Review: Son of the Sun by Wren Paasch

Son of the SunRating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | All Romance | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

I chose this book for Genre Challenge Week because I’m not a big reader of mythology, and I’ve haven’t read a book on Irish mythology since college, let alone one that included a gay romance. Couple things I might point out: In Irish mythology Fairies exist, though they are diabolical and petty. They are the Danaan, children of Danu, and live in a realm slightly apart from humans. On feast days of the Pagan calendar, particularly Beltane and Samhain (Halloween), the veil between realms is thin and humans can slip into that of the Danaan. Humans and Fairy mate, though humans don’t usually survive the experience unchanged.

Se is a demigod, born of a mortal woman and Lugh Lamfada, sun god of the Danaan, from back in the earliest times of Irish history. His uncle is Connor, king of Ulster. Se is brought to the boys tribe for training, which scares everyone because Se has a habit of setting himself, and others, on fire when he’s upset. Well, everyone but Laeg is terrified. Laeg is three years older, but none the wiser. Laeg is charged with making Se feel at home, and he does, captivated by his shy yet strong friend. Years pass, and Laeg serves as charioteer to Se; he’s the only man who can withstand the immense heat Se’s flaming body throws off in battle.

challenge month 2016It is not until Se is sent for further training with the warrior women that Laeg learns his love for Se is not unrequited. Laeg has no interest in women, and Laeg’s father is abusive in his “correction” of this major character flaw. Laeg and Se are to be separated for a year and a day—and their reunion is incendiary. Literally. Se, also known as CuChulainn, has a passionate love for Laeg, and isn’t afraid to express himself physically any longer. It brings further trouble, and an agreement of sorts between Se and his father Lugh—that Se and Laeg will not be separated in their lives, but will stay together and die the same day.

The rest of the book is a series of heroic feats performed by Se and Laeg. There’s every ounce of the myth squeezed onto the page, with an interesting spin that Se and Laeg arrange their own handfasting, and a poly relationship that isn’t quite what it seems. I really enjoyed the many romps these two get up to—and the deeply spiritual experience of living in a time when what we consider to be Pagan myth was religion. This is a sweetly told hero’s tale, though we see nothing more than kissing on the page. The acceptance of a same-sex partnership is revolutionary in the time and the place, and only two battle-tested warriors could pull it off, I think. It’s interesting how warriors had no issues with using each other’s bodies while on campaign, but shied away when women were in plenty. It’s the first opening of Laeg’s eyes, in truth, that his desire for Se isn’t as unnatural as his father has made it seem. Laeg tells the bulk of the story, and his love for Se is unquestioned. Their years together are intense, with so many moments of joy, pain and struggle. I really was captivated by the battles, and the feats, and the world. Ulster is a seat of contention, and there are challenges that arise and are tamped down by the strength of both Laeg and Se. I honestly felt transported to the scene.

As I’m Irish-American, I’ve long had an interest in the mythology of Ireland—and wish I’d learned more about it when I took Celtic Myth an ice age ago in college. This story was filtered through the author’s belief that Se (CuChulainn) and Laeg had an amorous relationship that was erased by history and Christian morality. As an avowed Pagan, the author cites numerous texts in scholarly support of her story. I give a shrug to the argument; I’m not reading the book for its veracity. The mythology was interesting as presented, and the characters were compelling. I did struggle at times with the many names in the story. Each person is presented with several names, and—especially in the beginning—I struggled with the conventions of changing people’s names as a sign of respect, or derision. The plot is also complicated by the complex interactions between characters and warrior tribes. There is a certain protocol in this world that took a bit to learn, and there was some magick/curses I didn’t immediately understand—but learned more about when I continued reading. That said, I enjoyed the movement between realms, and the Druids and the magick, and the deep love. There’s a tragic end here, so beware. Nonetheless, I really liked the book, and the ideas behind it. It’s more myth and history than romance, but no one can deny that the love between Se and Laeg is deep and life-long, as written.

This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for Genre Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Less Than Three Press. Three lucky winners will each receive a selection of print books. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Genre Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!

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  1. I haven’t read much Irish mythology but this sounds intriguing. Thanks for the review, Veronica.

  2. Esmeralda Valague says:

    Cool, any book clubs out there want to take this book on?

  3. I haven’t read a lot of mythology books either — oh wait, unless you count Rick Riordan’s books. I devour them haha. Thanks for the review.

  4. Thank you for the review!  Son of the Sun sounds interesting and different.  I had to LOL when you said the names were challenging.  When I first started reading your review, I thought to myself that I bet the names would be difficult for me.  So that thought is probably right.  🙂

  5. I love Irish mythology. Since I lived in Dublin and read everything I could find about Irish myths. And yet I did not know about this book. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, Veronica, and for the great review. Son of the Sun is a must read for me!

  6. It sounds like the mythological world-building and the m/m content play off each other very well!

  7. It sounds interesting yet confusing at the same time. This could be a maybe for me. Thanks for your review.

  8. Hmmm, this sounds very interesting. I’m going to look this up and give it a shot. Thanks for the review.

  9. I’ve never really been able to get into mythology and the “name thing” would probably drive me crazy.
    I enjoyed reading the review and I guess there’s a slim chance I might give it a try. I really should try to expose myself to
    stuff that’s a little different from what I usually read. 🙂

  10. I was just talking about The Song of Achilles in another review, a book I LOVED. I would definitely be into other mythology other than Greek or Roman, which is mostly what I know. This sounds perfect for me! It’s mythology so there has to be a tragic end, but I’m not someone who needs the happy ending so much as the romance in the middle. I just want deeply romantic books (whether it’s sad or happy or funny or serious). Thanks so much for picking this one and sharing it with us, Veronica. It’s now on my wishlist.

  11. A new author for me. I enjoy mythology though I haven’t read any in quite a time.

  12. Yea, the name change does sound confusing. I keep looking at mythology books… but then not reading them – because of the whole ‘tragic ending’. I just wish sometimes they’d tell only a part of the story – and leave you with a HFN, so you don’t have to see it all spelled out TRAGICALLY. Ah well, thanks for the review – it sounds like quite a romp of a story – covering a lot of time.

  13. This sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

  14. I would say I’m a reader of every genre, fiction and nonfiction. But mythology and fairy tales are definitely not my thing. I always find them very tiring to read, maybe I don’t have the patience to get into this world.

    • I can understand. If you want to try something that’s myth-related but is really just a whole lotta sexy-sex and the good guys live I’d recommend THE LUSTY ADVENTURES OF THESEUS. It’s a poly story with a good romance, a hero’s quest and a promise for further sexy adventures. I’ve read it a few times, actually. *sigh*

      • LOL, I remember that review well! One of our readers actually read it last week for the challenge and enjoyed it as well!

      • LOL with the lotta sexy-sex 🙂
        I have to admit, I’m reading a lot m/m but really not for the sex. There are so many bad and boring written sex-scenes out there, often I just skim over the endless pages… but I’m always happy to find some author who does it right (for me) so I will take a look into your rec.

  15. I can’t say I remember reading any mythology – really not a genre I’m familiar with – so thanks for the recommendation of a place to start!

  16. I don’t think this is something i would enjoy but thanks for the review and i’m glad you liked it.

  17. Thanks for the review! It sounds interesting but a tragic end… I don’t know.

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