Cover Image: Sage and King

Sage and King

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Member Reviews

Sage and King was a wonderful short book! Not every author can write a shorter novel that doesn't make the reader feel like it was rushed or parts were missing. But the author delivered. And as a matter of fact the book perfectly introduced the character and world. This fantastic and magical world had me captivated from the very beginning.
Full review to come on my YouTube channel.
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Although this book is short, it’s was incredibly slow to start. I really forced myself to stick with it, and I’m kind of glad I did. The book’s adventure, romance and subtle hints back to  Merlin/ Arthur inspiration kept me reading

I liked how the story loosely followed a well used plot line, but still felt relatively fresh, and original.

With the limited time in the book, the characters were well fleshed out as well so definitely a bonus. 

I want to like it more but that uphill battle at the beginning just didn’t make me love the book
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This short novel was slow to start but I'm so glad I stuck with it! The book was filled with adventure, magic and romance: while it does still have traces of the original Merthur inspiration, I am glad it showed its own character and that the progression of the story felt fresh and thoroughly enjoyable. Despite its length I thought that both the exploration of our MCs and their relationship was very well flashed out and I had a capital time reading it!
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After really enjoying Molly Ringle's Lava Red Feather Blue , I was really excited to read this one. And I liked it a lot too! It was fast-paced, both main characters were likeable, and their relationship was really sweet. (It was also a bit more explicit than Lava Red Feather Blue, so that was a nice surprise lol)

Zaya showed some development as a character while he learned about magic, and his growing feelings for Col were really adorable - same with Col's chapters, changing his initial dislike for the new king to love. This was a nice strangers to lovers dynamic, and Ringle used their interactions to give us more information about the world and the magical system.

The whole magic with plants thing was the most interesting to me - I think it was crafted really well, and I could see the details the author put in it quite clearly. Despite that, the religious system wasn't as clear, in my opinion, shown more as an opposite to the magic, with vague connections to the political system. I feel like the world as a whole could've been developed a bit better, but since the book is short, and focused on the romance, it's forgivable.

But well, Sage and King was good, and once again Ringle created a magical world that I want to read more of. Zaya and Col are super cute together, and I wish we could read more of them in the future! (3.5 stars)
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I didn't like this one as much as I liked Lava Red, Feather Blue. I thought this one was lacking something. Still a good story and would definitely recommend for queer fantasy lovers, but I wanted a little more.
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I always enjoy Ringle’s writing! She has a magical way of sucking me in! This was a beautiful story and I connected to the characters right away! Can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next!
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A delightfully queer tale of magic and the importance of opening yourself up to new experiences. I’ve read several of Ringle’s other m/m romances, and she has a way of writing about magic, budding love, and conflict that I just absolutely love. This story is Merlin-inspired, and now I really want to watch the show! Another wonderful story by Ringle - possibly my favorite by her, now that I think of it!
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—“He had a job that would forever consume his life, and that job didn’t have anything to do with Col’s blue eyes or the flowers that bloomed at his touch.”—

Sage and King is the story of Zaya, whose older siblings are unexpectedly killed, leaving the throne and role of King to him. As tradition goes, every new monarch makes a journey to visit the sages of Heartwood for a month long session. Zaya discovers that the sages are actually magicians who can weld nature magic— a secret long kept in a kingdom where magic is forbidden. He is paired with the powerful sage Col, to learn all the history of magic and its value to the kingdom. Col is occupied with the knowledge that the murder of Zaya’s siblings was actually  the work of Zaya’s older brother who was believed to be dead. Between Col’s guilt of that knowledge and Zaya’s learned opposition to magic a new kind of feeling sparks between them. 

I enjoyed this one! It was pretty short, more like a long novella, and written beautifully. I thought the amount of world building and set up of the magic Ringle was able to do in such a short space was very impressive. I wish the book was longer since it did seem slightly rushed after the climax and I honestly would have liked to see more development of the relationship too. It was a very easy fantasy to read with a lot of unique elements! I’ve heard this is loosely based on BBC’s Merlin which makes sense, and I think people who enjoy the show will love this! If you are looking for a short LGBTQ+ fantasy, this one is for you! 

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Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read this book in two sittings (and only because I had to sleep). I haven't read very many LGBTQ+ romances before, especially ones that also fit into the fantasy genre. 

