Book Review: The Lion of Palmyra by Julia Von Rist

The Lion of Palmyra
by Julia Von Rist
M/M Historical/Yaoi
Novella Length
4 Stars


“It takes courage to surrender.”

His city under siege, his army decimated, Amir-el-Assad was bound by a promise to his dying father: surrender the city and wait for reinforcements to liberate Palmyra from its conquerors.

While Amir hides in the shadows and bides his time, William of Woodsworth fights a different kind of battle: he must choose between a forbidden love and his honour as a Crusader.

On the sidelines, two other men watch and wait: Geoffrey, the squire whose devotion to William is shattered by the arrival of the mysterious Zeena; and Manouh, the exotic bed slave whose hunger for pleasure hides a broken heart.

The war has ended, but the battle has just begun. The fate of the city will not be decided in the battlefield...but in the bedroom


Sir William of Woodsworth's squire Geoffrey is his cousin and also his lover, much to William's father's disgust. He takes his anger out on Geoffrey from morning to night, whipping and beating the young man bloody, all the while hoping his son will somehow grow out of this unnaturalness and discard Geoffrey.

When the city of Palmyra surrenders after the siege, the concubines and pleasure slaves of the palace are given to the Crusader knights. William has been given one of the most beautiful and skilled concubines, Lady Zeena, but he has no interest in bedding her. When his father comes to his rooms the next morning, the concubine suddenly announces that William had bedded her six times in the night and once in the morning.

William's father is pleased, his son is finally acting like a man at last, but not so Geoffrey who has overheard and seeks his own solace in the arms of one of the male pleasure slaves, Manouh.

This novella has more of a love quadrangle than triangle. Manouh is in love with Amir, Geoffrey is in love with William, William is in love with Geoffrey but accedes to the advances of Amir. Amir is an equal oppotunities lover, he likes men, women, but isn't sure he is in love with any of them.

The love scenes are sensual and lushly evocative, but there was just one problem with most of them: no preparation or lubrication. It was mostly a case of something like "he entered him in one swift thrust." Ouch!

There is a bit of emotional angst between the characters and all are very well-drawn and developed. Manouh was one of my favourites - although a slave, you could tell he was really in love with Prince Amir.

Although a short novella, there is a complete story here. The book has a bit of everything: angst, romance, emotional turmoil and adventure.

It's heavily yaoi-inspired, so if you like yaoi manga or light novels, I think you'd enjoy this


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