Emma Holly, the author of Prince of Ice, is complimented in the little blurb on the cover of the book as being a writer who uses vivid descriptions in her stories. I can't disagree with this, but I wouldn't consider this ability praiseworthy based on this book. Holly has created a story that's part prostate exam, part Pacific Rim, part Star Trek The Next Generation, and all weird. As a rule, I find the mention of the word gland in any context other than when I'm sitting in my doctor's office as unnecessary. Holly showcases glands in this story to such an extent that the sex wasn't sexy; it was clinical. And then there's the anal sex.....oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The characters in Prince of Ice have a distinctly Asian flare to them. I'm not sure if this is what was intended, however. It's supposed to be a book about humans and this superior race, but the front cover of the book states that this is a story of demons. I don't know where the demons were in the book. I do know that the superior race had evolved from humans years ago and now looked down on humans as dirty, lesser beings. However, some of the characters seemed to have a less Asian and more Indian flare about them.
The story is convoluted, at best. Two generations before the existence of the lead male and female characters some lesser being tricked some superior being into have sex with her and conceiving a child together. That child was murdered after she had become a mother herself--mother to the female lead in the book, Xishu. She is orphaned and sent to live with a boy Corum and his parents, who are royalty of some sort. Corum, it is explained, has some deformity and his mother's doctor even suggests aborting him because of this problem. Mama insists she will help him overcome it, but how this happens, I'm not sure.
Before the reader can see Corum and Xishu together, she is sent away by selfless Mama of Corum and basically is trained to be a sexual servant (called a "pillow girl") to royalty. Her training period in the book gives the reader the wonderful description of anal sex between one of the male sexual servant trainees and the male former royal they get to practice on. (I know; even the explanation here is devolving into an incoherent mess. )
The descriptions of the sex and blossoming love that happen when Corum gets Xishu as his pillow girl are strange at best. There are many references to glands on the male that help him enjoy sex more. It's all just so freaky. Glands are not sexy. And the idea of beings rutting is not sexy either. There seems to be something in this superior race that has caused them to go into rut, just like wild animals. The discussions of all of this are just freaky deaky.
Besides the bizarre sex there is some sort of intrigue involving the fact that the superior beings are far closer to being humans than they think and the grandmother of Xishu (the one who originally got the ball rolling by getting pregnant) is at the center of this government cover up. Again, this is quite convoluted.
But once you make it through the entire book and Corum and Xishu are finally going to be happily together, you get to read about their making love (not rutting) and the book ends with the now free male former royal practice guy from the pillow girl/guy training academy jerking off as he watches them have sex. Yes, you read that correctly: he's masturbating as he watches them. And you read about his wondering what he will do now that he's free. Is this supposed to make me want to read a sequel?
I can't see how anyone would find this book sexy or interesting. Otherworldly beings can be, but none of the characters in this book were. Corum is the least appealing romantic hero in any book I've read. He doesn't do anything to be heroic and seems to fulfill the male lead in the story simply because he has a penis. Xishu is Holly's attempt at a heroine, but that doesn't work either. By the end of the book, you don't give a flying damn that she's part royal and belongs with Corum. He's lackluster and so is she. The story is confusing, the sex is clinical and cold, and the ending is....well, you know. When you're finished reading, all you want to do is forget you spent any time with any of these characters. Sadly, the only thing I got from this book is the realization that I'm never getting those hours back.
Another Round With The Ice Prince....
Emma Holly has written a ....well, I'm not sure what to call it. I can say that I understand far too well the mating rituals/rutting habits of her "other species of human like creatures. No offense, but I'm not into the whole Asian theme, which gives me a pre-supposed prejudice to combat from the start. This novel felt more like a health class lecture for me with terms such as "glans" and "kith" and "coming into rut"....Rut??? WTF? It was all so clinical, and I felt a bit like I should receive a certificate or a diploma at the conclusion.
Corum's character is never fleshed out...no pun intended. Holly does nothing to make him attractive to the reader, he is simply a specimen. Xishi....I'll only say that I was not impressed. I'll have to read another Holly novel to get rid of the bad taste left after reading this one.