First off, the fantasy world was amazing. I haven't encountered a world with a magic system quite like it before. In the world of Sage and King, sages secretly use plants and the natural world to create magical effects on themselves, others, and other things. Though the king, Zaya, doesn't know about magic, he finds himself in a position where he not only has to learn about it, but must decide whether to continue its illegality. Then he meets the sage that will become his councillor, Col, and a potential relationship blossoms. 

I enjoyed the romance more than I expected, and I'm so happy that I did. It had great pacing and matched very well with the overarching plot of murder and assassination attempts. The representation didn't stop there either, though I won't go on so I spoil nothing, and it was refreshing to read about a fantasy world where anyone can love anyone and the only problem is whether you can find a way of producing an heir. Which is really only a problem for one person. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Sage and King and I recommend that anyone above the age of 18 check it out. It will give you all the feels of romance, danger, and forbidden love.
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This is a charming MM romance featuring the always enjoyable royalty and magical teacher trope.

This is a quick novella and follows Zaya as he is thrust into Kingship after the untimely murder of his two older siblings. As part of his training before formerly assuming the throne, he is taken to Heartwood. Unbeknownst to him until he gets there, Heartwood is home to the magicians of the land and they are formally trained as sages. This is a shock as magic is banned in Zaya's kingdom due. Assigned to convince him that magic isn't evil is the young and powerful Col, who is one of the strongest magical people ever.

Overall, this was really good! For such a short book, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of world-building present. Molly Ringle says it is lightly inspired by the BBC show Merlin and the popular pairing of Merlin and Arthur and while this is not an Arthurian retelling, you can feel the influence. I also really liked the magic present in this story. It was atypical of a lot of magic I've read about and it was a pleasure to read. I thought Zaya and Col were a great pairing as well. Their relationship was explored well and it got quite steamy a few times. A great read and an enjoyable time!

**I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher!
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This book does everything it should and more - a romantic intertwining of a King  his Sage along with the themes of magic, betrayals, societal expectations and family relationships. 

This book is steamy without being overly explicit, romantic without being too cheesy and has enough tension to drive the plot forward. 

I would recommend this if you like quick M/M romantic fantasy reads!
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I so enjoyed this zippy little fantasy romance. Molly Ringle did a fantastic job of balancing the romantic plot with the fantasy plot. I also really appreciated both the efficiency of the world building, and the fresh simplicity of the magic system. 
Of course, the true heart of the story is the tender love story between Zaya and Col. The author openly admits that their dynamic is inspired by the popular fan ship “Merthur” from BBC’s Merlin and fans of the show will be delighted by the parallels that can be drawn. But I certainly think this has an audience and an appeal beyond people who want to read Merthur fanfiction. While the story is a bit too short to have much heft or to leave me with anything to chew on, I will remember how romantic it was and how much fun I had reading it!
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This book had such a wonderfully crafted world and really great characters and there was great queer rep. I really enjoyed the romance in the book and zaya and cols relationship development
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Hard for me to get into at the beginning but once I started reading, I found it a very enjoyable read!
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I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sage and King was one of those books that I actually took my time digesting. In it, you will meet Zaya. Due to an untimely death, for most of his family, he now finds himself becoming King. It was honestly never on his mind or a desire of his to become the man in charge. So when he gets the chance to fulfill a time-honored tradition between the kingdoms heirs and the sages.. well, he's hesitant to do so.

Luckily for him, he winds up meeting Col while visiting Heartwood. Together, they were extremely cute and I liked that they were getting closer and closer to one another. However, the history behind magic wasn't that appealing to me. But I get why Zaya needed to learn all of this.

There are hints of a betrayal in the synopsis and I get why the secrets were kept hidden. Truly, I do.. but I was kind of bored while reading this. The romance was good and the drama was okay. As for the villain and the 10 millisecond fight.. they were a bit predictable. I was sort of expecting more action with this than I got.

In the end, it was an okay book with a cute couple to ship.
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This was a very enjoyable fantasy story and in my opinion had one of the most unique types of magic that I've read. Usually magic is based on the elements, air, fire, water and yes, earth/plants. But in this universe, plants have almost a religious connotation, they are life giving after all, and because life is magic then plants can give you magic. Everything has to have balance though and while most of the magic users(Sages) are gentle souls, the power can also corrupt which is what causes the main conflict of the story. One of the most powerful Sages has gone mad from misuse of his power and it's up to the next most powerful Sage to protect the king from his wrath. 

