The author provided me with an advanced reader’s copy for free to review. Thank you, Alex, for the opportunity to read your work.
Of Gallantry and Magic is an LGBT fantasy romance for adults. Sir Tristan, a newly graduated night, is in search of his first job. After sending too many applications to count, he is invited to the prestigious court of Schafheim for an interview. But as soon as Tristan lands his dragon, things start going wrong, beginning with Tristan infuriating every commoner he encounters and not ending with meeting an intense and unpredictable lover.
There were many aspects of Of Gallantry and Magic I enjoyed. The writing style is captivating and the use of language is nothing I can criticize. Alex has created a very interesting society in her book that can be a backdrop for asking some important questions, touching on what to do in the face of unpalatable social expectations or social stratification. I also enjoyed the creative and original place naming which incorporates Germanic, Slavic and Latin roots to distinguish between different geographical areas.
The plot too is enjoyable enough though it could have used some more depth and nuance. Still, I was curious to see what happens next. And I really liked Tristan’s voice. It is consistent and fun. On the other hand, I wished that Alex Hintermann had delved deeper into the world she has created. I would have liked to learn more about the social structure of Gottesauge, more about its history, some details about how exactly the magic there works and the rules it follows, and how it affects ordinary people’s lives.
When it comes to the protagonist, I was at first quite taken by him. I found Tristan charming with his idealism and the clumsiness of a newbie, but this clumsiness never diminished, and, in the end, I felt irritated by Tristan’s continued naiveté. To me, it seemed like he did not develop through the obstacles he faced. Also, a lot of the time he was reacting to external events rather than at some point taking the reins himself, and that made him be harder to root for. There was also one point where I could not believe that Tristan does not understand his love interest’s meaning because he is otherwise so aware of his own queerness and needs.
Another point that I find weak is that all women are cast in a medieval stereotype. This makes the story somewhat one dimensional while it could have had an extra layer of complexity and plot. This could have been helped if the story more than merely glanced at the social issues Gottesauge clearly has. Patricia is the only interesting female character, but she is, at the same time, too repulsive to identify with.
All in all, Of Gallantry and Magic has its merits but also areas to be improved. This is just my personal take, so if you would like to check out Of Gallantry and Magic for yourselves, it is available on Amazon.
About Alex Hintermann:
Alex writes fantastical fiction because life is most interesting with dragons, magic, and beautiful men. Being non-binary informs their style and subject matter but does not dominate their stories. Life does.