skygiants: ran and nijiko from 7 Seeds, looking faintly judgy (dubious lesbians)
[personal profile] skygiants
[personal profile] jothra got me Of Fire and Stars as a holiday present last year, on account of Lesbian Princesses. It is indeed a YA fantasy about about lesbian princesses! This is the novel's big selling point and indeed I was sold by it, although to be honest I think I would have liked it better/it might have worked better thematically were it a book about lesbian princess, singular, + a non-princess lesbian.

Dennaleia (Denna), the Good Princess, is polite and ladylike and scholarly and eager to be of use to her kingdom of origin and also the kingdom whose prince she is meant to be marrying. Her big problem is that she has lots and lots and lots of poorly-trained magic, which is illegal.

Amaranthine (Mare), the Rebellious Princess, is mad about being a princess and does not care about royalty or ruling or responsibilities; she cares only about horses! Mare does sneak out of the castle on the regular with her One Friend to find out what's going on with the illegal magic-users in town, but since she seems to have one (1) contact in the city (how she made this contact? unclear) and no (0) highly-placed contacts in the castle to pass along the information that she gains from her one (1) contact in the city, it's difficult to tell how this got started or why she believes it's effective.

(It's also a bit difficult to tell what's actually going on in the city, why it's so easy for Mare and her One Friend to wander in and out of secret magic-user strongholds, and why there are only six people involved in the political life of the kingdom. Worldbuilding and political intrigue is not necessarily the book's strong suit.)

So, I mean, Mare is very much a YA heroine in the classic vein, but she and her "ugh, the court, the politics, THERE IS CLEARLY NO REASON FOR ME TO PAY ATTENTION TO ANY OF THESE LOSERS [flips table]" and her initial resentment of Denna's respectable princesshood would I think have worked better for me if she was a stablehand or something; these days I prefer my princesses with a little more self-awareness and sense of duty.

That said, though neither Denna nor Mare really demonstrate overwhelming amounts of tactical awareness or strategic intelligence, their romance is a perfectly cute iteration of Horse Girl Falls For Nerd Girl and I'm very glad that the genre of Tropey YA Fantasy With Paper-Thin Worldbuilding and Magical Princesses Metaphorically Singing "I Want" Songs - a perfectly respectable genre which every so often is still exactly the genre I want to read! - has gotten a little bit gayer.

(But if you want really good lesbian princesses, may I recommend Erin Bow's The Scorpion Rules? The baby royals are responsible AND there are asshole goats!)

Date: 2017-04-04 01:26 am (UTC)
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
From: [personal profile] sovay
a perfectly cute iteration of Horse Girl Falls For Nerd Girl

. . . this is a thing?

Date: 2017-04-04 01:36 am (UTC)
sovay: (Morell: quizzical)
From: [personal profile] sovay
It's less that the combination is a thing and more that the characters are so very much a Horse Girl and a Nerd Girl that it feels like a thing even though it's not, as far as I know, a thing at all.

I could have been out of the lesbian princess loop!

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