Of course, that king, Zaya, doesn't know about any of this. Magic has been illegal in his country for generations and he's shocked to learn that the man he's been lusting over, Col, is one of the most powerful Sages there is. It certainly makes him rethink his world view and falling in love only makes it worse. 

I thought the relationship between Col and Zaya was very sweet. You could tell that their main attraction was to each other's minds. Which comes up at the end of the book in a very poignant moment. I personally wasn't the biggest fan of that spoilery plot point but it didn't significantly affect my enjoyment of the story overall. And enjoy it I did, I thought the romance and fantasy was very refreshing and would highly recommend this to readers liking for a unique light fantasy with a mm romance.
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Overall it was a quick and enjoyable read. The novella is dialogue heavy, and I did struggle a bit in the beginning - the story did pick up though.
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Overall I would rate this novella 2.5 stars. The pacing in the beginning was very choppy, and the world building was lacking. However, by the second half of the book, things had straightened out a bit and was much easier to follow.

One of my main issues with this novella was how dialogue heavy it was. The author frequently “telled instead of showed” which was frustrating because it took so much depth away from what this story could have been. The dialogue is especially heavy at the beginning, which was why the story was SO hard to get into, but it remained fairly heavy throughout which was frustrating.

Had it not been for the very short length and the fact that I want to get my Netgalley feedback ratio up, I definitely would’ve DNFd this at about 10%. Had I been reading this for pure enjoyment, I wouldn’t have made it past the first couple chapters, basically. I’m glad I stuck around, because the second half made for a more interesting story and romance.
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Sage and King is full of magic, romance, and a well-built universe. Ringle has become an auto read for me after I read Lava Red, Feather Blue and Sage and King follows the same universe in a different place. Our protagonists are very understandable throughout the book- their motivations, hinderances, and doubts are clear and communicated. Their romance is beautiful and sweet, and very queer. 💛

I think the story could’ve been a bit longer, personally. The underlying plot is lost a bit as the romance is a big focus, as well as a bit of character development. I think if it was longer it could’ve been fleshed out into more of a tale for me, but I still really enjoyed it. This was a 3.5/5 for me and I can’t wait to see what Ringle does next! 

Thank you to NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for the ARC!
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Lashrain has suffered a terrible tragedy in the death of the royal family, murdered by an assassin. Suddenly the Queen's brother Zaya, a dandy who prefers theater and beautiful men to that of royal duties and courtly intrigue, finds himself king. But that's not the only surprise in store for him. 

Days after assuming the kingship, he is ushered to Heartwood, home of the kingdoms sages, to learn the history of the realm and prepare to rule. He is to stay here for 30 days on a time-honored tradition known as a hermitage. When he arrives he learns a secret known to very few - despite the kingdom's ban on magic, Heartwood, and its sages are magicians that study the magic of the world (found mostly in plants and their ability to decipher their uses and manipulate their growth). He is flabbergasted and disgusted, as all his life he has only known magic as evil. But a young sage, Col, is assigned to King Zaya to answer any questions he has about this new world that has been opened to him. And slowly, Zaya finds himself falling for Col, as Col begins to fall for Zaya too. They become closer and closer and passion and desire overtake them as they begin peppering their study sessions with secret sexual liaisons in quiet rooms, private spaces in greenhouses, and eventually the King's bed chambers. 

But all is not as it seems, as the sages are keeping a very dark secret: King Zaya's brother, a sage long believed exiled and dead, is the assassin that killed the king's family - and now he's after Zaya. Secret's cannot be kept forever, and when the secret is revealed, everything Col and Zaya have built crumbles. Can their love survive betrayal and the powers of the assassin? 

This book - my God this book. The worldbuilding is spectacular, the characters fully fleshed out, and the romance felt natural and unforced. The rules and laws of magic in the story are based on actual beliefs surrounding the plants (the real ones anyway, which are most of them in the story), both in commonly held senses and in Wiccan/pagan practice.  The amount of research that went into this book is breathtaking. The sex scenes are written believably, with just enough erotic without verging into erotica. The writing is spectacular and beautiful. 

I don't know if we will ever get more of these characters and this world, but I would gladly welcome it!
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