Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen’s new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation.
To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.
Publisher: Tor | Date: 2022 | Genre: Fantasy
After a slow start and difficulty initially connecting to the main characters, I wasn’t certain where A Taste of Gold and Iron was going to take me. I was delighted when the pacing picked up, the characters revealed depth to them, and the relationships developed in ways that made you squeal.
My doubts originally came from Kadou’s character. While the representation of a main character with crippling anxiety was refreshing to see and handled accurately, it did make it hard to connect to him to start with. It may be a dominant part of his personality, but we didn’t see any other side to him. Once you delve under that surface panic, you get a complicated prince desperate to help his realm and his sister but with absolutely no desires on the throne himself – which I loved.
Evemer, however, won me over instantly. Stoic and unmoving, he tries to hide every emotion with a focus purely on doing his duty and nothing more. Naturally, as events unfold, it’s the growing depth of Evemer’s emotions that give you the giddy feelings, as much because he’s allowing himself to feel.
I enjoyed the position Evemer is in for Kadou. He’s not a bodyguard; not a servant. He’s a mixture of all of the above and it’s not a position I’ve seen a character in before. It gives the personal intimacy coming from doing a man’s hair for him, to the fierce protectiveness of trying to keep him safe in a world full of knives.
This is not quite enemies-to-lovers, but there are similar traits. Both are convinced the other doesn’t care while being convinced it’s impossible for that to change. Throw in a fake-dating trope taken to the extreme and you’ve got a chaotic mess of emotions that make for amusing and moving reading.
The pacing and the plot starts out slow, which again is why I initially wasn’t sure. It took a while to figure out what the events meant and the repercussions they had due to how this society works. But it again doesn’t take long for that to start picking up, and by the time you’re a third in, it’s a gripping story full of mystery and deceit.
There’re hints of a magic system but not as the main focus. Some – including Kadou – can touch-taste metal, able to know if a coin is pure or debased with other metals. There are also characters able to tell when someone is lying. The magic helped move the plot along and ironed out otherwise sticking points rather than being a centre part to the story.
The world-building is based on the Ottoman Empire. Not an era I know a lot about, but it was easy to follow the structure and immerse yourself in this world once you’ve figured out how family is depicted in this time.
Despite initial misgivings, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was unable to put it down towards the end. Full of character development and an interesting plot.
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2 thoughts on “A Taste of Gold and Iron Review | Alexandra Rowland”
Great review! The world building alone has me really curious, I’m a little familiar with Ottoman Empire history though I’ve never read a book based on it. Thanks for sharing!
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It was a decent read, I enjoyed it!