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Florid infodump

By Chris Poirier, editor

Mar 6, 2009: Legends is a verbose, ’80s-style, Romeo-and-Juliet-esque, gay-themed fantasy, set in what may be the final days of Atlantis. There are a lot of high fantasy themes—sorcery, chosen ones, priest kings—as well as a mix of Greek, Egyptian, and (I suspect) Aztec mythology. Unfortunately, after 9 long chapters, very little has actually happened, and the backstory—while detailed—offers little compensation.

The story follows two main characters: Soran, the crown prince of the current empire; and Faunos, the "witchboy" heir to the magic-legacy of the previous one. Faunos is a pretty-boy (I honestly can’t tell you much more about him—he’s routinely described as young and slender and pretty-to-look-at, but nothing deeper comes across), and is plagued by a power he doesn’t really want, and on the run from those who would kill him. Soran is a powerful warrior in the classical Greek style, and one of those enemies, sworn to hunt down all "witchboys" before they can trigger a terrrible prophecy. You can probably guess the general shape of that prophecy. In Chapter 9—what’s available at the time of this writing—the two have just met, in a gypsy camp, where they have coincidentally both gone looking for an anonymous night of passion. I presume they won’t realize who the other is until after the fact, but that remains to be seen.

There are a lot of ways a story like this could go. It could be a campy romp through the fantasy cliches, or an angsty Shakespearean tragic romance—or even just a fun, erotic diversion. Unfortunately, Legends is none of these things. It takes itself very seriously, and spends most of its time on its invented history. It is a dry read, full of hard-to-say names and florid infodump about the sky and the waves and the sensual nature of palace life. It’s not a Harlequin, by any means, but the mentioned eye candy does seem intended to evoke a club scene from Queer as Folk, or maybe a Conan movie. It’s slow in its pacing, and the writing is very loose and verbose. In fact, by Chapter 7, I started skimming, and didn’t really feel I’d missed anything.

At this point, I still have very little feel for the characters. The writing is not experiential in nature—in fact, I can think of only three or four real scenes where characters talked to each other and did things and filled-in as people—in an hour and a half of reading. The backstory is very detailed—and it’s clear the author has spent a good deal of time researching ancient mythologies, and fantasy in general—but it is all explained to us in fine detail by a narrator who seems uninterested in his own characters. The narrative is dry and uncompelling as a result. In fact, at this point, nothing has actually happened, yet. The only tension is in Soran’s reaction to his father’s torturer, who he clearly doesn’t like and wants to see dead. And that’s a very minor side point, so far. Entire chapters where Soran’s life is theoretically in danger from a storm are told without tension, primarily because so much time is spent on backstory, description of the stormy waves and sky, and flowery, rehearsed-sounding speeches.

In terms of the sex and gay romance elements, there is actually very little of either present in the chapters presently available to read. The story is pre-occupied with physical attraction, in a way, but beyond the eye candy in the palace—and the implication of an orgy-seeking mindset of the aristocracy—nothing has really happened on either front. There hasn’t been any romance at all, yet. There is an implication that both things are about to change, in the middle of Chapter 9, but, to be honest, it’s too little, too late.

I don’t know that Legends has an audience. Overwrought, ’80s fantasy feels very dated, at this point, and the backstory gets in the way of any gay romance elements, rather than enhancing them. Add in the very lax narrative and . . . well, it isn’t quite a tough slog, but it’s close. I won’t be reading further.

Note: This review was written after part 9a. There has been about a week and a half of updates, since, which I have not read.

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