Man, gotta say, this series reminds me very strongly of Kushiel's Dart:
- Elegantly written
- Packed with court intrigue
- In a high fantasy setting that
- is at least partially modeled on Renaissance Venice
- Packed with sexualized violence and sexual violence
- That often rides the line of what I, personally, am willing to tolerate in fiction
- And for sure is over line for many readers
- Though I don't get the impression either writer is being prurient or provocative for its own sake.
Weirdly, it was when the main relationship -- one between the titular captive prince and his captor -- shifted to a dynamic of more equitable standing that I kind of freaked out and had to stop reading at about 90% of the way through the middle book in the series. Still not sure what that was about, though I suspect that I freaked because their previous relationship -- one that was, in a word, abusive -- had been so normalized in the text that the shift made that abuse obvious. I'd been Stockholm syndrome'd along with the captive prince.
This isn't maybe the most interesting thing to do -- just observe how many people treat Humbert Humbert like some kind of romantic hero, and his relationship with Lolita as a grand love story, and you can see how easily readers will dupe themselves into siding with abusers. What's interesting is unmasking it for what it was, and then trying to move on from there.
So. Onto book three, I guess.