a whole table full of people communicating raised (or arched) eyebrows...at a war counsel. No way. The sex was superlative--I think one scene felt a little perfunctory, but that's a small percentage. Thoroughly impressed. I've already started reading Dynasty of Ghosts and I have high hopes. If you just want a little gay in your fantasy, you can read major-publisher stuff. But if you want a lot, you can't do better than this.
This is the second PL Nunn book I've read, the first being Bloodraven (about a week ago). I enjoyed this one more than Bloodraven mainly because of pacing, but otherwise, I thought they were very similar in enjoyability. If you enjoyed Bloodraven, I'd guess you'd enjoy this one as well.
The positives about this book: It's really exciting! The storytelling is very good and not all of the characters are static. The pacing, I found very organic. Nothing could feel rushed in a book of this length, but it didn't feel dragged out either. There were a couple of story arcs--not just one--so that contributes to the length of the book. It's basically two books in one. I really had a lot of trouble putting this book down, and lost a lot of sleep as a result. And I don't regret losing that sleep!
Also, and this is important, the sex was well-written. I thought the sex was stellar in Bloodraven, but I wasn't sure if that was just because it hit most of my kinks. This book's sex doesn't hit most of my kinks, and it was still moving.
Overall, I felt that the book's positives made it worth reading, and I definitely felt it was worth the $7.50 I paid. If you're questioning, just read the sample. The book's overall quality does not go down after that part (except possibly the editing), so if you like the sample, you'll like the book.
This is a long list, but overall, only enough to remove one star for, IMO. In case Ms. Nunn reads reviews--which seems unlikely, given the fact that corrections haven't been made based on prior reviews--I'll put my constructive criticism here.
First, the editing was REALLY BAD. Worse than in Bloodraven, though that might be because Bloodraven was shorter. The grammar errors were rampant and distracting. As Sue mentioned, the 'breath' 'breathe' thing was a doozy. But there were lots of other systematic errors. Like using 'sat' instead of 'set', and she consistently misuses 'lay' (transitive) instead of 'lie', and a little of the opposite, which is rare in books, I've found--actually, it's rare even in fanfic. Also, as in Bloodraven, the present tense 'lead' is used instead of 'led'. You kind of get used to the systematic errors, though. But the random misspellings that are fixed incorrectly, changing 'an' to 'that', or missing the 'e' in 'slide'. Syntax errors. Extra words in sentences, missing words in sentences, 'ing' instead of 'ed'. Just horrible editing. Which is a shame, because this was a good book and deserved to be edited. Still, better to have put out the book without editing, than to not have put it out at all--that's how good it is. I would have been very disappointed if I'd bought a hardcover version, though. Like angry disappointed. I'd be embarrassed having it on my bookshelf. That's how I feel about a lot of Anita Blake novels, actually, but that's a digression.
My other major gripe, though, is that Illya is not a man. This was kind of the case in Bloodraven with Yhalen as well, but I felt it was slightly less egregious. Illya is a 15-year-old girl--a very shy, kinda emo 15-year-old girl. He has no physical strength, almost no mental strength, and is completely submissive in everything, unless he's being petulant. I realize there are gay guys like this in the world, but they are a very small minority, and even the extremely effeminate ones don't exhibit all of these girly mannerisms. Even when Illya gets aroused, it's in a swooning, 15-year-old girl kind of way, instead of a lusty, single-minded guy kind of way. Luckily, he's quite likeable, since he's not a fashion victim and he's not gossipy; but if you're into mm erotica because you like men, then this might not work for you. The Prince is much better in this respect. No complaints about him.
Stylistically, I have gripes with Ms. Nunn's use of hair (or more generally body language), though I have a feeling this might be a manga thing. I'm coming from a place where I've never seen real yaoi that I liked, so if you love it, just skip this whole paragraph. Anyway, Illya is constantly hiding behind his hair, or his lashes. People are constantly raising eyebrows or arching them or whatever. Peering up from under their long eyelashes. It started bugging me in Bloodraven, so now I was fairly frothing at the mouth over it. There's one real (human) female character in the book, and I think she does this stuff the least. Illya's the worst, and it, of course, contributes to his seeming like a 15-year-old girl.
Okay, enough with the gripes. I really did enjoy this book, and I'm definitely going to look at more of Ms. Nunn's stuff.
Just finished this sucker last night and...yeah, I really enjoyed it. The first third of the book is really good. I couldn't put it down--read through the night, despite putting the book down a couple of times to sleep, then giving up on the idea. Terrible, when a book is that good. After that, it's still great, but less...tight--for lack of a better word. The editing gets progressively worse as you go through, until the mistakes are on every page, and the plotting gets bogged down with talk.
Overall, very well-written for the genre--much more professional than most. The men are less girly than most in the genre as well, though that devolves after the first half of the book. After the first sex scene, the sex is not outstanding, but there's also not a whole lot of it, so it's not a big deal. There are some interesting ideas here (in terms of politics and ethics), though they're a bit heavy-handed.
Still, definitely recommend it. I'm willing to check out the next volume after reading some other stuff.